Fear the Walking Dead: So Close, Yet So Far
August 30, 2015 8:13 PM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

While Madison struggles to keep Nick from a crippling withdrawal, Travis ventures out to find his son before the city of Los Angeles falls.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (59 comments total)
 
The episode title refers to how close to a good show this is turning out to be.
posted by Catblack at 8:35 PM on August 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


Calling it now, Tobias is the Morgan of this show.
posted by Catblack at 8:38 PM on August 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


That's 3 for 3 on black dudes and its only the second episode.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:58 PM on August 30, 2015 [14 favorites]


Four words every character in this show should learn: "This is an emergency".
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:38 PM on August 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


They have managed to cram 17 minutes of plot into 150 minutes of show.
posted by davidmsc at 11:49 PM on August 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is a six episode season. They better get a move on.
posted by rdr at 12:58 AM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'm out. The banal direction/acting become too distracting for me at the point where loving girlfriend of sick daughter goes to him at his bedside, and parents of girlfriend hold each others hands.

Not watching more of this in the hope it will improve; got burnt with 8 episodes of series two of True Detective, so just two episodes of Yawn The Living Dead isn't too annoyingly high a cost.
posted by Wordshore at 2:01 AM on August 31, 2015


While waiting for this week's episode, I turned on AMC to re-watch the last one as I did various tasks on the computer. As I "watched" i.e. listened to the episode pretty passively and didn't question anything, something remarkable occurred: the show got better! Seriously, not paying much attention and just accepting it all as "factual" had everything in the show making much more sense!

Of course, all that went away as I started watching the new episode, heh. It wasn't terrible, but it simply wasn't very compelling. The most interesting character is Tobias, because he gets it, understands what's happening and isn't spending time wondering "well, what's happening". As someone who watched almost all of The Walking Dead, it's really frustrating and boring to see people struggling to deal with zombies. I've seen this time of story before and what I was really hoping for with FtWD isn't happening.

I thought we were going to get a more nuanced look at the rise of the Walkers and breakdown of society, an actual look at patient zero, but it's all vague background stuff. Normally, I'd be thrilled to skip the origin story, but this time I really want one. But that's not happening and what I'm getting instead isn't very compelling. Maybe if this turned into the Nick and Tobias show?

Okay, I'm out. The banal direction/acting become too distracting for me at the point where loving girlfriend of sick daughter goes to him at his bedside, and parents of girlfriend hold each others hands.

It bugged the hell out of my inner pedantic that girlfriend didn't acknowledge boyfriend's deep, gaping and bloody wound at all. This person you supposedly love has been bitten and you're not even trying to bandage the wound or at least clean it or at least comment about "Holy shit babe, what the hell happened?" It's that kind of shit that drives me up the wall, the complete lack of characters asking basic questions.

I might continue watching, might not. It all boils down it being Sunday night, when I'm usually relaxing and there's much else on at this particular moment. But The Knick will be back in October, so I might re-watch the first season of that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:45 AM on August 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


I did like how Madison broke down cleaning the blood off of her jacket after braining her friend with the extinguisher -- it gave nuance, I thought, to show her compartmentalization, because she had to be hardcore in front of her kids and Tobias. But then she just wandered out in a daze ignoring her daughter asking what was going on, and then had to physically restrain her daughter from going out to help the neighbor, and still didn't say anything. Like, this character is a no-nonsense pragmatic problem solver, assessing the situation quickly, trying to figure out how to get outside of population centers, except when the plot needs her to be a basketcase. It's my biggest complaint for Walking Dead stuff.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:58 AM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


There were things throughout the episode that just drove me absolutely bonkers. Like at an urban high school in LA, in the stairwell, they aren't going to have the case for the fire extinguisher unlocked! They have metal detectors at the school, but they are going to trust teenagers in the stairwell with the fire extinguisher?

Or the daughter cleaning up the vomit on the floor. You don't need to sand it down to bare wood and refinish the floor. Has no one doing this show ever cleaned up some puke?

Or the barber letting the family in, and then standing there looking pissy while they march all around his place. Why couldn't we have some dialog between them? You've got Ruben Blades who is a fantastic actor, and you give him no dialog? You don't explore the dramatic tension that is RIGHT THERE?
posted by Catblack at 5:38 AM on August 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


I actually liked this episode.

1. The universe of this show is very much like ours. This is not a universe where people have never heard of zombies (e.g. Tobias is totally ready) but zombies are still a thing that should not happen. Really thinking about how people would react, the only people who are going to believe something is going on are people who see it with their own eyes or people are were waiting for this day to come. There will be people crowding around to see whats going on/get rowdy. The authorities will not be able to communicate what is going on for at least a few hours. Neighbors will still be trying to hold birthday parties, random shopkeepers won't understand why someone wants to take shelter.

