Following on from a short six-episode debut run, Season 2 of Fear The Walking Dead continues to develop its cast of characters, and largely succeeds in distinguishing itself from its more famous parent show, while still addressing familiar themes and maintaining the expected level of zombie-related gore.
The season opens with the main characters (led by Kim Dickens’ Madison) escaping an onset of zombies by taking refuge aboard a boat owned by mysterious stranger Strand (Colman Domingo). After a number of aquatic zombie encounters, the crew eventually reach their destination and hole up in a Mexican compound owned by Strand’s lover (a briefly guest-starring Dougray Scott).
However, it never pays to stay still for too long in a zombie apocalypse, and after everything goes south at the compound, the second half of the season finds the characters split into three groups: Madison, daughter Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Strand discover a hotel full of zombies; recovering junkie son Nick (Frank Dillane) takes up with a religious cult who believe their leader is immune to zombie bites; and husband Travis (Cliff Curtis) heads off in pursuit of his son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) after he displays worrying sociopathic tendencies.
As with its parent show, Fear The Walking Dead gets a lot of emotional mileage out of its makeshift family dynamic, while continuing to explore the idea that humans are often much more dangerous than zombies. The show even adds an intriguing layer of zombie sympathy, as Nick frequently coats himself in zombie guts in order to walk alongside the dead.
The striking camerawork and offbeat location choices (boat, desert, hotel, etc) go a long way towards setting the show apart visually, though fans can rest easy that the gory moments are still as nasty and inventive as ever (boat propellers are put to unconventional use, for example). Admittedly, the writing wobbles a little when it comes to the clarity of the show’s allegories (particularly in regards to immigration), but there’s more than enough here to justify excitement at the prospect of a third season.