Fear the Walking Dead: Monster
April 11, 2016 9:24 AM - Season 2, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Travis, Madison, and their blended family set sail on Strand's boat off the coast of California in an effort to escape the apocalypse. While they're looking for safety, they... aw, who gives a crap.
posted by DirtyOldTown (35 comments total)
 
If I send Robert Kirkman a monogrammed pillow that says "Man is the worst monster," do you think that would be enough for him to wrap that theme up and find something else to say?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:26 AM on April 11, 2016 [12 favorites]


I'm only 5 minutes in, but I had to pause the dvr and go to the computer and say wow, this is really directed terribly.
posted by Catblack at 9:44 AM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Haha. I had just reloaded the page to see if anybody else wanted to talk about this turkey yet when I saw your post. Thanks!

So before I fired this up, I was explaining to my girlfriend that the question was not whether this would be terrible. My only curiosity was 'how would it be terrible?' Like, would it follow the footsteps of its parent show, or try something new?

I was not disappointed because I left no room for hope.

If I send Robert Kirkman a monogrammed pillow that says "Man is the worst monster," do you think that would be enough for him to wrap that theme up and find something else to say?

What's funny about that is that I never really got that vibe from the comics in this single minded way, but it remains the central thesis of TWD, and is now clearly going to be FTWD's entire point. It's frustrating not only for reasons I've gone on about over and over about how 'hey, people don't work this way,' but also because they're continuing to rely on crazy bullshit to try and make their point instead of doing anything interesting with it.

Winding that back a moment: the setup for 'trust no one' is better here than anywhere in TWD. It makes actual sense for this group to be more selective about human contact while surviving on a boat because their resources are truly finite, and other people might legitimately wish to steal a yacht - it's valuable on a level that the TWD guys never really touched. They actually could have done the theme of 'stick with the group and fuck everyone else' in a pretty good way and still had their pernicious anti-civilization nonsense come out on top.

Naturally, they did nothing useful with the cleverer setup.
* Strand is the only character I remain curious about here, and they're *wasting* him. His overall attitude of 'you guys are idiots, and it's my boat' is great... except that he didn't have the radio secured, (when it was clear these people are idiots), and he has offered not one reason for saving them. He doesn't like them. He doesn't trust them. He *shouldn't* like them or trust them. There is no reason they should be on his boat. His discussion with Nick about it was evasive nonsense - a heroin addict is the last person I'm going to rely on as a 'survivor.'

They need to have him show either sympathy or an ulterior motive, stat.

* Not-Lexa is going to drive me nuts. It is so hard to watch that girl go from badass lesbian warrior queen to 'stock idiot teenager.' She should be ruling them all from a throne of skulls, or at least be Strand's main competition for the role, and no amount of in-show justification will make me feel differently.

* The show features not one stupid kid, but four. We have MacHighver and Not-Lexa offering two different perspectives on why Hollywood writers think teenagers are the worst, but we also have Ofelia and Chris still kicking around. That herd could be thinner, and I hope it is soon. (Chris especially - gah, but he's a creep.)

* Real pirates shouldn't be riddling yachts with machine gun fire. They should be *stealing* yachts, and riddling hapless rich people with sustainable, sustainable knife wounds. The scene with the capsized, ruined yacht was dumber for me than Negan last week because at least Negan figured out to steal Rick's RV. C'mon, show - thieves like stealing, even you guys must know that.

* The shots of the city burning were pretty, but didn't make much sense at all.

So... yeah. Argh. In my stock attempt to do more than complain, though, I will admit that the floater zombies were great. I even liked Nick's encounter beneath the capsized boat, from a strictly cinematic perspective. I laughed at the one in the life jacket. So, uh... that was fun anyway.
posted by mordax at 9:51 AM on April 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also, having thought about it for a minute, I want a 'Man is the worst monster' pillow. We should get a Kickstarter together or something.
posted by mordax at 9:56 AM on April 11, 2016 [7 favorites]



* The shots of the city burning were pretty, but didn't make much sense at all.


I think this was just to establish one of the zillion reasons they were going out to sea - the remaining military was firebombing the city.

I'm just stunned that Strand didn't immediately seize the radio once he realized Not-Lexa was using it. Also for someone who got into Berkeley, how does she not know anything about triangulation?

