The Biggest Problems With 'Fear The Walking Dead' — And Why It Might Be Time To Call It Quits

FTWD

Fear The Walking Dead has lost everything that made it good in the first place. Maybe it's time to call it quits.

Credit: AMC

There are only two reasons I continue to watch Fear The Walking Dead at this point.

First, because I've been reviewing this show since the very first episode and I feel a sense of obligation to continue. Second, because I've grown to care about some of the characters and want to know what happens in their stories.

That second reason has been waning since the new showrunners, Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg, killed off both Nick and Madison in Season 4.

While new characters were added—or brought over from The Walking Dead—none of them have really been developed into characters we care about or even really like (with the exception of John Dorie). Worse, adding so many new characters while decimating the original cast leaves the entire show feeling . . . like a totally different show altogether.

Here are the main things that are ruining Fear for me in Season 5:

1—The writing is so lazy.

I'm sorry, but the new showrunners and team of writers working on Fear are bad at what they do. They're constantly trying to be clever, but it always comes off as contrived and hackneyed. This season started off with Alicia, Morgan, John, Luciana, Althea and June crash-landing a plane they didn't know how to fly in order to save some strangers who were apparently so far away they needed a plane to get to them.

The guy that knew how to fly a plane—Strand—stayed behind. Just because. Now they're stuck and need him to find another plane which, it just so happens, belongs to Daniel, the one person in the world who hates Strand the most. What a coincidence!

Also Dwight runs into them in this new area—what a coincidence! How convenient that all these people keep showing up right where our heroes happen to be. Great writing here, folks.

Other godawful bits of writing include:

John Dorie shooting Dwight's hatchet in order to split the bullet and expertly take down two zombies with one shot. Wow, how clever these writers are. I mean, it would be so boring to have him shoot one zombie and then, I dunno, grab the hatchet to kill the second one. That would be much to sensible and lame for a show as creative as Fear.

Luciana going outside of the truckstop to check on the radio tower and then, when zombies approach, she tries to shoot them instead of just run back to safety—while doped up on painkillers and recovering from her serious wound during the plane crash.

Everybody has a damn walkie-talkie. Half the dialogue on this show now consists of various characters talking on walkie-talkies with one another. Sometimes they go "out of range" for a bit, which I guess is supposed to create tension. Somehow they have an endless supply of batteries (not to mention cars with full tanks of gas, etc.)

When John, Dwight and June are in the wild west town and the zombies are out front, they ask if there's a way out the back. Apparently this house doesn't have a back door, so they go to the roof. But you can see a great big window at the back of the room they're in, so they could have just gone out the window and snuck around the back. This show's producers have zero respect for the audience's intelligence. It's insulting and they should be ashamed.

We could keep listing these off, and we could dip into Season 4's shockingly awful writing as well, but we'll move along . . .

2—Morgan is ruining 'Fear'.

One of the central problems with Fear since Season 4, but especially in Season 4's second half and now Season 5, is Morgan. Morgan is almost single-handedly ruining Fear The Walking Dead.

I say this as someone who really liked Morgan's character during much of his run on The Walking Dead (right up until he started seeing that dude he killed who kept saying "You know what it is!" at which point Morgan became one of the most annoying characters of all time).

On Fear, Morgan got a second chance and at first I was pleasantly surprised. It looked like he and Nick might have a cool relationship—and then Nick was killed off almost instantly. By the second half of Season 4, with Madison now dead as well, Morgan started becoming the "leader".

His goal, spanning eight episodes, was to gather up all the survivors and take them back to Alexandria. When he finally got everyone together and dispatched Martha, the show's most hilariously awful villain, he changed his mind.

We're not going, he informed everyone after convincing them all to come with him. We're going to stay and help people. And so they stayed and started trying to help people.

This is the driving premise for Season 5 and it is, without a doubt, the stupidest, least creative excuse for a story I've ever encountered. Morgan's do-goodery is poisoning the show. The tonal shift, from gritty and complex to melodrama and rosy optimism, is jarring and unwelcome.

Morgan has changed the show into something it was never supposed to be and it was a huge, huge mistake to ever cross him over to this show.

3—This show was supposed to be about the Clarks.

Fear The Walking Dead should not exist without Kim Dickens and Frank Dillane, period. These two, along with Alycia Debnam-Carey, comprised the Clark family. Madison and her two children, Nick and Alicia, were much like Rick and Carl Grimes in The Walking Dead.

