The morning after Fear the Walking Dead’s premiere, social media feeds and the official Walking Dead message boards are buzzing with favorable reactions. Not all viewers, however, are cheering for the spinoff despite its clever imagery and subtle development.
The most popular complaint is the “slow” pace of the series opener. Some reviewers and viewers are all too eager to compare this original series to its predecessor, The Walking Dead. This is an unfair criticism and comparison.
Fear the Walking Dead does something subtly terrifying– it shows us how quietly chaos begins and how disbelief and apathy allow it to escalate to an apocalyptic scale.
Think about it. If a troubled teenager told you “no one is going to college,” or doing anything for that matter, would you ask questions? Would you believe it if he told you what he saw? Would you even look into it? Now suppose you do investigate and you find evidence of a crime, would your report it if it incriminates the teenager who shared it with you?
As for comparing Fear the Walking Dead to The Walking Dead , it’s easy to understand the temptation. The onset of the zombie apocalypse, though, will creep up on a jaded, apathetic culture.
It takes time for the infection to spread…herds don’t happen overnight! By the time Rick wakes up from his coma in The Walking Dead Episode 1, society has collapsed. That’s not the case with FearTWD, so it is unfair to expect a large zombie presence and all the gory action associated with them. What it lacks in zombies it makes up for in clever imagery.
The fact that we are introduced to the onset of the zombie apocalypse, the resurrection, in a church is too clever to be coincidence. Feeding on flesh is reminiscent of the Roman Catholic eucharist, body of Christ, and the blood smeared on Gloria’s face alludes to the blood of Christ. Oh yeah- and the first zombie we meet is Gloria, as in Gloria in excelsis Deo … as in “have mercy on us.”
The Catholic Nicene Creed also calls for its parishioners to “believe in the resurrection of the dead.” Fear the Walking Dead may tap into existing beliefs to help viewers suspend disbelief- an act that makes its events more realistic and frightening.
But what exactly are we communing with here and which is the way to mercy? Or are we supposed to pay attention to bearing witness? After all, Nick bore witness to what others doubt. Does the world plunge into chaos because we are a bunch of Doubting Thomases? Would we be spared the apocalypse if we believed the like of Nick?
During last night’s special episode of The Talking Dead, The Walking Dead’s showrunner, Scott Gimple, explained that each season premiere is wrought with clues for the remainder of the season. So what easter eggs do we have in this first episode of its spinoff?
First, student absenteeism is attributed to “the flu.” The number of students dwindle so low that the school opts to send students home for half a day after footage of a highway attack goes viral.
The first time we experience the zombie virus is in the “shoot house” and the first infected shot herself up with heroin. Is the virus blood born? Is there something in the drugs? If that’s the case, why isn’t everyone who uses symptomatic?
The AMC Storysync shared a newspaper article, reporting a domestic attack where a man was found eating a cat as his family huddled horrified in the closet. The article explained the assailant was ill for several days prior to the incident.
AMC Storysync also shared a letter from the World Health Organization regarding a virus, reanimated corpses, and disposal protocols. The origin of the concern is Geneva, Switzerland. How long did it take the virus to travel to the US? Why didn’t the US have protocols in place? Or did it?
Many complain that Fear the Walking Dead has done little to expose the root of the zombie virus outbreak, but Robert Kirkman said from the start that he will never overtly expose the catalyst. So what can we garner from these clues? Hopefully the rest of the season will bring some clarity.
Viewers clamoring for more zombies, rest assured- they’re coming. Based on Fear the Walking Dead’s Episode 2 sneak peek, zombie action is on the horizon. The short clip features Madison Clark and her student Tobias scurrying through abandoned highschool hallways, wheeling a cart of cans. Through a cracked door, a man with blood on his back is seen lumbering. He does not respond to Madison’s call. It looks like Tobias is right… no one is going to do anything any more.
The abandoned hallway and rush for supplies indicate things are escalating quickly. For more on the premiere of Fear the Walking Dead, you can read AMC Premieres ‘Fear the Walking Dead’: Recap and Review on NFS.
What easter eggs did I miss? You can share your insights and reactions in the comment section.
The next five episodes of Fear the Walking Dead are scheduled to air on AMC Sunday evenings at 9 PM.