The Reviewinator: Fear the Walking Dead (Season 3)

Another year, another Fear. Admit it, if the real Walking Dead show didn’t exist, this one wouldn’t have lasted even this long. And the longer the two shows are both on, the harder it gets to mentally juggle multiple non-related subplots between seasons, especially when one of those shows has truly compelling characters and situations, and the other one is…this.

Most of this season is divided between two locations: a ranch and a dam. The ranch needs water, the dam has it. Our heroes (such as they aren’t) try to make life work at the ranch, but a group of disgruntled Native Americans want the land for themselves. Bullets fly, then a reluctant alliance forms, while a select few plan a mutiny. Eventually the dead show up to render Season 3’s biggest storyline about as pointless as Season 2’s, ending in an explosive climax featuring a man named Proctor John (Ray McKinnon), who’s only in the final 2 episodes but is somehow treated as the main villain of the season. Simply put, Season 3 is yet another mess.

I’ve complained before about the unlikable characters on this show, and introducing new ones this season just makes matters even worse, particularly Troy (Daniel Sharman), who in the season’s first episode is portrayed as a young hothead who ties innocent people up and murders them just to watch them change into zombies…that somehow our core cast keeps forgiving no matter how many people he kills or gets killed (seriously, his body count is well into the triple-digits). He’s that annoying type of character whose sole purpose is to make things worse for everyone else, so there’s always some weak excuse for his survival and others’ forgiveness of his evil deeds.

If there was one improvement over past seasons, I would say it’s Madison (Kim Dickens), who was always portrayed as a tough character but lacked a full personality to support it. But there’s a sexist catch: she finally comes into her own only AFTER being separated from her husband Travis (Cliff Curtis). This is an (even clearer) indication that the writers are simply not talented enough to handle a TV show of this magnitude. They improve one character while most of the rest of them just meander their way through their negligible subplots. To create compelling characters, their stories need to actually lead somewhere. Building up to something only to abandon it for something else is why viewers quit TV shows. Worst moment of the season: one character is about to get eaten by a zombie, so they pray to God and that zombie is instantly struck by lightning. (Yes, this actually happens!)

I already know this show’s coming back for a fourth season and I can’t believe it’s even made it this far. Fear is The Cleveland Show to The Walking Dead’s Family Guy; familiar, but punishing to watch. From the clichéd characters, to the badly-told lies, to kids getting high off zombie brain stems, there’s very little to redeem this less-than-pale comparison to The Walking Dead anymore. If I was smart, I’d give this show one less viewer to speed up its cancellation. But with rumors of a crossover, the completionist in me doesn’t want to miss out. Watching Fear the Walking Dead is turning me more and more into the WATCHING dead. I just hope I outlive this pathetic mess before it’s too late.

2 out of 5

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