2. This episode took place over the course of an afternoon to evening of one day. Not much is going to happen in an afternoon but the show did a decent job of making it exciting for me.

3. The daughter: she probably did see the wound, she was there for a while before the parents. That no one has told her what is going on is a bit of a stretch, they had a car ride and the brother had all afternoon with her. I can't believe that they would tell the neighbor but not the daughter. So I don't believe that. I believe they did tell her but she just doesn't understand the seriousness of it all. Also, teenagers can be pretty dumb. Just about every zombie movie has some teenager running back for the gf/bf and getting eaten.

4. Almost thought this show was going to be better than TWD wrt black men but nope! 3 black guys in the first episode and 0 by the end of episode two. I just have to wonder what they are thinking. It was so consistent with TWD that of course it would be obvious with FTWD, that just about everyone who watched TWD was going to be counting the black guys. That isn't really the kind of thing you want to keep form the original show when you make a spin-off.

5. At this point, there aren't a lot of zombies just walking around. They are starting to grow in number but in most places it seems that you don't have to worry about being surprised by one. So now I ask, how did the principal get bit? It literally showed him making sure the school was empty. I saw there was a body outline in the office where the mom get the drugs but the authorities would have taken that body away. And my same question for the neighbor. There weren't any zombies in the neighborhood, where did her attacker come from? I understand there will be alot of zombies in places where people die, but at this point in the apocalypse, there shouldn't be any in an empty school or an unaffected neighborhood.

6. What was going on with the car with its lights on and trunk open and suitcases around? Was I supposed to know what that was?
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:31 AM on August 31, 2015


But then she just wandered out in a daze ignoring her daughter asking what was going on, and then had to physically restrain her daughter from going out to help the neighbor, and still didn't say anything. Like, this character is a no-nonsense pragmatic problem solver, assessing the situation quickly, trying to figure out how to get outside of population centers, except when the plot needs her to be a basketcase.

I can buy this, as how does one cope with the dead coming back to life, killing a friend and then explaining it all to your daughter. It's crazy and I can see someone shutting down about explaining it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:10 AM on August 31, 2015


I always thought the criticism of TWD for its treatment of black people was a bit harsh since most of their deaths had some purpose, and it isn't as if only blacks were dying. But FTWD is doing everything it can to exacerbate the issue. Meh.

Following a single family in this show means we will see ground level view of the outbreak without getting into the cause or even the downfall of society. It's not a bad concept, but I think it's not the show people wanted.
posted by 2ht at 7:35 AM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


"the complete lack of characters asking basic questions."

Exactly.

"Or the barber letting the family in, and then standing there looking pissy while they march all around his place. Why couldn't we have some dialog between them?"

Exactly.

"Four words every character in this show should learn: "This is an emergency"."

Exactly.

"Like, this character is a no-nonsense pragmatic problem solver, assessing the situation quickly, trying to figure out how to get outside of population centers, except when the plot needs her to be a basketcase."

Exactly.

Man, if there's any type of show or movie or whatever that I just can't stand it's the type where the entire plot revolves around a simple misunderstanding that could be cleared up by actually talking to other people. This episode set the match to everything the first episode had spilled gasoline on.
posted by komara at 7:53 AM on August 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


And my same question for the neighbor. There weren't any zombies in the neighborhood, where did her attacker come from? I understand there will be alot of zombies in places where people die, but at this point in the apocalypse, there shouldn't be any in an empty school or an unaffected neighborhood.

6. What was going on with the car with its lights on and trunk open and suitcases around? Was I supposed to know what that was?


I'm pretty much done with this show already, but I can at least answer this one: when Maddie and Travis were loading up the truck, they saw their next-door neighbor in his driveway doing the same thing, but he'd obviously been bitten already (sweating, coughing, barely standing upright). He must've collapsed and died before he could finish packing up, going on to attack the woman across the street.
posted by libraritarian at 8:25 AM on August 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


Even without the obvious clue of the sick neighbor, it still adds an element of terror and chaos to have one of the party neighbors turned. That's pretty much the sort of thing that would happen in a zombie apocalypse.

Man, if there's any type of show or movie or whatever that I just can't stand it's the type where the entire plot revolves around a simple misunderstanding that could be cleared up by actually talking to other people.

The entire plot seems to be that no is talking about this, especially the government. Again, this goes back to how does one come to grips with the dead coming back to life and explaining that to other people so they won't think you're insane. It's totally reasonable that people have a lot of trouble coming to grips with what's happening, BUT WE DON'T SEE ANY OF THAT. We just see people repeatedly not talking about this at all and it's maddening as an audience viewer, because we've see TWD and know exactly what they should be doing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:41 AM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


"We just see people repeatedly not talking about this at all and it's maddening as an audience viewer, because we've see TWD and know exactly what they should be doing."

