Machines will fail. Society will fail! Sorry, I watched Deliverance this weekend. They’re probably smart not to try to flee by canoe.
Where are we: Travis, his ex-wife, and his son are sheltering from a riot in a barbershop with the proprietor and his wife and daughter. Madison and Nick and Alicia are at Madison’s house. Tobais is probably eating school pudding somewhere.
If people riot when they win a Stanley Cup, they’re rioting when the zombie apocalypse hits. Travis’ son is looking through the slits in the metal gate at the barber shop and sees a zombie staring back at him with blue eyes. Plot twist! The zombies are actually White Walkers.
There is a fire next door so they take off. Oh shit, a zombie police officer biting another police officer. So much for the riot gear. Or maybe the pre-zombie police officer was biting the zombie police officer. It’s not entirely clear.
Things are quieter on the home front, with Madison breaking out Monopoly. Seriously, civilization will end long before a game of Monopoly.
Back to the riot and it’s getting more Ferguson-y than Ferguson (back in my day we would have said Rodney King-y, more appropriate for LA). The barber’s wife gets her foot smashed by some scaffolding on the way out.
“I’m having a major case of déjà vu right now,” Alicia, on waiting for someone to come home. Along with his preference of Monopoly piece (the car), is that a hint about what happened to Nick and Alicia’s dad.
Travis and his barbershop quartet try to go to the hospital, but things are almost as bad there, and we get treated to police (or soldiers) unloading on a zombie woman in a gown. As they drive along the ridge we see the power go down in blocs across the city.
Back to the home front and they imply they finished the game of Monopoly. Bullshit. They hear a noise and they start shining their flashlight at the window because they’re morons. Someone is at the door! But it’s just a dog. He’s covered in blood so they let him in. Smart move—that’s the sort of dog that knows how to handle himself. He alerts on another door. There is a zombie outside so they take off, because they don’t know about the whole lack of motor skills thing. They’re headed to a neighbor’s to steal a gun. Nick sort of walks like a zombie, which may wind up costing him.
While they’re in their neighbors’ house, the zombie walks into their house through the door THAT THEY LEFT WIDE OPEN. I would suggest they were born in a barn, but even then they would know not to leave the barn door open. They’re content to let the dog pay for their foolishness, but a truck pulls up.
Travis and the barbershop quartet (sans actual barbers) just waltz right into the house. Luckily the zombie is still munching on dog (a BLACK DOG, if you’re wondering). It’s not a Vietnamese guy, so at least there’s that. Madison runs in with the shotgun, but it takes the barber to do the deed. The walkers in The Walking Dead go down from a stick to the head but this guy takes a slug to the face. One more and he’s down.
During all this Alicia ran back to the other house for something—shells, Monopoly pieces?—and finds an empty pill bottle and a dead woman. The pill bottles are a clue, but a clue to something we already know. When she leads her back to the main group someone says she’s sick but Nick drops the truth—she’s dead.
Back at the house, most the groups is all “we’ve seen horror movies, we should definitely leave in the dark,” but Travis quashes that. Travis’ ex-wife has some medical training, but not enough. She gives a great monologue on why she will die because she can’t get the medical attention she needs. Infection is a bitch—ask James Garfield. Oh, and now Travis is going to be traveling with his ex-wife and his new lover. Super awkward.
The barber wants to teach Travis’ son about the shotgun, but Travis is all “you know how I feel about guns.” The barber points out that the “gun doesn’t care how you feel about it.” Madison wants to take a hammer to their neighbor, but Travis stops her too. We can see where this is going.
The barber’s daughter argues they should go with Travis and Madison because they’re “good people,” but the barber retorts, “Good people are the first ones to die.” (Man, that guy gets all the best lines. I need to look up his name.) Plus, now they have Madison’s house all to themselves.
They’re leaving but Madison sees the neighbor’s husband arrive. She runs in, because he doesn’t have a shotgun now. He’s about to hug his wife and oh shit he’s gonna get bit—nope—military rolls in and shoots her in the head. Force seems a bit disproportionate for one zombie but like a whole platoon comes rolling in.
Back from the break and the military is taking a frigging census. Travis tells them 9 people live at the house and the military woman gets a bit snippy, like she’s on the HOA or something. The soldiers find the freshly dug grave in the back, but Madison says their dog died DO YOU PEOPLE HAVE NO SHAME. Nick limps around looking for something to steal and inexplicably doesn’t get shot.
Fear the Walking Dead…is a lot like The Walking Dead. Go figure. Like the original, it excels at creepy visuals and horror set pieces. Making sense and pacing? Not so much. The original has also been exceptional at premieres and finales. The pilot of Fear the Walking Dead was fine, but concerns me for that reason. I liked this episode a lot—inanity notwithstanding—but the military showing up at the end really took the air out of things. The episode ended with all the tension gone, despite the best efforts of the barber and the next episode previews.
The saving grace is that the characters are likeable, although Nick is quickly getting on my nerves and the way they’re setting up Travis it looks like he may get annoying as well.
The idea is supposed to be that we get to see how civilization falls, but that hasn’t been very compelling thus far. Without that, much of what we might learn we already know. They lean heavy in this episode on the horror of having to confront your friends and neighbors as zombies but the audience is inured to it after several seasons of the original. Horror elements won’t drive the show and neither the Fear the Walking Dead team nor The Walking Dead team has shown the ability to carry it as character-driven.