Season two of Fear the Walking Dead premiered tonight, and for anyone wondering whether the pace would quicken now that some of the characters have been established, the answer is: No, not really. There was a fracas with zombies in the opening sequence of the episode, and a couple of, uh, swimming zombies near the end of the episode, but the vast majority of the season premiere took place on a boat, floating in the ocean. It’s even less interesting than it was watching characters walk through the woods in the early seasons of The Walking Dead.
It wasn’t a particularly scintillating episode of television. Part of the problem is that, now that Los Angeles has been decimated, the series has to start all over and build another world. The other problem is, no matter how well we get to know these characters, they remain largely uninteresting. Frank Dillane’s Nick has some potential, as does Colman Domingo’s Victor Strand, but the potential has not yet been unleashed, and the remaining characters are simply lifeless and uninvolving. There’s just no energy there. I thought the death of Lisa might bring something out of the characters, but they still remain unengaging.
The ocean setting isn’t helping (nor is the occasional use of green screen). There’s a certain jump-the-shark, knockbuster quality to setting a zombie apocalypse series out into the ocean, and the threats they are facing don’t feel intimately dangerous. In tonight’s episode, Nick floated near the surface of the water and came face-to-face with a floating zombie. Instead of freaking out and hurriedly swimming away, he casually backed off and began swimming toward another threat. That’s either the “fearlessness” that Strand described of Nick, or it’s apathy. Right now, it feels like the latter.
There are, however, a couple of intriguing possibilities. Jack, who was communicating with Alicia on the radio, could be a compelling character if he and his crew indeed are blowing up boats in the ocean. He could provide the series what it needs the most right now: A compelling villain. Nick also recovered a Yacht log that might prove informative. Alicia is a more interesting character than she was last season, and there is the promise of several new characters being introduced this season (Dougray Scott, for instance).
However, no new characters were introduced in the season premiere, “Monster,” despite the promise that we’d see someone introduced from the web series, “Flight 462,” this season. We can, however, guess which of the web series characters it will be (Spoilers).
Michelle Ang, who played Charlie in the web series, is listed on IMDB as appearing in the third episode. She can also briefly be spotted in a preview for season two. One wonders, however, how a woman on a plane going down near Los Angeles winds up with people currently on a boat headed toward San Diego. Answering that question could provide the series with some life.
In either respect, episode three can’t get here soon enough, because it doesn’t seem to matter what showrunner Dave Erickson does with his existing characters. Until we get some new characters involved that we might actually care about, Fear the Walking Dead will continue to be fairly and unfavorably compared to its parent series, The Walking Dead.