I'm watching because I love Strand and Salazar and even the Junkie - I laughed at "existentially" quip. Hope they don't waste these characters this season.
posted by longdaysjourney at 10:11 AM on April 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think this was just to establish one of the zillion reasons they were going out to sea - the remaining military was firebombing the city.

I'm sure that was their intention, it just tripped my suspension of disbelief in that particular moment. Like, at the end of last season, they clearly had a little prep time, but now it was completely over right this instant. Plus, last season made it seem like the city was largely empty - not much point thoroughly firebombing a city that's already been cleared.

I wish they'd done it last season, instead of the 9 day fast forward. Like, "We're burning some sections of town to create barriers to the dead the way firefighters fight a wildfire with controlled burning." Just... something with a little setup and justification.
posted by mordax at 10:17 AM on April 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


I knew this was going to suck. But I watched it just because I enjoy the fanfare comments so much. Carry on friends!!
posted by pearlybob at 10:51 AM on April 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


"Yeah, that was a really cool song. How are you guys doing? You're starving and dying? That suuuucks. We're just a couple of tired, scared families, but we have a giant yacht with desalinization and enough fuel to get anywhere. Yeah, we're a bit north of you. Yep, just sitting there motionless, with fog blocking our view. Guns? We've got two, but if you come up around the starboard, someone could probably catch us by surprise. Right now? Ah, a sad kid and his junkie step-sib are swimming fully clothed. Yeah, we're totally vulnerable. No, we won't help you. Sorry! Wait, what?"
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:09 AM on April 11, 2016 [9 favorites]


It's interesting that I see comments in TWD that discuss FTWD in favorable terms -- or is that just a specific person? I didn't hate the first season as much as many other people and so I was (and still am, I guess) willing to give this second season a chance. But, wow, this is starting out doing the exact thing that the first season did that made me so angry. It's wasting so many opportunities and, instead, doing stupid predictable shit.

I'm totally fascinated by the idea of this yacht and how that may or may not create a view of the zombie apocalypse utterly unlike what we've seen in TWD. But then they immediately fucking just make it another example of "stumble onto another group of survivors who are predatory" thing. And, dammit, I don't accept this as plausible in the middle of the fucking ocean. (Okay, it's not the middle of the fucking ocean, but rather off the coast -- even so, it's not like stumbling across some people along a road.)

So, I don't watch The 100. I'm amazed that this character "Lexa" has a whole Wikipedia page of her own, even though she's not even one of the show's main characters. I guess that tells me a lot about the audience of The 100. Anyway, I like that actor on this show and I want good things from this Alicia character. But I can't agree strongly enough with mordax's annoyance at how these young adult characters are being written. I suppose this is why many viewers I know (here and elsewhere) dislike all non-adult characters but, really, it's just in the writing. Teens and kids are people, too, and they can be written in ways that are not stereotypes and dumb. Maybe not on this show, though.

Okay, I do have to say that this yacht inspires in me a stronger desire to be very wealthy more than I've experienced before now. I want that yacht, I want to live on that yacht and go places.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:22 AM on April 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


Will it be a season of "pirate of the week" or just watching everyone involved make stupid choices?
posted by armacy at 11:33 AM on April 11, 2016


I liked the firebombing of LA. It doesn't make any sense, but it makes more sense than the city suddenly being empty last season.

I liked the boat. Coupled with the fact that these people are just bigger assholes than the TWD crew, that could have gone in a neat direction: riding out the apocalypse in a sort of luxury, and what they'd have to do to maintain it.

So of course you park your mega-yacht next to a weird smoke/fog cloud and go for a swim. And hey, a shady group of bad guys to deal with. Not to mention apparently inscrutable teenager-beings doing dangerous stuff. I mean, what a waste.

The only thing about FTWD so far is that I'm not attached to the characters, so I'm looking forward to gruesome deaths.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:53 AM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


"The most important thing here is for someone to find out where we're going using this radio. Here, listless teen, you handle that unsupervised and I'm going to hang out in the control room fighting off sleep like Freddy Krueger's fucking chasing me, even though we don't have anywhere to be and this ship is obviously heavily automated."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:56 AM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm looking forward to gruesome deaths.

Was the lifeboat's motor head-flesh ripper good for you? It was right at that moment that I realized this show is going to devolve into the same thing TWD has. A series of setups for "cool" zombie deaths.

