What’s Your Story?
Another Day in the Diamond
Good Out Here
Just in Case
The Wrong Side of Where You Are Now
No One’s Gone
People Like Us
Close Your Eyes
I Lose People…
…I Lose Myself
Warning! Spoilers below for character deaths this season.
The Walking Dead’s spin-off cousin, Fear The Walking Dead, has had quite the tumultuous ride since it came on air. From it’s promising opening few episodes to a rocky narrative for large stretches of its first and second seasons, Fear rose from the ashes to deliver a really impressive third season. With a new showrunner and a time-jump beyond the years of The Walking Dead, Fear The Walking Dead’s fourth season changes the tone and mood of the show to something more in-line to The Walking Dead, with mixed results. From back and forth flashbacks early on through to strange stylistic choices, Fear stumbles aimlessly through its episodes with glimmers of brilliance that are never quite given the time to shine.
Split across 16 episodes, Fear The Walking Dead cuts its story into two 8-episode parts. The first sees the familiar faces of old, including Madison, Alycia and Nick, finding refuge in their own community within a stadium. This comes under threat by a menacing caravan of people known as The Vultures whilst new-face Morgan comes across the remnants of the community later on down the timeline. With a split narrative focus between two time periods, aptly named “Then” and “Now”, some shocking twists see the core part of the cast ripped out and replaced with uncharismatic characters in their stead.
The second half splits this new misfit group up, with the fallout of the first half’s storyline coming into fruition. Alicia’s character goes through a pretty drastic transformation while Morgan goes it alone again, before coming across some new faces along the way and deciding not to. These fractured groups eventually do converge as the new antagonist rises up with a confused, convoluted message of “Take what you need, leave what you don’t” mixed with hunting the group to make them stronger than they were before.
If I’m honest, Fear The Walking Dead’s fourth season is a bit of a mixed bag. The itnroduction of The Walking Dead’s Morgan is both the blessing and curse of the show. On the one hand, there’s some good stand-alone episodes and an interesting narrative, combined with good cameos early on to tie everything together into one big universe. On the other hand, his zen-like state is something we’ve seen numerous times on The Walking Dead and it feels saturated and well-worn by this point in his run. Other characters, like Nick and Madison, are under-utilized and at worse, killed off completely by the halfway point.
Stylistically, Fear The Walking Dead uses the same washed out grey aesthetic seen in The Walking Dead making for quite a visually unappealing series. The sicky yellow hues used for flashbacks are a nice inclusion but at times it just feels more distracting than it should. Ironically, one of the best episodes of the series, Laura, is a straight forward linear story and these intimate character episodes are ultimately the saving grace of the season.
There’s a real problem with “Show, don’t tell” here too, with major plot points cheapened by the characters talking about it into the camera with our new character Althea, which becomes a staple for most of the narrative this season. From POV shots through the camera to numerous interview segments with different characters, this interesting plot device quickly becomes overdone and cliched as the episodes drag on.
With a pretty anticlimactic finale and a season mired with questionable character decisions and some pretty lazy plotting, Fear The Walking Dead takes a big step backwards from its third season. There are some decent scenes here though and some of the character work is quite good too but on the whole, Fear is a shadow of the show it was last year.
The Walking Dead’s lethargic plotting and inconsistent writing infects its way into Fear The Walking Dead and quite what this means for the future is left up for debate. Given how The Walking Dead has turned things around in its 9th season, there’s still hope for Fear yet but if it sticks to the same formula next season, I’m certainly fearing the future of this show.