Fear the Walking Dead: Another Day in the Diamond

"I've done a lot worse when I was out there. We all did. I thought I lost my kids for good because of it. But I found 'em. And then we found this place and we built it up. Together. We are who we are because of it."

In which we found out just what the Clarks have been up to. As it turns out, they've been working hard and not even killing people. I know, I was surprised too.

While watching this past season of The Walking Dead, I've also been binging Fear the Walking Dead in preparation for taking it over. I ended up falling a little bit in love with it, which surprised me, since I don't have particularly fond memories of its first season. Fear the Walking Dead is a much stronger show. It's rarely plodding like its big brother, doesn't repeat character arcs, and most amazingly of all, death actually feels like it has some meaning. With this show, I can allow myself to like the characters and become invested in them, because I know they won't be killed off purely for shock value. Even the production values are better: the stadium was impressive and felt like a real post-apocalyptic community, rather than the warehouse the Saviors live in or the townhouse they rented for the Hilltop. There really is no question in my mind that Fear the Walking Dead is superior in every way. So I've been worried about both Morgan Jones and Scott Gimple coming to the show, and so far, this season hasn't really settled my worries that Gimple would bring his incompetence as a writer to this show. There are faux-artsy direction choices, like the sepia tones of the prior episode, and here, we got freakin' Negan.


So Gimple is a drop of poison in this particular soup, but the soup is still pretty damn tasty. I was worried about the time skip I knew was coming, both because it was forced to facilitate Morgan's entry and because the initial show premise was meant to show the breakdown of society. I didn't mind it in action, however, since things had been disintegrating pretty fast anyway and we got to see the characters in an interesting new light. I've grown to care for the Clarks and their friends, and it was wonderful to see that they'd grown to care for one another too.


The Clarks (along with Luciana and Victor) made a new life in the Diamond, and it was a successful life. They chose a clever fortress where everyone pitched in. It was a little slice of paradise in a very hellish world, and best of all, they'd become a true family. Everybody seemed to be their best selves. Madison had become the strong, capable yet benevolent leader we all knew she could be ever since the Broke Jaw Ranch. It was lovely to see her acting like the school counselor she once was in her interactions with Charlie. Alicia was bright and cheerful, bantering amicably with Nick, who is trying (and largely succeeding) to leave his obsession with the dead behind. Luciana has become a daughter-in-law of sorts to Madison, and her relationship with Nick is pretty much repaired. Best of all might have been Victor, who's as clever and sharp-tongued as he's always been, but has become noble and even loyal. Now that's character development.

Everybody had easy chemistry with one another, from the way Nick and Alicia spoke to how everyone teased Victor over the subordinate crushing on him. We also got a new character in the form of Naomi, who rather fortuitously turned out to be a nurse. Madison demonstrated kindness and patience with Naomi, whereas once she would have killed or abandoned her in the name of saving her family. As she told Negan Junior, she found a better way. And that brings me to Negan Junior. Allow me to take a deep sigh before we continue.


Mel... sucks. He just sucks, he does, and he shouldn't. On paper, the Vultures are creepy as hell, using music and a child as weapons. It was a little creepy when one of the Vultures lured Walkers into the back of a truck (which is the kind of thing I would've liked to see the Saviors do on The Walking Dead). Then Mel turned up, and any sense of tension just evaporated. His dialogue wasn't bad, but he had this weird, preppy style of dress, his minions looked like rejects from freakin' Gotham and he was miscast as hell. He looked like a twelve-year-old boy wearing a big coat. Mel was impossible to take seriously and impossible not to compare to Negan. The reveal that Charlie was a mole should have been unsettling, but it was defused by that awful performance from Kevin Zegers. This development could have been something special if another actor was in the role. Or hey, how about Proctor John? He's a resourceful guy who could easily have adjusted his plans. It wouldn't have taken much tweaking to have him slide into the Big Bad slot. And after dealing with the likes of Proctor John and Walker, Madison really shouldn't be intimidated by these jokers. Troy Otto wouldn't even be intimidated by these clowns. Even those frat boys who befriended and then killed Chris back in Season 2 were scarier than these mimes.

