REVIEW: Fear The Walking Dead 2.01 ‘Monster’ has found its sails
Please be aware the following post contains spoilers for Fear The Walking Dead 2.01 ‘Monster’, which aired on AMC at 2am last night. Click back if you do not wish to be spoiled.
After last year’s lukewarm pilot and uneven first series, Fear the Walking Dead has finally found its feet – ironically, at sea.
That’s right, Fear The Walking Dead is going exactly where we said we’d always go should a zombie apocalypse take place: to the waters. It turns out simply sailing away from the apocalypse isn’t as easy as it seems – if ‘Monster’ is anything to go by, it’s going to be just as terrifying and anxiety-inducing as The Walking Dead on land.
In the first of Fear‘s fifteen episode second season, we caught up with the mishmash Clark/Namara/Salazar families in a fraught struggle to leave land for the enigmatic Strand’s luxury yacht (called the Abigail). The opening moments are tense – mostly because the annoyingly-teenage Christopher is insisting he won’t leave without the corpse of his mother – but eventually all make it onto the speedboat leading them away. That’s where this series really begins.
Moral questions arise almost straight away, as a small boat filled with survivors screams for help from the Abigail. Should the group accept other refugees or not? Strand has either read ahead in the comics and knows to do so would be a bad idea, or he’s a just a nob, because he flatly refuses.
Fear The Walking Dead clearly hopes to be just as good as its predecessor at examining morals in an apocalypse situation, but suffers from the inevitable covering of old ground. It attempts to escape the similarities to Walking Dead are mainly through using very different characters, and succeed to some extent (though Fear has yet to produce a character we love quite as much as Daryl).
Nick, for instance, spent most of the last series in a state of apocalypse-induced heroin withdrawal. We frequently wondered how on Earth he was still alive and what he really brought to the series. Starting from the season one finale and continuing in ‘Monster’, Nick has become the most interesting character on the show. He has already lived the life of a fearless outsider from his heroin junkie days, and so is oddly equipped to deal with this terrifying new reality.
The episode builds to a thrilling climax as we learn there is no escaping the zombie apocalypse – and its savage survivors – even at sea. While Nick and Christopher are swimming near the yacht, Nick comes face to face with the floating lifeless form of a shipwreck victim – who promptly grapples for him. If you have a fear of walkers on land, just wait until you witness them in the wide open waters. Aargh.
‘Monster’ was never going to measure up favourably with the sweat fest that was Negan’s introduction in the original series’ season finale. Nor should it be expected to – Fear The Walking Dead is at a different stage in its life cycle (try measuring it up against The Walking Dead‘s season two premiere, and it fares a lot better).
Fear promised to tell another story from the same world at a different angle while maintaining the original series’ thrill factor. As of ‘Monster’, Fear the Walking Dead is succeeding.