Yeah, it’s weird. Patchy knows. The idea of a talking cartoon zombie who tweets and blogs about TV doesn’t really work if that zombie doesn’t like The Walking Dead…
But, seriously, what the heck happened to this franchise?
SPOILERS AFTER THE JUMP!
Last night’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead is a perfect example of how convoluted, rotten, and deranged the franchise has become.
The episode began with a teaser where Ginny, a gender-swapped knock-off of the Governor who has kidnapped all the good guys and sent them to live in different relocation camps, chases someone through the woods on horseback. This someone is conveniently dressed so that the audience will think it’s Sarah, the wildly popular trucker character from last season portrayed by the brilliant Mo Collins. But, SURPRISE, we get to the end of the chase and find out it’s just a stunt double—another character who just happens to look almost exactly like Sarah, but has a different name and is obviously a different person entirely.
Oh, so clever.
Ginny has two henchmen, also on horseback, and the person they’re chasing is on foot. They catch the person, some dialogue is exchanged, and then Ginny orders her henchmen to take the person back “home” so they can torture them for information. The person then proceeds to whip out a gigantic gun and point it almost directly in Ginny’s face. Ginny and her henchmen all draw their guns… BUT NOBODY SHOOTS.
Guns on The Walking Dead have become a cliched shorthand for a momentary power struggle. Whoever has the biggest gun has the most power in that moment. If that sounds phallic, that’s because IT IS. It’s also lazy and damned irresponsible.
Then the person who was being chased slowly puts their gun under their jaw and kills themselves while Ginny screams “What are you doing?”
First of all, when someone slowly puts a giant gun under their chin, it’s pretty obvious what they’re doing. Unless you’re unbelievably stupid. And secondly, this whole teaser was nothing short of a Glenn dumpster moment to trick viewers into thinking that a beloved character was in danger, only to reveal it’s only someone who kinda LOOKS like that beloved character… and then trick the viewers into thinking that the lookalike was going to kill one of the most hated characters on the show, but AGAIN that character decides—quite irrationally—that is a far braver thing to end their own life rather than stop the tyranny of Virginia, the slouch-hat wearing Appalachian hick who has terrorized out main cast for the entirety of this season and half of last season.
Seriously. That’s the best those writers could come up with. And they’re getting paid to write this crap.
The rest of the episode further devolved into contrivances meant to fulfill some so-called artistic vision rather than to serve the master of good storytelling. Then again, storytelling hasn’t been a primary concern of this franchise since the credits rolled on the main show’s season 6 mid-season finale.
Yes, Patchy has identified the teaser of the mid-season premiere as the jump-the-shark moment for the main show. The last half of season 6 was an overturned porta-potty of a mess that led to worse things to come.
Credit where credit is due, though. Somehow, Fear’s writers made Ginny a quasi-believable villain on Fear the Walking Dead, despite the fact she dresses like Yosemite Sam cosplay and talks like a ’90s goth trying to convince everyone they’re really going to kill themselves this time. That’s quite an accomplishment all by itself. Or, rather, it would be if they weren’t copying plot-lines from the main show that we already saw in its best and worst moments.
Yes, Ginny is a rehash of The Governor. That was one of the best stories and best villains on the main show. The Governor was deranged, complicated, and deceptive. Ginny… is none of those things, but the fact she reminds viewers of the Governor is enough of a success.
Remember the TWO ENTIRE SEAONS the main show spent showing the good guys fighting Negan? Remember how they’d spend two or three episodes putting together a plan to kill Negan? They’d gather weapons and then talk and talk and talk about how they were going to kill Negan once and for all. Then the time came… they’d show up to fight… and nothing happened. Sure, there would be several minutes of choreographed gunfire. Lots of characters running around. Some would die. But, in the end, both Negan and Rick were still standing once the bullets ran out. They’d hurl insults at each other and promise that next time they’d really kill the other one. But at the end of those two seasons, Rick had an opportunity to kill Negan after Negan lost the war, and instead Rick saves Negan’s life.
SAME EXACT CRAP WITH GINNY.
IT’S A COPY OF SOMETHING WE’VE ALREADY SEEN DONE BETTER!
Last night’s episode ended with Ginny getting bit in the hand by a walker, bleeding and trying to cut off her own hand so she wouldn’t die. And another character who had been making plans to run away from the group after being constantly threatened by Ginny decided to save Ginny’s life, because Ginny promised to change and grow as a person.
See, the teaser was really just a summary of how dumb the entire episode would be.
