Fear the Walking Dead: Not Fade Away

"Just a perfect day."

A lot of Walking Dead fans love the zombie action and gore. I pretty much just tolerate it. I'm into The Walking Dead because I'm fascinated by apocalyptic drama, by how good characters react to an extreme end of the world situation. It's interesting that that seems to be the focus of our spinoff. This episode was all about the growing and completely justified paranoia of our characters. There wasn't a single exploding head.

On The Walking Dead, a strong fence is the best thing ever. On Fear, a strong fence represents helplessness and loss of control. The Army is keeping pockets of Los Angeles confined and in ignorance of what's going on with the rest of the world. There are no phones, no media. There is electricity for only a short time during the day, like a Third World war zone. And now, it appears that They're Taking People Away and maybe even shooting them. Daniel told Madison about an incident from his childhood where men were taken away, and Daniel's father told Daniel that the men would come back. But Daniel's father was a fool because the men were found dead in the river. Travis is the fool in this scenario.

Although I give Travis credit for trying to help his community, for attempting to think positive and keep his family's spirits up, I didn't think much of the way he kept dismissing every other opinion but his own. Maybe that is about to change. At the beginning of the episode, budding filmmaker Chris was perched on a roof seeing someone signaling for help in the DZ. In the end, Travis was perched on the roof watching machine gun fire.

But I found it infuriating that Maddie was doing all the work associated with having three families living in her house, while Travis was playing at being the unofficial mayor of their "safe zone". Maddie kept repainting the family room because she couldn't unsee the blood stains, a little obvious symbolism for trying to make things right and not succeeding. Chafing at the restrictions and the lack of news from the outside world, Maddie went through the fence and checked out the DZ for herself. She found an endless memorial wall and what looked like healthy, uninfected people shot dead by the Army. Is that what happened to poor Doug?

Like Travis, Nick started the episode with rose-colored glasses, although for Nick, it was because he was jacking poor Hector's morphine. By the end of the episode, obviously, things had changed. Nick lost his morphine source. Madison lost her temper and actually hit him. And of course, Nick was handcuffed and taken away who knows where. When the Army came to take Griselda and Nick, it was chilling because the message we got from Daniel's story was that Griselda and Nick might not come back. Will Griselda get care, or will they decide she isn't worth the medical expense? Will Nick end up in a cozy hospital bed with a methadone drip (does methadone drip?) or will he be imprisoned or killed? Wouldn't that be unexpected and interesting if they killed off Nick at this point?

Maybe not, though, because Liza, who to her credit has been doing some unofficial nursing in the neighborhood, went with Dr. Exner, who as a character is a walking question mark. Is Dr. Exner genuinely trying to help people, or is she enabling the Army in carrying out a reign of terror? Dr. Exner might be our entry into what the government and the Army are actually doing behind the scenes. I'm thinking about what Rick Grimes found in the hospital when he woke up, although it's too early for it to be that bad yet.

I've talked before about how Los Angeles is a character in this series, and I thought that aspect was particularly strong in this episode. The dirty swimming pool that Nick was floating in. (Swimming pools, movie stars.) The pretty wind chimes and the barbed wire. Chris sitting on the roof in the bright sunshine, watching the city around him die. The cinematography on this show has been excellent; I thought the scene where the Army came to take away Nick and Griselda contrasted with the family panicking by candlelight was particularly strong.

Just one more thing. I liked Alicia a lot more this time. I liked the way she yelled at Maddie and Travis, and the way she tried to comfort Nick. She's not being stupid, trying to get through the fence to find Matt. She knows he's gone, and she's relating to his almost certain death by reading Susan's last letter to her husband, and crying. And the do-it-yourself tattoo. Alicia just made Matt's last gift to her a painfully permanent one, and I liked her for it.

Bits:

-- The episode title "Not Fade Away" is also the title of the excellent and infuriating series finale of Angel.

-- With her house full, Maddie kept retreating to her car in the garage. Immobile, because no one inside the fence is permitted to drive. A little obvious symbolism. We also learned that Travis is a car guy, but without a car.

-- In the DZ, Maddie reacted strongly to the smell of death. We haven't seen characters on The Walking Dead do that for a long time.

-- There's been so little of Ofelia so far that I honestly couldn't think of who she was at first. She was tough though, using the romantic interest of a soldier to try to get medicine for her mother.

-- But if Griselda has gone this long with a crushed foot and no antibiotics, why isn't she dead already?

-- There are quarantine camps near Barstow. The Clark/Manawa/Salazar families are in one of the twelve safe zones south of the San Gabriel mountains. Unless that was a lie, too.

-- Moyers was practicing his golf swing. That reminded me of something. Was there a character in a movie that did that? Or am I just thinking of M*A*S*H? [The Governor! Of course.]

-- It's been nine days since the lights went out and the fence went up, and Nick still hasn't combed his hair.

Quotes:

Alicia: "It's not normal. Stop it. Stop acting like it is."

Moyers: "So relax, count your blessings. Be nice. So I don't have to shoot you."
He was grinning, but he so meant it.

Dr. Exner: "When's the last time you used?"
Nick: "I don't know. When did the world end? Couple of days before that?"

I kept thinking about this episode last night when I went to bed. This show has real potential. It's a shame the ratings are getting lower every week,

Billie
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Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.

5 comments:

Tricia R said...

I'm loving the show more and more each week :) I also love reading your reviews each week
The golf reminded me of the governor's episodes where he kills the guy in charge of his new group.

Billie Doux said...

That's it, Tricia R! The Governor! I guess that means Moyers is definitely evil. :)

Jess Lynde said...

And I like it less and less each week, but I do enjoy reading the reviews and comments. :) I really like seeing how the spinoff looks from Billie’s more positive perspective, particularly knowing we both come to it as big fans of the original (and not as zombie gore lovers). The one just doesn't click for me the same way.

This episode made me think of the novel World War Z. It’s been awhile since I read the book, but I seem to recall multiple parts dealing with government plans that required sacrificing and destroying certain areas to protect the more limited number of quarantine zones, because that was their best option to try to contain the disaster spread. It got into the effects on the people who created those plans and those that had to execute the orders, and I found it really fascinating and affecting. Unfortunately, this show dancing at the edges of that material once again just made me think how much more interesting the whole thing could be if we were seeing it from the other side. Are these military guys really evil jerks, or are they actually implementing "necessary evil" plans to try to save the people they can? The golf guy wasn't necessarily wrong about needing to maintain order in the quarantine zones and the danger of having the loose cannon neighbor in the mix.

I was relieved to see Nick and Liza leaving the neighborhood, because I’m hoping now we will get a chance to see the point of view from the other side. Probably just wishful thinking. :)

Anonymous said...

These characters are so damn unlikeable and I really don't care about them yet. It's good thing that the season is only 6 episodes long.

And why is Nick still wearing the grandpa clothes? He's basically still living with his mom and he didn't move to the chuch, so what's the reason? Or am I wrong here?

Docnaz said...

Tricia, I like it more and more too. Seeing Maddie beat Nick was very disturbing. However, probably very realistic. Domestic abuse can be perpetrated by overwhelmed parents, and Nick's addiction makes him very unappealing, but it is still bad. Maddie's last memory of Nick will be of hitting him. Of course we don't know if she has done that before, but the shame of losing it and hitting someone a person loves is as bad as the shame addicts feel over the things they do to their family. Whereas, in TWD, the only person who abused anyone around them was show as evil, here we see it can affect any family.