Oh, I would find it maddening even if I had never seen a single episode of TWD.
posted by komara at 8:44 AM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


Last week was terrible, and this week was even worse. I wasn't sure how they managed that, but then I saw at the end that the show isn't airing next week. It won't air until the week after, which is opening day for the NFL. It'll be up against an NFC East game - The Giants at Dallas. Good luck with that. The Walking Dead meets ABC Family's "The Fosters" is on a fast track to cancellation.

People have already mentioned what they're doing with the black guys on this show, but it really is weird and gross. So Alicia finds her boyfriend, and he's sick and injured. Get him to a hospital maybe? A doctor's office? Can a brotha get to a CVS Minute Clinic?

I mean damn. It's like we don't really have lives. Again, there's just no way they leave a pretty white girl like that, suffering from a fever and with an open flesh wound, to die. And then they had the nerve to have him gurgle up some nonsense to assuage their guilt. Not only did they not get him to a doctor, they didn't even have him ask for one! Come on - who is going to get bit by someone else, be bleeding, coughing, have a fever, and not ask to be taken to the hospital. Or a doctor. "Can yall run to Target and pick me up some hydrogen peroxide and those large bandages? I think I (cough) saw a coupon in their Cartwheel app." On top of that, they're driving a pickup truck! They could put him in the truck bed on the way to the doctor and they'd be completely safe. No, he's just left to die.

And Alicia's like "Well if he has it, I have it!" Right after she said that the dad should have said "Bye Alicia". I would have cried laughing. But seriously though, she says she might have it, and then they take no precautions to not get near her, the dad kisses the mom before he backs out, et cetera. They have no idea how it is spread, keep calling it a bug, and yet do nothing.

And of course the black principal comes after them. Of course they wrote it so that she's all of a sudden unassuming even after seeing what she's seen. And then once again, a black character is just brutally taken out. Stabbed over and over, bashed in the head over and over, and its awful because it just plays into those stereotypes that come up in real life where officers portray black men as unstoppable killing machines who have to be shot 15 times. Everybody who had an actual speaking role and then become a zombie has been a black male, I think. AMC, what are you doing?

I also thought it was cold and callus of the main character to leave Mrs. Cruz hanging like that. The scene where Mrs. Cruz is trying to escape felt more like a sexual assault attempt. And I just don't see the main character

I actually kind of like Tobias for whatever reason. I wish the main family would go away and we could follow around Tobias as he tried to learn how to use weapons, as he was vindicated for worrying about what was happening, and as he got away from the city and had to scavenge through bookstores for information about how to survive. He'd learn to build fires, lament about how nobody gets how easy they have it with ovens that turn on automatically, phones that can have anything you want delivered to you in mere minutes, and how you used to be able to push a few buttons and have someone in a car pick you up and take you wherever you wanted to go. I'd love for him to meet up with Amandla Stenberg and fight off zombies together. But of course we will hang out with the Fosters instead.

They should have just made Fear the Walking Dead 6 more webisodes and called it a day.
posted by cashman at 9:13 AM on August 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


I really love Frank Dillane as the obnoxious junkie son - by far the most interesting character on this show. (I also love the fact that he was Tom Riddle Jr. and is the real life son of Stannis the Mannis.)
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:16 AM on August 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


Man, if there's any type of show or movie or whatever that I just can't stand it's the type where the entire plot revolves around a simple misunderstanding that could be cleared up by actually talking to other people.

So this is Three's Company with zombies? I got through about 10 minutes of the first episode and stopped. The first few episodes of the original Walking Dead weren't so mired in the entirely clueless protagonists convention that often dominates the horror genre and horrible sitcoms but that quickly changed. The only thing that could possibly keep me watching either show is if I stretch my metaphor seeing abilities to the maximum and see both series portraying the consequences of unfathomable idiocy but I have human history to look at for that, not to mention the current wave of adoration for Trump and his like. Horrible and terrifying as they are, they're also more interesting and more terrifying.
posted by juiceCake at 12:18 PM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


My wife was so terrified watching episode one that she swore off it (though we'll see if the dvr tempts her).

Personally im in the "its sunday and i dont have anything better to watch" camp - if anything i find this story easy to watch because i just cant seem to care for any of the characters (Tobias excepted - i wish he hadnt abandoned all of that canned food at the school. its like they ran into a walker and immediately forgot about all the food?)

I will second/third/nth that they sure havent advanced the plot much in 2.5 hrs of tee vee time - the pace of the decline of civility in the second episode seemed better but i was too distracted by the awkward non-interactions inside the barber shop. the whole weirdness of blowing out the candles and the major sideye from the mother seemed like a huge tease when we didnt actually see any questions or conversation when clearly all the people inside the gate have to be having thoughts about whats happening outside.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:19 PM on August 31, 2015


Man where the hell did Tobias' cans go? No way all those stewed tomatoes fit into his little not-even-bulging backpack. WTF. I realize they booked it for the exit pretty quick, but he didn't keep hold of even one? I guess not, but White Savior Lady Madison made it back with every quart-sized bag of $DRUGS for her son.

