Fear the Walking Dead Recap Season One 9/13/2015 “The Dog”
It is close to impossible to refer to AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead without looking back on its predecessor The Walking Dead. It is almost a shame that it is so popular. Watching Fear the Walking Dead would probably be more entertaining if the first show hadn’t completely spoiled pop culture. The first two episodes have felt a rushed rehash of everything everyone already knows but with a boring family. The first two episodes could actually be skipped since the third is really where things start to divert in a very interesting way.
All shows starts with the characters and from the opening, Nick is really the only one who has any remnant of a connection to The Walking Dead. A character with real issues that are transferable and symbolic of a zombie apocalypse. He is also something that hadn’t really been done yet in the current show. But he is the only intriguing branch of the main family. His mother, sister, and step-father don’t feel special at all. The ethical dilemmas that made the first show great are not present here. We have yet to Fear the Walking Dead because the walking dead have not shown up enough to really scare people.
The Clark family functions like a normal family during a blackout. They play monopoly while they wait for Madison’s boyfriend Travis to return home from retrieving his son from a city in turmoil. It has yet to hit them that something is truly wrong. Only Nick, the drug addict going through withdrawal is the oracle prophesying everyone’s demise. And like Cassandra of the Fall of Troy, no one really believes or listens to him.
Coming from the vantage point of The Walking Dead – a world already in disarray – this could be a kind of origin story for Nick. He could be the future leader of his own camp. A former drug addict who had to learn responsibility and the ability to survive by protecting his family from walkers when he never had to consider anything of that matter before. (Rick, anyone?)
So far people are worse than the frightening walkers. Travis, his ex-wife, and son try are caught in the middle of a riot with a barber Salazar and his family who have reluctantly protected them in his shop. A common theme in this universe is the evil nature of hospitals. Salazar’s shop becomes compromised and they all must flee. Salazar’s wife’s foot is crushed and they have to find help for her. While hospitals are treated with discomfort in the modern era, they are also a breeding ground for walker activity as the first episode of The Walking Dead demonstrated. With no other place to go, Travis has to take his family as well as the Salazar’s to Madison’s house.
Somehow, Madison still thinks that keeping walkers a secret from her daughter Alicia is a good idea even though she saw a neighbor eating someone’s face. Is this because she is a fragile teen girl? We will never know. Nick decides they have to go next door to find the neighbor’s shot gun – and still they tell his sister nothing. How convenient that the next-door neighbors have a gun that they need to survive the apocalypse. It is perhaps difficult to orchestrate organic ways to teach suburbanites how to survive, especially when the first show did it so well. Nick’s role as an addict is the most organic. He knows where things are hidden and what secrets other people are hiding.
While the family is looking for a shotgun at the neighbors’, Travis returns home. Madison tries to run home to stop Travis from walking into the house with a walker in it. Even then it is disingenuous. Travis has already seen Nick run a walker over. Why is he attempting to convince one of them not to be sick?
Salazar kills the walker because everyone else is too stupid to realize a bloody groaning person trying to eat you is bad news. Alicia still needs to be saved and even then can’t understand what is wrong. It would be nice to see a female character that’s not hysterical or crying when it’s pretty obvious what’s going on.
In a modern world, this seems unrealistic. Young adults like Alicia and Chris – Travis’ son – would probably understand what was going on more than the parents. Instead it’s everyone asking everyone what’s going on. If everyone just listened to Nick they would not be in this situation.
Travis decides they will leave in the morning, even though Madison and Alicia want to leave immediately. Travis’ ex Liza is the other one who the show needs. She is the only one with medical knowledge and is the pragmatic one. It’s really mothers who run the world. Liza is smart enough to know the world is ending. Madison knows that she could end up a walker and would rather die.
Old man Salazar represents Guy Who Will Keep Us Alive With Guns. A necessary skill, but also a convenient plot device. Travis is such a self proclaimed humanitarian and so anti-gun it seems like he is not long for this world. If he goes the way of Ned Stark, that could be the best thing for this show. Game of Thrones introduced a patriarch who was the authority of the show only to rip the rug out from underneath everyone and kill him. It made the surrounding characters develop and rise to action. The matriarchs should take over. They have what it takes to continue on. And like Salazar says, Travis is weak.
Madison goes outside the next morning to her neighbor who had turned into a walker, knowing that she’s already dead. Travis is convinced that she is only sick and maybe there will be a cure. Madison makes a crucial mistake, leaving the woman alive. Travis, Madison, and the family attempt to leave in a caravan, leaving the Salazar family alone in their house. Before they can leave Madison has to stop the neighbor’s husband from getting near his dead wife. Right on time the military assassinates the woman and grabs Madison and her family, putting them in a presumed quarantine. Because everyone knows that once the military gets involved, everything goes back to normal.
“It’s going to get better now,” intones Travis. Cue laugh track. The beauty of dramatic irony is really what Fear the Walking Dead has going for it. The characters know very little about the little secrets they the audience has learned twice over from the first show.
Finally this show is getting somewhere. When Rick wakes up in The Walking Dead the military has already gone insane and gone on killing sprees. Fear the Walking Dead could actually answer some really interesting questions the audience has been harboring all this time. That’s where it can shine and progress from here.