Let’s face it; the odds have always been stacked against Fear the Walking Dead. Spin-off shows in general have a long history of falling flat on their faces, and that’s usually when using characters that fans have come to know and love over a course of seasons. So for one of the biggest televisual goliaths of all time to throw us a sister show with absolutely no connection whatsoever to its predecessor was always going to be risky business. Season one garnered lukewarm response from fans and critics alike, but certainly gave us a good, if somewhat meandering, introduction to our core characters, allowing them to come into their own during the inevitable second season.
And that they do.
Season two begins, as seems to be customary with Robert Kirkman’s post-apocalyptic sagas, mere moments after the season one finale, with our slightly beige band of suburban survivors clamouring towards season one’s mysterious McGuffin “Abigail”, a luxury yacht that’s gonna get them out of dodge and into ever deeper water (allegories run thick in the zombie apocalypse). From here, we meet pirates and plane crash survivors (sadly the web-series detailing their journey to this point has been omitted from the DVD collection…), before taking refuge in the village of the damned, burning down Strand’s luxurious casa and pretty much going batshit crazy over the course of eight adrenaline-fuelled episodes, thus leading to one of the greatest mid-season finales the TWD universe has ever given us.
And then there’s the second half.
Herein lies the problem with Fear the Walking Dead. Unlike big sis, Fear is afraid to draw its stories out and let us grow with the characters. And that’s just it. Save for the somewhat listless leads Maddie (Kim Dickens) and Travis (Cliff Curtis), the characters of Fear are arguably more compelling than those of TWD. Silky-voiced Victor (Colman Domingo) and Salvadorian sex-god Daniel (Ruben Blades) are two of the finest characters Kirkman has ever penned, and even future serial-killer Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) is far more fun to watch in his spiral to insanity that his long-haired counterpart, Coral.
Season two is a collection of fantastic set-pieces and highly creative stories; the adventures aboard the Abigail are great, and could happily have continued for a few more episodes, perhaps drawing out the arc of now forgotten plane survivor Alex (Michelle Ang). Meanwhile, Celia Flores (Marlene Forte) and her pseudo-religious death-worshipping formed one of the most complex antagonists this universe has known. Indeed, everything seems to be so crammed into the season’s first half, that the latter act simply cannot keep up, lacking both in pace and the presence of Blades. That said, Paul Calderon’s infection-immune Alejandro is a fascinating watch, and the two-part season finale is an absolute belter.
For all its flaws, however, Fear remains one of the best shows on TV at the moment, and season two certainly packs a hell of a lot more punch than the hotchpotch mess that is the current run of TWD. Just slow things down a little guys. We don’t need a whole banquet in one course. But we do need Daniel back.
Like, right now.
Creators: Dave Eickson and Robert Kirkman
Starring: Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Mercedes Mason, Colman Domingo, Lorenzo James Henrie, Ruben Blades
Music: Paul Haslinger
Number of Episodes: 15
Episode Runtime: 42mins
Fear the Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season is out now on Blu-ray and DVD, courtesy of Entertainment One.