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Fear the Walking Dead: So Close, Yet So Far

"It's like no one is paying attention. It's like it's not real."

Tobias, the pimply fount of all apocalyptic wisdom, told Maddie, "When civilization ends, it ends fast." He wasn't kidding. Suddenly, walkers are freaking everywhere. And these are fast, strong, fresh ass walkers that look a lot like people, only maybe a little funny around the eyes. And then they bite you.

One of the reasons I thought FtWD might be a good spinoff is the setting. Unless you've lived in Los Angeles, it's hard to convey how huge, overpopulated and compressed it is, and how hopelessly gridlocked the traffic can be. So far, so good. Or more accurately, bad. I got claustrophobic just watching the episode.

What I didn't understand was why Maddie didn't tell Alicia what was going on. Yes, it's hard to believe until you see it with your own eyes, but Alicia nearly ran out of the house to go nurse her soon-to-be-a-walker boyfriend with his 103 temperature. Did Nick fake that seizure to keep her in the house? If he had the presence of mind to do that while writhing in pain from withdrawal, good on him. (Some nice obvious symbolism: Los Angeles itself is in withdrawal, too.)

I was glad that they brought the clever Tobias back, and glad again that Maddie saved him from getting eaten by the principal. (There was a little flash in the pilot episode that Artie was going to turn, and voila.) I also liked that Maddie went right for the drugs in the lock-up. No hangups about law and order. She's already internalized that the rules have changed.

One thing about this show that's really bothering me, though, is that we the audience know what's going on and the characters don't. You want to yell at them to stop and take all that food from the cafeteria, to lay in a huge supply of water, to find someplace up high and board it up, and do it now while the walkers are busy eating Mrs. Cruz next door. Instead, Travis and his ex-wife and son are stuck in a barber shop with Ruben Blades and his family while the rioting rages on outside, and Maddie is refusing to listen to Travis when she should be putting her son and daughter in the car and taking off for the desert. The thing is, if Maddie leaves town without Travis and the power grid goes down permanently, they'll never see each other again. But at least they'd be out of L.A.

(Then again, gridlock. Maybe it's too late to get out of town already.)

It's interesting that the cops know what's going on. That makes sense, actually. But why isn't anyone telling the people? Maybe the government powers that be know that there is no point, that the disease is spreading too fast to make evacuating Los Angeles worth while. The protest over the cops shooting the homeless guy was most certainly topical; of course, the protesters have no idea that the homeless guy was trying to eat the cops.


-- The episode began with a very symbolic sundown and obvious foreshadowing of an empty high school.

-- The blood stain on the front of the truck looked like a heart. I mean a human heart, not a stylized heart. Travis was smart and washed it off.

-- The bright kid's castle thingy next door looked weird. You're not supposed to have kid's birthday parties when the world is ending.

-- Alicia was so close to Matt. Won't she catch it? How do people catch it? Not everyone is getting bitten. Hey, that's okay. I find the disease logic confusing, anyway.

-- The shot of the kids with masks over their noses and mouths was creepy. Or it would have been if we hadn't seen it a dozen times in the previews.

-- Maddie was washing Artie's blood off her jacket (or was it Calvin's blood off Nick's jacket?) and I was thinking, don't bother, Maddie. Pretty soon you'll be walking around with blood all over you most of the time.

-- It's two weeks until the next episode. Next weekend is a holiday weekend in the United States.


Announcer: "This is a catastrophe of biblical proportions! We are losing the best pocket passer in the league!"

Tobias: "Can I have my knife back?"
Wow, Tobias. There are no other knives in Los Angeles? You have to break into the high school to get yours? Okay, canned food, but still.

Tobias: "Cafeteria food's designed to survive a nuclear strike."
He has a point there.

Like the pilot, I thought this was a good episode. I'm still feeling some distance, though. What did you guys think?

Billie Doux loves science fiction but hates horror, and is confused about why she loves The Walking Dead so much.


  1. Have you noticed how Nick and Travis look like brothers? actually am not sure I could tell them apart.
    Nit picking: Heroin withdrawal is not pleasant, but not fatal and does not cause seizures. Benzodiazepine and alcohol withdrawal can cause seizures and can be fatal. Would it hurt to get the medicine angle correct? He could have been addicted to Valium or Xanax as well as heroin.
    The son Chris chanting "Hell no, we won't go!" reminds me of my teen who protested in Dallas and was part of the group who shut down the freeway for a Black Lives Matters march. I can really understand the frustration of a parent wanting to keep their child safe in this situation.

