Fear the Walking Dead: Pilot
August 24, 2015 7:56 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Strange things are happening in Los Angeles, as we meet a family struggling to deal with their drug addicted son.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (52 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Recaps: Variety and EW, while Vulture weighs in with thoughts.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:03 AM on August 24, 2015

In case you weren't sure what this is about, I'll save you a moment of searching and copy a bit from Wikipedia:
Fear the Walking Dead is an American television series created by Robert Kirkman and Dave Erickson that premiered on AMC on August 23, 2015. It is a spin-off and a prequel series to the horror drama television series The Walking Dead.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:05 AM on August 24, 2015

It has potential but I didn't care for the pilot. The "coming up" previews looked promising.

I don't care about the family yet. For the most part I didn't like any of them. I was glad to see Randy Wagstaff dating the daughter though!

The news footage of the shooting/zombie was weird. "Look, this weird thing happened last night so everyone has to panic and leave school now." What was that about? I realize there was some sort of mystery flu on-going that everyone was worried about but they didn't make it obvious that one had to do with the other.

The mom and dad investigating the church was also stupid. "Hey, our son warned us about something really violent and horrible that happened at this abandoned church where junkies live. Let me go check it out alone and at night!" It's like they've never seen a horror movie before.

The ending scene with the zombie dealer / friend was also hard to believe.

I don't like to be so negative; I want this show to work and I think it eventually will. As a pilot, though, it didn't really drag me in. It's been a while since I've watched a show from episode 1 though (usually I binge to catch up or binge an entire series) so I'm not used to not being hooked the first night I watch something. I will be happy if by episode 3 or 4 I am eagerly waiting for the next one.
posted by bondcliff at 9:10 AM on August 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

Could have been worse. I kind of wish we didn't know all the back story, because they could have done a lot more with the whole 'is Nick insane?" thing. That was well acted and compelling. But instead, he turns into The One Who Knows About Zombies. Kind of boring.

I read in one of the reviews that episode 2 features a rally against police brutality. Really? That might be the point at which I never watch this show again, depending on how it plays out. Battlestar Galactica did a good job dealing with questions of civil unrest in dangerous times, maybe this show can too.
posted by natteringnabob at 9:14 AM on August 24, 2015

I took the weird reaction to the attack on the highway as a bad omen about how much the authorities actually know.

The stepdad character was kind of interesting to me, as they set up from the very beginning with the plumbing scene that he is prone to diving in to try and tackle problems he may or may not be suited to handle. It made it more plausible for me when he went into the shooting gallery.

Comrade Doll also felt they were foreshadowing that the junkie kid's mom may have had some substance abuse issues in her own past. Seeing this play out against the backdrop of basically the apocalypse sounds interesting to me.

I won't disagree with the assessment that not a ton happened and that it could have been more gripping, but I mostly liked the groundwork they were laying down for how these characters will progress.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:21 AM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I know the whole point of the Walking Dead franchise is to take a narrow-bore approach to the zombie apocalypse, but there is such a thing as being too narrow. I half expected a zombie to wander past in the background while the protagonist couple were talking about their children.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:03 AM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

It wasn't bad. It wasn't good. The family itself was a bit boring, though the acting was fine. As a first episode that lays groundwork, it's fine, but I do wish the characters themselves were a bit more gripping.

There's some mildly pedantic nerd rage over various links that talked about we'd Patient Zero, aka Gloria in the church. But clearly she wasn't a patient zero, there's been things going on for a while. Also, it's odd that dealer at the end turned into a zombie without being bitten. That's odd, to say the least.

There's nothing very scary or or foreboding about the rise of the zombies, it seems very by the numbers. Contrast this with the Game of Thrones episode where they fought the White Walkers, in particular the end. There was definitely a "holy shit, oh my god that's terrifying" moment when all the dead rose as one.

