Fear the Walking Dead
September 27, 2015
Meet your new favorite character: Victor Strand. Strand is a sharply dressed, smooth talking fellow who is caged in the medical facility along with Doug and Nick and the other
prisoners patients who don’t require immediate attention — or a bullet to the brain — from the staff. Strand amuses himself by yammering about insurance and “wolves coming to the door” (wrong show, friend) before assuring Doug that with a figure like hers, Mrs. Doug will do just fine without Doug in the zombie apocalypse. Upon hearing this, Doug freaks so hard he has to be taken away by the soldiers. Bye, Doug, bye.
Later, when the soldiers come back through to take everyone’s temperature, they discover that Nick is running a 101 degree fever. However, Strand prevents Nick from being dragged off to who even knows where with one low payment of a pair of diamond cufflinks. He’s fancy. And up to something.
Nick, being no dummy, wonders why Strand saved him, but Strand explains that he obligated Nick to him. The world has returned to “old rules” and Strand will require someone of Nick’s particular talents once he “makes his move.” And then Strand reveals he has a key … to something. The cage they are in? Who knows.
Elsewhere in the medical compound, Dr. Untrustworthy thanks Ex-Wife again for helping: they started with 7 nurses, only to have 2 of their best be sent to other trauma centers. “What happened to the other two?” Ex-Wife asks. She doesn’t receive an answer. Here’s a thought: try using deductive reasoning, Ex-Wife. Ex-Wife then asks about Señora Barber and Nick and is basically told not to worry about them.
Soldiers are brought in with collapsed lungs and fractures and some raging cases of zombieitis, and Ex-Wife helps out before sneaking down to recovery to check on Señora Rottenfoot. There, Dr. Untrustworthy finds her and delivers the bad news: Señora has septic shock, so Ex-Wife should say her goodbyes. Before expiring, however, Señora rants at God for a while. Finally, she dies, and Dr. Untrustworthy pulls out a bolt gun. Ex-Wife asks to do the honors and No Country for Old Mens Señora herself. R.I.P. Senora.
Meanwhile, back in suburgatory, Chris is sassy with Madison because “YOU’RE NOT MY MOTHER. YOU KNOW, THE ONE WHO ABANDONED ME IN THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.” Travis tells his jerk son to quit being a jerk, but too little, too late, dude. Travis then announces his intention to go talk to his BFF Lt. Moyers about retrieving Señora Barber, Nick and Ex-Wife from the medical facility. Because Lt. Moyers has proven to be such a reasonable person so far.
Travis tries anyway, because what does he have to lose really, and Lt. Moyers half-apologies for the way they burst in and took everyone away in the middle of the night. Those sorts of raids are bad for morale, and when dealing with a bunch of oversized kids who just want to go home to their mothers, he has to do what he can to keep morale up. Moyers then agrees to take Travis to see the doctors, because why the hell not. He can do whatever he wants: he’s got the guns.
On the drive, Moyers pulls over for a quick zombie kill at a donut shop. They pull out a huge gun of one sort or another, prop it onto the hood of the Humvee, and then invite Travis to take the shot. However, when he gazes through the scope, Travis sees that the zombie bears a name tag, “KIMBERLY,” and Travis can’t bring himself to kill Kim the donut zombie. Lt. Moyers is underwhelmed.
As they continue on their drive, they get word over the radio that another squad is pinned in by some zombies nearby, so they swing around to help. Travis is instructed to STAY IN THE TRUCK NO MATTER WHAT, especially now that they know he’s worthless with a gun. The raid goes poorly, and Travis gets out of the truck because of course he does, and within moments, some of Moyers’ squad — minus Moyers — return to the Humvee and begin driving Travis back towards his neighborhood. NEW PLAN: they dump him back at home, and then they themselves go home, because who even needs this nonsense anymore?
