Post-apocalyptic shows like “The Walking Dead” or “Battlestar Galactica” start with a question that was asked on “Buffy: The Musical.” Namely, “Where do we go from here?” For BSG, it was clear they were on a journey to Earth as their haven after their worlds were obliterated. In the world of “The Walking Dead,” there aren’t many (if any) safe places that one can call a haven from the chaos. That’s certainly the case with the season finale of “Fear The Walking Dead.” After six episodes, the world has finally fallen into pandemonium for the Angelenos who make up the core characters of the show. Travis, Madison, Daniel, Nick, and now Victor “Cufflinks” Strand have banded together to make their way out of Los Angeles after the military bugs out — leaving everyone else to fend for themselves against the undead.
If you watch “The Walking Dead,” the end of “Fear The Walking Dead” put viewers squarely into the same predicament Rick Grimes and Company have faced season after season: how to survive against both zombies and other humans — who can be nastier than their undead counterparts. Philosophers and political theorists have been exploring the inherent nature of humankind when, what we call “civilization,” erodes and fades away. Set adrift without the protection of The State — whose authority people accept as a force that creates stability in society — what are the dominant behaviors that bubble up among people? For Strand, he knows the winds have changed direction and talks about how we’re going back to the old rules. There are many keen observers of human nature on this show, and Strand, Daniel, and even Madison know in order to survive and protect your “own,” you have to be willing to do terrible and inhumane things. Now, that’s not to say there aren’t people who have a moral compass that points toward the inherent goodness of humans. On “The Walking Dead,” Dale and Hershel filled those roles. However, there seems to be a lack of those characters on “Fear The Walking Dead.” Travis was that person early on, but he’s clearly left all that behind in the finale after pummeling boy soldier Andy nearly to death. The learning curve for these characters is quick as they understand the rules of survival — something Rick and his gang had to learn over the course of a couple of seasons. Perhaps that has to do with the fact that Travis, Madison, Daniel and the others are in an urban environment when the world went to hell fast and it was every man for himself once the military lost control of the situation.
So what of it, then. Is “Fear the Walking Dead” a worthy spin-off to its successful parent show? If it wasn’t for the characters of Daniel and Strand, the show would be rather mundane because it doesn’t break any new ground in the zombie apocalypse. Right now, the characters are at the coastside home of Strand and the plan is to get on his luxury boat and go…well, somewhere. We still don’t know why the command structure fell apart with the military (my biggest beef with the show), or why the armed forces with so many weapons at their disposal couldn’t neutralize the zombies (all you have to do is shoot them in the head, or behead them and then aim for their brains. It doesn’t take a military genius to figure out countermeasures with an enemy who just kind of shambles). Fans will certainly speculate as to why everything went to hell in the space of a couple of weeks, but it seems the producers had an opportunity to tell viewers why — but dodged any kind of clear explanation. And therein lies the problem with this show. With no clear goal in sight, the characters just go from chaos to sanctuary over and over in a hellish universe. It can get frustrating to see this go on and on as humankind slides into tribalism and extreme barbarism, but clearly that’s the point of the show. There is no real haven against existential threats like zombies or other humans, so with such a bleak universe, one has to ask why anyone would want to go on? There’s no cure for the virus that has infected everyone, humans aren’t willing to work together to find a way to rebuild the civilization they lost, and it’s just survival of the fittest. One would like to think humans are a more diverse lot (maybe that’s because we are), but if “Fear The Walking Dead” continues to recycle the same kind conflicts that make up the narrative arc of “The Walking Dead,” it may not bode well for the interest level of fans because they know the road the characters are traveling on and have seen it play out — years ago.