Fear The Walking Dead returns this coming Sunday, June 4th. The spinoff to The Walking Dead had a rough second season, with dipping ratings and a lukewarm critical reception.
So what does that mean for Season 3?
I’ve watched the first three episodes already, and I’m here to help.
The TL;DR version of what’s about to follow? Season 3, so far at least, has been a pleasant surprise. The last thing I expected from this show was finding myself genuinely liking it again, but here we are. It’s 2017 and the world’s gone mad.
Season 2 of Fear the Walking Dead was embarrassingly bad. It had some great moments sprinkled here and there, but it was mostly an uneven experience, filled with bizarre character decisions that made me dislike almost every single character on the show.
The pacing was off, the action felt second-rate, and the show struggled to find a compelling conflict. It certainly didn’t help that it was divided into two halves.
With only three episodes to go by, I can’t say for sure whether Season 3 will be any better in the end. I can only go off of what I’ve seen so far. That being said, if nothing else there appears to be a major course correction at play. Even though the events of Season 3 were setup by the end of Season 2, what I’ve seen in the show’s first three hours has me hopeful that more care and attention to detail went into crafting this season.
In very broad strokes, our heroes come back to the United States only to encounter the militia that fired on Nick and his people at the end of Season 2.
The militia is led by the Otto family, which is comprised of two grown sons and their father, Jeremiah Otto played by Dayton Callie of Sons of Anarchy and Deadwood fame.
They’re a survivalist bunch in what’s presumably southern Arizona where they run Broke Jaw Ranch. I won’t go into any more detail other than to say that this is a timely enough bunch. Suffice to say, the new characters are interesting and complex, and I hope they’re not all just killed off instantly. This show has a tendency to resolve its conflicts too quickly (it’s basically the reverse of its sister show, The Walking Dead.)
The episodes I’ve watched have been tense and exciting, with conflict that arises organically around the characters and some real moral dilemmas.
This show and The Walking Dead have a tendency to write characters into a corner, getting them to do implausible things merely to advance the plot, but that’s not the case in the early part of Season 3 for the most part.
I won’t lie: I’m still having a hard time liking Madison as a character. She just rubs me the wrong way. At one point in Season 3, another character asks her if she’s just “hard to like.” I guess it’s not just me.
But other characters, like Alicia, Travis and Nick, are all a lot easier to care about, and you’ll find yourself doing just that in the opening hours of the new season.
Is It Better Than ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 7?
I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t go into any more detail. I’ll have a written review up after the Season 3 Premiere airs this Sunday, so we can go into more of the details and have a discussion. I’m really curious to hear what you all have to say about the show.
I’d say that three episodes in, I’m enjoying it quite a bit more than the seventh season of The Walking Dead. It’s less comic-booky, less over-the-top and more gritty. The characters are more layered and complex. There’s no cartoon villain like Negan sucking all the oxygen out of the room, and no bizarre groups of survivors like the Trash People, let alone CGI tigers, to muck things up.
That, on top of better writing and direction this season, has me hopeful that Season 3 will be a major turn-around for Fear the Walking Dead. It may even eclipse the original, in quality at least, if not ratings.
Then again, I was a ruthless critic of The Walking Dead’s seventh season, so it’s not a particularly high bar to cross.
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