Fear the Walking Dead: What's Your Story?

"I like new people."

Did this episode have an old West feel to it, or was it just me? The sepia tones in the photography, the campfires, the antique revolvers, the grubby bad guys, the almost Deadwood-esque quality of nearly everything John Dorie said?

To be honest, I've been dreading the addition of Garret Dillahunt to the cast. Yes, he is unquestionably an outstanding actor, not to mention yet another Deadwood alum which is always a good thing, but the characters he plays tend to be utterly creepy ass villains.

Not this time, fortunately. When John Dorie introduced himself to Morgan, he said his last name was Dorie like the fish, only with "ie" instead of "y." That comparison to an adorable cartoon fish searching for his family is apt. Our first glimpse of Dorie is him sitting alone in front of a campfire reading, of all things, Love Story. He introduces himself to whoever is lurking outside in the darkness (later, we learn it is Morgan) by telling them how lonely he has been, especially since the woman who once came to his door had gone away. He also said that he hadn't really talked out loud in a year.

Dorie seemed oddly inexperienced with the outside world as it is now. It sounded like he had stockpiled a lot of food and spent most of the post-Apocalypse reading books and eating a "metric ton of popcorn" – and possibly practicing a quick draw.


And yet, Dorie turned out to be genuinely kind (fresh socks!), and the best sort of man to have your back in a fight. When Morgan was captured by a couple of rejects from Deliverance, Dorie unexpectedly showed up to help. When he was also captured, Morgan's good luck continued when new character Althea arrived out of the blue in her awesome SWAT van. Morgan, Dorie and Althea took down Leland's bad guys in a coordinated set of moves as if they'd been working together for years. And they did it not once, but twice.

We didn't learn much about Althea, except that she clearly cares about strangers, she's very clever (loved how she fooled the bad guy by tossing away the wrong set of keys) and she's obsessed with the backstories of people she meets along the way. Her video camera reminded me of the introduction of Deanna Monroe and Alexandria, and I'm sure that was deliberate. Morgan reluctantly told her about Atlanta and Alexandria and the Kingdom, and he even mentioned Shiva the tiger, rest in peace.

Which brings me to Morgan. At one point he said, "I lose people, and then I lose myself." That explained everything he did in this episode. He is again convinced, as he was back before he met Eastwood, that being alone is the only way to retain his sanity and his sense of self. It's the only way he can protect himself from getting emotionally hurt again.

And yet, what happened here was an object lesson in the fact that during an Apocalypse, you really need your peeps around you or you'll freaking die. Morgan got shot during the military base trailer melee and would have died two or three times in this episode if it hadn't been for Dorie and Althea. Early on during his walkabout, Morgan happened upon a man in a 4x4, injured and alone, who refused his offer of bandages and antiseptic and just asked to be left alone. Later, he stumbled upon the very same man as one of the walking dead. The message is clear, even to someone as reluctant to accept it as Morgan is.

Finally, I have to mention how much I enjoyed the beginning and the end of this particular episode. Three of the best Walking Dead characters, Rick, Carol and Jesus, stopped by the trash heap to talk Morgan into coming home, trying to convince Morgan that – of course – he needs his peeps. (I particularly liked that all three conversations took place with the trash as a backdrop framed by Morgan's hanging laundry.)


In the end, Morgan, Dorie, Althea and their wonderful SWAT van were ambushed on the road by four very familiar faces: Alicia, Nick, Victor and Luciana. Alicia told them that there were bad people there. I can only assume she meant themselves. It was odd seeing our Fear the Walking Dead heroes from the other side, as the bad guys. I hope things haven't gotten quite that bad for them since we saw them last.

Bits:

— There were completely new credits and of course, three new people in the cast: Kim Dickens (although we didn't see her), Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Maggie Grace, Colman Domingo, Danay Garcia, Garret Dillahunt and Lennie James. No Ruben Blades. Maybe he'll pop up at the worst possible time like he did last season.

— Morgan said that he doesn't kill anymore, and yay. Dorie said he doesn't kill either, or he tries not to.

— The woman Dorie is searching for is called Laura, and alliteratively, Laura likes licorice. (Was that the candy Dorie kept giving everyone?) Laura also has the second antique revolver of the set. It was a revolver, wasn't it? I don't know much about guns.

— The military base in the trailers had a handmade flag that said "Area 51." Althea said that those markers had been showing up here and there. Maybe it's Proctor John's people or something. Or someone who likes to joke about aliens.

