Fear The Walking Dead – Actually Just Fear Everything. This is L.A.
Obviously, if you haven't watched the show and you intend to, stop reading now, because this post will be full of spoilers.
This 90 minute first episode of the spin-off of The Walking Dead had me pretty much constantly on the edge of my seat, for which I give it high marks. Was it perfect? No, but I was overall pretty satisfied, and I'm looking forward to the next episode.
I did, however, have one major question/issue with the show, but I'll come back to that later. It's a major departure from the original which I hope the show's creators intend to explain. In fact, make that two major issues, only one of which is a question.
The opening sequence is of drug addict, Nick, waking up and looking for his friend (girlfriend?) Gloria, and soon discovering bodies partially eaten by a zombie, and then that Gloria is said zombie, and also in some senses, "Patient Zero".
She is at least the first known zombie we see on the show. She comes after him and he flees in a panic. Parts of his escape were features in one of the first trailers released for the show earlier this summer.
He runs out into the street and promptly gets hit by a car, reminding us that things are mostly still normal in L.A. and you can't, you know, wander around in the busy streets without consequence. Unlike The Walking Dead where seeing a moving car is an anomoly. There are a lot of jarring incidents like this in the show, which remind you that the world hasn't gone to s#%$ yet, although it's definitely teetering on the cusp.
Here is a good recap by Vox, which hilarious points out what a dirty liar the show is, for setting us up so many times to think we're about to see another zombie. That tension is what kept me anxious the whole time, for sure. It's fun and scary to be scared mostly of the zombies again, and not The Governor, or the potential upcoming appearance of Negan (comic readers will know who this is), or the next encounter with some rogue other living regular people who are likely to be terrible in one way or another.
I think the show is going to be a good descent into the turmoil of a city just beginning to figure out what's happening, and it's going to be terrifying and entertaining to watch.
Some of my favorite things about the show were:
The tension between Nick, the screw-up drug addict son who is sort of begrudgingly loved by his family, but who spends most of the episode trying to figure out if what he saw was real or not. It's infuriating because of course the audience knows it was, and we know what's coming, and seeing his family mostly dismiss what he says kind of makes me want to claw my eyes out.
The ever increasing background noises and sense of dread that make things seem not quite right. No place seems crowded enough, there are an awful lot of sirens and helicopters, even for a major city. People seem eerily aware that something is wrong but nobody is talking about what it is. There's that one kid who sneaks a knife into school because he's been reading (I assume online) rumors about illness and violence and deaths scattered around the country, and he's sufficiently freaked out to think something bad is about to happen. Oh man, if only this was a world where people knew about zombies!
I love the intent of stepdad (or almost-stepdad I guess, they're not married yet) Calvin trying harder than anyone else to believe Nick and help him figure out what's going on.
The viral video of the zombie shot by cops who keeps coming until someone shoots him in the head, and the kid who's watching the video with Alicia saying, "Kill shot, b$%#&". It's a kind of awesome little moment.
OK, now we arrive at my problems. First of all, I am actually embarrassed to admit that it didn't occur to me until I read it elsewhere, but it seems like every black man we've met so far is doomed. Calvin, of course, Alicia's disappeared boyfriend, Matt, and I feel like the principal isn't long for this world. Can the show really just kind of be a little more conscious of this? There have been so many people angry about this happening on the original. It's just not necessary to the plot in any way to keep killing every black guy on the show. It's not a red shirt thing like Star Trek, just cast your actors differently. For pete's sake.
But my major continuity/fundamental fact question that I need resolved is this: Why is Calvin, who was killed by Nick with a gun, a zombie?
At the beginning of the outbreak, people who died not by being killed by a zombie just died. They didn't turn into zombies. The "everyone is a zombie" thing didn't rear its head until Rick killed Shane and then Carl had to kill him again.
Remember? That was a major revelation. Before that they didn't have to fear every corpse and every death, you just had to avoid getting bitten - which was obviously hard enough in and of itself.
This is just the beginning, so why is Calvin a zombie roughly 5 minutes after Nick shot him? If we are supposed to believe that he was bitten after his death then I would expect to see a lot of blood at his car and/or obvious bite wounds on his body and/or at least one other zombie. Zombies mostly go after the living, they don't tend to go for corpses when there are breathing victims around. I haven't actually seen this mentioned anywhere else yet so I guess I feel smart for pointing it out. I googled for it for a while and saw no mention.
Do you have a theory? Did I miss something that explains it? What did you think of the first episode?
Keep watching here for more discussion and future recaps, and leave your thoughts in the comments.