I hereby swear to personally contact and scavenge supplies for any and all black Mefites during the Zombpocalypse, starting with my Spousen (hi, Brandon Blatcher). If I hadn't read tons of the comics, I'd think Robert Kirkman was straight-up racist; that said, the showrunners should know we're watching for them to off black male characters in the spin-off, since they got called out for it repeatedly in TWD. I'm SO not OK with this; casting PoC in minor-to-supporting roles to make the cast more diverse and then insta-killing them within an episode is just... offensive.

At least the variety of hispanic/latino actors is promising, and the very least one would expect of a show set in Los Angeles.

If y'all are like me and watching this just to get your zombie-themed entertainment fix, I'd suggest jumping ship on September 11 and switching over to Z Nation. Plenty of good, even funny characters there, the main group's leader is a hyper-competent black woman and they're not afraid to crank the ridiculous plot lines all the way up to 11.

Prediction: the entire S1 plot line will revolve around the (currently separated) blended family reuniting across a rapidly turning LA, and when they finally do get to each other, the season will be over.

S2 will be the family trying to get out of the Los Angeles city limits.

I'll keep watching if Nick becomes the only surviving family member. Junkies are hella resourceful.

posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:30 PM on August 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


Am I the only one who thought the bag full of oxy kept in an urban high school locker by administration was completely implausible?

I was happy to give the series another go after last week's episode. Not great, but not the worst or anything. Now I don't know if I will tune in again. All the things that drive me nuts about TWD--bland dialogue, an over-reliance on characters "not using their words", wildly inconsistent characterization, inexplicable behavior and decision making--seem to be creeping up here already. I really wanted to like this series. The idea of showing the breakdown of society in the face of terror was intriguing, and I thought perhaps the writers would work through some of TWD's weaknesses with a fresh start. This though is already being handled so clumsily.
posted by chaoticgood at 4:28 PM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


So this is Three's Company with zombies?

When Jack Tripper reanimates, Mr. Roper is convinced he has become the target of Jack's amorous affections, when all Jack really wants is his brain. Janet and Chrissy must wrangle their dead roommate, convincing Roper his intentions are purely platonic, while also making sure Jack is properly dressed for his chef class. Larry says something sleazy.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:31 PM on August 31, 2015 [10 favorites]


If things are as bad as we're meant to believe they are, why do we hardly see any zombies? There are sirens and helicopters and traffic jams everywhere; what's causing that? The show wants to communicate a sense of urgency and looming chaos, but it also wants to keep the characters in the dark for a while longer. But you can't have it both ways. So far the disintegrating social order is an effect without a cause.

Why was Tobias at the school? Was he looking for his knife? Why the hell would want that particular knife so badly? Trick question; it was just a deus ex machina to have him meet up with Madie.

Why is Madie so credulous about the conspiracy theories that this maladjusted, pimple-faced high school kid saw on Reddit?

Why do they keep a cabinet full of recreational drugs at the school?

Why is Tobias resorting to looting so quickly, and why is Madie totally fine with it? It's been like, 24 hours. Calm the fuck down, people.

The anti-police-brutality protest was...honestly, it wasn't as bad as I expected, but it still wasn't great. It's plausible as a plot point—no one understands how zombies work yet, or even that there are zombies, so the shooting of the homeless guy would look very much like a case of wanton police brutality. But right now, meaning right now in the real world in August 2015, is exactly the wrong time to write that into your zombie fantasy. It's so obviously plucked from current headlines, which just makes it feel cringey and exploitative.

The show is picking up steam, but it's still off to a shaky start.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:34 PM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


Once poor Randy Wagstaff didn't even make it as far as he did in The Wire, I was out.
posted by TwoStride at 6:44 PM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


The whole police apologism stuff is pretty fucking gross, in addition to the problems that people have mentioned with mowing down black characters seemingly just for effect. Add in the conveniently stupid protagonists, and I have very little desire to watch this any more. I might keep it on in the background since my roomie is still committed to it. I didn't even hate the first episode, either.
posted by codacorolla at 8:17 PM on August 31, 2015


You know, I just watched the sneak peek of the next episode (no real spoilers; just flavor footage), and I figured out (part of) why this show isn't working for me. There are vehicles in flames, cops panicking, sirens and searchlights and megaphones, people running everywhere...and then it cuts to a shot of, like, two zombies shuffling slowly toward riot police with AR-15s.

It's been pointed out before that, even if we accept the existence of zombies, it's hard to imagine how a few walkers could turn into an apocalypse, unless humans were just utterly, ear-fuckingly incompetent. You just shoot them. They move slowly; they can't attack until they're two feet away from you; they aren't smart enough to take cover or act tactically. Sure, once there are thousands of them, you're fucked—but how do you get from a few to thousands, unless everyone is just going around trying to get Instagram photos with the zed?