In FtWD, that final scene with the dealer should have had some of that same terror to it. The dealer was shot, hit twice by a car and all the family could do is dispassionately wonder "What the hell is going?!" The dead are rising. Act like you care, or I won't.

Yeah, I'll continue watching, simply because it's Sunday night and there's not much else on at the moment. Not exactly high praise.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:08 AM on August 24, 2015

Also, was the wife/mother actually bitten by the dealer? I'm guessing not, as nothing much was made of it. But like the scene with the principal, it felt like a weak attempt at a thrill.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:09 AM on August 24, 2015

Randy Wagstaff

omg thank you for not making me google this. I kept squinting at him trying to remember what show he had been on as a little boy.

Anyway, I was frustrated that we are in Episode 1 and already we have the characters acting in utterly non-human ways, which is par for the Walking Dead course as we have discussed in many previous episode threads. Your girlfriend's junkie kid tells you that he witnessed a horrifying murder in his drug den? Yes, definitely go check it out at nighttime by yourself! Also, GO BACK AGAIN even after you find blood and guts all over the floor. And later, when you drive through a tunnel that empties out into an enormous paved area, clearly it is sensible to back your truck up through the tunnel to leave, instead of simply pulling forward and doing a quick U-turn.
posted by gatorae at 12:05 PM on August 24, 2015 [5 favorites]

he news footage of the shooting/zombie was weird. "Look, this weird thing happened last night so everyone has to panic and leave school now."

Ha, my husband's reaction to that scene was that of an angry parent. "Why are the teachers all leaving at the same time as the children? Shouldn't they make sure the children leave safely first?" Whereas my reaction was like yours. "Youtube videos are shutting down schools???"
posted by gatorae at 12:15 PM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

While we were watching it and Nick's hospital roommate was flatlining, a doctor said something like, "This patient needs to be downstairs right now!"

At the time, I commented, "This patient needs to die in the elevator!"

What I missed, but read in a recap somewhere, was that that was an odd thing for the doctor to say - they were practically still in mid-CLEAR mode. So they were whisking him away immediately upon death - because the dead are rising, sans biting? Since we're all infected?

When the old guy was wheezey and such, I was cringing at the thought of him dying and turning, with Nick restrained there. ack!

Haven't seen that actor before (sheltered), but was pretty impressed with his performance by the end.
posted by Occula at 1:21 PM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I just realized that the drug dealer friend of the brother is a different person than the sister's boyfriend since only one black person can be on TWD at the same time. I guess I thought the same rule applied here.

I thought the episode was good for a pilot. It probably wouldn't do much for me without the promise of zombies to come though. Also, I really like the actress who plays the mom so I want to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Is it a spoiler to answer questions raised here with answers given in TWD universe, since they are the same universe? Can we assume that everyone here has watched/is watching TWD?
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:28 PM on August 24, 2015

Brandon Blatcher Also, it's odd that dealer at the end turned into a zombie without being bitten. That's odd, to say the least.

It's established cannon that everyone's infected and turn once they die regardless of cause of death.

Being bitten very greatly accelerates the dying part of the process (unless the affect bodily extremity is removed shortly after being acutely infected).
posted by porpoise at 4:14 PM on August 24, 2015 [4 favorites]

I did sort of like the implication made a couple of times that there is an underworld of homeless and destitute in LA that zombie-ism could spread through without being much noticed because Los Angelenos are so used to just ignoring it.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:33 PM on August 24, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'll watch anything with Kim Dickens, and what a joy to see Cliff Curtis get such meaty (ahem) role. The best though? Seeing Rubén Blades in the teaser for episode 2! Overall the pilot was kind of meh, but I'll keep watching just to see these actors.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 7:39 PM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's established cannon that everyone's infected and turn once they die regardless of cause of death.


I wasn't blown away by this pilot, but I didn't expect to be—pilots are never standout episodes. They're establishing the characters and the backstory, and the actors are still finding their voices. It left me wanting to know what happens next, which is what a pilot should do. I'll give it a few more episodes before I pass judgment. Some of my favorite shows started out with some pretty rocky episodes, and I didn't think this one was especially rocky.

