***Spoilers*****Don’t read further if you haven’t seen this week’s episode of Fear The Walking Dead yet!
Fear The Walking Dead was back again this week after taking last week off. Now that the show is three episodes in it’s really starting to develop in some pretty interesting ways. For fans of The Walking Dead the show involves a lot of white knuckling the remote and yelling at the TV because of course they know some of the facts about the undead that the characters in FTWD don’t know.
There was a lot more action in this week’s episode, interspersed with eerie moments of calm which is exactly how disasters unfold in real life. A great deal of the creepiness of the show comes from that little pricking in the back of your neck that reminds you that Travis and Madison could be any of us facing a pandemic situation.
Lights Out L.A.
Madison, Alicia and Nick waited at home while at Daniel Salazar’s shop the riot became pretty intense. Salazar seems a little surly and he and Travis don’t exactly warm up to each other. Travis is anxious to have a backup plan in case they need to flee but there really isn’t one. The rioters set fire to the shop next door and both families need to flee. They open the door to the rioters and run out after the rioters run in. While they are running Griselda Salazar is hurt, and even though Travis and his family are clear of the melee they run back to help. They manage to get back to the truck and get out of the riot zone.
Travis tries to find a hospital because Griselda’s wound needs more medical care than Liza, who is just a nursing student, can provide. The hospital they drive too is in total chaos. They pass a crashed ambulance, the drivers presumably eaten by patients who turned. There is a walker in the parking lot that is being shot at by police while helicopters circle overhead. Travis keeps driving. But as they all try to process the chaos around them they are able to watch as the lights of L.A. go dark, grid by grid. It’s an ominous and striking visual.
Back at the house Madison, Alicia and Nick are playing Monopoly to keep busy. There are some scenes showing that they are really a tight knit group and that they have gone through a lot together. The sense that Travis is still very much an outsider to the kids is brought home by Nick, who tries to tell Madison that they should all leave because Travis is with his family and they shouldn’t wait for him. But Madison won’t be budged. They are waiting.
They keep hearing a noise at the patio door, like someone jiggling the handle and trying to get in. After it happens a few times and they can’t manage to see what is outside they cautiously open the door. The door jiggler is a neighborhood dog, covered in blood that isn’t his. Nick tells Madison if they are going to stay there they need to find a weapon and he says the one of their neighbors has a gun he can steal. They go in search of the gun.
It’s very surreal and scary to see something familiar like a suburban neighborhood that can be found everywhere through the lens of an outbreak like this. The silence is palpable and the audience is off balance as much as the characters are. They find the gun. As they are looking for ammunition they see someone in their house. Then they see Travis pull into the driveway.
Madison takes the gun and runs for the house to prevent Travis from going inside. She’s too late. Travis goes inside, and he sees a neighbor who has become a walker eating the dog. Stunned Travis, who thinks the walkers are just sick and not dead, tries to get his neighbor to recognize him. Madison, who has a better grasp of the situation, comes in with the gun ready to fire.
However it’s Daniel Salazar who takes the gun and with absolute resolve fires it. When his shot didn’t kill the walker he walked straight up to the newly turned walker and fires a shotgun right into his face. When that still didn’t stop him from coming he fired again, talking off half his head. It was a fantastic makeup job that looked totally in keeping with The Walking Dead universe.
Madison has the gun but no one brought the shells for it. Alicia runs back to the house to get the shells and she finds Susan, the neighbor, who has turned. She is almost killed by Susan but manages to escape over a fence with the help of Chris, who came to find her when he heard her screaming. Clearly these two step siblings don’t have a lot of love for each other because his reward for helping her and breaking her fall was to get elbowed in the nose really hard. They leave Susan behind the fence groping after them.
They decide to stay the night in the house and set out for the desert in the morning. It’s a tense and awkward night because Liza and Madison are both there along with Travis. Madison tells Liza that if she were to end up as a walker then Liza should put her down and not Travis because it would to be difficult for him. Madison also tells Travis he needs to bury the neighbor that Salazar shot and the dog.
In the morning they pack up and get ready to leave. In a great scene that shows the bizarre reality of trying to cling to normalcy in the midst of absolute chaos Travis takes out the trash to the curb and sees another neighbor doing the same, like they would do on any normal day. Madison goes back over to the fence and stares at Susan, trying to process how this decaying husk could be her friend and trying to see if there was any humanity left in Susan or if she really was dead.
Daniel Salazar said the he has called a cousin to come and pick them up but while he is having a conversation with Griselda and Ofelia about what to do it’s revealed there is no cousin. He just doesn’t want to go with Travis and his families because as he says, “the good people are the first to die”. Clearly Salazar has some dark secrets that will be revealed as his character is developed more.
The Cavalry Arrives
As Travis, Liza, Madison and the kids are getting ready to leave their neighborhood they see Susan’s husband arrive home. Madison turns around and drives back, getting out of the car in his driveway and yelling for him not to go to Susan. He sees Susan as a walker coming at him and he can’t process what has happened to her. Just as she is about to bite him a shot rings out and Susan drops. The shot came from a soldier who comes running through the yard along with other soldiers. The cavalry has arrived to clear the neighborhood.
The soldiers try to take control of the situation by taking a list of everyone who lives in each house as they go house to house clearing. Travis tells the soldier making the list that he lives in the house with Madison, Alicia, Nick, Liza, Chris and the Salazars so that would be protected.
While the families are relieved that the Army has come in to take charge there is an uneasy foreboding because the audience at home knows that the Army won’t be able to contain this. As Madison stands near the soldier who shot Susan she asks what happened to her husband. The soldier tells her that since he was covered in infected blood he’s been taken away. Madison asks if that is how it’s spreading but the soldier doesn’t answer her, just asks her if she or her family have been exposed. She says no. The soldier points to a fresh grave and asks what the grave is. She tells him that their dog died.
In the previews for next week it looks like Madison, Travis and the others will realize they missed their chance to get out. On the surface they think that they are safe because the military is there and in charge but based on the upcoming scenes they will soon find out that there is no safety or security in the world now.