The Buzz: ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 8 Finale Vs ‘Fear’ Season 4 Premier
For the first time ever, The Walking Dead and its companion series Fear the Walking Dead aired new episodes back-to-back. Fear aired its season four premier "What's Your Story?" while The Walking Dead aired its season eight finale “Wrath.” The two tied into each other heavily and featured the first ever crossover between shows. Despite this, only one managed to reinvigorate this walking corpse of a series, while the other played things too safe and left many feeling unsatisfied. From here on, there will be major spoilers concerning The Walking Dead season finale, the Fear premier and The Walking Dead comic, so if you’re not caught up you’ve been warned.
Minus a few things, “Wrath” was about as faithful to that of The Walking Dead comic’s ending of the All Out War storyline as it could be. Unfortunately, that worked against the show as The All Out War storyline is notoriously known for ending very anticlimactically in the comic. It’s made worse by how stretched out this arc has felt on the show, lasting a season too long. With all the buildup, there was hardly even a final battle as some tricky work from Eugene led to all their saviors’ guns blowing up in their own faces. Beyond that nobody of any real importance died with even Negan getting out alive.
The Walking Dead doesn’t always have to clean house and kill a bunch of characters to be good. However, you’d think there’d be at least be a few people lost at the end of one of the most important fights in all of Walking Dead history. The worst part in both the comic and the show must be Rick’s plan of taking Negan alive. Slitting someone’s throat must be one of the dumbest ways of trying to beat someone non-lethally. Even with a doctor, there’s a high chance Rick could accidentally have cut a little too deep and killed Negan by mistake. Now you could argue Rick didn’t decide to take Negan alive until the very last minute, but considering how sure Rick sounded in his speech about how Negan was going to live, I doubt it.
Besides that, Eugene seemed to get off the hook a little too easy. While yes, he did save the day in the end, he sure caused the survivors a lot of strife as one of the Saviors. It wasn’t until the previous episode “Worth” that he seemed to have a change of heart, so it would have been nice to see that Eugene still had a lot of making up to do. Hopefully this will be explored next season, but if the show continues to follow the comic, there will likely be a time skip. At that point it wouldn’t make sense for the survivors to still be mad at him.
Fear the Walking Dead on the other hand was a huge improvement over its mother series. Originally many were skeptical of Morgan being chosen to cross over to Fear. To them it didn’t make sense considering Fear was originally conceived as a prequel series that took place before Rick Grimes awoke from his coma. This lead many to believe that Fear would be showing Morgan before he met up with Rick or before he met up with Eastman. Luckily for us, Fear did neither and "What's Your Story?" picked up almost immediately after the end of “Wrath.”
Morgan is by far one of the best characters on The Walking Dead and he continues to be just as enthralling as ever on Fear. Lennie James is one of the best actors on The Walking Dead and he’s just as impressive on Fear. Having lost so much, Morgan has become wary of connecting to anyone. He doesn’t want to be hurt again and after his friends refuse to give him the space he needs, he decides to run away from his problem quite literally. Running, walking, driving and running again, Morgan makes his way south west and ends up somewhere in the Texas. Unable to leave another survivor possibly in danger, Morgan finds himself in the company of two very interesting new characters.
The new characters Morgan encountered were so likable and captivating, they just about out-shined all the current characters on Fear. John Dorie is a gun slinging cowboy with a heart of gold and Althea who goes by Al, is a journalist in a tricked-out truck that’s obsessed with collecting the stories of every survivor she encounters. The two had great chemistry with Morgan and the three made such a fun team, I almost wish we didn’t have to go back to the other Fear characters.
The characters weren’t the only thing done well on Fear, as "What's Your Story?" even had a tiny bit of directing flare with some interesting scene transitions with Morgan’s travel to Texas and some good color grading as the episode had a very washed out feel. The Walking Dead has never been all that ambitious with its filmmaking outside of the walker makeup and acting, so it was nice to see some real effort being put into other aspects of the show making process.
The only major issue with the episode was why Al have someone stay in the truck when they stopped to help a potentially hurt Alicia. It’s been established that the guns on the truck are enough to intimidate a whole gang into submission, so why no one stayed inside is all the more baffling. You could argue her guard was down or she forgot, but for her to have made it this long and to still be making naïve or dumb decisions of that magnitude seems like a stretch. Since Morgan and John do not want to kill people, she should have just sent one or both out while she stayed in the truck. Doing this wouldn’t have stopped the writers from getting their desired outcome as the old Fear cast could still have held Morgan and John hostage. This would have forced Al out of her truck as she wouldn’t be able to shoot them without risking killing her friends. It’s important to give your characters flaws, but they need to be more personality driven rather than just characters making idiotic decisions for the sake of the plot. For example, Morgan’s refusal to kill again is a character flaw that causes conflict naturally, rather than a bad decision made by him for no good reason other than there needs to be conflict.
Despite being a spinoff, Fear proved the superior of the two shows with more style, better characters and a more intimate and compelling story. On the other hand, The Walking Dead seems to be on its last legs with ever decreasing ratings and an overly formulaic story. If The Walking Dead wants to get to season ten, it’s really going to need to remake the wheel and try something new. Otherwise, Fear may just manage to finally usurp its mother show with its more intriguing story and fun new characters. The Walking Dead won’t be returning until the fall for season nine, but Fear will be premiering new episodes every Sunday at nine pm until the summer.