I do hope that the different focus—urban instead of rural, amidst the chaos of the outbreak instead of post-apocalyptic—will give the show its own flavor and allow them to tell different kinds of stories.

The characters did behave in dumb ways at times. Now, if television characters always played it safe, behaved in perfectly rational ways, and called the authorities instead of getting involved, most shows wouldn't have much plot to work with. But it did feel a little forced and arbitrary.

"Look, this weird thing happened last night so everyone has to panic and leave school now."

That was perhaps the most egregious forced plot point.

Hopefully, as civilization starts to fall apart, it'll be easier for the writers to devise exciting scenarios for the characters to get into, without forcing them to trot gladly toward obvious danger. There will be an increasingly desperate and violent police and military response, threats from looters and opportunists, conflicting and dubious information from the government and media, an overwhelmed medical system, breakdown of transportation and communication—and, of course, zombies around every other corner. The characters are basically in the middle of a rapidly developing war zone; I hope the writers can come up with some believable conflict.

There's nothing very scary or or foreboding about the rise of the zombies, it seems very by the numbers.

People are still figuring out exactly what's going on. A few people have seen some shocking and unexplainable things, but that's all so far.

I didn't read the family's reaction to zombie-Calvin as dispassionate—more like dumbfounded shock.

Lastly: it occurred to me that the choice to focus on one family has the potential to remove some of the stakes. One of the things that makes the original series worth watching is that no character is safe. But when your main cast is restricted to a four-person family, you can't kill off many characters before you run out of family. They could easily fall into a pattern of introducing secondary characters just to give them someone to kill off.

Not that killing off characters is the only way to make a show dramatic or interesting, but you can't have a zombie apocalypse without spilling a fair amount blood.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:16 PM on August 24, 2015

This was every bit as bad as I thought it would be from watching the preview, and from seeing the initial promotional material. Terrible.

pilots are never standout episodes.

Have you seen the pilot for The Walking Dead? I'd watch it again right now if it was on. It's great, even if it isn't without its problems. And this pilot was terrible.

I knew when they introduced multiple black characters and they had lines, that one of them would be dead by the end of the episode. I'd pegged it as the daughter's boyfriend. You know, the spray-painting "I'm not smart enough to teach" guy.

The show actually had the nerve to take the clean-cut, apparently completely harmless black guy who is a friend, who is just over at his parents house, and make him not only a drug dealer, but a cold-hearted, murdering drug dealer. Come on!

Did this show learn nothing from the criticisms of The Walking Dead?

This show is The Fosters, with zombies. I mean down to Callie being pissed. I hope in the coming episodes her dad comes up to the restaurant she works at, and bites her. I hope this whole family gets killed off, and the show gets killed off with it. Terrible show. Same stupid nonsense - kill off black characters.

Will we ever see Calvin's family mourn? Will we ever see his mother and father crying, wondering what happened, and will heroin boy explain that he shot Calvin in the chest, then backed over him, then ran over him, then revved the engine and threw his body threw the air into a gulch, and then shown with a violently displaced and warped arm? Of course not.

The bloodiest, most agonizing deaths have been black characters on this series of shows. I'm pretty sure they got criticized for the last time they did it, now they did it again. Why weren't heroin boy's parents completely distressed over Calvin's ultra violent death? If that had been some pretty white girl drug dealer they watched getting run over multiple times, would they have just been like "Huh....so weird... alright, lets go get tacos and watch the news". Hell no.

I had given the show the benefit of the doubt. As I got about half way through, I was encouraged that they had the principle, the one student who fell asleep, the boyfriend, and Calvin, and though I was worried one would be the first one with a speaking role to get killed off, as is so common on television, I still praised their characters because they all seemed pretty standard.