— On The Walking Dead, I often tried to keep track of all the different nicknames people called zombies. Here, Dorie called them "the passed" and Althea, "the dead."

— There was a good-sized montage as Morgan went on walkabout to wherever he wound up meeting John Dorie, wearing out cars and shoes along the way. Guess we'll find out where we are later on. I doubt somehow that Morgan walked all the way to California. (Note from my second viewing – It's Texas! When Morgan is walking, there's a "Welcome to Texas" on the ground by the side of the road, right before Morgan meets Dorie.)

Quotes:

Dorie: "Maybe, sir or madam, you are not there, but it is something to hear your voice after a bit. Just saying words. Platypus. Pasta. Potable. Hmm. If you are there, you can come out. We can sit, split a can of Pecos strawberries, have a little badinage, as my mama used to say. That's just a fancy word for chat."
Quite memorable for an introductory monologue. And apparently, "Pecos strawberries" is slang for cowboy beans.

Jesus "You could do all this somewhere else. Or... well... in the same place, somewhere else."

Althea: "I saved you. Noodles and effort. You owe me."

Dorie: "Boy, I'll tell you what. That is some ugly mustard."

What did you think, guys? Four out of four noodles and effort?

Billie
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Billie Doux loves science fiction but hates horror, and is confused about why she loves The Walking Dead so much.

3 comments:

Henrik Bennetter said...

I decided to give this episode, and therefor, this season of FtWD a try - since I heard good things about it going in a new direction with a new tone and I have to say I liked it for the most part.

Two major nitpicks on my part.
Firstly, Althea is a lousy journalist, at least when it comes to filming. Both times she interviewed first Dorie and then Morgan the lighting was absolutely awful since the sun was behind them instead of behind her. It just seems like something a real journalist would know and think about.

Second, they still left us with some really annoying rookie mistakes. Why Morgan would fall to the ground being "chased" by the walkers instead of just turning around and disposing of them quickly is beyond me.
And on the same note - why on Gaias green earth would you ever, EVER, get out of a SWAT-van to investigate an unknown woman lying in the middle of the road.

This, again, is lazy writing and stupifies our characters and is e-x-a-c-t-l-y what turned me away from both walking dead-series.

However. I really liked the tone and pacing of this episode so I'll give it one more shot, one more episode.

Oh, and by the way, from the summary I read about TWD-finale I'm still very very happy that I dropped it long ago.

Anonymous said...

I'm finding myself here now, past this first episode of the fourth season of Fear, with a strangely skewed perspective: last week, I have watched TWD's S8 finale along with most everyone else, and this week, I binge-watched seasons 2 and 3 of Fear (along with reading all the Doux reviews, naturally!).

It's funny how I ended up like this even. I have watched the first season of Fear live, all those years ago, and actually enjoyed it quite a lot, far more than Billie seemed to appreciate it back then, and already found it more interesting than the main series. And yet I have kept coming back for the main series year after year, getting ever more tired and bored of it, so much so that by the time came, I had no will left to keep on watching Fear too. Which is kind of stupid, since Fear I actually liked.

And now here I am, after a week of catching up… and rather disheartened. The main draw of Fear, what made it still fresh for me was precisely that it was still relatively soon after the outbreak (during it, even, in the first season). Still some of civilization left. People who still haven't long forgotten a normal world. Not one filled only with destruction, all remains long picked clean, and only hardened killers left.

All of that erased and gone now in the middle of seasons. At the end of season 3 it probably hasn't even been a full year yet since the shit hit the fan, with all previous seasons continuing right off when and where the previous one ended. What TV show even had a fast-forward of this many years? Are we in for a season of endless flashbacks now?

One could nitpick it all to death, of course. How could Morgan have such an uneventful and unobstructed ride, make it this far all on his own this easily? Nick, a formerly absent Luciana, Alicia, and Strand still all together. Seemingly no new losses, not even a change of hairstyle, and no new friends in all these years? But none of this really matters, or is the point.

Fear used to be a different perspective, a different time. Different creators and writers putting their spin on the same base ideas. Now it's a Side B direct continuation of TWD S8, implicitly taking on all the suck and baggage of the tired main series. I'm already fearful and disappointed of this season "four." But I'll keep on watching, like I kept on watching the main series beyond reason.

Patryk said...

I agree, the Walking Dead should be a mix of Mad Max (the truck with machine guns!) and a wild west story. (all of the rest) Color me impressed with this soft reboot.