But unlike that show, there aren't enough good characters remaining to keep this one afloat without them. Alicia is a great character, but she's just constantly overshadowed by Morgan. This should be Alicia's story now, but it isn't. Now she just tags along with Morgan on his stupid crusade, and it doesn't even fit her character. All their exhausting conversations about redemption and making up for all the bad things they've done, it just doesn't fit for Alicia. She hasn't done that many bad things at all—certainly nothing like Morgan whose "clearing" phase makes him a pretty serious mass murderer.

When Frank Dillane asked to leave the show, the showrunners should have made his death the culmination of the entire season. There's not much you can do if an actor wants to leave, but Nick was—as far as I'm concerned—such an important character that his death is almost reason enough to end the show.

It's certainly not a good idea to then go and kill the only other character on Fear who was as important to the show. Madison and Nick leaving the show within a five episode span? Forget about it. Just end the show and start something new. Honestly, at this point it may as well be a completely new show it's changed so much (and not for the better).

4—God, it's just so boring.

Even when Fear wasn't great (Seasons 1 and 2) it was still entertaining. Madison and Travis would go places and ruin things for the people they encountered. Strand was a snake, but you kind of wanted to know what he had up his sleeve. Nick was always on the verge of slipping back into drug addiction. Alicia was young and naive, but you could see her growing up and getting smart.

Madison was manipulative and cutthroat. Travis was always trying to do the right thing. Daniel was the smartest, toughest dude in either Fear or The Walking Dead, and especially in Season 3 he really became one of the coolest characters in either show. I remember at the time thinking that if he were in Alexandria he would have put a bullet in Negan's skull and saved us from Seasons 7 and 8.

There were cool conflicts throughout all three seasons, and even when I found myself massively annoyed with where Season 2 eventually went, I was still invested in the characters. Then Season 3 happened and it was fantastic from start to finish. It was way better than what The Walking Dead was cooking up at the time.

Now . . . it's just so boring. Every episode is a dud. There are little sprinkles of fun action, but mostly it's just bad dialogue, contrived conflict and nothing really happens even when stuff is happening.

I just don't care about any of these characters, either. Alicia is hardly even herself anymore. Luciana should have been killed off last season. She's nothing like she was when we met her in Season 2—talk about taking a cool, tough character and slowly dismantling everything interesting and good about them. Strand has always been irritating to me, but at least when he really was scheming all the time he was a wildcard. Now he's just another Morgan-ified do-gooder and it sucks.

I still love Daniel but frankly he's out of place in this new show and that means he'll either disappear again soon or they'll re-roll his stats and he'll become this nice guy out trying to save the world. Ruben Blades should find a better show.

So should Garret Dillahunt and Alycia Debnam-Carey. Frank Dillane had the right idea. Maybe he read the writing on the wall. He ended on a high note, with his excellent Season 3 performance behind him, untarnished by the dumpster fire that awaited.

So, what now?

This is the lamest, lousiest version of a zombie apocalypse I can imagine. How you can take something exciting and tense and turn it into such a snoozefest is beyond me, but AMC needs to take a long, hard look at the people running this disaster and maybe . . . replace them. Probably the only mistake bigger than killing off Nick and Madison, was bringing on Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg as showrunners. Though I have a sneaking suspicion that Scott Gimple is also making matters worse from his perch as Chief Content Officer.

Changing up showrunners worked pretty well for The Walking Dead, after all, which saw a major uptick in quality when Scott Gimple was replaced by Angela Kang. It isn't perfect and Kang still has some old, bad habits in her bag of tricks, but it's a major improvement. I actually enjoyed Season 9 of The Walking Dead, and I didn't think that was possible after Season 7 and 8 almost ruined it for me. I think it's safe to say that change could benefit Fear as well, though honestly I think it might just be time to pull the plug. Cancel it and make something new.

As for me . . . should I keep watching? Is morbid curiosity enough of a reason? I've given up on better shows. I'm really only keeping up with this one because I review it and I know many readers have been reading these reviews for a long time. But the grim reality is that traffic has slowed on these reviews to almost a trickle. Why waste all this time on a dying show that nobody cares about?

I suppose I will keep watching and writing these reviews, at least for the first half of this season. But for the first time, I'm seriously considering hanging up my hat. There are plenty of other fish in the sea, and far better shows to write about—shows that respect viewers' time and intelligence in ways that Fear no longer even pretends to do.

