‘Fear The Walking Dead’ opens with a slow season two premiere

Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) and Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) in the season two premiere of 'Fear the Walking Dead.' (Richard Foreman / AMC)

After a powerful season one finale back in October, the AMC spin-off-but-not-spin-off Fear the Walking Dead  opened its second season Sunday at what some would say is the most critical juncture thus far.

It’s widely regarded that the second season of its counterpart The Walking Dead is one of its weakest, so the showrunners for the spin-off were undoubtedly looking to keep up the intensity we saw last season.

The episode finds the cast struggling to make way to the Abigail ,the yacht that Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) mentions near the end of season one. A burning Los Angeles sets the foreground as it seems the zombie apocalypse is fully underway in the opener. Most will remember the sunny desert landscape at the end of season one, but that soon gives way to fire as the group struggle to board the yacht.

What better way to start a season than to finally answer the “Could we survive in the open seas?” question? Strand mentions that the yacht can travel 3,000 miles, giving way to time to ponder the next move for the group.

After the death of Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez) in the season one finale, the premiere shows the real grip that death still has on the people at the beginning of the apocalypse. Whereas in The Walking Dead, death is more of a habit than a hardship, FTWD shows that the main characters haven’t really come to terms with it, even in the wake of it all.

The burial of Liza, or rather, her exit overboard, is the defining moment of the opener. Travis (Cliff Curtis) seems to accept his mercy-giving role in relieving her of her pain and grief as season one ended, and can finally accept that he did what had to be done.

After such a slow-paced, dramatic season, the show does well to speed up in the premiere. Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) seems the most scarred, not able to cope with the death of his mother Liza, preferring to just sit and stare at her body bag. Some wonder if Chris is a Carl-esque character for FTWD, drawing comparisons to the deaths of Liza and Lori from The Walking Dead.

Strand is easily the most intriguing character as season two opens with no real backstory and no inclination into what his real purpose is on the show. It’ll be interesting to see how FTWD brings about who he is and what he means to the show.

Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is the most puzzling of the cast members, struggling with herself and being alone. After losing her “boyfriend” early into the first season, Clark shows somewhat of an understanding of how it’s going to work as time passes, but she seems lost, trying to find motivation to fight as the opener progresses.

One of the more motivating characters of the show is Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) herself, with her unwavering belief in her family showing to be one of the driving storylines in the show. The one who seems most discontent in the premiere is Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades), who questions the motives of Strand, citing different suspicions as to what his motives may really be.

To its credit, the opener doesn’t completely fall flat. It picks up near the end as the group figures out that the water is just as dangerous as land. Bodies begin to appear as Nick (Frank Dillane) and Chris decide to go for a swim. (Who thought that was a good idea?) Alicia’s decision to have a radio chat session with a stranger seems to be the ultimate backfire for the group, but that’s all we know heading into the next episode.

Sunday’s season premiere was more of a dud than a home run, but it’s something to build on moving forward in the season. For what it’s worth, the creators are doing their part in upping the “wow” factor.

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To contact Lifestyles editor Tanner Dedmon email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

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