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TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead - Season 4, Episode 2

Season 4, Episode 2: Another Day in the Diamond

PLOT: The Clark family, Strand, and Luciana have been living peacefully in a baseball diamond... but it looks like their days of peace are about to end.

REVIEW: New showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg, along with newly appointed executive producer Scott M. Gimple, appear to be rebooting AMC's Fear the Walking Dead as a more eventful, more quickly paced series, and I have some concern that it may be moving too quickly for its own good. The show has undergone a major time jump to accomodate a crossover with its companion series The Walking Dead, its timeline having been moved ahead something like two years so it's now occurring after the events of The Walking Dead's season 8 finale, and as we catch up with the show's returning characters in the second episode of this new season (the first episode was focused on crossover character Morgan Jones) it's clear that we have missed out on a couple seasons worth of story.

The third season of Fear ended with the main characters scattered after being caught in a dam explosion. At the end of the season 4 premiere, Nick Clark (Frank Dillane), his sister Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), their associate Victor Strand (Colman Domingo), and Nick's girlfriend Luciana Galvez (Danay Garcia) - who vanished for the majority of the third season, and hadn't been found yet when the season ended - were seen together again, ambushing Morgan (Lennie James) and his new travel buddies. Rather than just continue on from that moment, the episode flashes back to give us a glimpse at what happened between seasons... but it doesn't go back to the dam explosion, it goes back to an unknown time in between the explosion and the ambush of Morgan, a time which allows them to keep all of the important questions dangling over our heads. 

How was Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) reunited with her children? Where did they find Luciana? Where is Daniel Salazar? None of those questions are answered. Instead, we're just given an idea that Madison found Nick in some terrible situation, and Luciana seems to find it amusing that Nick is still holding her disappearing act over her head. Her stance is, "Let bygones be bygones, Nick." Viewers are asking, "Where the hell were you, Luciana?"

Someone must have been inspired by the stadium turned marketplace in the show's third season, because in this not quite far back enough flashback we find that the Clarks, Strand, and Luciana are now among the forty-seven people living inside a baseball stadium. People have been living in the stadium for a year at this point, but we're not told how long the characters we know have been there. Crops are being grown inside the stadium in hopes that someday they won't have to leave the place for anything anymore. No more scavenger runs, they'll be self-sufficient. That's a day Nick is looking forward to - the character who once enjoyed slathering himself in zombie guts and walking among the dead is now afraid of venturing out into the countryside, traumatized by whatever he experienced that we haven't been shown yet.

Madison, Alicia, Strand, and Luciana are perfectly willing to take road trips, and they take one here to see if they can pick up the trail of a mysterious young girl who has arrived at the stadium alone, hoping they might find her family. Sometimes I'm wary of the addition of a child character, but this girl Charlie I accepted immediately, because she's played by Alexa Nisenson - a child actor who earned cool points with her performance in a talent show scene in last year's comedy FIST FIGHT.

Instead of Charlie's family, the group meets a different new addition to the cast, Jenna Elfman as deeply frightened nurse Naomi, who shows up just in time to participate in an action scene involving zombies that have been coated in crude. Oil, that is. Black gold. Texas tea. Elfman is best known for her work in comedy, particularly the 119 episodes she spent on the sitcom Dharma & Greg. I never watched Dharma & Greg and haven't seen Elfman in all that much else, so her dramatic performance on this show doesn't stir up any comedic memories for me. Naomi doesn't make much of an impression at all in Another Day in the Diamond, but I'm interested to see what she'll end up bringing to the show.

And there's a more, another new cast member: Kevin Zegers of the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake shows up at the threatening leader of a group that calls themselves The Vultures. After two and half seasons of watching The Saviors on The Walking Dead, the last thing I want to see on Fear the Walking Dead is a war with a group called The Vultures. Zegers' Mel is coming along with his "give us your stuff" demands way too soon after The Walking Dead's issues with Negan. But I'll wait and see where this is going before getting too worried about it.

There was quite a bit packed into Another Day in the Diamond, and the show still has a lot of questions left to answer. While I don't really like the idea of this season taking a "fill in the blanks with flashbacks" approach while also continuing the story of Morgan Jones, I have to admit, this scattered story they're telling has me hooked. If the quality manages to stay at the level of these first two episodes, Fear will have me eagerly tuning in every week while I wait to be given explanations.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: The attack of the oil tank zombies, who were somewhat reminiscent of the Tarman from THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD.

GORY GLORY: This episode didn't deliver much in the way of gore, but we did see some zombies getting dispatched.

FAVORITE SCENE: My favorite parts of the episode were the book-ending montages set to Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried". Solely because of the song; nothing to do with what was going on while the song played.

FINAL VERDICT

Extra Tidbit: What did you think of Another Day in the Diamond?

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