I think that could be explained in a plausible way, but it does have to be explained if it's to be believable—and so far the show feels like it's just dodging the question. Which is odd for a show whose entire premise is "people start turning into zombies en masse". The central dramatic device is happening unexplained and entirely offscreen.

Even if the protagonists are still in the dark, we, the audience, should be seeing more people turning. We should see evidence that all this emergency activity is actually responding to something, and not just a bunch of people spontaneously LARPing a war zone for no reason. We should see how the zombies are able to grow in number despite being as tactically threatening as a one-legged toddler.

Maybe the next episode will start to address some of that stuff. I hope so. We'll see.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:01 PM on August 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


The central dramatic device is happening unexplained and entirely offscreen.

Even if the protagonists are still in the dark, we, the audience, should be seeing more people turning.


We could also be following a growing cast of named and un-named zombies in tandem with the protagonist family, as they shuffle around steam tunnels and back alleys and stuff slowly growing in number...or something. That's not a terribly great idea but it would at least address the problem.

But really that's the part of the zombie apocalypse that doesn't make sense, and that's why in most zombie fiction you don't ever see that part. So to make a show -- FTWD -- that addresses that part is a fantastic opportunity. But maybe they still apparently don't know how to make it look believable, so it happens offscreen.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:59 PM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


We could also be following a growing cast of named and un-named zombies in tandem with the protagonist family, as they shuffle around steam tunnels and back alleys and stuff slowly growing in number...or something. That's not a terribly great idea but it would at least address the problem.

Or just one. Follow the first zombie we ever see as they slowly deteriorate over the course of show. We'd be able to see the shift from no reaction, to police action, to national guard, to full military intervention, and see as each progressive wave is overwhelmed by the increasing horde. A zombie is much more likely to be on the 'front lines' because they're the enemy that we're trying to defeat.

It would be even better to see some brushes or near misses between the horde and the protagonists, introducing some dramatic tension because we know more about the situation then they do.

"Should we take Main St. or State St.?"
*cut to zombie horde ambling past Main St*
"We need to get to the National Guard Safe Zone!"
*cut to Guardsmen getting devoured*
posted by leotrotsky at 6:34 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think that the POV of "average family with problems" is not super interesting. I don't watch a lot of WD, but we already have that perspective on the story. Most of the protags in that have the same level of information as the family we're currently following. The pre-apocalypse has only lasted for 2 episodes so far, and it seems like things are deteriorating quickly to WD levels of chaos. Therefore the show doesn't really give us anything that new to watch. Apart from that it's just REALLY flat and boring.
posted by codacorolla at 7:08 AM on September 1, 2015


It's starting to look the writers and producers of the WD'iverse respond to fan comments and complaints about the treatment of black characters the same way the minds behind the Game of Thrones respond to fan comments and complaints about the treatment of women: claim to understand the frustration and then do jack shite about it.

Or even double down on the awfulness when the mood strikes them and claim a character arc had to happen that way and be depicted that way because Drama and, gosh, it just so happened that it was a black/female character who suffered in that way for the umpteenth time, don't blame us. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It's a shame the show is following this vector, because I like druggie son, the guidance counselor (despite some weird moments of brainlessness from her in E2), Tobias, and even the estranged son. And as others have noted, there's all kinds of cool stuff they could do with this setting.

But they're squandering all their potential and repeating the mistakes the parent show made. I'll give it one more episode before I pull the plug.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:05 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Rewatched the first three episodes of the original Walking Dead. What it did right was focus on just a few characters at first (Rick, Morgan and Morgan's son, Dwight). All of them had a compelling backstory and were interesting. From those three we were introduced to the larger group. The first of which was Glen, who was shining light character wise, from his first lines over the radio (when Rick was stuck in the tank). Seriously, Glen was immediately likable and delight to watch and hear. FtWD has Tobias, but he's a minor character and only the addict son is the east bit interesting of the main cast.

Plus, TWD did some nice time jumps to establish setting and character. It starts off Rick after he awoke and left Morgan (though we don't know it at time). Then it jumps back to Rick and Shane talking in the car on the day Rick was shot, which hints at the conflict to come between them. From there it switches to Rick waking up in the hospital. That doesn't mean FtWD should have followed that format, but it does highlight how much more interesting it was from the start.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:12 AM on September 1, 2015


I recall World War Z doing the slow build to the tipping point well. I think the problem here is that they've chosen the wrong POV. As escape from the potato planet said:

even if we accept the existence of zombies, it's hard to imagine how a few walkers could turn into an apocalypse, unless humans were just utterly, ear-fuckingly incompetent. You just shoot them.

