One thing I’ve enjoyed about The Walking Dead is the progression of its characters over the course of several seasons. It’s been an organic transition for a lot of them and you can follow their growth in the series. When Fear the Walking Dead premiered many complaints were that the series focused too much time on developing characters. It was slower than its counterpart and not quite as action packed. We grew to understand these characters, their relationships and how each coped after the outbreak and developed their own survival tactics. But by the next season, the characters we spent so much time getting to know have become completely different overnight. Within the course of a season (a mere couple of weeks in time on the show), the writers have seemed to rush character trajectories in favor of more dramatic storylines. Storylines that we as viewers just can’t buy into quite yet.
At the start of the second season, we reconnected with our group just as they left a burning Los Angeles in favor of the seas aboard a luxurious yacht. The majority of season two finds the survivors battling the newfound struggles at sea. From the floating dead, to supplies, to pirates – these guys never got a break. Until they made it to Mexico, to a compound Victor Strand had was set for from the beginning. Once there, the entire group seemed to fall apart, and not in a good way. More of a “do the writers even understand these characters” kind of way.
Season two has focused on Strand – a lot. He was a complete mystery in season one. In one episode his history is revealed in a string of flashbacks which show his conman ways. Also, how he fell in love with a man named Thomas Abigail. The man whose name graces the yacht they’re aboard. The same man whose Mexican compound they’ve taken shelter at. Although his love for him may be more of a means of survival than true love, we saw a side to Strand that set his character up for something we had not predicted. However, the remainder of our group has since fallen off the rails once on land.
Drug-addict Nick was one of the first people to see walkers in the pilot episode. His interest in the zombies as a reflection of himself while on drugs is understandable. What is confusing is how someone who was so terrified of them, someone who knows what they’re capable of and what they truly are, can buy into Celia’s ideas of the dead just being ghosts, the next phase after life.
We see Nick choose the dead over his family in the mid-season finale, essentially choosing Celia’s words over theirs. His development has been a strange one considering his past experiences and where he seemed to be going. The believability that he would leave his family, and his new friend Strand, is difficult to comprehend. It’s left the once interesting character on most viewers “Just Kill Them Off Already” list.
Then we get to Chris, who has been the go-to character you hate on the show. He went from angsty teen dealing with a broken home to full on sociopath. The loss of his mother at the end of season one was no doubt an emotional hurricane of anger, fear, and sadness. What’s confusing is how he got to the point of nearly killing two people.
If you remember from season one, when the riots first broke out in downtown L.A., Chris was in the front of the line recording the madness. Why? Because he cared about police brutality. He cared about someone other than himself and he showed that a human life matters to him. Even in season two when he had to mercy-kill a Flight 462 passenger, he seemed to feel bad about it. He found joy in killing walkers, but not people. Then episodes later he’s careless when Madison is being attacked and then threatens Alicia. Later standing over both with a knife, then nearly killing his father the next day.
Which leads to why would Travis think his son is worth saving? After making a whole speech about him being there for Madison with Nick, therefore she should be there for him with Chris, he leaves. In the end he decides to leave the group and go somewhere with his homicidal son. Something Nick is fully aware of, but lies to his mother about.
The issue with FtWD has been the believability of these characters and your connection to them as an audience member. It gets tiring to constantly ask “why are they doing this” whenever someone makes a life-changing decision. And do we as an audience even care about these characters anymore?
Given that this series only takes place within a few weeks time, it’s very confusing that characters have made such odd strides in that time. One thing that’s great about The Walking Dead is that characters are cared about and understood. When will the spin-off give us that same honest character development?