TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead 7.5 “Til Death” (dir by Lennie James)


I can still remember when Fear the Walking Dead first started back in 2015.

The premise, as you may remember, was that the show was going to take place in the “world of The Walking Dead” but that it was going to deal with an entirely new group of characters and follow them through the early days of the zombie apocalypse.  Would there be crossovers with the main show?  While AMC refused to rule them out, it was also said that the world of the Walking Dead was so compelling and fully realized that there really was no real need to bring over Rick, Darryl, Morgan, or anyone else from the original show.  In fact, since Fear the Walking Dead was a prequel, it really wouldn’t make any sense to have any of the original show’s characters show up for anything more than a winking cameo.  Instead, audiences would be thrilled with the new cast of doctors, drug addicts, and city planners.

Well, that didn’t quite work out.  It turned out that audiences didn’t really respond to the entirely new cast and so almost all of them were killed off, Lennie James switched from the main show to the spinoff, and, from season 4 on, Fear the Walking Dead became the Morgan show.

And I’m really not complaining.  I tried to watch the early seasons of Fear The Walking Dead and I was so bored that I gave up on the show fairly quickly.  However, I’ve been mostly entertained by the seventh and final season of Fear The Walking Dead.  Yes, there have been a few pacing issues but, at this point, that’s something that anyone who has ever watched more than a handful of episodes of The Walking Dead and its spin-offs should be used to.  But still, I enjoy Fear the Walking Dead‘s rather surreal landscape.  Colman Domingo’s wonderfully weird performance is always entertaining to watch.  I’m even somewhat interested in discovering who Padre is, even though I know the character probably won’t live up to all the hype.  At this point, unless he turns out to be Rick, there’s no way Padre can meet the expectations that have been set for him.

Last Sunday, Dwight and Sherry joined the search for Padre.  Like Morgan, Dwight and Sherry were originally on The Walking Dead.  Dwight was one of Negan’s lieutenants.  Sherry was his wife.  Now, they’re “ethical outlaws,” riding across the radioactive landscape of Texas and protecting those in need.  During the latest episode, Strand tried to get Dwight and Sherry to join his organization and Dwight was certainly tempted.  But, in the end, they did the right thing and helped a woman named Mickey find and put down her reanimated husband.  They then teamed up with the Stalkers to continue their search for Padre …. okay, so the plot summary sounds a little absurd and, to be honest, the idea of Dwight and Sherry calling themselves the Dark Horses and fighting for the bullied is a little absurd.  But, and this is the secret as to why Fear the Walking Dead‘s final season has been so enjoyable, the show seems to be aware of how absurd it all is.  Whereas The Walking Dead would have taken the whole “ethical outlaw” thing way too seriously, Fear the Walking Dead is willing to have fun with it all.

And this Sunday’s episode was a fun one.  Apparently, with The Walking Dead and its two spin-offs coming to a close with the end of their current seasons, AMC is planning on keeping the franchie alive with an anthology series.  Hopefully, the Dark Horses will appear in more than a few episodes.  As much as I disliked them on The Walking Dead, Dwight and Sherry are a blast on Fear the Waling Dead.  Dark Horses forever!

A Few Thoughts On The Walking Dead 7.3 “The Cell” (dir by Alrick Riley)


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I’ve been on twitter, reading everyone’s reactions to the latest episode of The Walking Dead, and I’ve noticed a definite pattern.

People who read the comic along with watching the TV show seemed to be pretty excited by tonight’s episode.  They were happy that Dwight (played by Austin Amelio) and his wife, Sherry (Christine Evangelista), were prominently featured.  I mean, make no mistake.  This episode may have technically been a Daryl episode but, for the most part, it was pretty much set up to highlight Dwight and Sherry.

Of course, it was also set up to give us some insight into the way that Negan runs things.  We got to see the Sanctuary, the home base of the Saviors, and it’s not really that surprising that it turned out to be the testosterone-fueled Hellhole of everyone’s nightmares.  On the plus side, the Sanctuary has power.  It has music.  It has a TV, though there doesn’t appear to be any good programming.  Is a world where the only available entertainment features Tony Danza a world worth saving?

And Negan — well, Negan’s still an asshole.  He’s still strutting around with Lucille, bullying everyone that he comes in contact with.  Obviously, we were meant to compare Negan’s leadership style to King Ezekiel’s.  Ezekiel rules through fantasy.  Negan rules through fear.  No wonder Gordon tried to leave.

(Gordon’s execution would have been far more powerful if we had more of an idea of who Gordon was meant to be.  Then again, that scene was more about Dwight than Gordon.)

Negan is also trying to brainwash Daryl and it’s obvious that Dwight is more than a little jealous.  I liked the fact that Dwight didn’t seem to know if he wanted to kill Daryl or beg Daryl to be his best friend.  Watching Negan and Daryl, I couldn’t help but think about Merle and the Governor.  Of course, that didn’t end well as far as the Dixon family is concerned…

As I said, those who read the comic appeared to enjoy tonight’s episode.  On the other hand, viewers who weren’t familiar with the comic seemed to be a bit disappointed.  On twitter, they complained that tonight’s episode was too slow and anti-climatic.  Interestingly enough, a lot of them said the same thing about last week’s episode with King Ezekiel.

Myself, I have to say that The Cell didn’t do much for me.  Last week’s episode may have been slow but, after all the shit that went down in the premiere, I was kind of thankful for a slow episode that featured at least a little humor.  But with The Cell, The Walking Dead essentially followed one slow episode with another slow episode, the difference being that this one didn’t really accomplish much.

As I watched day-to-day life in the Sanctuary, I couldn’t help but think about Lost.  You remember when Jack, Sawyer, and Kate ended up spending a handful of episodes living with The Others?  The society of the Others was genuinely interesting.  You could actually imagine watching an alternate version of Lost where the Others would have been the main characters and the Oceanic passengers would have been the rarely seen villains.

You really can’t say the same of The Saviors and life at Sanctuary.  The Saviors may be scary and menacing and dangerous but they’re also more than a little boring.  I’ve praised Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s performance in the past but, with tonight’s episode, I started to wonder if there was anything more to Morgan’s Negan than what we’ve already seen.  Yes, Negan’s a bully.  Yes, he’s an asshole.  Yes, I’d love to see him devoured by a walker.  But I could say the same about a lot of the characters on The Walking Dead.  What is it about the television version of Negan that sets him apart from every other wannabe dictator on this show?

To a certain extent, it reminded me of when Colin Hanks showed up as a serial killer on Dexter.  I watched him and I thought, “Yeah, he’s pretty fucked up but who isn’t on this show?”  At this point, just being fucked up isn’t enough.

What the show needs is one episode — just one — where Negan isn’t bellowing and threatening everyone that he sees.  We need one episode where we can see who Negan was before the zombie apocalypse and who he is now when he’s not hiding behind Lucille.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a seriously talented actor and he’s capable of a lot more than just playing a one-dimensional villain.

I hope that The Walking Dead eventually gives him a chance to show everyone how true that is.

I do want to end this review on a positive note so I will say two things:

  1. This episode was directed by Alrick Riley, who previously directed several episodes of an intriguing British spy show called MI5 (a.k.a. Spooks).
  2. That scene with the walker falling out of the sky totally freaked me out!