This middle class family lives in a real, organized day to day world, which isn't where this scenario would start because you just shoot them. But there are absolutely forgotten spaces and marginalized populations where the zombie apocalypse could take root and grow. They were exactly right to start out with junkies in a shooting gallery. (That's also why Nick is the most interesting character - he's the one that fits the story they're trying to tell.)

The problem is that they then immediately go to middle class suburbia, where people aren't going to see the problem until it's too late. That means we don't see it unless the show does really weird and nonsensical things to make it visible to them. Like the authorities doing absolutely everything they can to hide the problem instead of trying to deal with it. Like having some freaking seventh grader have to be the one who gets what's happening, and figures the thing to do when the world is ending is carry a pocket knife to school.

The protagonists of this show should be homeless. They should be addicts and mentally ill . They should be the coyote who barely survives accidentally smuggling a truck load of walkers across the border from Mexico. They should be people living in the parts of this society where you don't just shoot them because your world isn't that organized. And if they do try going to the police or try warning people, they're going to have a bad time. We should see the zombie problem growing in those unwatched spaces. And THEN they could show it bubbling up out of the sewers and the slums until people like our dysfunctional middle class family have to confront them.

Right now too many people have to do too much stupid shit to make it work.
posted by Naberius at 8:48 AM on September 1, 2015 [13 favorites]


Man, if there's any type of show or movie or whatever that I just can't stand it's the type where the entire plot revolves around a simple misunderstanding that could be cleared up by actually talking to other people.

I don't mind that. Being poor communicators is kind of the human condition. People don't tell their supposed loved one really critical shit. So having it happen in entertainment is fine. See: Oedepus.

But it needs to seem like it belongs, not just be idiot ball of the moment. They need to be that idiot consistently. They need to have a reason to want to keep those things to themselves. They need to suffer the consequences - even if it's just pissed companions - of being that idiot.

TWD like a lot of fiction doesn't manage that and when it happens it's so glaring because they're not great at show-don't-tell either. So someone not painfully elaborating on something is very noticeable.

What's really so irritating to me is that TWD rarely manages to convey just how unforgiving the situation is. You don't need them to be chumps, you just need them to be human and unable to effectively be "on" 24/7.

The mothership flirted with this in season four along with the "this is the new normal" of being threatened by a simple flu. But in the end they couldn't resist the big set pieces and bands of awful people being Awful. Which is too bad, since people being lowercase awful can work out just as bad and be way more relatable.
posted by phearlez at 8:59 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


The protagonists of this show should be homeless. They should be addicts and mentally ill . They should be the coyote who barely survives accidentally smuggling a truck load of walkers across the border from Mexico. They should be people living in the parts of this society where you don't just shoot them because your world isn't that organized. And if they do try going to the police or try warning people, they're going to have a bad time. We should see the zombie problem growing in those unwatched spaces. And THEN they could show it bubbling up out of the sewers and the slums until people like our dysfunctional middle class family have to confront them.

Now THAT would be an interesting show.
posted by codacorolla at 9:26 AM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yes, it would make sense in America too, because the health system is so fucked, certain populations just wouldn't have access to medical help.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:46 AM on September 1, 2015


So, this flu that's going around. Is the flu the zombie virus? Or is it just some unrelated infection that's killing a bunch of people, who then turn into zombies because everyone is already infected with the actual zombie virus? Either way, it doesn't add up.

If the flu and the zombie virus are the same thing, then how did all these people get it? It seems like a lot of people have the flu—they can't all have been bitten by walkers.

If they're not the same disease, then what's the relationship between the two? Is it just an enormous coincidence that both diseases struck in the same place at the same time? And why are the symptoms of the two so similar (compare Matt's coughing and fever to, e.g., Madie and Travis' neighbor)?

They don't have to explain it, but they do have to give me a scenario that conceivably could be explained. Because as things stand, it feels like a bunch of handwavey nonsense which the writers didn't care to think through and don't want us to think about, either.

As for making things spiral believably out of control:

Show an outbreak beginning in a crowded, confined space: a hospital, a sporting event, a big concert. Maybe people stampede in the panic, which makes them easier pickings for the walkers. By the time authorities show up in meaningful numbers and figure out what the hell is going on, it's too late. There are just too many walkers and too many exit routes—pockets of zed spill out of the venue and escape into the city in every direction before the cops can contain the situation.

Or some supply chain has been contaminated by the virus: the water supply, a common intravenous hospital medication, fuckin' frozen spinach from a packing plant built on Indian burial grounds. Something common, so people would turn faster than the authorities could identify the source and get the word out.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:19 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


They don't have to explain it, but they do have to give me a scenario that conceivably could be explained.

As long as enough people watch, they don't have to give a better scenario. None of this has to make sense and I'm not even dismissive of that fact. TWD was pretty entertaining at times, despite being incredibly implausible. Hell, we're talking about things coming back to life, that's "ain't gotta make sense" card.

