All-Out War underwhelms on Survival Sunday

Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Frank Dillane as Nick Clark - Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC

‘The Walking Dead’ finale fails while “Fear” premiere succeeds

Season 8 of “The Walking Dead” was dubbed the All-Out War. Production team member Scott M. Gimple had long said the finale, “Wrath,” would be a game changer and bring eight years of the popular series to its final end. What we got instead was far from what we wanted.

What Greg Nicotero gave us in “Wrath” was a contrived mess. The long-awaited battle between Rick and Negan literally lasted all of three minutes. Even the Rick/Governor battle lasted longer.

This was Survival Sunday and thankfully “The Walking Dead” had “Fear” behind it to anchor its poor job. Now, because I’m the biggest “Walking Dead” fan on the planet, I’ll be fair and also elaborate on what was good about the episode: There’s a twist at the end that makes me hopeful for Season 9.

Back to the terrible. King Ezekiel again did nothing because he’s useless and his dialogue sucks. Oceanside again proved useless as ever. This episode without commercials clocked in at 47 minutes.

What made “The Walking Dead” great in the beginning was the stellar writing and impactful deaths. Great characters like Shane and Merle exist no more in this universe. Instead we get characters like Rosita and Jesus. “The Walking Dead” will never again be what it once was and also with no end in sight it makes the show worse.

Yes, there were good things about the episode. I did like the open-field “Game of Thrones”-style setup. I enjoyed Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan and Rick Grimes played by Andrew Lincoln.

Eugene, aka “Mr. Smarty Pants” (nickname given to him by Negan), played by Josh McDermitt is also a joy on the screen. Eugene gets a huge heroic moment in the war when he double crosses Negan. In the episode Rick talks to the Saviors about choosing life over death and that was neat and biblical. He makes an impactful decision that sets up Season 9 very comfortably.

The best part of the night was “Fear the Walking Dead.” Even though “Wrath” got its lowest ratings since Season 1, “What’s Your Story?” the Season 4, pilot made up serious ground.

The new showrunners for “Fear,” Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg, took over for the departing Dave Erickson and brought something exciting and fresh to the series.

In “What’s Your Story?” “Fear” makes a time jump to just after the war on “The Walking Dead.” Morgan, played by Lennie James, has always seemed comfortable in his role. The “You know what it is” line is a reference to his wife and son. He has now left the group and is traveling on his own. John Polson, the director of this episode, gave the audience something legitimately different.

Everything about “Fear” seemed different —tone, mood, setting, everything. It is indeed like watching a brand new show. Morgan meets two important people in his travels. Maggie Grace, who plays Althea, a curious journalist, and Garret Dillahunt, who plays a survivor named John Dorie, make their first appearance. The atmosphere for the pilot was unique and the dialogue (where “TWD” was lacking) was realistic. In this masterpiece we get to see Morgan alone after the end of Negan’s rule.

The entire episode was a character study of Morgan, his trauma, Althea and Dorie. They run into some murderous barbarians along the way and Morgan is saved. In a surprise cliffhanger at the end, Morgan, Al and Dorie run into our former heroes Madison, Alicia, Nick and Strand. To pass the time Al records the people she meets on camera and interviews them.

I was more satisfied with “Fear” and I felt like I was watching a Shyamalan film. It was beautifully shot and the dialogue was superb. Where “The Walking Dead” used to reign over television, “Fear” now takes its place because “The Walking Dead” will never be the same after Carl Grimes. Stayed tuned for Season 9 in the fall on AMC and watch the rest of Season 4 of “Fear the Walking Dead” at 8 p.m. Sundays on AMC. It’ll be a fun ride.

 

The Walking Dead “Wrath”

Cast: B+

Script: C-

Cinematography: A

Soundtrack: B

Overall: C-

 

 

Fear the Walking Dead “What’s Your Story?”

Cast: A+

Script: A+

Cinematography: A+

Soundtrack: A+

Overall: A+

 

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