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‘Fear the Walking Dead’ review: AMC offshoot takes to the high seas

Cliff Curtis as Travis and Kim Dickens as

Cliff Curtis as Travis and Kim Dickens as Madison in "Fear the Walking Dead," Season 2. Credit: AMC / Frank Ockenfels 3

WHEN | WHERE Second-season premiere Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC


WHAT IT’S ABOUT With Los Angeles burning, and walkers overrunning the West Coast, a small group of survivors heads out to the Abigail, the huge yacht owned by millionaire Victor Strand (Colman Domingo). They include Travis (Cliff Curtis), Madison (Kim Dickens), Nick (Frank Dillane), Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie), Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey). Strand, meanwhile, is an odd duck who at the end of last season cryptically explained, “The only way to survive a mad world is to embrace the madness . . . ”

MY SAY Or maybe the only way to survive a mad world is to check out the second season of “Fear the Walking Dead.” At least that might mollify millions of furious “Walking Dead” fans, in active revolt over the ridiculous, much-despised cliffhanger that wrapped the most recent season last Sunday.

Or maybe it won’t, but there is something undeniably calming about this all-new “Fear”: The endless vistas, waves slapping against the Abigail’s hull, seagulls crying into the wind. There’s even something strangely calming about the Abigail’s captain. Mysterious, almost certainly treacherous, Strand squints into the sun, scans the horizon and offers additional (and brutally reductive) observations: “I’ve done my mercy quota. Seven people saved to date. Be thankful.”

Sure, there’s a fine line between “calming” and “soporific,” but the new season mostly manages to stay on the right side of it, judging by the first three episodes (out of 15, the first season had only six). AMC knows this spinoff can’t be a facsimile of “TWD,” so “Fear” takes to the high seas instead, where new dangers lurk beneath the wine-dark waves, or maybe just in the heart of Strand. (Both places, actually).

Like “TWD,” the actual walkers in the new season are just props, easily bumped off with one swing of a hammer. They’re not to be feared as much as tolerated. This has also become a road show. The survivors have to move on to an unknown destination because other survivors have already coalesced into mini-communities. Some of those communities are desperate, some fatalistic, and a few evil. With Strand currently leading this small group, which will they become?

BOTTOM LINE A not-at-all-bad new season, that also poses this new question — can walkers swim too?

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