Because as things stand, it feels like a bunch of handwavey nonsense which the writers didn't care to think through and don't want us to think about, either.

Yeah, pretty much. The cause of fall of society doesn't matter much narrative wise, it's what happens to people afterwards.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:39 PM on September 1, 2015


Tobias not leaving the school with any obvious cans of food is when I checked out and cancelled recording the series. That right there is some serious 2nd-season-Heroes-level of not caring about your characters, consistency, or detail. Not only were they not running when they left the school, the episode actually used slo-mo to emphasize how quiet and empty the surroundings were. I don't have time for that kind of stupid writing.

But The Knick will be back in October

Learning that is the most interesting thing about this week's FTWD. Thank god. Season one was the best show I watched last year.
posted by mediareport at 9:36 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Or just one. Follow the first zombie we ever see as they slowly deteriorate over the course of show.

That's a good idea. It seems to me that in an urban setting especially the amount of stimulation would be extreme, so you might have some proportion of people who become zombies who wander into places people don't generally go, and basically stay there; the cacophony of street sounds and light don't give them something specific to focus on. For every five zombies that generates in that neighborhood at the beginning of the Pilot, for example, perhaps 1 or 2 wander into an abandoned building. So as zombies keep popping up and authorities keep suppressing them, you'd have these reservoirs here and there slowly accumulating zombies. So far as the authorities are concerned it looks like a problem they can potentially handle. But after a while those reservoirs of zed heads start to spill open. And when zombies get traced back to an abandoned warehouse or that opium den, somebody opens the front door to see where they're coming from and gets trampled by a horde of them.

We could be following Gloria as she gradually converts more and more...Calvin said she was like 90 pounds, so if she lunged at most people they'd probably think she was some kind of crazy vagrant and run away.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:05 AM on September 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Knick returns on Oct. 16th, fyi. Can't hardly wait.

I'll probably stick with FtWD for these six episodes, if for no reason than to see if it gets worse or better. But I saw the Fantastic Four reboot, so what do I know?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:49 AM on September 2, 2015


Being poor communicators is kind of the human condition. People don't tell their supposed loved one really critical shit.

I see your point, but the police riot group seemed to be stuck in that barber shop for hours before Main Dad's ex-wife asks him what's going on, and what he saw, and then he *still* doesn't tell her, the guy who took him in (there's some big reveal waiting in that back room the daughter came out of, I'm sure) or the son he claims to care so much about.

Same goes for Main Mom and her daughter. Does the daughter even know about Dead Black Guy #1 yet? No, she doesn't know about the Dead Black Guy her brother and parents shot, ran over and whatever else they did that finally killed him for good. She has no idea what's going on, but her mom and dad and brother do, and they have yet to tell her, while screaming at her to not go outside for some strange reason. That's exactly the kind of writing I *don't* want on television shows; it just seems so *unnecessarily* stupid.

It's such a promising set-up (I thought the pace of the apocalypse was just right in the first episode, e.g.) but I'm out. Too many other non-stupid options for my time.
posted by mediareport at 5:43 AM on September 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


You know, another thing that angers me about how FtWD is treating the black characters so far is that not only has it gotten rid of the only three named black characters, they don't even make for good zombies.

The two full-on zombies managed 0 kills between them, despite the fact that as a result of being freshly turned from fit and healthy people, they should have been fairly strong. And were dealing with people with no experience fighting walkers and who didn't know about the need to avoid being bitten at all costs.

But I'd be willing to bet artist boyfriend will manage to bite everyone in his family before they can put him down. Because reasons.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:13 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's what the rolly-bags by the open car tell us anyhow...
I really don't know what to do about the continued treatment of black characters in this show. I am not even kidding, is there anything useful I can do? They already aren't getting my viewing numbers *koff* Do I give them the benefit of the doubt and hope that next week this entire family is wiped out in front of our actual protaganists who will be a four-season-surviving black family and it was all a big fake out?
Unless that exact thing happens I am pretty much gonna have to not watch this show and be vocal about why. I don't mind bad TV, but it's hard to see this as anything but actively racist choices being made by the showrunners.
posted by Iteki at 9:43 AM on September 2, 2015


On the plus side, all three of those black male characters who were killed were distinctly different in personalities. Yay progress!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:59 PM on September 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Do I give them the benefit of the doubt and hope that next week this entire family is wiped out in front of our actual protaganists who will be a four-season-surviving black family and it was all a big fake out?

That would be hilarious.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:13 PM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


True story: I was bored the other day, so I knocked together a little Angular application (that's nerd-speak for "a website") that I call "Quantifying The Walking Dead's Black Man Problem". It's an analysis tool that lets you slice and dice character statistics, comparing the average lifespan (in episodes) of characters by race and gender. You can also filter by episode range (to avoid spoilers or examine historical trends), and by character role (Protagonist, Antagonist, or Neutral/Other).

