Five Ways to Fix “Fear the Walking Dead”

fear-twdI’ve given “Fear the Walking Dead” two seasons already and it’s failed to really impress me. It shifts locations constantly, doesn’t seem to garner one interesting character of the bunch, and there are so many sub-plots that are set up only to be left dangling at the end of the season. While most people are saying the show resolves a lot of the sub-plots, I still am asking a bunch of questions after the finale. Also, I’m still trying to figure out why the series builds up these huge storylines only for them to sputter out and run out of gas so suddenly? So Daniel really is dead or what? Why did Ofelia leave the hotel and go out on her own, again? Why didn’t she at least leave a note for Alicia? Was she trying to look for her father? So can Nick talk to walkers or was he hallucinating? Why did Madison and Alicia fight for the hotel and work so hard to clean it out as a refuge only for them to give it up at the drop of a hat?

Is Strand really going to be spared if he stays behind at the hotel? I mean he did help Travis, Madison and Alicia leave, and aided in the death of the brothers? So what happened to the family from the weddings we saw mid-season? Are they aware of the refugees? Why was Ofelia headed to America? Why does Madison look so bored most of the time? Even when watching her husband completely obliterating two men with his bare hands? “Fear the Walking Dead” season two began so absolutely weakly, with a central plot involving a Mexican ranch that was a deviation from an even weaker starting point on the ocean involving Strand’s yacht and some ship dwelling pirates. The Mexican ranch secondary arc felt like a weak iteration of the Hershel Greene plot from season two of “The Walking Dead,” and after a strong mid-season premiere, the show keeps trailing off in to sub-plots that build and build and just fizzle out.

There was so much tension between Nick, the refugee camp and the supermarket gangsters all for it to end with a thud, and finale just continues opening up storylines that might build up in to nothing by the time the mid-season finale for season three staggers along. “Fear the Walking Dead” can be great in brief moments, but it’s still such a painfully flawed and mediocre spin off of “The Walking Dead.” If we had more gut wrenching moments like Travis’ violent breakdown and Chris’ execution, “Fear The Walking Dead” might actually be competition for its parent show. Instead it’s just a meandering, sluggish, and plodding series that never lives up to the greatness it promises.

Here are five ways “Fear the Walking Dead” can fix itself come season three.

What is Travis Manawa’s Role?
What does Travis Manawa even contribute in this group anymore? At one time he was more of a moral center, then he was someone who merely crumbled to authority for the sake of keeping his family together, and lately he’s just more of a nuisance than anything. He’s gotten so used to running around and badgering people, even some of the characters have told him to shut up. And even though I’m on his side, I want him to just stop talking for five minutes. I wish Travis had more to do than just yammering and brow beating everyone. After two seasons the only really useful thing he did was completely pulverize the two nomads who convinced his son Chris to go with them.

After they horrifically executed Chris rather than stick by him, Travis gave them a much deserved pair of murders. Even if it resulted in the death of supporting character Oscar who the writers insist was important enough to inspire a violent response by his brothers. Meanwhile we were left generally unaffected. Even then, though, what are the writers even planning for Travis anymore? Is he going to face that he’s a killer like Chris was? Why did Madison chastize Chris for wanting to murder, but she so openly support Travis for killing the two nomads, despite their actions? Travis seems to shift roles so randomly, and none of them are too pleasing at the moment.

Pick a Destination
This is the same timeline as Rick Grimes except set in the city! No wait, it’s a parable about a suburban neighborhood controlled by the military. No wait, its how the open seas are dealing with the zombie apocalypse. No wait, it’s now set in a Mexican ranch where its matriarch is hiding the dead in the basement. No, now it’s set in a makeshift commune, and a large hotel out in the middle of the beach. Seriously, now that the producers and writers have given up the pretense that the show is “The Walking Dead” but urban style, the show is literally just a generic “The Walking Dead” spin off whose only advantage is a more diverse array of characters.

How About More Zombie Carnage?
“Fear the Walking Dead” is probably the most toothless iteration of “The Walking Dead” comic book yet. It has absolutely none of the extreme zombie carnage including gut munching and body tears that accustomed to watching on the original series. The show almost seems to shy away from revealing the gore and grue, and when we finally do get to it, the scenes of gore are very rare. Even one of the big pay offs involving Celia being killed by the dead locked in her cellar involved her looking out on to the horde as she’s locked in a cell by Daniel, and the camera cutting away as they approached her. It was painfully anti-climactic. The show’s final two episodes featured some neat gore, including a bitten off nose, chomped off fingers, but what about the big bandit war where they were eventually overpowered by the hordes of the dead? Not only do they cut away as the horde approaches the defeated bandits, but we see a few of them later on as walkers. I wouldn’t have minded seeing these men eaten or bitten on screen. The show seems to value stark human violence over zombie violence, and that’s a shame.

Less Characters, sub-plots
As it is the series has way too many sub-plots and characters. The show jumps from character to character shifting dynamics with no real resolution of feeling coherency. Now with season three, we seem to be finding our characters in various locations. Strand is in the hotel, Ofelia is with American hunters, Nick is in a refugee camp with gun toting soldiers, and Madison, Travis and Alycia apparently are on the road. Heaven forbid the show introduces even more characters. What I think the show should do is give us a soft reboot like “The Walking Dead” did in season four. The show hit a wall in season three and softly reboot the whole series. “Fear the Walking Dead” needs that same kind of reboot. Kill Madison, kill Travis, kill Strand, and leave us with the three most interesting characters that have evolved, however gradually, Nick, Alycia and Ofelia. Again the character evolution on the show is painfully slow, but Nick, Alycia, and Ofelia are at least at different places now than they were when we met them in the series premiere.

We Need Our Own Rick Grimes
Season three should be the period that introduces us to a different version of Rick Grimes. The reason why “The Walking Dead” is so coherent and cogent is because its one common thread is the centerpiece of Rick Grimes. We begin the story through his eyes, and venture out in to the vast new world where we view the zombie apocalypse through his family, friends, and various villains. There really isn’t one unifying character. Not even Nick is the character that keeps it all steady, because there just isn’t enough of him to really ride the narrative on his back story or personality. One of the reasons why “The Walking Dead” is so popular is because the characters are so mythic.

There’s the ringleader, the archer, the kid, and the samurai. “Fear the Walking Dead” is so concerned with keeping the characters normal and grounded they’re just flat and boring, most times. For a while I thought Travis was going to be the Rick Grimes, but he spends too much time running around and complaining, that he just doesn’t show leadership material. It’s time for season three to introduce our very own Rick Grimes. Perhaps introduce a noble but strong Hispanic or African American man or woman with a unique back story, who kind of takes charge and keeps the show on a steady direction for once. Kirkman prides himself on not having a Rick Grimes in this series, but the show needs one, badly. How about a Daryl or Michonne?

“Fear the Walking Dead” returns for season 3 in 2017. Me? I’ll think about returning. Maybe.

Now for no reason at all, here’s Alycia Debnam-Carey.