*This review is going to be all over the place because I can't comprehend and express only a single thought at a time. This review will require a lot of back-and-forth, Tarantino-esque ranting.*
Only three episodes in, and three things are solid certainties: First, Fear the Walking Dead is a completely pointless spin-off, squandering any notion of originality in the Walking Dead universe given that they just quickly showed us another outbreak in a different location, instead of possibly focusing on the slow-burn of the "hows" and "whys" this whole thing started. Granted, the show could still be headed in that direction, but I have received not a single notion that it will.
Second, Cliff Curtis' character, Travis, is officially the dumbest, most useless and out-of-touch of reality character in the Walking Dead universe (yes, even stupider than Lori Grimes). When confronted with Ruben Blades' Daniel character (who is so far one of two of the only characters with any hint of common sense and survival intelligence) trying to teach Travis's son how to use a rifle, Travis gives the overly-cliched "my politics are more keen than my survival instinct" response of, "What the hell are you doing?!" followed by the comment to his girlfriend of, "You know how I feel about guns." All this, coming from a man who would rather NOT teach his son how to properly handle a tool that he feels is too dangerous, even in a situation where clearly it has already been used multiple times successfully in saving lives directly in front of his face - including saving HIS OWN LIFE when his neighbor tried to eat HIS face. All of this again coming from a man who, just a couple days prior, was teaching Jack London and the notion of survival in the wild in his own fucking class room.
Finally, the third certainty of this show is that the writers are so stupid as to make us believe that a game of Monopoly will bring a family happily together.
The cliche-o-meter was running at a 3 out of 10 in this third episode, but the dumb decision-o-meter was burning at about an 8. I'm also under the impression that lead actress Kim Dickens (who plays 'Madison') has only one expression, and that of open-mouthed stupid confusion.
Seriously, I'm starting to wonder how many gray-bodied, bloody-fingered, fucking moaning zombie neighbors a person needs to see before they know that someone is an undead eating machine. The prospect of a zombie, or a person killed by a virus but then reanimated under the powers of said virus ISN'T as unthinkable as, say, ghosts playing hopscotch in your front yard. So why does nearly every character still express themselves as completely clueless human beings, less accepting of their situation than characters in Poltergeist or Paranormal Activity?
Speaking of Ruben Blades' character, I was quite refreshed to see that (FINALLY!) someone actually has the common sense to say, "You know, there's fucking riots and dead people eating other people, so sometimes you just have to shoot a motherfucker in the face with a shotgun." Now, having said that, his character is still somehow magically self-aware of the whole situation a little too much, as though he already binge-watched the first five seasons of The Walking Dead in a fourth-wall breaking time machine, only to return Kyle Reese style and warn everyone of the dangers of the break down of society. I found his survival instinct invigorating, especially when he called Madison "weak" for not ball-ping-hammering her zombie neighbor to death, but the writers felt it necessary to give him all of the plodding lines of dialogue that foreshadow the coming days of darkness. "It's already too late." How do you fucking know that?
My two favorite parts of the episode happened toward the end. The first was Travis, all with doe eyes and a prissy-man's concern in his voice, walking toward his zombie neighbor (who was eating the guts of a dog in their own living room) and doing the exact same thing Madison did with Principal Obama. "You're sick, let me help you" he says calmly as the guy overpowers him and starts biting at his face with what could only be confused as a pot-smoking maniac's reaction to seeing a human made out of milk chocolate with Cheetos for arms.
My other favorite part was when Madison makes the decision to go hammer the shit out of her zombie neighbor, who is growling and pawing at her through a narrow slit in the fence. Only by the "strong" will of Travis does she not decide to somehow pummel the fuck out of the neighbor with a tool that would have required her to open the gate to get a clean shot, and begin hammering away at the skull at least a dozen times before doing any critical damage - a surefire way to ensure that you sleep well at night for years to come. I've always wondered what the cure to insomnia was, and apparently it's murder-bashing my, I don't know, I guess zombie neighbor with a light tool and no idea if the disease they are carrying is spread through blood contact or through a simple cough like the common cold.
Remember that both of these characters were teachers in a high school, teaching the very things people would find necessary to survive in these situations, and they don't have the sense to use any of that knowledge themselves. Clearly, they work under the conditions of fiction and not realism. Fear the Walking Dead is warning us that these are the fucking idiots who are teaching our children. And for that, I thank the writers for the warning.