Lets think up the most ridiculous deaths that haven't occurred yet on either show, and I bet they'll happen. We're on the water. Somebody will probably get a Jet-Ski, and run over a walker's head with it. An airboat fan will probably have to wait until the New Orleans version someone supposed in the previous TWD post. Once they have another scene on a coast, somebody will probably drive one of those big sand-wheel things over a walker head. There will probably be a scene where the character can only survive by putting the walker's head in the water, where it will be bitten off by a shark. Is there an active volcano somewhere they can get to? LAVA WALKERS.

This show is so terrible. If they were smart, they would use cameos by major actors, and just have people getting killed each week. They could have the main character be a pet. Cause you know darn well that while people will leave other people to die, if they see a pet, they'll move heaven and earth to save the poor thing. When you send that pillow to Kirkman, pitch him that idea.
posted by cashman at 12:20 PM on April 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


Also the happy apocalypse family dinner (so much fun bounty!) was weird.
posted by armacy at 3:53 PM on April 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


I know I chimed in with a short review (of the first 5 minutes) this morning. I caught the whole think. I still think it's terrible, though the direction of the rest of the episode was better. That opening scene was utter c-grade movie crap.

The writing seems worse than last season. I don't care about any of these characters, at all. (And those two schoolteachers are the most morally bankrupt of them all.)

The slo-mo dinner scene was just baffling. Where was Strand? They were eating his food after all? For that matter, I kept getting the hint this episode that Strand was gay and totally into Johnny Depp Junkie Boy (who I am hoping dies soon.) How big is this boat? I mean, I understand people will have private conversations, but there seems to be a tragic (for the viewer) lack of communication among this small group.

The water zombies were lame. All of them. The only good water zombies were in Juan of the Dead.
posted by Catblack at 8:08 PM on April 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


Either the writing and editing crews have never heard of continuity or they're all too coked to the gills to care.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:19 PM on April 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


And while I agree with you all I am still going to watch this show for a while because Sea Zombie Pirate Apocalypse is my (newly discovered) jam. Also I'm running a little betting pool with myself: first person (other than Strand) to do one goddamn sensible fucking thing and I'm going to eat a whole thing of Nutella... probably never going to eat that Nutella. Which is good, it's not super healthy to eat a whole thing of Nutella.

Also "You mean existentially?" was pretty good.

Strand is grooming our young addict friend, not necessarily for sex, but certainly as some kind of Renfield. I won't question other commenters experiences with addicts and addiction, but in my experience many addicts combine a singularity of purpose with a certain total disregard for their own life that could be pretty useful in extreme situations. I mean Strand basically says as much to the kid.

On preview: Yeah, the continuity people and editors must have some damn good blackmail material on the producers.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:34 PM on April 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


When Five Years started playing, it occurred to me that because Fear the Walking Dead takes place in the past, in-universe David Bowie is still alive. I spent a few minutes imagining a show about Bowie glamming his way through the zombie apocalypse.

Then when they found the other boat, I started imagining a show about a cruise ship full of senior citizens out on the seas, using the skills that they'd developed over their lifetimes to survive the fall of mankind while the younger, decadent mainland society fell into ruin. Old WWII vets busting out island-combat skills, decrepit retired farmers keeping the engines running, that sort of thing.

It was about about this point that it struck me that I was finding it very easy to spend more of my attention imagining better shows than it was to focus on Fear the Walking Dead.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:49 PM on April 11, 2016 [9 favorites]


Then when they found the other boat, I started imagining a show about a cruise ship full of senior citizens out on the seas, using the skills that they'd developed over their lifetimes to survive the fall of mankind while the younger, decadent mainland society fell into ruin. Old WWII vets busting out island-combat skills, decrepit retired farmers keeping the engines running, that sort of thing.

Did you, by any chance, ever see Cockneys vs. Zombies?
posted by mordax at 9:57 PM on April 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


This show is so terrible. If they were smart, they would use cameos by major actors, and just have people getting killed each week.

I had an story idea once about a about a former child star-turned-paparazzo-turned-Hollywood zombie hunter that used this gimmick; due to the myopia of the Tinseltown Dream-Killing Machine* it didn't get much further than dead celebrity quips.