Now excuse me while I go drink some ethanol.

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There are only two reasons I continue to watch Fear The Walking Dead at this point.

First, because I've been reviewing this show since the very first episode and I feel a sense of obligation to continue. Second, because I've grown to care about some of the characters and want to know what happens in their stories.

That second reason has been waning since the new showrunners, Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg, killed off both Nick and Madison in Season 4.

While new characters were added—or brought over from The Walking Dead—none of them have really been developed into characters we care about or even really like (with the exception of John Dorie). Worse, adding so many new characters while decimating the original cast leaves the entire show feeling . . . like a totally different show altogether.

Here are the main things that are ruining Fear for me in Season 5:

1—The writing is so lazy.

I'm sorry, but the new showrunners and team of writers working on Fear are bad at what they do. They're constantly trying to be clever, but it always comes off as contrived and hackneyed. This season started off with Alicia, Morgan, John, Luciana, Althea and June crash-landing a plane they didn't know how to fly in order to save some strangers who were apparently so far away they needed a plane to get to them.

The guy that knew how to fly a plane—Strand—stayed behind. Just because. Now they're stuck and need him to find another plane which, it just so happens, belongs to Daniel, the one person in the world who hates Strand the most. What a coincidence!

Also Dwight runs into them in this new area—what a coincidence! How convenient that all these people keep showing up right where our heroes happen to be. Great writing here, folks.

Other godawful bits of writing include:

John Dorie shooting Dwight's hatchet in order to split the bullet and expertly take down two zombies with one shot. Wow, how clever these writers are. I mean, it would be so boring to have him shoot one zombie and then, I dunno, grab the hatchet to kill the second one. That would be much to sensible and lame for a show as creative as Fear.

Luciana going outside of the truckstop to check on the radio tower and then, when zombies approach, she tries to shoot them instead of just run back to safety—while doped up on painkillers and recovering from her serious wound during the plane crash.

Everybody has a damn walkie-talkie. Half the dialogue on this show now consists of various characters talking on walkie-talkies with one another. Sometimes they go "out of range" for a bit, which I guess is supposed to create tension. Somehow they have an endless supply of batteries (not to mention cars with full tanks of gas, etc.)

When John, Dwight and June are in the wild west town and the zombies are out front, they ask if there's a way out the back. Apparently this house doesn't have a back door, so they go to the roof. But you can see a great big window at the back of the room they're in, so they could have just gone out the window and snuck around the back. This show's producers have zero respect for the audience's intelligence. It's insulting and they should be ashamed.

We could keep listing these off, and we could dip into Season 4's shockingly awful writing as well, but we'll move along . . .

2—Morgan is ruining 'Fear'.

One of the central problems with Fear since Season 4, but especially in Season 4's second half and now Season 5, is Morgan. Morgan is almost single-handedly ruining Fear The Walking Dead.

I say this as someone who really liked Morgan's character during much of his run on The Walking Dead (right up until he started seeing that dude he killed who kept saying "You know what it is!" at which point Morgan became one of the most annoying characters of all time).

On Fear, Morgan got a second chance and at first I was pleasantly surprised. It looked like he and Nick might have a cool relationship—and then Nick was killed off almost instantly. By the second half of Season 4, with Madison now dead as well, Morgan started becoming the "leader".

His goal, spanning eight episodes, was to gather up all the survivors and take them back to Alexandria. When he finally got everyone together and dispatched Martha, the show's most hilariously awful villain, he changed his mind.

We're not going, he informed everyone after convincing them all to come with him. We're going to stay and help people. And so they stayed and started trying to help people.

This is the driving premise for Season 5 and it is, without a doubt, the stupidest, least creative excuse for a story I've ever encountered. Morgan's do-goodery is poisoning the show. The tonal shift, from gritty and complex to melodrama and rosy optimism, is jarring and unwelcome.

Morgan has changed the show into something it was never supposed to be and it was a huge, huge mistake to ever cross him over to this show.

3—This show was supposed to be about the Clarks.

Fear The Walking Dead should not exist without Kim Dickens and Frank Dillane, period. These two, along with Alycia Debnam-Carey, comprised the Clark family. Madison and her two children, Nick and Alicia, were much like Rick and Carl Grimes in The Walking Dead.

