Fear The Walking Dead S1E3: The Dog

 The dog in question dies, if you were interested.

Fear The Walking Dead’s third episode is not giving me much hope for the rest of the season. The quality of episodes has been going steadily down since the pilot instead of improving as I’d hoped. Episode Three features some of the most inconsistent pacing and narrative that I’ve ever seen in a TV show, especially one with Fear’s budget. The story limps from one point to another without maintaining consistent tension, and several characters have already displayed attitudes that contradict their actions in previous episodes. I’m still hoping that these are early-episode stumbles and that Fear will eventually straighten itself up. The alternative is dealing with two full seasons of…this. It’s disappointing.

Still, Fear did have its moments this episode. We got to learn a bit more about the Salazar family, who introduced some interesting new character dynamics as well as establishing who’s most likely to survive the zombie apocalypse in one piece. (Spoiler: it’s the dude with the gun that is actually willing to use it). The clear generational divide in the Salazar family, as well as the tension between the American-born Ofelia and her refugee parents, added some realistic tension to a story that clearly needs a dose of it. Reality, that is.

See, another problem that Fear has had is that it’s trying to build a world that doesn’t know about zombies – a world that has no notion of even the fictional version. No myths of corpses rising from the grave to stalk the living, no 80s grindhouse films to laugh at over popcorn. Thus, what the characters face is completely alien to them. They have no way of comprehending or compartmentalizing what is happening to them, because it has no basis in their reality – or even their fiction.

The problem is, the audience already knows all the rules of the zombie genre. Watching characters play catch-up is annoying, and Fear has unfortunately been doing that for three episodes straight. Furthermore, it doesn’t establish what this world has in place of zombie stories – what myths do these people have about death? It’s clearly not the same as our world. Do they have ghosts and killer diseases inside their science fiction? How will that help the characters come to terms with the events going on around them?

So far, the world of Fear hasn’t proven itself to be especially well thought-out. Perceptions of police brutality spark a protest, but the resulting riot seems to be included for the sake of filming chaotic crowd scenes – without really considering that it was started by desperate people trapped with zombies in a situation that was both started by the police and made incredibly worse by the actions they took. If Fear is going to depict these sorts of events, then the writers need to really understand what they’re saying and how. You know who starts riots for funsies? White people. You know who starts riots because they’re legitimately angry, frustrated, and have been rebuffed by the system that’s supposed to protect them? Activists. That’s a very important distinction that Fear seems to have overlooked.

At this point, I can’t honestly recommend continuing with this show to anyone else. On an artistic level, the storytelling just isn’t up to par. It’s lazy, contradicts itself, and doesn’t maintain a consistent level of tension. The visuals are great, but it’s not enough to stick with a show just because it’s pretty. I’m liking the acting so far, but the script is making me groan.

Personally, I’m going to be sticking with Fear at least until the end of the first season because it’s talking about things I find interesting, even if I don’t agree with the show’s perspective on them. But I’m not going to make anyone else do it if they’re not sold already. Maybe things will get better. Most shows establish themselves in the first three episodes. Some nail it in the pilot. And some take a little bit longer. (The 100, for example). Fear is touching on some important and very relevant issues, including racism, class divisions, activism, and the consequences of relying on what’s becoming a police state in-story. I’ll be watching to see what Fear has to say.

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