It’s like the people who write this show don’t know anything about people. Not real people, anyway. Real people act in their own perceived best interest. Yes, it’s perplexing sometimes. People get irrational. They make choices based on an irrational perception of what their best interest really is. Fine. We can all scratch our heads and wonder why someone does something stupid, but the reality is the person who does it never realizes they’re doing something stupid. They think they’re doing something smart.
For a while, the whole schtick with Fear the Walking Dead was the awful decisions the characters made. It was forgivable to an extent; the apocalypse was new, the characters were city-dwellers who practiced extreme optimism. They wanted to believe in people, they wanted to see the best in everyone. In essence, they wanted to continue to live the way they lived before zombies came. And the audience knew how that would end, they’d be betrayed and their lives put in danger again and again.
We’re far enough into the timeline of Fear the Walking Dead that most of the original cast is gone. Although, it sounds like most of the actors asked to be written out of the show and that’s why they’re gone. The current cast is almost entirely new, introduced in season 4, when Lenny James brought his Morgan Jones character over from the main show. This naive “I know she’s a bad guy but I saved her life and I think I can trust her now” routine is beyond old. It’s worn out. It was worn out when Rick saved Negan. When other characters on the show voice their skepticism, they’re speaking directly as surrogates of the audience. So the writers are at least somewhat self-aware, even if it’s just on a subconscious level.
Look, Patchy gets it. The world is full of idiots. It’s entertaining to watch idiots do stupid things. But the audience needs somebody to root for. And the audience will never root for someone who extends pain and anguish for the main character because they’re too stupid or cowardly to stop it.
The problem is, when an apocalypse hits the fan of the magnitude portrayed in The Walking Dead, idiots become zombies FAST. The people left alive at this point should know better than to trust anyone who hasn’t earned their trust.
If a main character does something extremely stupid at this point, they need to become a walker. Because we don’t want to see emotionally broken people acting weak and pathetic and then doing stupid things. WE’VE ALREADY SEEN THAT ENOUGH.
We want heroes. And it’s really hard to find a hero in this universe anymore.
How would Patchy have done things different, you may ask? For starters, when the person being chased in the teaser whipped out their gun, Patchy would have had Ginny be the coward she is and duck behind one of her own nameless henchmen. Or else the henchman jumps in the way to protect Ginny. Either way, the gun goes off and the henchman takes the bullet. The other henchman shoots and kills the person Ginny wanted interrogated. Then we see Ginny not only UNAPPRECIATIVE of the man who took the bullet meant for her, but also ANGRY at the henchman who killed the aggressor.
Right now you might be saying, WAIT, PATCHY, HOW IS THIS ANY BETTER, REALLY? Welp… it’s better because at least one character in the episode would do what the audience wants to see. And it would have made the outcome of the episode much less predictable by at least NOT telegraphing the Glenn dumpster intentions of the writers to deceive the audience into feeling something.
The untouchable bad guy trope was old when it was Negan. It’s even older now that the topic has been discussed to death by people who stopped watching The Walking Dead because of the dragged-out Negan story. And it’s inexcusable to be in 2020, watching the current season of Fear, and see the most laughable villain on the show—someone so cartoonishly goofy that they would have been killed before attaining any degree of power whatsoever—become an untouchable agent of evil. Because, unlike Negan, Ginny doesn’t put on grand displays of power. Ginny doesn’t intimidate through fear. Ginny talks. A lot. And she plays politics. And she’s annoying. And she’s demonstrably weak. And she’s got all the gravitas of a child throwing a temper tantrum.
Sure, a temper tantrum throwing toddler can amass some power, but in a world where life and death are a currency, they won’t exist long unless they’re strong. Ginny is not strong. Ginny is just a politician who has formed a cult of killers who inexplicably do everything she says even though she’d be easy to take out because she’s so careless except she’s a plot device that the entire story contrives to make seem strong.
As much as Patchy hated the Whisperers, Alpha was a believable cult leader. She was terrifying. She led her people through acts of terror. She controlled her people.
Ginny just talks. Sometimes she tries to hurt someone, but mostly she fails at that. Even when she has a gun.
And that’s what’s wrong with The Walking Dead. The contrivances. A show where the stakes are literal survival or death, but death is turned into a tease and survival is mere existence with no regard to the best interest of one’s self or the group as a whole. Nobody is making the world a better place. It’s just a rinse and repeat of what we’ve seen before. New characters, new locations, but still a repeat.
But then again, what does Patchy know? Patchy’s just a talking, typing, tweeting cartoon zombie…