After the military went all ‘tropey’ last week, Fear the Walking Dead is back with an episode that features the soldiers a whole lot more. Is it good?

Smooth Operator

The episode opens with Doug (the dude Travis helped who was having a complete break down) in a holding cell with a new character. A cartoon character, actually. A sharp dressed, silver-tongued villain who is such an evil mastermind that he can:

  • Make a man on the verge of a mental breakdown have one.
  • Trade expensive items of clothing to not be killed (?).
  • Speak like the voice over narrator in a bad ’90s action movie.

After causing Doug to freak out and get taken away, he offers up a cufflink to keep his other cellmate, Nick (who is clearly worth little more than a pack of cigarettes). His reasoning? Nick is a heroin addict in withdrawal, which makes him the ideal get-a-away partner when he makes his escape.

Personally, I think a strung out heroic addict would be terrible company in a jailbreak, especially when the ‘jail’ is a medical center. When they weren’t puking and/or passing out, they’d probably look for drugs somewhere inside the facility rather than try to escape from it. Maybe this new character is just impressed with Nick’s refusal to wear anything but the old man’s clothes he stole back in the first episode.

Talk it Out Next Time

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Back in town, Ofelia is chucking empty bottles at the soldiers and screaming that she wants her mom back. Just as the troops are about to rough her up (ugh), her pseudo-boyfriend Andrew comes to her rescue…

… which she repays by taking him hostage. Maddie and Ofelia both have the brilliant idea to trade him with the on edge/trigger happy soldiers for information about where Griselda and Nick were taken. Daniel, however, thinks they should try and torture it out of him. To achieve this, he cuts open Andrew’s arm with his shaving kit while mumbling more exposition and historical background about his time in El Salvador.

I’m honestly not sure which one of those was more painful, but neither really should have been necessary. When Andrew finally tells Daniel the ‘SHOCKING’ revelation about Cobalt — that the military is exterminating everyone and bugging out — any reason he had for NOT telling him right away becomes nonsensical.

Andrew clearly cares for Ofelia, who he willing accompanied to her family’s house less than 24 hours before Colbat was to be initiated. Wouldn’t he have told her about so that she would survive and come with him—which would have also meant he’d have to tell her family. I know torture scenes are supposed to make for good television and all, but c’mon…

Maddie Makes her Decision

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While all this is going on, Maddie does her best to keep Ofelia away so that she doesn’t see Andrew getting hurt. Of course she does see it eventually, but not before Daniel delivers YET ANOTHER monologue about the terrible things he saw and did in El Salvador.

At least this one was delivered with some genuine emotion, but does Daniel have a quota for these historical soliloquies? Does every scene he’s in require the camera to stop and zoom in on his face while he delivers no less than 4 minutes of uninterrupted dialogue?

Anyway, Maddie knew what Daniel was doing and allowed it to happen, which really upsets Travis, who just got home. And where was Travis this whole time, you might ask?

Travis’ Terrible Day

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Still reeling from seeing people pulled out of his house in the middle of the night, Travis went to speak with Sgt. Stereotype Lt. Moyers about his concerns. Moyers predictably brushes him off and behaves like an asshole, but perks up once Travis implies that the civilians may rebel. He immediately reverses course and offers Travis a ride to the hospital to see the people his squad took away. This ends up being the worst ride along imaginable… although I will say that it was nice to see that the other soldiers actually seemed to have human thoughts and emotions. Moyers, on the other hand, gets even worse.

First, they spot a walker shambling about a diner. Moyers gets out, sets up a sniper rifle, and challenges Travis to shoot it… you know, to see if he’s man enough or something. Never mind how dangerous it is for someone without proper training to shoot such a high-powered firearm. Never mind how the gun’s loud report creates the possibility (and completely unnecessary risk) of other walkers hearing them. Moyers has unzipped his metaphorical pants and challenged Travis to a measurement.

To Travis’ credit, he doesn’t shoot. I wouldn’t either. Even though the girl was clearly a walker to our Walking Dead Viewer eyes, I’ve seen sales people at Kmart more sluggish than her.