Meanwhile, Señorita Barber has her own ideas on how to get her mother back from the military, and it involves throwing bottles through the fence at the soldiers. Just as the soldiers stop thinking this is cute and are about to cart her off to spend some quality time with Nick, Doug and Strand, Soldier Boyfriend materializes and promises to talk her off the ledge. And then one of the young soldiers is like, “YOU KNOW WHAT? I’M DONE. BECAUSE WHO EVEN NEEDS THIS NONSENSE ANYMORE?”
Back at the house, Madison discovers that Awful Daughter has been stealing Mrs. Trans’ private letters (still not cool, Awful Daughter), and decides to go over to the Trans’ house for some reason? I don’t know, looking for Awful Daughter? She grabs a flashlight, and upon hearing banging coming from the basement, a knife for good measure, and she goes exploring by herself, which, again, during the zombie apocalypse is just a very good idea. This just makes sense.
But instead of finding more zombiefied Trans next to the hot water heater, Madison discovers Señor and Señorita Barber and one tied up Soldier Boyfriend. “This is how we bring them home,” Señor Barber explains. “I’m game,” says Madison. But Soldier Boyfriend isn’t inclined to talk and claims to not know anything about where their families are.
Señorita Barber, Madison and Señor Barber head upstairs for a little confab, where the Barbers explain that they’re going to trade Soldier Boyfriend for their family. When Madison is like, “You guys, that’s no kind of plan,” Señorita Barber stomps off in a huff. With Señorita gone, Señor is like, “Yeah, I’m totally going to torture Soldier Boyfriend. Make sure my daughter doesn’t come back here, cool?”
Señor then goes back down to the basement and is like, “I told my daughter I wasn’t going to hurt you, but I lied. So, how about some torture?” And with that, Señor Barber breaks out his barber kit, and begins yammering about El Salvador again. After a few slices into his arm, Señor asks Soldier Boyfriend about this codeword that the military keeps using over the radio, “cobalt.” So what does that mean?
Having dozed off from boredom at some point, Madison wakes up to Señorita Barber screaming and goes rushing over to the Trans where she finds a hysterical Señorita storming out of the house and Señor busily “Out, damn’d spot! Out, I say!”ing at the kitchen sink. After Señor Barber worries that he’s forever changed his daughter’s impression of him, Madison is like, “Whatever, did Soldier Boyfriend tell us what we need to know?”
So then Travis returns to this mess, and is like, “YOU GUYS SET UP A TORTURE BASEMENT WHILE I WAS GONE? ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS?” But it turns out that the torture worked to some degree: Soldier Boyfriend tells them about being at an arena where things got out of control very quickly with some 2,000 people, and the soldiers couldn’t tell the infected from the uninfected, so they just locked everyone in and chained the doors. Cool. Cool cool cool.
Oh, and also, “cobalt” is the name for the plan where the military just kills all the civilians and save themselves. It’s scheduled to go down at 9 a.m. the next morning. SO WHO’S GOING TO BE ALL MORALLY SUPERIOR ABOUT TORTURE NOW, TRAVIS?
Meanwhile, Chris and Awful Daughter spend their time breaking into neighbors’ homes, wearing their clothes, drinking their champagne, sharing some tense sexual chemistry and smashing other people’s things to pieces because teenagers are the literal worst. And of all the teenagers who are the worst, these two are the worstest.
Finally, after a long day of torture, Señor Barber decides to go out for an evening stroll and somehow, impossibly, finds himself in front of the arena Soldier Boyfriend mentioned. How? Where is this arena in relation to the neighborhood? Is it inside the fence? That seems unpossible. BUT THE POINT IS: the doors of the arena are in fact chained shut and there do in fact seem to be zombies shaking them from the inside, so I guess Soldier Boyfriend was telling the truth? I have to say, this seems like a difficult way to verify his story.
I struggled to come up with something to talk about with this episode: it’s not that it was bad, but rather that it felt like it was setting up next week’s finale and events to happen in the second season (which has already been ordered by AMC). These sorts of episodes put events into motion and aren’t really ripe for dissection.
