Despite a great performance from Jeffey Dean Morgan as the villainous Negan, there's no denying that fans of hit #AMC zombie apocalypse drama #TheWalkingDead were left disappointed by the show's seventh season. The latest season suffered from slow storytelling, bad CGI (who could forget that deer?) and a series of boring episodes. While the season finale was a vast improvement, there's no doubt that the season was a bit of a letdown after all the hype and it received prior to airing. Tiger or no tiger, Season 7 was pretty bad.
However, as The Walking Dead attempts to recover from its missteps, the spinoff series Fear The Walking Dead is beginning to thrive. Fear returned to screens this week with a jaw-dropping two-hour season premiere and, despite bringing in less than half the viewership of its parent show, it delivered a fast-paced, action-packed episode that was more satisfying than the The Walking Dead's entire seventh season. Spoilers for both shows follow.
The 'Fear' Survivors Didn't Need 16 Episodes To Prepare For War
The unusual storytelling formula of The Walking Dead Season 7 is the primary reason it received such a bad reputation. The show would spend an entire episode on one character before moving onto another character the following week. Moreover, none of the Alexandrians opposed Negan, the heinous villain who took all of their belongings.
Instead of fighting, the survivors discussed their options and changed their minds several times over the course of 16 episodes before finally deciding they wanted to fight. Additionally, the one character who would have instantaneously taken out Negan is Carol, but the writers cleverly wrote her out of the main storyline during this period so that was not an option.
On this week's Fear The Walking Dead, Madison, Alicia and Travis were taken hostage by Troy — the show's new villain. Like the Walking Dead survivors, they found themselves thrust into a new situation with no weapons and no hope. However, the Fear characters didn't sit down and discuss surrendering; instead Madison used a spoon to fight Troy and take back her family.
Yes, you read that right, she used a spoon. Seriously, imagine what the TWD characters could do if they had half the determination and imagination of Madison Clark. The Clark family successfully overcame their opposition — and by the end of the episode, Troy realized that they were not be trifled with. It took Madison five minutes to take on the threat, not 16 episodes.
'Fear' Reminded Us That The Walkers Are Still The Real Threat
One of the greatest things about Fear The Walking Dead is that the show never fails in reminding us of how terrifying this post apocalyptic world is — no matter where Madison, Nick and Alicia find themselves, their main enemy is still the ever-present undead. The Season 3 premiere saw our protagonists encounter a herd of zombies on more than one occasion, and Travis even found himself taking on several undead beings by himself. In contrast, The Walking Dead's seventh season focused too heavily on the threat of Negan and, as a result, they neglected the zombies.
In fact, when Rick and Michonne were out exploring in "Say Yes," the pair had a laugh while taking out the zombies. As viewers, we've almost gotten to the stage where we no longer fear for the characters of The Walking Dead when they are out of Alexandria exploring, because the writers prefer to kill them when facing human threats as opposed to walkers.
In Fear The Walking Dead, our hearts raced when Madison and Nick were confronted by the undead army. The Walking Dead has become complacent whereas the zombies are concerned — and, Negan or no Negan, the show needs to take a page out of Fear's book and remember that the real threat is the one that's not breathing.
The Death Of A Main Character Doesn't Have To Be A Big Deal
One of the biggest complaints about Season 7 of The Walking Dead was the level of violence used during the horrifying season premiere, "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be," which saw Glenn Rhee and Abraham Ford lose their lives in a gruesome manner.
Don't get me wrong, we all cried at the loss of these two characters — specifically Glenn — but the showrunners had hyped up the impending deaths for months before the episode aired which, as a result, led to many fans guessing the identities of the two who would fall victim to Negan's bat. Moreover, the writers deliberately left the death revelation until the latter half of the episode, exploiting viewers' fears and, quite possibly, to maintain viewership throughout.
During the Season 3 premiere of Fear, we were shocked when Travis lost his life because we had no idea it was going to happen. Moreover, his untimely demise occurred at the very beginning of the second episode — there were no typical #TV tropes, no unnecessary extensions, and it was completely unpredictable.
Additionally, Travis wasn't killed in a typical Walking Dead fashion; there was no bludgeoning, there was no beheading — he was simply shot during a helicopter ride. It was a blink and you'll miss it sort of death, similar to Anya in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. After everything Travis had overcome, his death was easily avoidable, which makes it all the more tragic. It was a brilliant move for the Fear The Walking Dead writers and it definitely paid off.
One of the worst things about The Walking Dead's seventh season was the fact that Negan, brilliant as he is, became a main character at the expense of the others. Suddenly, as viewers, we were expected to have a desire to follow Negan's escapades at the Sanctuary after what he did to Glenn and Abraham.
The character received several feature length episodes all to himself and delivered several mind-numbing monologues that did little for us except paint him as a pantomime villain. While Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays the part brilliantly, the script often lets the character down as Negan can come across like a caricature.
The show could easily fix this by giving us a little bit of background on the Negan character. For example, we know very little about the tyrant and what he did before the apocalypse. Throughout the season, Negan was portrayed as nothing more than a typical villain, threatening to kill all those who oppose him and has little regard for human life. While the biblical mythology is a neat idea, it simply lends itself to the notion that Negan is a one-dimensional tyrant who bends people to his will and forces them to become his loyal subjects.
Despite being of a similar nature, Fear's new threat, Troy, has more dimension than Negan because we actually heard about his his life before the world went mad. We were informed that Troy has always had things handed to him and therefore he's used to getting his own way, something that his family is aware of. In one short line delivered by Troy's brother, viewers are able to understand why Troy is the way that he is, whereas we are still waiting on such an explanation for the Negan character.
While The Walking Dead will likely come back fighting with Season 8, the hit show had better watch out, because Fear The Walking Dead is getting better and better — and if Fear's Season 3 premiere is anything to go by, then The Walking Dead may no longer be the best zombie drama on TV. Unlike The Walking Dead's latest season, the premiere episode of Fear The Walking Dead has left us wanting more.
Fear The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
Do you think The Walking Dead should take lessons from Fear The Walking Dead? Tell us in the comment section below.