We may only be in the second season of Fear the Walking Dead, but it’s been a long, hard road for fans. We’ve had downs… we’ve had, uh, downs. OK, fine, we’ve had a few ups, but they’ve been far and few between. So, when it has been such a struggle to invest ourselves in the original characters, why in fresh hell does Fear keep introducing new ones?
As a huge fan of The Walking Dead, I hate that I wind up giving Fear such a hard time almost every single week. Plus, I’m a Southerner, y’all… it’s deeply ingrained in us from an early age that if you don’t have anything nice to say, you just don’t say anything at all.
Alas, since I’ve always erred more on the side of the honesty-is-the-best-policy mantra, I feel it would be a disservice to the producers of Fear not to call attention to the fact that fans are not happy.
We have tried. Right, you guys? We wanted to like the Clark-Manawa clan. We wanted to love the series just as we’ve loved The Walking Dead. However, we just haven’t managed to find that magical chemistry we have with Rick Grimes and the gang.
And every time it seems like we’re taking a step forward in the right direction — last week’s kiss between Nick and Luciana piqued our interest — the next episode comes along and catapults us three steps back.
Take this week’s episode, for instance. It’s not that nothing noteworthy happened in “Pillar of Salt.” The whole (spoiler alert! spoiler alert!) Strand getting stabbed in the stomach thing was a suspenseful moment. Well, for like a minute at least, until it was evident he was going to be A-OK.
In Madison’s new role as one of the leaders at the hotel she, Strand and Alicia are holed up in, along with several other survivors, the matriarch nearly crossed paths with Nick. That was almost exciting too.
But here’s the big problem with this episode, and with Fear at large, is it’s too gosh-damn splintered. There are so many sub-stories and tertiary characters that I have trouble keeping up. I had barely nailed down the names of everyone in the Clark-Manawa family when they starting dog-piling the audience with new faces and names each week.
Not only do we have multiple arcs to follow in our original group — that of Nick, Ofelia, Travis and, lastly, the newly reunited Madison, Strand and Alicia — but we have also now been tasked with trying to figure out what’s going on with the people of the farm community in Tijuana.
And with the survivors staying at the hotel with Madison, Strand and Alicia. And with Chris and his bad-news buddies. And… and… seriously, there are so many that I have lost track. If I’m really being honest, I still sometimes have to refer to IMDB’s cast notes to remember who is who in this series.
By the second season of The Walking Dead, I was here for it. I knew every character’s name, as well as the actors portraying those characters. Even when The Walking Dead brought in new characters, they integrated them in a way that made it easy to form that familial connection an audience needs to feel with a character if we’re going to go all in for them.
I’m just not there with the Clark-Manawa family. And since the series didn’t give me the breathing room I needed to form attachments to them before they paraded a ton of new (equally non-memorable) characters out, I may never be.