Sunday, September 13, 2015

Geeky TV commentary - Fear the Walking Dead 1.3

Fear the Walking Dead airs at 9pm on Sunday nights on AMC.

Finally something is happening that actually moves the story!

Travis and co are in the babershop for all of, like, five minutes (though they mention at least two hours that they've been trying to wait out the rioting and hoping for the authorities to do something), and the shop nextdoor gets broken into and set on fire. They have to flee, and the whole "when we leave, we go separate directions" line that Daniel said all of a minute before they actually had to goes right out the window.

They dodge through the crazy crowds, where sometimes people are eating each other and the cops are doing almost nothing despite the riot gear. As always, riots are all chaos and destruction, and in this case, do almost no good and actually a lot of bad, since they're not getting supplies or rescuing people, they're just trashing their own neighborhood and making it easy for the zombies to get dinner.

Hopefully, Travis learned a lesson about the need to park closer. And then when they're almost out from under scaffolding in their way, the cops start hosing down the crowd, which knocks down the scaffold, which knocks down Griselda, and her foot gets crushed. It looked like someone stepped on her on the way down, too, so maybe she'll wind up being like the first lady on Independence Day and get got by the internal bleeding; we'll have to see how that goes.

So everyone gets into the pickup and heads to the hospital where the cops are shooting and shooting and shooting and there's no help to be had. They go back to Travis's house.

Meanwhile, Maddie and the kids have been trying to pretend it's normal--until their neighbor Peter eats their dog. They then break into another neighbor's house to get a gun Nick knows they have, and manage to leave the shells behind when Travis shows up and walks in on the zom; Maddie goes to warn Travis while Alicia goes back to get the shells and discovers that their neighbor Susan is turned and trying to get them.

Travis still wants to help people and it gets him nearly bit, until Daniel the mysteriously hard-edged barber takes Peter out with a shotgun shell to the face--which doesn't stop him, so then he tries again point-blank. Mess everywhere. Daniel wants to stay till morning, when his "cousin" will come get him, and Maddie wants to leave now, and they eventually settle on everyone waiting until morning because the grid is down and they don't know what's out there.

In the morning, they're all ready to go and leave the Salazars there, and then Maddie sees Patrick, the husband of their zombie neighbor Susan, and tries to save him--and he's the most heartbreaking one so far in three episodes of this show. He's so happy to be home, and then he sees his wife all dirty and crazy and looks so crushed, and he goes to hug her and she goes to eat him, and then the soldiers arrive and snipe her before she can get him and all he knows is that she's been shot.

Seriously, it was traumatizing.

So now they think everything's gonna be alright because it's daytime and there's soldiers and hummers and we all know that there's three more episodes and then a second season--and also that this is only the beginning of the End of the World, and their moment of hope is mostly just a mix of "um no" and "oh honey".

This was a much better episode than the others, finally! I still think it took too long to get here, where stuff happens that actually involves making plans and talking to each other and trying to make sense of things, but if the rest of the season is more like this and less like the slow beginning, we'll be okay.

There was also some really nice artistic sections here, which is great, because those scenes where the sound goes down and the movements slow give us a chance to process what we're seeing, and then it has much more impact. In this case, it was going past the hospital, which should be a safe place, and seeing what looked like Nick's old-man room mate lurching through the parking lot and taking rounds from at least six cops who apparently haven't talked to their comrades from last ep who knew to aim for the head. We also got to pause and listen to the radio without pausing the action, and learned that the National Guard has been called in and the area has declared a state of emergency, and that things are bad in more places than just here.

Probably the best character this episode was Daniel. He seems to know something about things like this--I wouldn't be surprised if he turns out to have dealt with an outbreak back wherever he's from, but that's probably unlikely. It feels like he's being set up to be a retired hitman or something, and he doesn't want to get involved with things or to owe people because of whatever made him retire, but that he'll be invaluable to them when he does join up. It also seems that Griselda knows what's going on with him, and was maybe part of it (is that why she's so devout and penitent?), but that their daughter Ofelia doesn't know any of it.

Other things about this episode:

  • Nick is once again the only voice of actual reason; he understands that they aren't their neighbors anymore AND that they're actually somehow animated dead people.
  • Alicia wins points by going back for the shotgun shells when they need them and without being told, but then sort of loses them by being hysterical about her boyfriend--though, to be fair, literally no one told her what was going on even in a vague sense, and that's really unfair to her.
  • Chris seems to have a crush on his step sister to go with the huge chip on his shoulder.
  • The collapsed and bloody bouncy castle says so much more than all the screaming they've been doing about what's going on.
  • The lights going out transformer by transformer as they drive along the highway on the way home was very well done--little by little, the world just disappears around them. Symbolism!
  • Maddie gave most of the drugs she stole for Nick's come-down to Griselda for her smashed leg; how long before a) Nick does something crazy or gets sick again, or b) they have to amputate Griselda's leg to save the rest of her from gangrene-induced zombieness? 
    • (the answer to a) is not long, since he almost immediately goes to break into a different neighbor's house, except a little girl sees him and he backs down)
  • The zombie ATE THE DOG. How could he? How could they leave him there? Dogs are invaluable resources in the apocalypse! These guys are so bad at apocalypses, and they haven't yet thought to go find Tobias, who isn't entirely crap at them.
  • Maddie might wind up being the one to watch out for. She went with a hammer to take care of Susan, and it looked like she actually would have done it if it weren't for Travis being too kind-hearted for the apocalypse and talking her out of it on the off-chance that it might be cured. Which led directly to that heart-wrenching scene with Patrick, so he really should have let her do it.
  • There's also a hint of comradery, hopefully, between the ex and the girlfriend when the ex said that they need to stick together for the kids, and Maddie said if she turns, not to let Travis take her out.
All in all, it felt like the characters were settling into themselves and the plot was actually happening instead of just setting up. Which was a relief. This marks the half-way point of this short season, and it would have been criminal to spend the whole six episodes only setting things up, when that was so frustratingly punch-pulling. The pace was much smoother, the visual storytelling was more artistic and creative, and the sense that they were shorthanding things was much much less than it was before. Plus, everyone is starting to feel like more rounded, human people--though it's still concerning how little the main family communicates, especially since the Salazars are communicating just fine, so we know the writers know how to do it. If they make it a point that they don't think things out much and don't ever talk to each other about them, it'll be okay; if it's never a point, it's going to keep being annoying.

What did you guys think about this week's episode? Questions, comments, small cash gifts here, or come talk to me on Twitter!

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