And just where is Madison in the present day? I'm hoping she's not dead, although her lack of presence doesn't bode well for her. This show would lose a lot if it lost Kim Dickens, even with all the great new additions to the cast. And damn, it would be such a shame for Kim Dickens to not share a scene with Garret Dillahunt. Anyway, overall I enjoyed this episode a lot. I just hope these Vultures either improve or don't outstay their welcome.

Bits & Bobs

- I know I've been hard on Gimple here, and he isn't even credited for this episode, but I feel his hand at work. I feel his insidious influence.

- They weren't in this episode much, but I am seriously pleased Garret Dillahunt and Maggie Grace are in the cast. Dillahunt is always exceptional, and I haven't seen Grace since her underrated time on LOST. I love John and Althea already.

- I am still kind of expecting John Dorie to turn out to be a maniac of some kind, just due to Dillahunt. I'm taking bets on what the deal with Laura is. Is she Naomi? Was she his kidnapping victim and he's delusional?

- Nick is still recovering from his trauma at the dam.

- Nick and Charlie were talking about Cross Road Blues, the famous blues song by Robert Johnson, and how he supposedly sold his soul. Charlie probably feels like she too made a dark deal with Mark Sheppard.

- I hope they ditch the sepia tones soon, although I don't think they will. We get it, guys: bright past, bad present.

Quotes

Luciana: Don't you get bored in here?
Nick: I do, yeah. It's great.
Alicia: Ohh. It is. You wanna just stare at a wall later?

Victor: And so ends our broadcast day.

Three out of four turnips.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope Billie will still post her unique take and perspective, as my opinions are much alike Jonny's. I'm filled with equal amounts of distrust and disgust they are about to Gimple up our good show. The unwelcome major jump forward in time, the stench of the base show infecting what previously was a fresh standalone series…

My main pet peeve has got to be the flashbacks. Not only was the majority of the episode a flashback, they were teasing upcoming further flashbacks within it. So tired. So pointless. Letting it all unfold chronologically would only increase the tension and excitement. It's telling you might worry about Madison's current absence from the "present day" scenes, but wouldn't it be a thousand times more interesting if you also didn't already know that no severe harm could come to either of the other major characters during most of the episode?

I don't have a particularly strong opinion about the Vultures thus far, certainly wasn't getting a full on comic book psychopath Negan vibe. If all they are really doing is waiting it out and picking over the remains of the less fortunate, that would be not much different from what any survivor has to be doing. Of course, it was strongly hinted they might not-so-subtly encourage various accidents and disasters to happen to the communities they have set their sights on. Was it Charlotte who sabotaged and ruined the Diamond's plants?

In the end, I cannot say I was particularly bothered or bored by this episode. Definitely watchable. Still very cautious and worried about what's to come– and about all the wrong things. Not on how the story will unfold or the fate of the characters, but about the general quality of the show itself.

Billie Doux said...

I am still watching Fear and will absolutely post comments, although I don't have much of anything different to say than Jonny and Anonymous just did. I've always liked Fear for itself and I really do hope it doesn't change too much in an attempt to accommodate the crossover. Mel didn't do much for me, and Charlie's betrayal was predictable. I do like that Madison herself has changed, that she's allowing herself to care about strangers, that she was ready to build something good at the baseball diamond. Although it seemed obvious to me that the diamond was pretty much like the prison, too good a situation to last for long. I mean, I really do wish our characters could find a safe place to live and enough to eat permanently, but that doesn't make for interesting drama.

Was it just the dam that freaked Nick out? Or did something else push him over the edge emotionally?

Thank you so much for taking over for me, Jonny. I was going to drop my reviews of Fear so that I could take on The Handmaid's Tale, and now the site still has Fear reviews and I get to keep following the show with you. That makes me happy. :)

Henrik Bennetter said...

Allow me to add to the collective sigh.

I just - no, no, NO! They started the season SO DAMN WELL and then they had to go all baby-Negan again. DAMN IT!

Like I've said before. This conflict between groups thing is just so over and done with. It's just STUPID!

Why, why, why would they choose this path yet again. From such a promising opener this has just turned into a revenge show. Again. And poor Morgon who just wants to get away from it all.

I...I...aw crap.

Patryk said...

Walking Dead like always is just one big vicious circle of fighting Negans. I just wish that each Negan is in some way unique. Let's see how this one will turn out.