Then they literally gave Calvin a black hat and turned him into some secretly violent drug dealer who kills off his customers when he thinks they've told their teacher parents about him. So ridiculous. The Fosters with Zombies. Terribly thought out, poor casting, poor script, and falling victim to the same poor choices The Walking Dead got criticized for over the years. AMC, do you never learn?
posted by cashman at 8:38 PM on August 24, 2015 [8 favorites]

I enjoyed the pilot, but I have concerns about how they can make this premise work. Especially over the long run.

It's established canon that everyone's infected and turn once they die regardless of cause of death.

Yep, and that works fine in TWD where the world has already crashed and burned and you can just present that as the way things are now. Sucks to be you. But how does it work here? Right now people are dying all the time and not coming back. Then, the show posits that at some point "we're all infected" and everyone who dies comes back.

So okay, how - and when - did that happen? Was it all 7 billion humans at once? In the real world there are people dying every day - mostly old people in hospitals and nursing care facilities. If suddenly at 2:00 pm eastern time on Tuesday, they suddenly start reanimating, we'd notice that pretty much immediately. I know they're hinting that the authorities know this and are trying to keep a lid on it because they just don't know what the fuck to do, but it would be hard to hide something like that.

Also, this first "season" is a six episode run, but they've already bought a 10-episode second season. So how long can they keep showing us the process? How long can the world fall apart before it's no longer falling apart but just... well, fallen apart? In other words, how long can they keep doing this show before it stops being Fear the Walking Dead and is just plain The Walking Dead, the West Coast version?
posted by Naberius at 8:03 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

"What I missed, but read in a recap somewhere, was that that was an odd thing for the doctor to say - they were practically still in mid-CLEAR mode. So they were whisking him away immediately upon death - because the dead are rising, sans biting? Since we're all infected?"

Yeah, the doctor said something off-screen - I believe while the camera was focused on junkie son's face - about, "How much do we have downstairs?" or something along those lines. At first I was thinking, "How much ... what? Like, you have a serum or antidote or whatever just hanging out in a supply closet?"

And then as soon as they're working on the guy and they said, "We gotta get him downstairs" I thought, "Oh. I see. That's where they're taking everyone that dies. He must have meant, "How much available space do they have?""

or that's what I made of it anyway.
posted by komara at 8:55 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

After this episode, my wife was singing where have all the zombies gone?

Yes, the two young black characters aren't faring well so far: one good kid drug dealer (I wouldn't call him "murdering," because as a drug dealer, I expect care for others lives to be low, especially as compared to your own - he's a "cautious" drug dealer), and the boyfriend who is good at art* but not at school goes missing (girfriend sent a text "you better be dead." Har har, foreshadowing!). At least the principal is still alive (though the parents made it sound like "we better get out of here before the ship sinks," so the principal may be doomed at the school).

That's the biggest problem - going into this show knowing that this is about zombies, so all the nods to future demise are ... silly. We get it - the zombie apocalypse is coming, people are going to die, so foreshadowing people's deaths feels cheap.

Other thoughts - did the parents not find it odd that a drug den was completely devoid of drug users? And my wife called sullen, knife-toting Tobias this show's angry "you're all gonna die" old man. I look forward to his future appearances.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:54 AM on August 25, 2015

Also: that's some cheap gas - when was gas last $2.39?
posted by filthy light thief at 9:55 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the whole getting him downstairs thing struck me as "we have a room full of zombies downstairs."

I don't know how you keep something like that quiet.

You should check out a movie called "Miracle Mile." Weird, weird film that starts off as some kind of (very) 80s RomCom and then veers straight down the rabbithole to hell when the hero answers a pay phone outside a restaurant. He hears some Air Force airman trying to get to his dad to tell him how the nukes are going to fly at sunrise.

The movie is mainly about how the world goes to hell overnight as word leaks out - people like that airman trying to tell their loved ones to get to safety, and people freaking out and deciding the rules don't apply because they're going to do what they have to do to survive. (Note Denise Crosby in a supporting role.)

