If you're a miserable, heartless cynic like this particular writer, then you probably thought that Fear the Walking Dead was just a money-making spin-off of the uber-successful The Walking Dead. But, it turns out, FTWD was a welcome addition to a saturated zombie market.
The most obvious difference between the two was the location - changed from Georgia to the more urban and gritty Los Angeles. And, FTWD begins just before the zombie outbreak as opposed to just after it. Yet its character development, acting and special effects are just as good as its predecessor, and - the ultimate compliment - it has a wonderfully moody, dreamlike, Romero-esque Dawn of the Dead feel to it. You witness the start of something and know exactly what's going to happen next, yet still want to watch more. If you're a Walking Dead fan or not, Season 1 is definitely worth catching up on.
A very brief recap (with spoilers): there's a zombie outbreak. A band of survivors are kept in an enclosed neighbourhood, under protection/control of the military. It doesn't end well. A smaller band of survivors escape as shit kicks off, and head towards the ocean where a mysterious character just happens to have a boat waiting.
The start of Season 2 is explosive - the zombie apocalypse begins amidst a backdrop of fire and noise. Zombies swarm the beach like a sunny day in Brighton. There's no time for surfing or even a swim as the remaining characters fight to get to Strand's (Colman Domingo) boat. But can they trust him? Never mind that just now - there's zombies to dispose of in gory, imaginative ways. Travis (Cliff Curtis) has to convince his son (Lorenzo James Henrie) to stop grieving for his dead mother and run. Chris will spend the whole episode not forgiving Travis for shooting her.
They scramble onto a smaller boat, meeting up with Strand and Nick (Frank Dillane) on Strand’s boat, ‘Abigail’. They took a last look at LA - completely on fire, in a scene reminiscent of Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later. Cue the intro.
The remainder of the episode takes on a very different tone, with TV's latest dysfunctional family adjusting to boat life. Even at sea, there is still the threat of the occasional (floating) zombie. They don't drown, seeing as they're already dead. The idea of zombies at sea was briefly explored at the end of Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, but not quite so literally. The additional threat of a living menace is also immediately apparent, as Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) makes contact with someone on the boat radio, and hard decisions are made whether or not to help fellow survivors. It's a relatively quiet episode for the other characters, with much of the misery and angst focused on Chris. Expect more character-driven human drama reminiscent of The Walking Dead, and the creeping claustrophobia of life at sea, with the agenda of the mysterious Strand sure to be a major plot factor.
FEAR THE WALKING DEAD – SEASON 2 EPISODE 1 / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: ADAM DAVIDSON / CREATORS: DAVE ERICKSON, ROBERT KIRKMAN / STARRING: KIM DICKENS, CLIFF CURTIS, FRANK DILLANE, ALYCIA DEBNAM-CAREY, COLMAN DOMINGO, MERCEDES MASON, LORENZO HAMES HENRIE, RUBEN BLADES, ELIZABETH RODRIGUEZ