  2. > “Alicia was so close to Matt. Won't she catch it? How do people catch it? Not everyone is getting bitten. Hey, that's okay. I find the disease logic confusing, anyway.”
    The rule of infection in Walking Dead is simply that everyone is already infected for some unknown reason, so there's nothing more to catch for the most part. After you die, as long as your head remains intact, you first stay dead for a varying amount of time, then your dead body suddenly reanimates.
    A zombie bite causes high fever, delusional hallucinations and death in short order, but is otherwise harmless for any bystander.

    > “The thing is, if Maddy leaves town without Travis and the power grid goes down permanently, they'll never see each other again.”
    That does not seem to work like real life in the main series. You can get separated and wander alone for quite a few episodes, but the invisible force of television eventually makes everyone meet up yet again, no matter how far or unexpected a place they ended up going. So they shouldn't be worried about separating, as long as they are aware they are on a TV show. :)

    I'm quite enjoying Fear so far. My main wish really is to just continue on with the story already; that two weeks of waiting is unfortunate.
    Oh, you do want to scream at the characters to just share anything and everything they've learned, tell everyone else, let the whole world know. But that's also one of these basic television / movie tropes. As long as they don't start unexpectedly behaving entirely stupid, I can put up with some keeping of secrets. To be honest, in this case it's quite understandable they wouldn't want to openly discuss killing people, not even among themselves who were present for the deed.

  3. I liked this one more than the pilot. I got bored during the pilot, because as a Walking Dead veteran I was too impatient with the slow start, but this one was significantly better. The SHTF atmosphere was realistic and very, very creepy. I'm not attached to any of the characters yet, but I think that the actor who plays Nick is very good (though he didn't have much to do in this episode), and I also really like Tobias. Can we see him again, please? Preferably alive?

  4. I liked this one a bit less than the pilot. I feel like the deterioration of overall society --- the part I’m most interested in --- is a little too much in the background, while the focus is on the people slowly learning the rules we already know, as you note, Billie. Which is more frustrating, than entertaining. Hearing Tobias explain how it is all going to go break down, while watching Maddie keep secrets from her daughter and Travis and his family huddle with Rueben Blades and his family, isn’t cutting it for me. It’s veering far too close to well-trod territory, just with different people.

    I’m a little confused about the disease logic, too. Matt’s fever was obviously caused by the bite, but if the sweeping flu bug everyone’s noticing and talking about was only caused by bites from the undead, you’d think that would be a little hard to keep out of the media. They are making it seem like there are flu symptoms are transmitting and killing people without bites. Was there just a coincidental H1N1-type infection at the same time the zombie virus was released and infected everyone? If they ultimately don’t want to explain it (and they probably don't), fine, but I wish they would stop making it more confusing in the process!

  5. Or maybe it isn’t a coincidental infection, but just part of the same virus. Everyone gets infected with the “you turn when you die” virus, but in some people (large numbers of people, possibly) it also causes the flu-like symptoms. So the flu outbreak we’re hearing about is the zombie virus outbreak, and everyone gets it through airborne transmission. It just lies dormant in some people until you get bit or die another way. (Why am I still thinking about this? Curse you, TWD!)

  6. Docnaz, you're kidding about Travis and Nick looking like brothers, aren't you? :)

    Jenna, I want Tobias back, too. But he feels like a character that is going to get eaten, so I'm trying not to get attached.

    The invisible force of television. LOL. What about people who are just getting the zombie flu without getting bitten, though?

    And Jess, yes, I want it to make sense, too. It drives me nuts when TWD characters get walker blood and gore all over themselves but don't turn unless they die or get bitten. Maybe I'm just having trouble getting my head around it.

  7. i hope they adopt tobias as part of their extended family & he tries to help but they don't listen to him. schools as a source of food was pretty smart. i don't like how people are becoming zombies without being bitten, that took awhile to happen on TWD. the drug addict & the ex-wide, the brat daughter, the protester-son are all annoying, they need to make some of these characters likable & fast.

  8. Billie, I was not kidding, just demented. I meant Nick and Chris look alike ( Madison's son and Travis's son). I guess all these young sounding names blur together for an old geezer like me:)


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