Monday, October 5, 2015

31 Days of Halloween 2015: Fear the Walking Dead

2015, AMC -- download

The premise of Fear the Walking Dead is a great one -- if the main series started weeks after the outbreak, how did it come about?  OK, not exactly how it came to happen, but more, what was it like in those early hours, days and weeks? What was the fall like? What was it like when nobody believed it was happening? Origin story its not, but introduction it is.

The fucking problem is that they spun the drama in the same exact way as they narrowed the plot on The Walking Dead. Again, we have to deal with fearing the humans more than we have in fearing the dead. Yes, I get it, that is the successful formula that draws in the viewers, but this is a new show, couldn't we have had at least one decent person? And I mean a decent person who isn't proven to be a liability?

I fear the world we are living in where we accept doing whatever it takes, no matter the cost. And our pop culture reflects us, so...

The show starts with introducing us to two connected families. Travis is dating Madison but was married to Liza. There are teens in each family, including Maddie's heroin addict son Nick, the first to experience the walking dead, as his (dead) junkie (ex?)girlfriend eats the rest of the junkies in their shooting gallery. The slow burn of the first episode shows strong bonds between them all, albeit strained ones. The hints of what is to come are there, with fewer and fewer students showing up at the school where Maddie and Travis work, weird stories in the news, and the basement dwelling internet kid spouting enigmatic "it's happening!" rants.

There were a lot of complaints about the first episode, in that it was too slow and didn't have enough zombies in it. Oh shut up; how can you do a proper intro story if you don't take your time and establish the characters and the environment they are living in? How can you see how quickly civilization falls if you don't actually see the calm but nervous exterior of it? If I had any problem is that they didn't establish it enough. Where was the flu that was killing people? Oh there were minor mentions of it keeping students at home, but nobody actually is sick in the entire episode. Well, nobody that isn't already bitten. The virus killed people as a flu to begin with, before people got back up and bit other people, then continuing the infection. The primary element of the first series is not that the main characters are survivors but also immune and/or carriers of the virus. If they got sick, they beat it, if they ever got sick to begin with. And where was the social media? Sure, the internet kid knew things few others did but if this was happening nation wide, it would have been all over Facebook and Twitter. But no, they made vague comments about the Internet being down and moved on. They do understand that is why and how the Internet was made, right? It doesn't go down because some cities go black. It finds the route around. Oh well, this is Your Parent's internet -- not understood.

The fall happens by episode three, leading all the characters back together behind quickly built fences and chain link gates. The Army is here to protect them, but no not really, because this is a WD show, and thus the army is as much or more an enemy than their dead neighbours. Abuse, corruption and an agenda that expands far beyond protecting civilians is at play. But why? Why the fuck would the American government sink resources and men into temporarily protecting people if their final agenda was not to actually do so? It was a means to a conflict for the show, which didn't ring so true.

Amongst our main survivors, Travis stands as the naive one, where I just wanted him to be the moral one. They keep on proving him wrong and he keeps on being a decent, stand up guy. Its like the show thinks helpful, nice people are morons and the only ones who should survive are evil people. They even present the capable survivor as a man who once "disappeared" people in El Salvador, a torturer and evil regime man who fled the country when his power base was taken down. He is presented as the hero who figures things out. Again and again, Travis is proven an idiot, until finally, he himself is given so much evidence of the necessary evils in man, that he believes it himself.

Talk about bleak.

In the last few scenes of the last episode, the junkie character Nick is relaxed and even toned, even though he hasn't had his fix in ages. No longer jonesing, no longer detoxing, he seems somewhat... happy. When asked, he claims that all his life he has been trapped in this nightmare, and finally, it seems like the rest of the world is catching up. While part of me cringes at that, I actually see that. As one of those guys who always felt at odds with the world, never fitting in, never part of the wife, family, house, job world (but not really having any viable alternatives) I get what he is saying. He now no longer has to worry about being the standup guy, like his mother's BF, he can just be a survivor like everyone else. And if there is anything a junkie is good at, its surviving when all is at its worse.

Again, weeeee bleak.