Note: The intent of this post isn’t to provide a deep dive of the episode, but simply my quick impressions as a fan of the original TV series and the comic books. It also assumes that you have seen the first episode, as it contains minor spoilers, and that you’re familiar with the premise.
I’d like to say that I loved the first episode of AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, but I didn’t.
In terms of my initial reaction – having just watched the premiere episode twice – I’d have to give it a 6.5 out of 10.
I completely understand that it’s only the first episode, and that the producers are still establishing important emotional context and character exposition. However, I could honestly care less about the ‘blended family’ angle, or the Los Angeles backdrop.
I assume that over the course of the season these characters will eventually ‘come together as a family’ (cliche) in response to the tragedy unfolding before them, but I would’ve much rather preferred to see the perspective of many different characters, from different parts of the city, with totally different backgrounds and social stature – people with no connection to each other whatsoever, and how each would respond and react.
How much more interesting would it be to see the stories of survival from different people, from different walks of life, like that of a National Guardsman trying to keep the peace, or that of an L.A. socialite in the rich part of town, and that of a gang banger or politician dealing with the events as they unravel?
We’d see some live, some die, and some have the limits of their morality tested in order to survive …or get what was coming to them. As the audience, we’d be constantly wondering if any of the character’s paths would cross, and what would happen if they did.
Instead, it felt as though the producers were really trying to get you to care about some druggie and his struggles with heroin, while shoving a load of unnecessary family drama down our throats.
Honestly, the most tense and compelling scene for me was a 7 second shot of the school Principal’s back, when you didn’t know if he had turned or not.
I believe that Fear the Walking Dead’s real potential is going to lie in witnessing how quickly society breaks down in the face of an event like the zombie apocalypse – which I sincerely look forward to seeing, and that upcoming episode previews have already teased.
As in the original Walking Dead series, in which we often see the true and brutal nature of humanity’s instinctual will to survive, I think it would be equally interesting to observe how rapidly all systems of law, order, society and civility collapse. To witness how quickly we’d spiral out of control when the electricity first goes out, cell phone coverage is lost, gasoline pumps are emptied and food isles are being looted.
The first episode of Fear the Walking Dead did have some great moments, and eerie foreshadowing. There was the moment when you saw a Missing child poster on the fence of a playground that wasn’t there in a previous shot, presumably because that child became a zombie snack-pack. The overhead news footage showing a man being shot by police repeatedly, yet not dying. And the final reveal, in which Nick’s drug dealer friend is shot – and repeatedly used as a speed bump – but won’t stay down.
Besides, as the viewer we already know what is going to eventually happen, so it’s kinda fun to sit back and watch how the world ends!
The first episode of the original Walking Dead series lingered with me for hours, and I couldn’t get it out of my head, along with the sense of despair that it left me feeling. So (admittedly) Fear the Walking Dead had a pretty high bar to clear for me, and my initial reaction to the first episode could only be described as, “Underwhelming” and “Meh.”
I’m not saying that I didn’t like it, I did, but I also wasn’t left with the same sense of, “I must have more of this!” that I experienced after watching the first episode of The Walking Dead. Also, none of the characters so far from FearTWD are particularly interesting to watch…whereas Andrew Lincoln immediately pulls you in.
Some aspects of the show are already beginning to feel a little predictable and formulaic to me, as I assume the character of Travis will now spend the next couple of episodes trying to locate his son and ex-wife, while both families try to reunite and find safety. Inevitably his ex-wife will likely die, which furthers the already established and forced upon narrative of Travis trying to reconnect with his estranged son…< insert predictability here >.
Lastly – and this is more of a personal gripe – but I kind of hate that they chose Los Angeles as the location for this story. I know that the intent was to show what happened during the outbreak in a ‘Big City,’ in juxtaposition to the smaller Georgia towns and Atlanta suburbs found in the original series …but wouldn’t Chicago, Seattle, NYC or even San Francisco been a MUCH more compelling and interesting location than L.A.?
Just not a city that I find particularly interesting to look at or visit.
I am definitely going to keep tuning in, and I’m confident that it’s going to get better…but with only 5 more episodes to go in the first season, I hope it gets better fast.
What did you think of the first episode? Did it meet your expectations or disappoint?
My prediction is that almost all of the main characters are going to die by the end of the season, which would perfectly underline the hopelessness of this world…that no matter how hard you fight to keep your family safe, it’s impossible to protect them all. This would open up future seasons to being able to tell the stories of different people – from different walks of life (and locations) – set during the same 6 week time frame that Rick was in a coma.