Fear The Walking Dead is Best in Years Right Now
Fear the Walking Dead is the best it has been in years, right now. Two episodes into Season 6 and the show has reshaped its lead characters into tremendously more interesting versions of themselves than have been delivered through most of Season 4 or all of Season 5. Of course, only two episodes in, it's possible this could be a set up for a let down as the first few episodes of Season 4 looked very promising and then the rest of year ended up being lackluster and frustrating. This time, though, something just feels different. The cast is firing on all cylinders. The writing is truly compelling. The anthology storytelling format is actually working.
First, Fear the Walking Dead followed up its cliffhanger of Morgan Jones seemingly being killed off in great fashion. No, we don't know how Morgan survived his gun shot wound and the many walker which looked ready to chow down on him (fingers crossed it was Madison). The reveal of what exactly happened in those moments could be a make or break decision by the writers for much of the season. However, after having Morgan be a flat version of himself with nothing other than a desire to help random strangers despite putting himself and the people in his group in blatant danger at the expense of their own resources, the character is finally tough and bent on revenge. It's awesome.
"Morgan Jones is dead," the character proclaimed to end the Season 6 premiere, rocking a cowboy hat, black gloves, and a bad-ass axe which he had just used to chop off the head of a bounty hunter coming for his. For two years, Morgan Jones swore off killing and molded all of the remaining characters on Fear who were once interesting into mindless drones who were copies of the more boring take of him. Strand lost all of his cunning, sly, interested traits. Alicia went from a character who had evolved into being a hardened, interesting survivor to one which aimlessly painted trees. John and June had one of the best single episodes of any TWD show and just became a small part of the Morgan show.
It was a shame, too, because Lennie James is one of the most talented actors on television, let alone in the Walking Dead franchise. James as Morgan Jones has delivered some of the most emotional moments but also some of the most spine-chilling in his decisions, all of which helped build the franchise into the juggernaut it became.
It only took one hour for Morgan Jones to become the most interesting character in the entire Walking Dead universe (save for maybe Negan who is seen a great turnaround since Angela Kang took over The Walking Dead), as this new version seems like the culmination of his previous selves. He is out for revenge against Virginia, he seemingly wants to protect the people she took from him, and the lengths which he will go to are unknown. It's truly an interesting and exciting story to follow!
Then, it only took one more hour for Morgan to be dethroned as the most interesting character on Fear the Walking Dead! This is not because something went wrong with Morgan. Quite the contrary, he was revealed to have a deeper plan with Daniel Salazar in Episode 6x02, but another character emerged with one of the most shocking moments of the series, bringing it back to its raw, surprising, and brutal roots from the first five or so seasons of the flagship series.
Victor Strand killed an innocent prisoner so that his people could survive. Well, technically, he didn't kill him. Strand stabbed a scared survivor in the leg and tossed him to a herd of walkers so that Alicia, Charlie, and others could survive. It was a brutal decision but one made for self-preservation and the preservation of others in his group, especially Alicia who he has to look after out of an unspoken responsibility to his long lost Madison! It was the first big, 'Oh, sh-t!' moment Fear the Walking Dead has offered (without relying on a tie to a Rick Grimes movie tease to garner interest) in years and it was delivered perfectly! Not to mention, Colman Domingo absolutely killed the scene (no pun intended) and the emotional conversation which followed opposite Alycia Debnam-Carey.
Domingo's Strand sees the path he believes must be taken as a means to emerge as a survivor in a position of power and it's likely a dark and bloody one. He doesn't want Alicia to go down that path or see the things he is willing to do (like killing an innocent prisoner) to get there. Stellar writing! Stellar performances! It's a perfect conflict for Strand to be caught up in and navigating and a great issue for Alicia to have to overcome or stay clear of, as well!
It's not all perfect. Virginia as a whole and the Rangers who work for her kind of make me scratch my head and wonder why they are the way they are. Meaningless tasks for prisoners goes back to the worst season of LOST, which was overall a fantastic series, but it seems like the worst of meaningless prisoner tasks might be behind us as Ginny was apparently just testing her prisoners to see which are the toughest and smartest.
Alicia briefly shined in the episode, given the opportunity to hatch a plan to take down all of the walkers in Ginny's warehouse. Given this seemed to be the first half of Season 6's Strand-centric episode, the Alicia episode will hopefully only build on Alicia's skills and abilities. Daniel was portrayed as having lost his memory an cowering to Virginia but was revealed to be spying on her and working with Morgan all along.
Where is all of this coming from? Are these the same writers from the previous seasons? The cast are being given opportunities to do really interesting things with their characters and between two episodes there have been at least three shocking reveals and moments. Fear the Walking Dead is on fire early on and it's the best two-episode run the show has posted in years. Will it keep up? I'm happily on board to watch and find out.
Also, shout out to Lennie James for directing Episode 6x02. Fantastic actor and clearly, now, a veey talented director, as well!
What do you think of Fear the Walking Dead through two episodes of Season 6? Share your thoughts in the comment section or send them my way on Instagram!