Fear the Walking Dead Season 2- Once Upon a Time in Mexico

Fear the Walking Dead had a tough first season but it was given a bumper second season of fifteen episodes, a big ask when they struggled to fill the six episodes in their initial offering.  Throw in a mid-season break and Fear was up against it before the first episode had aired.

Spoilers for season 2 of Fear the Walking Dead are contained within this post.

Fear left us last season with the guys looking to jump on the mysterious Strand’s boat before LA is bombed by the armed forces.  I do wonder why this would be the reaction to the situation when it is a country wide problem rather than an isolated city problem.  The boat idea is a great one in theory but they handled it really poorly in practice.  One of the biggest issues I had with it was that it was only a few weeks after the collapse of society, yet people were already going about blowing shit up and killing people without a second thought.  I could understand this reaction months into the epidemic, however with it being so soon made it seem forced.

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The time on the boat was generally quite odd, it felt like they had written themselves into this situation at the end of the first season and then decided whilst writing the second season that they didn’t actually want to be there.  Those first few episodes were very formulaic, all following a one episode format where a story was introduced at the start and resolved by the end, it was all rather dull.

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That’s the problem with the first half of Fear, all the characters seemed overly stupid and at times Strand in particular seemed overly mysterious.  Things like Daniel being overly suspicious of Strand, Madison wanting to save everyone and their grannie and the worst of all in Alicia and her radio boyfriend all were eye rollers.

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After they finally ditched the boat and got into lovely Mexico the group joined up with a Mexican death cult which Strand’s boyfriend was sort of a part of.  This story arc had remnants of Herschel’s farm from season 2 of the Walking Dead, yet unlike Herschel’s farm it only lasted a couple of episodes.  Daniel’s descent into madness seemed incredibly forced and killing off Strand’s partner before he had barely been introduced was a very odd decision and added to the overall lack of direction and forced storylines.  The entire first half of Fear was a total mess, the plot was all over the place and they jumped about with little to no focus.

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The story pivoted in the second half of the season and improved greatly with the change of pace.  Splitting the group up gave the show a different dynamic and made it feel very different from its sister show.  It also allowed for greater character growth amongst most of the cast, in particular Travis, Alicia and Chris.

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The Chris story was one of the best story arcs throughout this season of Fear; it showed how a vulnerable young person who doesn’t quite fit into the world can fall into a more extreme side of things.  They used Chris as a great story arc for developing Travis, who has finally plummeted to the depths of despair and forgone his passive style which he had clinged on to for so long when he beat the life out of Chris’ killers.  I found it interesting that they killed of Chris so quickly after he left Travis, it was a brave decision to build up a character so much and then to kill them off screen.

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The hotel story arc felt quite sloppy and had too many silly TV tropes.  The hotel occupants went from hating each other to being best friends in the space of a couple of weeks, Madison decided that a risky tactic to get rid of all the walkers in one go was a better idea than clearing them out slowly and carefully (despite the fact that it’s the end of the world and she’s got nowhere to be), Madison felt that it was acceptable to boss around some cartel guys and Madison felt that it was a good idea to put the hotel lights on because that could only end well.

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Most of the problems with the hotel can actually be isolated down to Madison as a character, she’s terrible.  She makes so many illogical decisions and consistently puts herself and more importantly everyone else in danger with her selfish decision making.  It is incredible that Madison has managed to destroy the boat people, the death cult and the hotel community all in the space of one season.  I don’t think the character is likeable at all and I don’t think that likeability is helped by the terrible acting but Madison is definitely the worst part of Fear.

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I didn’t like how they handled Strand; he went from being a cool suave businessman to just sort of being there.  He was one of the few bright sparks of the first season and it very much felt like he should take a step up in terms of importance, however it very much felt like he was kept in the shadows and was relegated to agony aunt in the second half of the year.  The decision to leave him at the hotel after helping the others escape is a very interesting one.

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The writers managed to turn Nick from a pain in the arse unsympathetic drug addict into one of the best characters in the show.  A big part of Nick becoming more sympathetic was the move away from drugs and his sense of loss in the new world.  The fact that they were able to split Nick away from the rest of the group for the second half of the season and have it be a success, tells you he is a strong character.

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His story arc was actually fairly similar to the death cult story from earlier in the season but it allowed the story to actually play out rather than killing it off in a couple of episodes.  The scene with Nick leading the community to the American border was brilliant, to see how Nick has grown as a leader since the breakdown of society was a great moment, the way in which the season concluded was even better.  Who knows who the people at the border are and what will happen to Nick and Luciana next season but I look forward to finding out.

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The final two episodes were actually handled really well and have set up season 3 strongly.  Nick is captured at the border; Travis, Madison and Alicia are potentially heading into the same trap and Strand has a chance to shine on his own back at the hotel.  The one thing I really didn’t like about the finale was the way in which they used the Cartel, yes they are thugs and bad guys but are we really supposed to believe that a good number of young men with assault rifles couldn’t take down a slow moving force when they have the defensive position?  It’s like the writers wanted the Cartel to get their comeuppance and decided to throw logic out the window, destroying the safe haven would have been more than enough to make an impact.

Frank Dillane as Nick Clark - Fear The Walking Dead _ Season 2, Episode 8 - Photo Credit: Richard Foreman Jr/AMC

I think that Fear is generally a more realistic show than the Walking Dead, the characters generally feel more real and the progressions which happen seem less of a caricature (possibly the effect of one being based off of a comic).  The tone, filming style and graphicness of Fear are far superior to anything I’ve seen in the Walking Dead after their first season.  The one thing the Walking Dead has over Fear is more likeable characters, everything else in Fear is better.

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I don’t know quite what to think of Fear the Walking Dead, it shows many signs of potential yet at times it is incredibly frustrating.  There is a much darker edge to Fear and it has more freedom than its sister show due to it not having to follow a source, but some weak characters and ridiculous plot decisions have been holding it back.  If I were to review the first half of the season as its own entity then I would have been very critical, however I do feel like in the second half of the season the show began to come into its own, with the finale in particular setting up the next season very strongly.  The question which Fear will need to answer is whether it can achieve that potential or will it squander it again?

If you’re interested then check out my review of season 1.

So what did you think of Fear the Walking Dead season 2?  Are you wondering what the point of Ofelia is?  Is Daniel still alive?  And what do you think will happen to Nick?  Leave a comment and share those thoughts.

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