Collecting the data is the boring and time-consuming part, so I only got two or three dozen major characters into the database. And it's not a representative sample—it's just the characters I thought of first (which is obviously going to skew toward black guys who got killed off quickly).

If you really wanted to do it properly, you'd need to set some criteria for inclusion (all characters who speak at least one line? all characters with names? only recurring characters?), and then carefully curate the data to match.

The results of the analysis weren't entirely surprising, although I won't share details here because both the data and the analysis need a lot of improvements.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 3:06 PM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh, and I never got around to putting the app online, and it's a bit of a mess right now anyway (I got distracted bikeshedding some of the internals, and then it was time to go to sleep).
posted by escape from the potato planet at 3:08 PM on September 2, 2015


Metafilter: I got distracted bikeshedding some of the internals and then it was time to go to sleep.
posted by Naberius at 7:15 PM on September 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


I personally like writing like:

Mel, horror struck retreats from the window after watching her neighbour being eaten alive by a pack of zombies...

Mel: You were out there, you saw what's happening. Tell me, what's gong on? Please tell me exactly what is happening so that I can plan for my immediate future.

Mike: Something dark.

Mel: OK
posted by mattoxic at 8:05 PM on September 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Can the survivalist black LA family include Boris Kodjoe?

Mmmmmm, Boris Kodjoe.

I kind of feel like they wanted to be more wink-wink-nudge-nudge a la Evil Dead with some of the dumb, obvious horror stuff and Japanese style scoring cues, but damn. Maybe the show runners got shot down by the network and had to infuse this unnecessary family drama tone, but they would be better off embracing one style or the other.

Also, less racism. hell, maybe it will get canceled... Kirkman might change his tune then.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:23 PM on September 2, 2015


They've already confirmed there will be a second season. The premiere episode set an all-time cable ratings record, so those are going to have to take a pretty sharp dive for the show to not keep going. It only declined 16-19% in week two.
posted by jimw at 10:19 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Fosters is still on tv too. I'm not surprised.
posted by cashman at 7:21 AM on September 3, 2015


Well, caught up with episodes 1 and 2 today. Didn't expect the opening days of the apocalypse to be so tedious.

I agree that we're not seeing enough zombies or people turning into zombies to justify the level of chaos they're showing, but I actually think that in just a few days that level of chaos is plausible. A few hundred people die every day in a city the size of Los Angeles, right? Even assuming the virus hasn't infected 100% of the population yet, even 10-20 new zombies a day for the 3-4 days we've seen should screw things up pretty badly. Once the police and ambulance system become aware of the risks and stop responding to calls, things should go downhill almost immediately. Three or four fatal car accidents that never get cleaned up and become zombie-vectors should shut down transportation for all intents and purposes.

I'm disappointed they've had so little to say about how social media would play a role in spreading rumors and actual information, I think it would be an interesting thing to think about if they tried at all. Instead we're getting 10% TWD and 90% boring gritty family drama.

And again it seems like they're going to carefully avoid saying anything at all about what happens outside of the immediate setting of the show. I guess they want to keep open their options in case they want to do TWD: Miami or something else.
posted by skewed at 8:06 PM on September 6, 2015


Franchises!

FtWD: A Modern Survival Family

TWD: The Knick

FtWD: Game of Bones

TWD: Breaking Society Bad
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:37 PM on September 7, 2015


Hey if y'all want to see a DECENT, REALISTIC look at how society would fall apart quickly post-Zed, watch Life After Beth. (Now available on Amazon Prime streaming!) /promo

I totally see why this movie didn't get much traction in theaters, because marketing goes to what kind of audience, exactly?

I would seriously pay cash money for the FtWD showrunners to take a quick lesson from Molly Shannon, Aubrey Plaza and John C. Reilly.

Beth > Alycia, IMO.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:40 PM on September 9, 2015


skewed: I agree that we're not seeing enough zombies or people turning into zombies to justify the level of chaos they're showing, but I actually think that in just a few days that level of chaos is plausible. A few hundred people die every day in a city the size of Los Angeles, right? Even assuming the virus hasn't infected 100% of the population yet, even 10-20 new zombies a day for the 3-4 days we've seen should screw things up pretty badly.

Ooh, good call on the number of people normally dying in LA. Otherwise, I was thinking the "oh shit, those things don't die/stay dead" factor added to the "holy fuck, the police just shot that seemingly non-agressive dude twenty times!" that goes viral in the current environment of awareness of excessive/fatal use of force has escalated the general state of panic in a seemingly natural way.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:21 AM on September 10, 2015


God help me I swore I was done with this show, but my girlfriend just came over and said there's nothing else going on and she's going to watch it and ... I guess I'll see you all shortly in the FanFare for E03, grousing about how it's gotten even worse than I thought it would.
posted by komara at 5:53 PM on September 13, 2015


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