Fear The Walking Dead’s two-part, ninety minute mid-season finalé proved that it’s the character driven drama that matters most…
The third season began bravely by killing off dead-weight Travis at the beginning of the second episode and has gone on to be the most zombie-lite zombie series of all time.
Instead, Fear The Walking Dead concentrated on the tensions within the Otto family ranch and latterly, between white man and Native American over land ownership. At first, I baulked at the idea of Native Americans being represented as violent and anything other than innocents but two important points must be considered.
First, not all Indian tribes were earth-worshiping dudes, some were fearsome, war-mongering, plundering, warrior raiders – I certainly wouldn’t mess with no Huron or Comanche (I only found out two days ago that Comanche translated as “enemy” thanks to a great hesit movie called Hell or High Water – who’s enemy? Everyone’s, muthafucker! Just like Madison)
The second point is that Walker and his gang of post-apocalyptic Native Americans are just taking Malcolm X’s stand rather than Dr King’s and after the genocide of 100 million of their ancestors, who can blame them?
In going down this path, the series has made some brave statements about white people’s attitudes, racism and colonialism which need to be heard and injected into mainstream media in a world so apathetic and blind to the truth.
Back to the finalé, “Children of Wrath” had everything – the brilliantly well-handled return of an old face in Ofelia and her new loyalty after she was found abandoned in the desert by Jeremiah’s racism and saved by Walker. Hence, her very believable double-cross was explained via the perfect use of flashback… even if the poisoning was a little unrealistic.
The latter half of the season told the very believable story of three clashing families (the Clarks, the Ottos and The Nation) doing whatever it takes to survive. And it did it without preening, over-the-top, wise-cracking, moustache and baseball bat twirling villains and tiger attacks.
Season 3A culminated in Madison revealing she killed her abusive father and Nick manning up to ensure she didn’t repeat history (and therefore carrying the burden of murder himself) when he caused Indian murdering sonofabitch, Jerimiah’s very necessary demise with a bullet to the head.
Save for a few lines within his daughter Ofelia’s desert hallucination, we didn’t catch up with Daniel Slazar, but we did meet up with Victor Strand long enough to see him take out a few zombies on his most beloved things: his boat, The Abigail… and Champagne.
Then writer Jami O’Brien, (Hell on Wheels) had a drunk and suicidal Victor find redemption and rebirth from the unlikelist of sources – a Chekhov, Wilde, O’Neil and Marx-quoting Russian cosmonaut on the International Space Station. Genius is an overused word, but this was it.
The penultimate episode “The Unveiling” saw about the same minute of zombie action after Ofelia’s poison, so over ninety-two minutes, we had a total of two minutes of zombie screentime.
But far from complaining, this everything but the zombie approach (together with tackling some very real societal issues head-on) goes to show how Fear The Waking Dead is bigger, braver and more beautiful than its big brother.
The Walking Dead would never even contemplate going a single ‘sode without zombies. Excellent as Greg Nicotero’s zombie FX are, The Walking Dead without a huge zombie set-piece is like an episode of Sons of Anarchy with a motorbike chase and a musical montage.
Speaking of which, we got one of those too for the final few minutes of FTWD!
Fear The Walking Dead is back in September for the back nine… well – eight. And long may it continue.