It strikes me as a pretty realistic view of how badly attempts to conceal something that apocalyptic would fail.
posted by Naberius at 9:58 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

And Frank Dillane (Nick) does a great job impersonating Johnny Depp and James Franco.

This show is about the power of zombies to bring families together.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:08 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

* The boyfriend who is good at art shouldn't get into the free-style tattoo business, based on the response from his girlfriend. "Do you like it?" got a smile and no vocal reply. My wife and I agree that this was the appropriate response to his weird shaky spiral/flower thing.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:21 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

I just assumed the tattoo was put there because in an upcoming episode we're all going to recognize the dead/zombie daughter from her tattoo.
posted by bondcliff at 10:56 AM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

Miracle Mile is a great movie. I saw it in a theater during initial release at a late showing. Walking out into the world was creepy.

This show make me sad all over again that we didn't get a cable miniseries for World War Z instead of a movie that used none of the original material worth noting. The way it looked at the world going to hell - the good and bad that entailed and the bad powers that be choices - was so good.
posted by phearlez at 11:07 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm mostly excited that Cliff Curtis, who's spent his career outside of NZ playing "ethnic" characters, finally actually gets to play his own ethnicity. Must be refreshing.
posted by tracicle at 11:15 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

1. Were some of the church scenes at the start a nod to the church scenes near the start of 28 Days Later, especially when he's looking out over the main room?

2. As it starts with - already - a bunch of infected and zombified people, does this mean that at some point in the future they can or will do a prequel? Be Scared Of Fearing The Walking Dead, or something?

3. 6 episodes in series one and ... 15?!? ... in series two means at least 21 episodes to prequel The Walking Dead. Either the slowest growing pandemic ever, or there is going to be some major overlap in timelines. Which? If it is the former, then...

4. Will Tobias react to being right about the apocalypse by growing a mullet?
posted by Wordshore at 12:38 PM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah, the whole getting him downstairs thing struck me as "we have a room full of zombies downstairs."

I don't know how you keep something like that quiet.

This seems logical but that "walk the dog" nurse seemed awfully nonchalant for somebody who knows about the secret zombie apocalypse.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:09 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

In TWD, it's day 59 of the outbreak when Rick wakes up. It's day 1 of the outbreak when Nick wakes up in the church. FTWD isn't a prequel in the sense that it will shows the events leading up to TWD, it's just a story that starts earlier in the timeline of the same universe (and presumably the timeline of later FTWD seasons could start to overlap with TWD).
posted by jimw at 4:16 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

I thought heroin boy was really obnoxiously overacting. He's just a nonfunctional puddle of junky freakout throughout the final half of the episode. I hope his character stabilizes at some point because it was exhausting watching that. In general the mix of cardboard characterization, questionable plot points and overselling acting isn't doing much for me. The premise of watching a major crisis unfold is interesting enough that I'm still tuning in though... (between this and True Detective S2, this appears to be a tough year for premium dramas)
posted by naju at 6:11 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think the whole Calvin shooting junkie son scene is unrealistic. If Calvin wanted to kill junkie son, he'd just spike his drugs. On the other hand and I'm not saying that this is plausible suppose you're dealing heroine and discover that the last batch you sold turned people into zombies. What do you do? You might start putting bullets in the heads of your customers. If you are a black guy on a walking dead series this is probably a good idea in any circumstances.
posted by rdr at 7:15 PM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

"On the other hand and I'm not saying that this is plausible suppose you're dealing heroine and discover that the last batch you sold turned people into zombies. What do you do? You might start putting bullets in the heads of your customers."

That's how I read that scene.

It's weird. There were a number of scenes -- which people have mentioned -- that at first struck me as very dumb and unrealistic and then when I thought about it, they made sense if you assume that some of the people involved know a lot more than they seem to.