That said, now that the story seems to be on the eve of the military abandoning American citizens (or worse), and the dead completely taking over, I have to say I would have rathered the series spent a little more time on how we got to this place. Being told that some citizens resisted and were killed, or that the military locked healthy people in an arena full of zombies, or vaguely alluding to the military attempting to reclaim the city is considerably less interesting and affecting than showing us these events. And fast-forwarding 9 days from the time of the military takeover deprived us of learning more of the story of the tension between the military and the American citizens they are supposedly protecting. On top of all that, I feel the military’s collapse has happened entirely too quickly and that we are rushing full-speed ahead to a point where our protagonists are on their own. I believe they could have easily spent 6 more episodes on the collapse of America, but instead it feels like we are rushing to get to The Walking Dead: West Coast.
So instead of talking about the hero journey or symbolism or some other mumbo jumbo, let’s take our bets on who will die in the season finale this weekend:
Nick: 1-1000. There’s no way they are killing off Nick this early. We’ve still got way too much drama with his drug addiction to get through, and he hasn’t entirely redeemed himself. While he’s not the hero of the series, he still has too much story ahead of him, especially now that he is separated from his family, and aligned with this Mr. Strand fellow.
Travis: 1-100. Again, he’s our hero, and we are only at the beginning of his arc. “Mr. Mayor” will, eventually, be a reluctant leader, and a counterpoint to Rick Grimes. He lives to see season 2, no question.
Strand: 1-100. They just introduced us to Victor Strand, The Most Interesting Man in the World; they’re not going to take him away from us this soon. No chance.
Madison: 1-50. Now, I think it’s very unlikely they will kill Madison off … this early. But that’s a huge qualifier. I have my doubts Madison makes it to the end of this series. While she is more pragmatic than Travis and she is stronger than her boyfriend in a number of ways, I think that also makes her a more interesting target, as her death would leave Travis and the kids at a loss. Also, she foreshadowed her own death by asking Ex-Wife to off her because she knows Travis won’t be able to do it. This suggests that she will become a zombie, and Travis will be tested. (Whether he will be able to actually kill her will be determined by how far along we are in his journey.)
Awful Daughter (Alicia): 1-25. Aside from the zombies, this series is about a couple trying to blend their families, which is hard enough in the best of circumstances. So while these terrible teens have some killing coming, I think both Alicia and Chris are going to survive this first season if only to make more trouble for their parents who are just barely holding it together.
Awful Son (Chris): 1-25. See above.
Señor Barber (Daniel): 1-10. While I really like Daniel and the nuance the writers have given his character, I worry about his safety. His asking Madison to watch over his daughter when he believed he was going with his wife to the hospital is some serious foreshadowing, and one more irrational young adult to have to watch over is just what Travis and Madison need in their lives. That said, he still doesn’t know that his wife is dead, and this could prove to be a source of conflict between Daniel and other characters, a story that hasn’t been told yet.
Señorita Barber (Ofelia): 3-2. She doesn’t really serve much of a purpose, and she doesn’t have much of a character so far. Additionally, it would serve as a crisis point for Daniel, the torturer, to lose the two good women in his life: his religious wife and his “innocent” daughter. On the other hand, it might be Ofelia who survives, and Daniel who dies, per my comments above. In any event, at least one member — if not both — of the Barber familia has to survive until next season.
Ex-Wife (Liza): 10-1. Of all the original major characters, Liza is in the most in danger for a number of reasons: 1. she’s in a vulnerable location at the medical facility, 2. she chose to be there over being with her child, and TV loves to punish “bad” mothers, 3. her loss would be a powerful game-changer for both Chris and Travis and their relationship in general. This is the biggest point: Chris already feels abandoned by his mother and is angry, and Travis needs to lose someone close to him for this new order to become real to him, and to move him further along on his journey towards becoming a leader. The one reason Liza might survive the finale is that she is the only one who — at this point in the story, at least — can inform Señor Barber that Señora Barber is dead.
Dr. Untrustworthy (Exner): 25-1. Aside from the fact that her death would be a symbolic one — the loss of someone with valuable medical skills would represent the fall of society in general — aside from that, she’s got it coming.
Who do you think won’t make it to season 2?
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on AMC.