For one a half seasons, Fear the Walking Dead has explored the events leading up to the cataclysmic collapse of society at the hands of the undead—all from the perspective of one East Los Angeles neighborhood. The show, a prequel/spinoff to AMC’s six-season zombie hit, The Walking Dead, recently aired its season 2 midseason finale and has already been renewed for a third season. Of course, any spin-off series opens itself up to criticism for, quite simply, not living up to the legacy of its predecessor—and Fear the Walking Dead has always had a particularly high bar to live up to.
Fans are already familiar with the zombie universe, painted through the grisly experiences of Rick and Co. in Walking Dead, and therefore have come to expect a certain level of character know-how and show pacing—two things that have made FTWD a difficult narrative feat. The show’s executive producer Dave Erickson is aware of the odds that have been stacked up against FTWD since it debuted, as well as the irony that the show relies on the very fan base that holds it to such a high standard.
“[The Walking Dead] has a huge fan base to whom we are incredibly grateful, and we obviously want to deliver a story that everybody loves,” Erickson told TV Line.
Part of that strategy has been crafting a show that gradually builds up to the events that open up The Walking Dead, in medias res, with Rick waking up from a coma and plunging headfirst (while taking viewers along for the ride) into the perils and pitfalls of the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. Erickson noted that Fear the Walking Dead, however, is intended to create a different effect, inciting frustration in viewers who feel characters aren’t understanding or learning their world fast enough:
“[Ordinarily] by the end of the first reel, everybody knows the score and is able to kill [the undead] without any thought. They become very practiced at it very quickly. And that was something we wanted to avoid. We wanted to [instead] try to balance expectations of how people should behave once they know there are zombies with this sort of attempted slow burn into the apocalypse from a character standpoint.”
Naturally, however, this has had the tendency to make viewers impatient, especially since Fear the Walking Dead‘s zombie novices are being compared to the likes of Rick and his company, a group of hardened survivors who have had six long seasons to learn (often against their moral judgement) the grim ins and outs of their brave new world.
After discussing these challenges, Erickson did drop an interesting tidbit on FTWD’s timeline, acknowledging, in certain respects, that the “slow build to the apocalypse” will soon reach its fruition:
“If you marked off the days [that have passed on air since Fear TWD debuted], I think right now, by the end of the first half [of Season 2], we’re getting very close to Rick waking up in Georgia. [Fear The Walking Dead survivors have] arrived at a place where they’re up to speed on how one deals with the apocalypse and the dead.”
That being said, it will be interesting to see how FTWD handles the narrative creativity that comes from its characters finally approaching exciting, new levels of undead savviness.
Fear the Walking Dead season 2 will resume with eight new episodes in August 2016 on AMC.
Source: TV Line