Later, they stop at a library where an engagement is taking place. Apparently the library was overrun with literate undead, who engaged a squadron of soldiers who had absolutely no idea how to use all the high-powered weaponry they were carrying. When the squad comes bursting out the door (after throwing a grenade which somehow explodes in a fireball) Moyers is missing. Turns out his troops were sick of his crap, too and left him.

I actually cheered at that part.

They were also nice enough to give Travis a ride back home. Too bad none of them noticed that Andrew hadn’t checked in for a really long time. But that’s okay. I’m sure that things like squad check-ins and location reports are pretty lax when you’re quarantining one of the few remaining safe zones in the country.

Gross

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Alicia and Chris are both pretty upset. They decide to blow off some steam by going to a rich person’s house and playing with all their cool stuff. Then they play dress up. Then things get weird, like we were on the cusp of heading into Jamie and Cersei Lannister territory.

I know, I know, they aren’t really legally step-brother/sister. But still… ew.

True Story Interlude: When I was in high school, two friends of mine had been dating for a while when his mom and her dad met each other… and started dating each other, too. Forget the zombie apocalypse—for a couple 16-year-olds, THAT felt like the end of the world right there (from a social standpoint, anyway).

But I digress…Alicia and Chris further ease their pent up teen angst by smashing things. Later, as they’re walking home, the pair notice that the military is not patrolling anymore—they’re just driving out of the town. Alicia responds to this with the understatement of the season:

“Something’s wrong.”

If she’d said “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” instead, I would have completely forgiven her character for the first four episodes.

Hell’s Pass Hospital

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Turns out that the hospital Liza left her son for really is trying to help people instead of just killing them. Unfortunately, Griselda is beyond help. In the episode’s only tense scene, Liza helps put the poor woman out of her misery as she confesses to standing by and allowing Daniel to do all the terrible things he did (in El Salvador).

Meanwhile, Mr. Cold and Rational Daniel takes a trip down to Dodger Stadium, where Andrew said they locked away many of the undead. Turns out that Andrew was right.

Is It Good?

I’m really not sure what else to say. Aside from the scene with Liza, which was genuinely gripping, the characters in the show are in a fierce competition with the story for reaching peak stupidity.

Let’s start with the story. I can overlook the minor stuff (like the grenade exploding in a fireball). I can even overlook the somewhat-ridiculous stuff (like a group well-armed soldiers being completely overrun by what was probably a small group of walkers inside a library).

But Andrew being tortured for information that he should have (would have?) given willingly? Torture may be an over-used plot device in television these days, but at least when Jack Bauer did it, he had a good reason.

But the characters. Ugh. I thought Lt. Moyers locked up the most cartoonishly cliched category, but the smooth talking dude in the suit is giving him a run for his money. At least most of the other soldiers seemed like real people. Also, this episode made Alicia seem somewhat likable. Granted that was achieved with the help of some pseudo-incestuous flirting, but it was still an impressive feat.

Aside from Liza, though, I really just want to see all these people get eaten. And even she’s not that great (leaving her son with the dumbass ex-husband), but she’s by far the most tolerable. I thought I was going to like Daniel, but I swear I’m going to lose it if he starts speaking to the camera one more time.

I did enjoy Moyers getting killed (?), although I believe the audience earned the right to see that happen. But you know what made me cheer even more loudly? When the credits announced that next week was the final episode. Thank goodness.

Fear the Walking Dead: Season 1, Episode 5 "Cobalt" Review
The scene with Liza and Griselda was gripping...and maybe the only good scene in the whole show.Alicia actually seemed a little bit likable (but the sexual tension between her and Chris still feels icky).
Lt. Moyers is in a fierce battle with the Dude in the Suit for the most cartoonishly stupid character.Daniel has become the monologue man and it's getting old. If you're going to make an episode revolve around a torture scene, at least make the torture scene actually necessary.
3Meh
Reader Rating 2 Votes
3.0