The idea that the place where a bunch of heroin addicts get high and sleep is "violent" is pretty stupid and clueless. With that in mind, I suppose I can imagine the writers being similarly stupid in thinking that a dealer will murder a junkie execution style when he thinks that he might identify him as a dealer. That makes no damn sense at all, but perhaps it does in Hollywood notions of heroin dealers and junkies. So maybe it was just that idiotic.

Alternatively, the idea that Calvin knows that something is going on solves two unrealistic problems at the same time. The first is the zombification without a bite thing. I agree that it doesn't make much sense at this early stage to think that everyone is already infected with the virus and will resurrect as a zombie when they die for any reason. Partly that's because I don't know how that would work, as opposed to it happening slightly advanced of, but mostly concurrently with, the rise of zombies. But also it's difficult to square with what we've seen on TWD, where no one seemed to know about this until much later. I don't know how anyone who survived the beginning of the apocalypse (other than Rick and those like him) couldn't know if everyone who dies for any reason resurrects as a zombie. Especially during a breakdown of society there's going to be people dying all the time. You couldn't miss it.

I don't think that heroin dealers typically use themselves, but if we assume that Calvin did, occasionally, and if we assume that zombie infection was related to IV drug use, then it would make sense both that Calvin would freak out about Nick seeing his junkie girlfriend as a zombie and then telling the police about and that he'd turn into a zombie after he was shot.

And then the school closing makes more sense if the the authorities actually know why so many kids are out with the "flu".

As for both Travis and Madison behaving stupidly, I think that the show at least laid the groundwork for their characters to justify it. Travis in his plumbing is a hands-on guy who also is very eager to try to fix things with his wife and her children. Plus, no one really thinks that anything that dangerous happened -- we joke about people in horror movies not watching horror movies, but (in some respects) they're behaving like real people do who absolutely don't expect things to happen that happen in horror movies. Travis probably thought he would talk to a few junkies and see if anyone would tell him if anything happened. And as for Madison wanting to go back there even when Travis told her he saw blood -- well, first of all, he's already been there and back and wasn't hurt, and more importantly I think they've established that she, too, is a pretty self-confident hands-on kind of person. And remember that her primary motivation for going there was that she thought that Nick was heading there to try to verify what he'd seen (so he would know if he was crazy or not). So I think the show did a good job on that and, in context, it was believable.

How they reacted to Calvin -- I don't know. I think the dumbfounded stuff makes sense. I'd expect that many people in any situation like that would end up just as passive as they were. I was having trouble with how they weren't immediately worried about Nick being in legal trouble if he did shoot Calvin and if he did, in fact, kill him. Madison said something to comfort Nick about it being self-defense, but, I don't know, if it had been me, I wouldn't have moved from the spot where they met Nick and would have just called the police. Not the least because going to take a look (and walking around Calvin's car) would possibly cause all sorts of later legal trouble for not only Nick, but Travis and Madison. That just seemed very unrealistic to me. Even accounting for them being impulsive and perhaps not really believing what Nick was telling them.

Overall, I found that I enjoyed it more than I expected. I do really like Kim Dickens, and I like that Nick isn't the kind of male teenaged protagonist I expected that he'd be (although he's likely to quickly become more conventional).
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:05 AM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I just assumed the tattoo was put there because in an upcoming episode we're all going to recognize the dead/zombie daughter from her tattoo.
posted by bondcliff at 12:56 PM on August 25 [2 favorites +] [!]