"You've seen this movie before, Die Burrell!"
"More like Chris Splatt, amirite?"
"Vaya con dios, Zombie Rob Zombie!"

And so on.

*Plus I didn't really do anything with the idea. But I will sue anyone who even thinks of going near it!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:57 AM on April 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


The opening scene of this episode felt like the writers throwing up their hands and going, "YOU ASSHOLES THOUGHT WE TOOK TO LONG TO GET TO THE ZOMBIE ACTION LAST SEASON? FINE, HERE YOU GO."

I dunno, I liked this. With the exception of Nick going into the capsized boat and Strand letting Alicia keep the radio after finding out about Jack, I feel like the characters were being realistically stupid. These aren't hardened Z+1095 survivors like on the main show, they're like Z+60 (around where the main show started), and they spent almost all of that time in a gated community under military protection. They don't really have a reason to mistrust other survivors yet, unless they're already cynical and genre-savvy like Strand and Salazar.

But anyway, what the fuck does Nick think that log book is gonna do for them?
posted by tobascodagama at 6:27 PM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Speaking of that log book scene, I have a question. When he goes to get the log book and that snarling walker lady is about to eat him, she suddenly stops and starts staring at something, and he gets away. The only thing I could figure was she was supposed to be listening and distracted by the sound of them calling for him. But that would be really stupid, so I figured I missed some part of it. I don't dare watch it again, so what gives with that?

And back along the lines of creating a cool show since this one isn't one, it would have been awesome if the costumes of the two walkers Nick encountered from the overturned boat were dressed as a preacher, and the lady was heavyset with a dress on.
posted by cashman at 6:33 PM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


No, that walker was very definitely just distracted by Travis' yelling. Which is weird, if it were that easy to distract walkers from food that's right in front of them, nobody would ever get killed by them.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:37 PM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I feared that was the case. Hey, maybe that's the actual meaning of the title of this show. Bad plot points that you fear will occur.
posted by cashman at 6:42 PM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


They keep going on about how these zombies are "fresher". It'd be cool if they used that to disconnect from the TWD style zombies we have now and got back to the sort of zombies in the first few episodes of the series. They had basic memories and skills; we even see some climbing and using tools and stuff.

Also I thought this was still only like a week later, or two at most. Hopefully they use that to give us more varied encounters.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:52 PM on April 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Bleh. The first season didn't leave me with high hopes, and, well, I wasn't disappointed.

This show has already managed to completely throw away a great premise. A show that focused on the early days of the outbreak, on an hour-to-hour, day-by-day timescale could have been great.

Instead, season one paradoxically managed to rush through the early days without anything actually happening (at least nothing very interesting or believable). And it looks like things are already congealing around the tired old "The Group vs. The Other, Bad-Guy Group" formula.

It's mildly entertaining to watch Strand ham it up with his controlled, flinty-eyed thing, but that's as close as I come to caring about any of these characters.

All of this, combined with the last couple seasons of the original show, has left me pretty disenchanted with the franchise. I'm not swearing either show off, but catching new episodes is no longer high on my priority list. It was fun while it lasted.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:57 PM on April 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


Yeah, the one positive about this thing is Colman Domingo, whom I'm pretty sure many people would tune in to see read the phone book.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:50 AM on April 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


I mean, TWD never had an issue with casting extremely watchable actors either. Even the characters I really fucking hate are well-acted on that show.

Also, if we're discussing FTWD actors, I feel like we all need to pause a moment to read Ruben Blades' Wikipedia entry. I mean, when the fact that you have the last name "Blades" is the least interesting thing about you...
posted by tobascodagama at 8:27 AM on April 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Heck yeah, Ruben Blades is awesome. And he's not just another actor who dabbles in music... he's a legit STAR.

Check out this performance of him performing "Pedro Navaja" in front of what, at a casual glance, seems to be the entire population of Venezuela.

And yeah, acting and music are only two chapters in a fairly amazingly varied life story. Like, oh, btw, he ran for President of Panama and got 18% of the vote.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:48 AM on April 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


DirtyOldTown: Yeah, the one positive about this thing is Colman Domingo, whom I'm pretty sure many people would tune in to see read the phone book.

And yet I was underwhelmed by him this episode. Somewhere in his transition from smooth devil in a business suit to salty sea captain (who doesn't keep track of communications on his vessel!) left me wanting to go back and watch his scenes from the prior season to remind myself of why I liked him so much before.

