After two terrible episodes in a row, Fear the Walking Dead returned this Sunday with what is by far its best installment…which isn’t saying very much by itself. Is it good?
The episode opens with Travis, Liza, and Chris still stuck in a barbershop with the Salazar family while Los Angeles tears itself apart. After some back and forth about whether to stay or leave, the decision is made for them when the fires from outside encroach upon the shop. The group bursts outside past a swarm of rioters and into the chaos. We get small glimpses of the zombies, but otherwise, it just looks like LA after the Lakers win a championship.
As they make their way to Travis’ truck, Griselda Salazar is severely injured. Fortunately, Travis is able to carry her and lead them all to his vehicle. From there, the group’s first order of business is finding a hospital…which to their horror has become an undead shooting gallery. As they continue driving away from the city, we get a very cool/chilling shot of the power going out all over the city.
(Yes, that’s right. I actually found a scene on this show effective and chilling).
Park Place of Terror
Meanwhile, Maddie, Nick, and Alicia are involved in a heated game of Monopoly. Things seem relatively peaceful (or as peaceful as they can be while playing a game of chance with an addict) when Alicia gets freaked out by some noises. They soon discover that it’s just a dog. A dog with blood all over it.
Okay, so maybe Alicia wasn’t being stupid this time.
Anyway, the dog (and its need for a bath) is the least of their worries. A former neighbor/current walker has heard the barking and decided to check out what’s on the menu across the street. Maddie, Alicia, and Nick panic and flee.
Okay, right here is where we have a problem, but it’s probably not think I took issue with. In a world where zombies are just starting to show up, the group’s reaction to one lone zombie sighting is pretty believable. These aren’t people who are battle hardened and jaded from years of observing and fighting off the undead (like Rick & Co.). But with that being said, why the hell would you decide the best of course of action is to run from the relative safety of your home outside…while SCREAMING!
And as long as we’re nitpicking, why hasn’t Nick changed clothes yet?
Eh, whatever. The better question is why does Nick know there is a gun that’s kept at the neighbor’s house that he leads Maddie and Alicia to?
Alicia sees the Neighbor Walker strolling around. Then she hears the dog from before being attacked and becomes (understandably) freaked out.
Then Travis shows up, sees the walker eating the dog, and tries to talk it out with the guy (ugh). Thankfully, Daniel Salazar is not an idiot. He grabs the rifle from Maddie and blows Neighbor Zombie’s head off. Chris pukes.
Meanwhile, Alicia is wandering around the house looking for bullets and sees the zombified homeowner’s feet under a door. It’s the only time so far that this show has made the undead actually seem scary…which they continue to do as Alicia is chased into a gated garden.
I couldn’t believe it. I was actually concerned about a human character’s welfare—and it was Alicia! Unfortunately, she manages to elbow the crap out of Chris’ nose when he saves her. Dang it Alicia, you’re terrible.
Awkward Slumber Party
Maddie is ready to get the hell out of Dodge. Like, immediately. But for once in his life, Travis makes a not-completely-stupid observation: Leaving at night would be a really bad idea.
After getting Griselda in bed and tended to, Liza tries to explain to Travis how dire the old woman’s medical situation is. Since she’s an experienced and well-educated nurse, he should probably listen to her. Instead, Travis mumbles some asinine comment about having two wives in the house and goes off to cut wood or something.
Later, Liza and Maddie meet to discuss being good parents and killing each other if one of them turns in a zombie.
Okay, seriously, how did a dumbass like Travis end up with two extremely attractive women who are both so much smarter than him? I can suspend my disbelief for the dead rising, but that’s absurd.
It’s Morning in America
The next morning, Travis takes out the dead neighbor garbage and stops his wife from killing their other undead neighbor, Susan. At first glance, this seems like more Travis-being-Travis stupidity, but it’s actually a really great scene. Just like the walker sighting moment from the night before, this is how people in the early days of a zombie outbreak would likely react to the situation. Killing hordes of rotting, undead walkers after society has collapsed is a lot different than taking out ones fresh that still look like your friends (and seem to be alive).
Then Travis rounds up everyone to leave…except the Salazars, who decide to stay put. When Ofelia tells Daniel that they should consider going with Travis’ group because they’re good people, he responds “Seriously? Have you spent any time around Alicia yet?”
Ha! Just kidding. What he actually says is that the good people always die first, which is a pretty great line. (Holy crap, this show is actually having some good moments).
As Maddie’s group starts to leave, she sees Susan’s husband arriving home. Maddie runs to stop him from being bit, but is unable to get there before the military swoops in and pops her in the head.
After clearing the area, they begin to set up quarantine. Travis is relieved that the authorities have arrived. Daniel, on the other hand, sees this as a sign of the end… or he just wanted an excuse to let his wife die instead of getting her medical attention.
Is It Good?
Well, it definitely wasn’t bad.
I know that sounds like a backhanded compliment, but I really thought this show was a complete lost cause. I still, however, don’t expect it to be very good. That’s partly due to the fact that show’s main fear factors (the undead and mistrust among different groups of people) is something we’ve already seen play out on a much bigger scale in The Walking Dead… along with every other zombie franchise in existence.
With the current oversaturation of zombie media right now, a show/movie really has to do something different to distinguish itself, especially when said show is a spinoff of another one.
This episode gave us some really cool moments (like the black out and the Alicia zombie chase) and good character interactions (finally), but nothing that made it stand out from any other mediocre zombie fare. At least it was tolerable this time, though. And as far as doing things differently, the show did succeed in making me look forward to next week’s installment for the first time.