I assumed that since he was African-American and her love interest, he would die soon and the "tattoo" would be her only reminder of him and she would avoid washing it off.
I may have spent too much time around high-schoolers AND watched too much TWD.
posted by Seamus at 6:13 AM on August 26, 2015 [7 favorites]

Anyone else wonder where the blood was where Calvin got shot? The concrete was pristine, why wouldn't they put blood down where Calvin bled out and died?
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:20 AM on August 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

as surprising as the blood not being there was (and it is possible given the struggle over the gun that it was not a through-and-through/they showed some blood on the front of his shirt but i dont recall seeing any when/if he turned around) the more shocking thing was them ALL ignoring the pistol laying by the car. Like, im sure that they were all freaked out that the guy they expected to be laying there was gone, but given that Nick is still possibly delusional did no one bother to mention or pick up the gun?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:33 AM on August 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yep, that took me right out of the scene. "Was he UFO'd away, blood and all?"
posted by naju at 10:34 AM on August 26, 2015

Someone should tell Nick to not be walking like a zombie just yet.
posted by unliteral at 9:00 PM on August 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

My takeaway from this was that getting hit by a car isn't nearly as bad as I'd been led to believe.
posted by Naberius at 6:34 AM on August 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

... if you don't feel pain.

Remember, "kill shot (bitch)" is the only way to put a zombie down. I kind of hope that Calvin is this season's crawling zombie (whose name is Hannah, I learned today).

Ivan Fyodorovich: we joke about people in horror movies not watching horror movies

We don't use the "zed" word!

naju: Yep, that took me right out of the scene. "Was he UFO'd away, blood and all?"

As seen by the shooter's gallery church, zombies in the zombie district are very clean, taking away the corpses and everything. Maybe the L.A. river zombies had some buckets and mops, unlike the church zombies who left some blood and gore behind.

unliteral: Someone should tell Nick to not be walking like a zombie just yet.

That's the joke. It felt a little like Shaun of the Dead that way, which may or may not have been the point.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:23 AM on August 27, 2015

Here's what really, really bothered me. We start at dawn, with the kid getting hit. The dad was fixing the sink in the morning before school, really? 5 minutes til they leave, daughter in the bathroom. Then they all visit the hospital. The dad calls his other son who is, amazingly, doing homework during breakfast. Who does that? Then the dad decides to sit with the junkie son all day at the hospital.

Then it's night and the dad visits the church, where he finds blood and gets spooked. It almost looks like it's daylight inside the church, (due to the orange streetlights outside, though those are some bright streetlights,) but we clearly see him getting out of the truck at night. If not for those quick pickup shots the scenes inside the church look like they were shot during the day.

And then it's morning! No scene of him going home and finding his wife gone, no... follow up. He tells her the next day about what he saw when their conversation should have happened via cell phone while he was outside of the church. Why wouldn't he just simply pull out his phone and call her? Text her?

They go back the next day after school, visit the church second time, find the blood. Visit the dealer/friend and then it's night again while they are on the freeway.

...and now we are on day three. It's been night, twice, for about six minutes of screen time in a show that has the implausible audacity to have the word Fear in it's title.

And I know, they are keeping the pacing slow and whatnot, but it felt like they could have condensed it down to two days (with the dad visiting the church the first time in the afternoon of day one) with minimal editing. Or at least have some longer scenes showing us LA at night, to give us the viewers a sense of 'normal' nighttime LA. (Ala End Of Watch or Collateral.) A quick shot of the sunset, maybe. I mean, what is their neighborhood like when it's dark? We've never seen them in their home at night.

Heck, The Strain for all of it's many, many, (infinite many,) headdesking faults has done a slightly better job not shying away from showing it's apocalypse at night.

It doesn't bode well for this show, and makes me wish they'd jump back in time to day one and have us follow that pimply faced student or anyone more interesting than this family.
posted by Catblack at 11:38 AM on August 27, 2015 [6 favorites]

And also, when your mentally deranged junkie son commits vehicular manslaughter in a narrow tunnel, and you don't run for your life? I'm surprised that the parents didn't shit their pants at almost being flattened against the side of the tunnel.

And then to find the victim is still moving, and to not call for an ambulance?

This is why I think the dad should have called the mom just after he first visited the church. That way there's a scene where they talk and he says, "there's a lot of blood here" and they discuss not calling the cops to tell them. There's a large amount of moral ambiguity here in these two school teachers covering up whatever happened in the church. And we, the audience, were cheated of that aspect of it.

