Fear The Walking Dead Pilot: Slow and Steady Does It

"It's not real. It can't be real," says Alicia Clark while watching a horrifying scene from the previous night shot by Los Angeles news on a smart phone. "Watch, it's the new real," says her pal, as both girls watch between high school classes awestruck.

The pilot episode of Fear The Walking Dead after finishing its opening night on August 23, 2015 had premiered big. That is, having captured the attention of over ten million U.S. viewers according to an online article by James Hibberd on August 24, 2015 for Entertainment Weekly, titled, "Fear The Walking Dead Is The Biggest Cable Series Premiere Ever." Even so, reviews from all over about the 90 minute premiere were mixed, ranging from great, to hate. Which is expected especially from an AMC premiere.

By viewing AMC's previous staple of award winning shows, was it expected in all honesty, that the pace of the Fear The Walking Dead pilot, would blast fast and furious out of the gate like the thoroughbred Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh? From Mad Men with currently 15 Emmy wins and now 11 Emmy nominations, to The Walking Dead with currently 2 Emmy wins in the creative arts, and now 4 Emmy nominations also in the creative arts (prosthetic make-up, sound editing, special visual effects and stunt coordination), to Breaking Bad to finish with 16 Emmy wins, all three shows began with a slow burn. And in the case of Breaking Bad, arguably considered as the best TV series ever created, one can always revisit the mixed critical reviews chronicled when that series drama began in 2008. Therefore, The Walking Dead graphic novel creator Robert Kirkman and Dave Erickson exec. Producer, whom both wrote the Fear The Walkling Dead pilot, directed by Adam Davidson, had all three perhaps decided that season 1 episode 1 would be no different.

The horrifying scene captured on a smart phone watched by 17 year old Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey), followed by her incredulity from what she had seen, leads off that society has yet to catch up to the impending world-wide apocalypse that awaits. A nighttime scene on an L.A. freeway filmed by a Los Angeles news affiliate, as a nearby crowd watch police officers unload multiple chest and torso shots at a man, who falls, only to keep slowly rising again. Yet remarkably, it could be that Alicia's high school friend while standing by her watching the same grisly scene, may be among the few who caught up quick. Such a scene strategically appears halfway into the Fear The Walking Dead pilot. For that scene, like the pilot episode itself, was only meant to be a warm up.

Whereas, the opening scene of Alicia's 18 year old brother Nick Clark (Frank Dillane), a drug addict who after awakening one morning in an abandoned church, only to see his girlfriend Gloria, who obviously died after she also took heroin that night, feasting on a man's face, was like the overture. Therefore shortly after witnessing that horrifying scene as he is next seen blasting out of the abandoned church, perhaps Nick will be among those few in the coming episodes who will help others catch up. Time will tell with plenty left to play with. Which was why it was smart to go slow and steady, rather than to open early to be just another World War Z.

There's a well written online article titled, "The Walking Dead in an Age of Anxiety: Why we're obsessed with zombies," by Michael J. Totten from City Journal Autumn 2014. For within, Mr. Totten states, "There's a wish-fulfillment aspect to the story, which anyone who has ever fantasized, even idly, about living through an apocalyptic event will recognize. The last people on earth can reinvent themselves into something better, or more powerful." And then he uses just three characters from The Walking Dead as examples, Glenn, Carol, and Philip Blake, also known as the Governor of Woodbury, and explains in his own words the dramatic change from their pre-apocalyptic life, to their post-apocalyptic life.

It's known that Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) since season 1 of The Walking Dead, was a pizza delivery driver pre-zombie apocalypse, only to become both a fighter and a voice of conscience to leader Rick. Furthermore, Glenn also has a talent for leadership, especially after dealing with Aiden Monroe, a citizen of Alexandria's Safe Zone Community in season 5 episode 12 during a supply dry run. And that, was after Aiden had bragged to Glenn, Tara, and Noah that he trained in the ROTC pre-apocalypse. In other words, Glenn has evolved into what I would call a warrior poet. Then there's Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), also from Rick's group since season 1, a former domestic violence victim who has evolved from being a person to protect, to being a person who protects. And there's Philip Blake, played by British actor David Morrissey, who pre-zombie apocalypse was a family man dissatisfied with office work, to become in season 3, the charismatic soft spoken sociopath Governor of Woodbury.

In the newest British film and TV magazine SFX, issue #264 Sept 2015 with Actor David Duchovny of X-Files fame on the cover, on page 69 U.S. West Coast Editor Joseph McCabe interviews special effects wiz Greg Nicotero, a recipient of those two creative arts Emmy's from The Walking Dead. For within Greg Nicotero states, "What's creepier about Fear The Walking Dead is the aspect that people don't recognize (walkers) immediately. They think someone might just be sick or not feel well or just look weird." And then he continues, "But you would never stop on the street and go, 'Oh my God, that's a monster!"

In the Fear The Walking Dead pilot, the writers, exec. producer and the director have all taken care to showcase that one prominent aspect that Mr. Nicotero had mentioned. As well as another aspect, that will be featured and already mentioned earlier, and that's character reinvention. By taking a deliberate approach, Sunday night viewers will be given a fascinating opportunity to not only witness society's gradual destruction, but also character growth. And furthermore, to watch high school English teacher Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis), his girlfriend high school guidance counselor Madison Clark (Kim Dickens), mother of teens Nick and Alicia, and others as they gradually witness horror happening both local and worldwide, and to see just when they will all catch up.

This was what had frustrated Rick Grimes, played by British actor Andrew Lincoln, about the residents of the Alexandria Safe Zone Community located in Alexandria, Virginia, protected by a fortified wall, in episodes 12-16 of season 5 of The Walking Dead. A community of spacious homes so beautiful, that all could be featured in an issue of Architectural Digest.

For in episode 15 titled, "Try," of season 5 of The Walking Dead, it begins as Glenn briefs Rick about the supply run for solar micro-inverters, resulting in the horrible deaths of both Aiden, son of Alexandrian leader Deanna Monroe, and Noah (Tyler James Williams) along with Tara getting injured. All happening in episode 14, after both Aiden and fellow Alexandrian resident Nicholas were careless. After listening, Rick says, "They don't know what they're doing, any of them. Then Glenn says, "We'll show them." Which Rick adds, "I don't know if they can see it. How things really are. I don't know if they can yet. They haven't caught up." For also in episode 14, even Abraham Ford felt the same as Rick, having rescued Alexandrian resident Francine (Dahlia Legault) from walkers, after being abandoned by her fellow residents during further wall construction. And that's when Abraham took charge.

So we will all continue to watch, when those of Fear The Walking Dead will catch up.