Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Fear The Walking Dead: Second Season

"The whole time you had me thinking I was broken, but I wasn't. I'm not. I was just... adapting."

It's a tall order for a spin-off to reach the heights of its parent series, but, like the characters fighting for survival in it, Fear The Walking Dead (2015-present) is adapting too. 

The Walking Dead (2010-present) moves along at an almost freight train-like pace filled and tension-filled to the hilt. Gripping stories and pacing combined with truly exceptional casting to embody a host of amazing characters to fill moments alternating between action and allowing yourself breathe make it some of the most compelling television to ever grace the small screen.

Fear The Walking Dead may have big shoes to fill. In its second season (15 episodes) the series continues to carve its own path with, frankly, a very different cast of characters and set of dynamics and circumstances centered around three actual blood families.

The series also moves us down the west coast of America and into a Tijuana-centric landscape south of the border in Mexico. The series is truly enriching in a very different way for all its unique Latino-based location shooting and its fairly Latina-based supporting cast. That Mexican flavor makes for a very different series, at least for its second season here.

In much the same fashion that TWD disseminated and dispersed its fantastic cast of characters into various corners of Georgia by Season Three and Four, FTWD casts its core ensemble into disparate warm winds under a hot Mexican sun for four distinct storylines in Season Two. Now segregated each faction must learn to survive in a radically different way following the break down of events in FTWD's first season (6 episodes). Those stories are often interesting and perhaps more subtle than TWD, but the cast pulls off the post-apocalypse or apocalypse-in-progress uniquely making for an enriching, rewarding result for us to follow in this second examination of the walking dead world. This is how you build a real world mythology.

Unlike the second spin-off, The Walking Dead: World Beyond (2020; 20 episodes), which I have affectionately dubbed World Beyond (Bad), FTWD continues to hold its own with strong performances from Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane and Reuben Blades. Some of the other supporting characters begin to cultivate and strengthen their own respective characters to deepen the series.

Unlike the land-locked location shooting of TWD, there is something special about the water-based residence entwined with the latina landscape of FTWD that makes for a wonderful experience for the eyes. Like its parent series or a series like LOST on that island, the location of the series lends an important component of the series' personality.

FTWD is still recommended. It may not be as strong and perhaps a little more unfocused than that first season and/or TWD, but it still continues to impress and packs quite a bite.

Some of the final episodes of Season Two are particularly savage. The transformation the new world/ walking dead universe forces upon, by all standards, our ordinary people, proves the zombie apocalypse brings out the worst in many of us and even sometimes the best in us or the worst even from the best of us. Despite all good attentions the forces of our environment dictate our behavioral response and offer us a picture of the worst of humanity in Robert Kirkman's influenced and inspired world more often than the best. Despite the best of intentions there are variables and events that force our hand and the instinct to survive can sometimes reveal the basest of human behavior.

There are some truly disturbing moments and some real lessons about the savagery of humanity. How we choose to respond in that environment proves that we don't always have the best choice when it comes down to sheer survival.

Fear The Walking Dead intelligently walks that line of a civilization turning just like those very people embodying this new zombie space. Essential for fans of The Walking Dead.

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