In a very classy move, the penultimate episode of Fear the Walking Dead‘s first season was just a nice little trip exploring one of the many shades of blue. It gave us all a chance to spend part of our Sunday evening in a bit of a relaxing haze, simply pondering why blue is one of the last colors that civilizations had a name for. Plus, it was a nice contrast to the blood moon, eclipsing its way across the night sky.
Oh, wait. Sorry, I was thinking of something else. Instead, we were treated to another episode where our current band of purported survivors (something that is admittedly muted at present, since all they’ve had to really survive thus far, aside from a couple of attacks, is the discomfort of living inside of a militarized safe zone) plods their way through a life that isn’t terribly different from the one that they had before the zombie apocalypse started. We’re supposed to be seeing what happened while Rick Grimes was in his coma, and, so far, the “what happened” is that a bunch of relatively self-absorbed people have been forced to try to be slightly less self-absorbed. Are there good points, and people who are worth the time investment? Sure. But we’ve also got Travis and Madison, Chris and Alicia, and, of course, Nick the junkie. Not a single one of these people has shown a reason why we should WANT them to make it through the infection, let alone that they have the skills to do so. While Fear the Walking Dead doesn’t have the wealth of semi-direct source material that The Walking Dead has, it does have all of the mythology, plus the added benefit of teasing its viewers with the entire “how we got here” back story. And yet, instead of being gripping, the show is plodding. Instead of being something to fear, it’s become something to merely outlast. Now we’re being promised that the community will be thinned out of existence, as the military retreats and moves on. Maybe there’s something to look forward to after all, at least with regards to Cobalt.
The self-described “closer” begins the episode with an admittedly chilling speech, one where he turns Doug’s brain inside out (figuratively speaking), causing him to suffer a breakdown and need to get escorted away. Strand is an interesting character, one with a clear willingness to make sacrifices when it best suits his purposes. He also seems to have an eye for how to hone in on exactly what makes a person tick, as was brought to a very dark purpose with regards to Doug. So, why is he popping up on this list? Because, when the soldiers were about to take Nick away, he jumped in to save him. Sure, Nick’s a heroin addict, and may have some sort of scavenging abilities nestled deep inside his brain, but there is nothing that we’ve been shown thus far that implies that he’s anything more than just a strung-out junkie, and a burden on all of those around him. Maybe Strand can turn Nick into something at least approaching Eugene levels of usefulness, but it’s going to be a long road.
Probably the character on the show with the most layered story, and one of the best suited to survive (therefore, clearly zombie-bait), Daniel took Adams, Ofelia’s little soldier boy, hostage to torture him for information. See, Daniel wants Nick and Griselda back, although the first is clearly just for Madison’s sake, and his experiences with the wars in his home country showed him that, sometimes, torture is the only route available. Instead, Daniel gets the information about Cobalt, which is the code for the army abandoning the area and the “humane termination” of the civilians left inside. However, Daniel also crossed through the fence, towards the arena that Adams mentions, and did it all not just alone, but seemingly unarmed. At least he’s constantly reminding Madison that she needs to watch Ofelia when he’s gone, because some of his actions really do make it seem like he’s got a death wish.
Congratulations, Liza! You’re doing medical work, and even getting praised for it by Dr. Exner! It’s like you’re living your dream, except that your son is back with your ex-husband, you were forced to deal with Travis’s new “family”, you’re surrounded by people who could die and reanimate at any time, and you apparently have an inability to ever WEAR YOUR SURGICAL MASK. Maybe Liza has been told by Exner that the virus isn’t spread through the air, but, with all of the disease, decay, and other ailments around the makeshift hospital, you’d think that maybe Liza would be trying to do a slightly better job at least protecting herself. By the same token, it isn’t like we’re seeing a lot of sterilization being done around these patients, so maybe that’s just how things roll here. Or she could be taking cues from Exner, who not only also doesn’t wear her mask, but has a very clinical, detached view on what needs to happen when someone passes. Also, does Griselda’s demise mean that Liza knows the same thing our Atlantans learned from the CDC?
Moyers was largely the personification of “might makes right”, and the embodiment of “don’t trust the government” within Fear the Walking Dead. Therefore, it should be no surprise that he acquiesced to Travis’s request only when the latter showed a bit more of a spine than he’d displayed previously. Moyers finally insisted that a squad take Travis to the field hospital, but gets angry when the squad he selects points out that they’ve been on duty for 50 hours straight. That’s a pretty big, dumb move right there. Whether you’re dealing with enemy combatants, reanimated dead, or angry civilians, forcing your troops beyond their exhaustion point simply due to your personal whim is a bad call. It ends up going belly up for Moyers, when the squad attempts to save another group of soldiers, trapped in an undead-infested building. Moyers doesn’t make it out, leaving us to assume that his bravado and lack of concern for those under him finally got him trapped between a walker and a biting place.
Travis continues to be relatively slow on understanding exactly what’s going on. He seems to believe that this whole thing will just blow over, and that the walkers are really merely terribly sick people (we have had this point hammered into us repeatedly, so the long, overdrawn “will he or won’t he” with regards to shooting the reanimated waitress was unnecessary). He also seems to believe that, with just the right amount of kind words and logic, he could convince the soldiers at the gates that he deserves to see his family, and get them returned to him. In fact, it isn’t until Travis threatens a community uprising (a threat he quickly denies) that he is able to be given any sort of consideration. Nothing about Moyers or the rest of the troops has shown the viewers that diplomacy would work, and Travis has ostensibly had a lot more time around them. For a teacher, Travis isn’t a very good student of the situation of the world he’s in.
That’s where we’re left with one episode to go in the debut season of Fear the Walking Dead. Only one more week of wondering if any of our main crew, outside of Daniel, will display any sign of having what it takes to make it through. With the promise that, at 0900, LA gets enveloped by Cobalt, it could be a very brutal, quick end for this series. More likely, someone we actually want to stick around will get the axe, and we’ll still be left having to watch Nick continue to be more-useless-Carl. At least Carl has been growing into someone who’s semi-capable.
Come back next week for the our recap of Fear the Walking Dead, and then get your engines revved up. The Walking Dead is coming back in just a couple of weeks, in its original flavor!