After a sterling first outing of its second season, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD delivered an episode this week of a similar ilk. ‘We All Fall Down’ was a straight up continuation of last week, with the gang fleeing from the pursuing mystery boat and heading to a nearby island for refuge. This wasn’t the episode to win over doubters, but much like last week, it was good enough and much more acceptable than the vast majority THE WALKING DEAD’s most recent season, though that feat isn’t exactly a difficult to achieve.
So, as mentioned the episode began with Travis, family and friends, fleeing across the ocean and then coming ashore at a secluded island where a ranger’s station is posted. Once there, they met another family, and learn that the military have been using napalm on cities up and down the coast. My main thought upon seeing new characters in FTWD is “No! You can’t join the group! No new people!” I am so scared of this show falling into the same trap as TWD. If it can remain small and intimate it has a chance. But I guess it’s inevitable that people join, as long as some old ones die then what do I care.
The Ranger, because of his communication with other stations, relays the situation around the country, and we start to get some insight into what’s going on, the size of the issue. We know how bad it is, how bad things eventually get (because of TWD), but you have to view this show from a prospective of ignorance. These people don’t know what’s happening; they don’t know how the world will change forever. So just hearing the damage to other places is a big deal, slowly taking hope away. This is effectively relayed through the show and this vastly different era of proceedings really does help the show stand out from its parent. This won’t last forever of course, at some point we will catch up, but right now, it’s one of the more likeable parts of the show. My only annoyance, is that there is, every now and then, a bit of a disconnect with how some of the characters view the situation against how things actually are. The world has gone down the toilet quick, but these guys have only seen slices of carnage, surely they would still be thinking of a decent future at this point. So when Alicia or Nick or whoever lament on lost worlds and doomed civilisations, it’s a little weird and could easily be ironed out with a bit more care.
At the station, we and the group got to meet the Rangers family — his wife and three children. One of which teaches Chris how to kill walkers via a fence that blocks them from coming off the beach. I don’t care too much for Chris — nor do I suspect most of you — but this is obviously an important skill for him to learn. They all should be learning the most effective way to kill. They will be forced too at some point or be punished for doing it sloppily. My only hope is that they don’t become a band of killers like TWD. Capable, yes, but there’s no need for over the top killers, they just need enough tools in order to survive.
It’s revealed throughout the episode that the wife wants her children off the island, but we also learn that her husband has no intention of anyone leaving. The mother eventually convinces them to take her children — the island isn’t safe, there are infected close by — but really, nowhere is safe, a small island is actually a great spot, but they don’t know this, so I guess you can see where the mother is coming from. The groups hand is eventually forced however, when the daughter dies, comes back and attacks her mother. They tried to take the boy but his elder brother stopped them and then shot his turned mother. This ending wasn’t executed as well as it could have been, it was a little flat and didn’t have quite the impact I think they were hoping for but… it was fine, emblematic really of the show.
Listen, FTWD isn’t half the show TWD was in its first 2 to 3 seasons. But it is a decent improvement from TWD’s season 6. There is potential and while there isn’t any hope for the characters I think there is hope for the show. A chance to do some cool things and this episode didn’t disprove that notion. So I welcome next week, lets see what it brings, a death or two would be nice. I’d love to delve deep into the meaning of certain moments, the themes, the intricate subtext of the episode, but the truth is, this show doesn’t have any of that right now. It’s a very simple series, which is probably why its working. It’s meat and potatoes, it’s not trying to be anything more, and it’s actually kind of nice. Though, a little ambition wouldn’t hurt.