I was really hoping that Daniel would use his gun to shoot holes in the life rafts to hasten those ill-fated passengers to their demise, but I then realized that he'd be wasting a bullet, and he was smarter than that.


escape from the potato planet: All of this, combined with the last couple seasons of the original show, has left me pretty disenchanted with the franchise. I'm not swearing either show off, but catching new episodes is no longer high on my priority list. It was fun while it lasted.

Yeah, my wife and I sort of half-watched this episode, after both being really confused about why Southern California was already burning, and not in a massive swath of fire, but in very distinct spots. I surmised that it was because much of Los Angeles is built like its movie cars - quick to blow up in a ball of fire. After that, I started reading this thread and laughing at the truths stated:

DirtyOldTown: If I send Robert Kirkman a monogrammed pillow that says "Man is the worst monster," do you think that would be enough for him to wrap that theme up and find something else to say?

mordax: So before I fired this up, I was explaining to my girlfriend that the question was not whether this would be terrible. My only curiosity was 'how would it be terrible?' Like, would it follow the footsteps of its parent show, or try something new?
- and -
mordax: The show features not one stupid kid, but four.


entropicamericana: Either the writing and editing crews have never heard of continuity or they're all too coked to the gills to care.

One of the editors, Chris McCaleb, came over from Better Call Saul, so I'm going with bad writing.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:52 AM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I kept getting the hint this episode that Strand was gay and totally into Johnny Depp Junkie Boy

Oh, I meant to address that: my hat's off to you for offering a plausible explanation for Strand's interest in Nick. Really, my only reservation about buying it is that it actually makes human sense, even including Strand not being open about it, and the way he keeps acting like Nick's special when Nick is clearly just a garden variety screwup.

If I have learned one thing in 6 years of TWD, human motivation is not their forte, so I know the show won't bother to justify any of this. I'll keep your explanation as my fanon to keep from going mad watching it, though.
posted by mordax at 11:32 AM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think Strand's interest in Nick is exactly what it appears to be at face value: Strand thinks Nick can be a useful toady, because he understands how to manipulate junky psychology.

Whatever else this show does, it does not tend to imbue its characters with hidden motivations.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:22 PM on April 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think Strand's interest in Nick is exactly what it appears to be at face value: Strand thinks Nick can be a useful toady, because he understands how to manipulate junky psychology.

That may still prove to be the case, but I was disheartened when he didn't start making moves to justify it in the premiere.

I'm probably overanalyzing anything to do with Strand though, because he's the only character I find particularly compelling right now. I laughed out loud when he talked that guy to death in his opening appearance, and I don't actually mind his 'us vs. them' rhetoric because he is not - so far - being presented as a Good Guy that we should emulate. He's being offered as a trickster mentor type figure, and so I'm okay with amoral advice coming from him.

That leaves him as my big hook for FTWD, so I'm all... watching everything he does with a magnifying glass.

Everybody else is pretty much a lost cause, IMO, which is sad. Like... I've already talked about the kids. Travis and Madison are reacting in ways that I do, to the show's credit, find realistic - they're muddled, confused, indecisive, unhappy. Unfortunately, while it's better character work than TWD, it isn't much fun to watch, nor do I find them all that likeable. I'm completely neutral about their fates.

Ruben Blades is awesome, but the torture plotline in S1 left me very cold on Salazar. Not that he did it - I completely agree that he would've flayed that soldier if he thought it would help. I was upset that torture was presented as both helpful and effective, and so I expect him to be at the center of all the philosophical stuff I'll be obliged to complain about on this show later. I'm sort of preemptively disconnecting with him.

... which pretty much just leaves me wanting Strand to stay awesome so I can root for someone. But I guess there's nothing to do about that now but wait and see, and maybe send Kirkman that pillow just in case it helps.
posted by mordax at 12:49 PM on April 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Has anyone involved with this show ever been to LA?
posted by fshgrl at 2:16 AM on May 14, 2016


Has anyone involved with this show ever been to LA?

I'm going to strongly go with "No." It's driving me absolutely bonkers that they're spending several days taking their boat from LA to San Diego?!? They're not even 50 miles offshore! GAH this is so dumb.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:42 PM on August 28, 2017


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