The power of Fear the Walking Dead is in the terror it has so successfully conveyed. Among a sea of negativity, the final episode has delivered in performance and narrative, and it can really only go up from here. While not everyone will agree – based on the number of online articles that have so confidently written off the series – Fear the Walking Dead has established itself as a winning formula, one that doesn’t need to draw comparisons with its sister show The Walking Dead.
In honesty, I was pretty worried that series two wouldn’t surface at all following the heap of critical condemnation that this first incarnation has received but, fear not, AMC and Kirkman and co’ have announced that it’s happening. And, it’s happening on a boat. Did anyone else just hear The Lonely Island and Akon then? No, just me? Moving on…
The final episode, The Good Man, said goodbye to characters we were only just getting to know and said hello to a new world. Travis (Cliff Curtis) finally snapped and it turns out Andrew (Shawn Hatosy) really wasn’t such a good guy after all. That new world is one where Walkers do rule and the army are irrelevant. If anything, the presence of the US soldiers in this first season has intelligently suggested that darkness in humanity doesn’t need a hoard of the undead to rear its ugly head; it was there all along. Whether we see that in Reuben Blades’ Daniel Salazar or in any one of the gun-happy army boys, it’s present. That presence is powerful, scary and well-acted. I like it, I like it a lot.
I was the first to nay-say when I heard the initial Fear the Walking Dead reveal. Why did we need a new zombie series? What would it bring to audiences? It turns out that what it brought (and hopefully, will continue to bring), is a lot. The characters might not currently be engaging spectators on the level that Darryl, Rick and Glenn do, and it might not be a minute-by-minute gore fest, but FTWD is slowly but very surely building an insane tension that is brewing like a fancy tea. Expect to find yourself clasping your face and shouting out at the television set come your home-viewing of this final episode as you feel the fear, because that slogan was right; it begins here. The hair-raising score, the questionable actions of those in charge, and the responses of characters who could be me and you – the components for a great television series are all there. While these elements might need some honing, they are well on their way to becoming damn near impressive.
Th show can only get better, and I’m certainly excited to see what happens next with the culturally diverse family that have been placed on our screens, not just to fight flesh-eating zombies, but to break down barriers and represent the multiple groups that make up contemporary America. Well played, AMC.