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Review: 'Fear the Walking Dead' finds its pulse in Season Three

Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 11:08 AM Central
Last updated Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 11:09 AM Central

by John Couture

It's interesting that as the original Walking Dead seems to have finally worn out its welcome, its spinoff Fear the Walking Dead might just be hitting its stride. Ideally, AMC would love to have two bonafide hits on its hands, but the writing may be on the wall for the original series.

Of course, The Walking Dead continues to be one of the most watched shows on TV, but the anecdotal evidence seems to be mounting that it might be time to let the zombies overrun Rick and his merry band of survivalists. Paradoxically, Fear the Walking Dead has seen its viewership number fall through the first three seasons, but there are signs that the show may have finally gotten over the hump.

The show's creators have hinted that there will be a crossover character from The Walking Dead during the fourth season of Fear the Walking Dead, which debuts on TV next month. Not only that but the third season of the show (available today on DVD and Blu-ray) finally comes into its own as a series and it is clear that the best days lie ahead.

I was immediately drawn to Fear the Walking Dead because it was a prequel of sorts to the original series. Rick literally wakes up in media res of the zombie apocalypse during the pilot of The Walking Dead, so there was a bunch of fertile territory for the new series to dive into. It was like getting a whole origin series to The Walking Dead, but that gimmick quickly got old and I found myself on the verge of pulling the pin on it towards the middle of season two, but I'm glad that I stuck with it.

Season three finally takes advantage of the landscape of the American Southwest and Mexico to put its stamp on the zombie genre. Unlike the population centers of Atlanta and the east coast from The Walking Dead, the largely unpopulated areas of the West give Fear the Walking Dead a true apocalyptic feeling that helps to establish the tone of the series.

Any discussion of Fear the Walking Dead must start with its lead Kim Dickens. From the get-go, she brought a certain panache to the role that she honed over many years on the silver screen. While Andrew Lincoln was a relative unknown before The Walking Dead, Kim Dickens was a name and instantly gave the new series credibility.

And yet, her Madison shares many of the same qualities as Rick and it's pretty obvious why these two natural leaders became the narrative foci of their respective series. In a perverse way, I am holding out hope that the ultimate conclusion of these two series will culminate in these two individuals finding each other. There doesn't have to be romance and passion, but I think mutual respect and camaraderie would be enough to bring proper closure to their two storylines.

But that's getting way ahead of ourselves. This discussion is centered on Season three of Fear the Walking Dead and we should probably get back to it. As I mentioned above, this season finally puts the desolation of its location in the driver's seat and the result is a look and feel that wouldn't be out of place in a Mad Max film.

Since the area is less populated, there is less of a constant threat from the walkers and this allows the series to develop more storylines that are less dependent on the zombies. The result is the realization that while zombies are bad, the animalistic nature of man might even be worse. Devoid of any social architecture, humans revert to a more primal state and Fear the Walking Dead's human on human brutality rivals anything that the zombies can muster.

With Season Four set to debut next month on AMC, the future of Fear the Walking Dead looks safe despite their perilous narrative foils week to week. There was a nice uptick in viewership at the end of Season Three and with more people bailing on the original series, I think you will find a great many of them will turn to Fear the Walking Dead to get their zombie fix. And they should as it provides a much more satisfying experience as far as I am concerned.

Another interesting change between the end of this season and the start of the next one is that there is going to be a time jump to allow a character from The Walking Dead to join the cast of the spinoff. If you've seen the teaser for Season Four than you know who it is and I'm excited as he's one of my favorite characters from either series. Of course, it will be interesting to see where all of the character from Fear the Walking Dead end up in Season Four and how they may or may not interact with the cast of the original season.

For now, though, it's best to get caught up on Season Three of Fear the Walking Dead. It is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.