But unlike that show, there aren't enough good characters remaining to keep this one afloat without them. Alicia is a great character, but she's just constantly overshadowed by Morgan. This should be Alicia's story now, but it isn't. Now she just tags along with Morgan on his stupid crusade, and it doesn't even fit her character. All their exhausting conversations about redemption and making up for all the bad things they've done, it just doesn't fit for Alicia. She hasn't done that many bad things at all—certainly nothing like Morgan whose "clearing" phase makes him a pretty serious mass murderer.

When Frank Dillane asked to leave the show, the showrunners should have made his death the culmination of the entire season. There's not much you can do if an actor wants to leave, but Nick was—as far as I'm concerned—such an important character that his death is almost reason enough to end the show.

It's certainly not a good idea to then go and kill the only other character on Fear who was as important to the show. Madison and Nick leaving the show within a five episode span? Forget about it. Just end the show and start something new. Honestly, at this point it may as well be a completely new show it's changed so much (and not for the better).

4—God, it's just so boring.

Even when Fear wasn't great (Seasons 1 and 2) it was still entertaining. Madison and Travis would go places and ruin things for the people they encountered. Strand was a snake, but you kind of wanted to know what he had up his sleeve. Nick was always on the verge of slipping back into drug addiction. Alicia was young and naive, but you could see her growing up and getting smart.

Madison was manipulative and cutthroat. Travis was always trying to do the right thing. Daniel was the smartest, toughest dude in either Fear or The Walking Dead, and especially in Season 3 he really became one of the coolest characters in either show. I remember at the time thinking that if he were in Alexandria he would have put a bullet in Negan's skull and saved us from Seasons 7 and 8.

There were cool conflicts throughout all three seasons, and even when I found myself massively annoyed with where Season 2 eventually went, I was still invested in the characters. Then Season 3 happened and it was fantastic from start to finish. It was way better than what The Walking Dead was cooking up at the time.

Now . . . it's just so boring. Every episode is a dud. There are little sprinkles of fun action, but mostly it's just bad dialogue, contrived conflict and nothing really happens even when stuff is happening.

I just don't care about any of these characters, either. Alicia is hardly even herself anymore. Luciana should have been killed off last season. She's nothing like she was when we met her in Season 2—talk about taking a cool, tough character and slowly dismantling everything interesting and good about them. Strand has always been irritating to me, but at least when he really was scheming all the time he was a wildcard. Now he's just another Morgan-ified do-gooder and it sucks.

I still love Daniel but frankly he's out of place in this new show and that means he'll either disappear again soon or they'll re-roll his stats and he'll become this nice guy out trying to save the world. Ruben Blades should find a better show.

So should Garret Dillahunt and Alycia Debnam-Carey. Frank Dillane had the right idea. Maybe he read the writing on the wall. He ended on a high note, with his excellent Season 3 performance behind him, untarnished by the dumpster fire that awaited.

So, what now?

This is the lamest, lousiest version of a zombie apocalypse I can imagine. How you can take something exciting and tense and turn it into such a snoozefest is beyond me, but AMC needs to take a long, hard look at the people running this disaster and maybe . . . replace them. Probably the only mistake bigger than killing off Nick and Madison, was bringing on Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg as showrunners. Though I have a sneaking suspicion that Scott Gimple is also making matters worse from his perch as Chief Content Officer.

Changing up showrunners worked pretty well for The Walking Dead, after all, which saw a major uptick in quality when Scott Gimple was replaced by Angela Kang. It isn't perfect and Kang still has some old, bad habits in her bag of tricks, but it's a major improvement. I actually enjoyed Season 9 of The Walking Dead, and I didn't think that was possible after Season 7 and 8 almost ruined it for me. I think it's safe to say that change could benefit Fear as well, though honestly I think it might just be time to pull the plug. Cancel it and make something new.

As for me . . . should I keep watching? Is morbid curiosity enough of a reason? I've given up on better shows. I'm really only keeping up with this one because I review it and I know many readers have been reading these reviews for a long time. But the grim reality is that traffic has slowed on these reviews to almost a trickle. Why waste all this time on a dying show that nobody cares about?

I suppose I will keep watching and writing these reviews, at least for the first half of this season. But for the first time, I'm seriously considering hanging up my hat. There are plenty of other fish in the sea, and far better shows to write about—shows that respect viewers' time and intelligence in ways that Fear no longer even pretends to do.

Now excuse me while I go drink some ethanol.

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