And so at the end when they've got a twice run over friend of their son (who they thought was a good person for a long time) still moving, for them not to call for an ambulance means that they are willing, again, to cover up the crime of their junkie son. Not only are they banal and boring folks to watch, the show skips out on any drama that might exist in this moral crisis.
posted by Catblack at 11:56 AM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

a show that has the implausible audacity to have the word Fear in it's title.

God, that title. It's like the creators aren't even trying or they're in some sort of bubble about how awesome the premise is.

That's not a really strong reason to continue watching, other than "eh, it's Sunday and we'll see how this goes."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:09 PM on August 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

Yeah, the title is awful. And y'all have pointed out a lot of dumb oversights that the writers really should have caught.

I'll still give the show another couple of episodes. But I'll never understand why the writing is always the weakest point in TV shows. They spend so much money and effort on sets, props, costumes, special effects, setting up elaborate shots—but when it comes to the script, it seems like they don't even bother to ask "does this make sense?". Many of the holes could have been patched up with just a little bit of thought.

I understand that writers are often working under tight deadlines—but so are the costume and set designers, and we don't see characters wearing their boxers outside their pants, or buildings with inexplicably missing doors.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 1:52 PM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

And, yeah—the Black Man Problem. When Alicia's boyfriend Matt showed up, I thought "oh good, there's gonna be a regular black character, and he's even dating the pretty white girl and they're not making a big deal out of that". Then he (most probably) turned into walker chow offscreen.

I realllly hope this episode was just a fluke, but of course I'm hoping against hope there, given the track record of the original show. Even mainstream reviews of the pilot mentioned it, like "what the fuck, AMC?".
posted by escape from the potato planet at 1:58 PM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

There's probably a great show happening here, the protagonist family is just the void the good stuff is wrapped around.

Like the doctors and the nurse at the hospital have a room full of writhing, moaning corpses restrained to gurneys in the basement that the CDC doesn't know what to do with; the school principal is listening in on the classrooms because he's tipping off a team of men-in-black "disappearing" students who come to school spreading rumors about diseases; just before the daughter got to the beach her boyfriend was pulled into that camper van she was standing in front of and was being devoured voicebox first; the pimply kid's family owns a crematorium and the furnaces have been going full blast for days, that sort of thing.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:31 PM on August 27, 2015 [6 favorites]

Kim Dickens has a range all the way from A to B.

It was not good, but I will continue to watch to give it a chance.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:00 PM on August 28, 2015

Oh and heroin boy had a really strong Johnny Depp thing going on, maybe circa Benny and Joon.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:22 PM on August 28, 2015

Hey, you don't talk bad about Kim Dickens, you hear me?! I won't scroll for it!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:37 PM on August 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Gas was last $2.39 a gallon this summer... at least in Massachusetts, I can't speak for L.A. It actually hit something like $1.97 a gallon at one Racetrac I stopped at in New Orleans when I was visiting family.

Who does homework at breakfast... any kid who didn't finish it the night before.

Nick does indeed have a fantastic "zombie shuffle" going there. If he covers himself in rotting zombie flesh, he'll make it through this apocalypse just fine.

I'm a bit sad about the pilot... up until I saw it, I really wanted to know what it was like during those first 59 days. Now I'm not so sure, but I'm willing to give it a few more eps to convince me.
posted by kythuen at 10:19 PM on August 29, 2015

It's established cannon that everyone's infected and turn once they die regardless of cause of death.

I thought in the early days you had to be bitten, then the virus mutated. Didn't people die in season one of TWD without turning? I thought it was the CDC visit where we found out it had gone airborne.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:29 PM on September 2, 2015

One of the small details that broke it for me was how in the first scene we see of Nick's sister, she was just getting out of the shower — wet hair and all — when they get the early morning call that he's been in an accident. Next scene she's at the hospital and her long gorgeous hair is dry and styled into giant curls. When.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:44 PM on August 26, 2017

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