I caught up with Fear The Walking Dead this week, as I like to save my favourites to watch in one splurge. I think it's the best season so far, though indeed the first two seasons felt like a different show; aside from the occasional mention of Madison and Nick, and the reappearance of Daniel, there is little to connect them to the more recents episodes of FTWD.
...though I have to say that I was massively impressed by the episode with Al and Helicopter Girl. So often in TV shows you feel that the writers are just remembering to tick the diversity box with a gay couple, but with these two you could really feel the chemistry between them, even before they acknowledged it themselves; even before you knew how they felt, for definite. And you could feel their pain on parting, too.
I'm hoping Matt Frewer's character will develop in a sinister way - he'll make a great baddie. Luciana is growing on me, but I think Charlie is still wooden and superfluous (compare that dreary two person episode with her and Alicia, with the brilliant TWD one about Morgan and Eastman, or Sasha and Rosita's last conversation....)
Great to see that the mysterious helicopter people are featuring in this, too; I'm crossing my fingers that this is how Michonne will make her exit from S10, too—surely they can't let her die! Not our Michonne!
Talking of which, I went back to re-watch S9 of TWD after finishing the-FTWD-story-so-far, partly to see if it was just my imagination that it's a better show—and, for me, it is. The dialogue, the storylines, just everything about it. To sum up: for me, FTWD is good, I enjoy it, but TWD is still #1.
Watching S9 again, after not having watched it for several months, I was doubly convinced that's it's definitely one of the best seasons, to rival S6, 3 and 4. I noticed so many little nuances that I hadn't seen before—e.g., at some point between Daryl looking for Rick's body with Michonne in Scars, and 6 years later, he lost one of the wings off the back of his waistcoat. A lost wing for a lost brother....
Like Negan, I find the 'love quadrangle' amusing; I've always been a big Rosita fan and think she could do better than any of those three! (😢 still sad about Abraham...) And I found I wanted to lock Henry in a cell, permanently, even more than I did when I watched S9 5-16 first time round; aside from hating to see Carol so crushed, I couldn't feel sad at his demise. Tara, Enid, totally hot DJ and all the others, gone because of his adolescent romantic ideals. Yes, yes, I know Daryl and Connie went back for her too, but maybe they would have just lived with it, as Daryl had said, if not for Henry. I felt sad about Tammy Rose, too; I loved her and Earl. They were such authentic characters; I could see them on Hershel's farm.
After I'd seen all of S9 again, I began watching S3 again, starting with episode 07, When The Dead Come Knocking, when Michonne was first taken in at the prison (no, I didn't watch all this in one day, and yes, I did get almost painfully nostalgic!). It was also the episode in which Daryl discovered Carol, when they all thought she was dead, and when she saw Judith for the first time, and learned that Lori was dead—😢😢😢.
When Carol held Judith for the first time, I thought about the two of them meeting up again at the fair, in the brilliant The Calm Before; I wanted to take a snapshot of it and show it to Judith now!
There was also a lovely shot when Michonne was looking at them through the bars; if she had known that one day, that baby would call her Mum....
Watching S3, which was about a year into 'the fall', and comparing it with S9, I was so aware of how brilliantly the producers have aged the whole TWD world. They're all so much dirtier (not just Daryl!), and look hardier, more like apocalypse survivors. The Walkers are far more skeletal, of course—and the traces of pre-zombie life are fading away, so that there is little trace of them; the old towns look ghost-like, a shadow of a world that once was, rather than simply abandoned, as before. The attention to detail is so clever; the ageing-up has happened so slowly.
I was thinking, too, about why the show's ratings have gone down over the seasons. I know a lot of people said they didn't like how the Negan war went on for so long, or that it was too gun fight-orientated, or that Glenn and Carl, in particular, shouldn't have been lost along the way, but I can't help thinking that much of the slide is just natural wastage. TWD is every bit as good as it ever was, but no long-running TV show, or series of multiple books, or whatever, is able to maintain the same level of interest for everyone who loved the first few seasons (or books).
Maybe it's also because, with any post apocalyptic series, the most exciting part is always the start—the shock, as the breakdown of society takes place, the slow, appalled acceptance, as characters realise that they have been thrust overnight into a lawless, dangerous world—and their own development, as some flounder, some become stronger...and some discover their dark sides.
The trick is to keep finding ways to keep the story fresh, unpredictable, and finding new challenges for the survivors, which TWD does magnificently. I will be watching it with the same avid interest until it finishes (though of course I hope it never does!)—and then I will start at the beginning and watch it all over again. Again 😉