[rating=7.00] “The Dog”
One wouldn’t normally associate the word “subversive” with a standard zombie/survival drama, especially one that’s followed so closely in the footsteps of its parent series, but this week’s Fear The Walking Dead managed to do just that. It had followed all the necessary steps, and done them impressively well, but what was built up to be a moment all-at-once shocking and presumably iconic, suddenly wasn’t. More surprisingly, it paid off substantially.
With the cold open dividing the time between Travis and company, still trapped in the back of the barber shop, to Madison, Alicia, and Gilbert Grape riding out the chaos over a game of Monopoly. As the riots escalates, they feel the walls get hotter, forcing them out of their safehold. Daniel demands passage with Travis as a way of thanking him for the shelter, and while a perfectly reasonable request upon itself (there is a riot going on, after all), we learn later he feels that it’s “not the time to be in anyone’s debt.”
In giving us a valid reason for the character’s to flee their shelter, and throwing in a token fall wounding his wife, Griselda, we get the token moment where logic flies out the window and they make it back to Chris’s truck, unharmed hours later. After trying their first hospital, now the scene of a violent standoff, Daniel explains that “every hospital will be like this now.”
While nowhere near as specific as Tobias, Daniel becomes the default character with an idea as to what’s happening, and is willing to impart some basic gun knowledge onto Travis’ son, Chris, which causes a fight between Travis and Madison, which we can all hope this doesn’t turn into a discussion over morality and weapons that draws out over several episodes like The Walking Dead did with much of its derided sophomore season.
Of course, to foil Daniel’s sense of awareness we get Travis, who gets attacked by one flesh-eating neighbor (and saved by Daniel in a scene as gruesome as anything I’ve ever seen on basic cable), but argues against Madison taking a hammer to their other neighbor, Cici, who’s turned, but confined to her yard and yet to cause any real havoc, moment Daniel watches from the window, calling their sympathy “weak.” It’s also with this that the show does something genuinely unexpected.
As their cars are packed and ready for them to ride this out “in the desert,” they see Cici’s husband, Jim, come home, from a trip that apparently involved no accidental mention of the riots, the power outages, the people-turned-cannibalistic monsters, and goes to embrace his wife. It’s the kind of slow-motion scene meant to milk the one angle the show still has on its predecessor, the notion that these are friends and neighbors amidst a firestorm of terror at the dawn of the world’s end.
Suddenly, a shot rings out, and armed members of the military convene from all corners of the screen. With the heartfelt emotion of a man seeing his ALREADY undead wife shot in the head pushed aside, were as Travis puts it “the cavalry’s arrived,” and once again a sense of order is there to back up the notion of putting your trash bins on the curb the same day every week.
It’s completely unexpected, an abruptly placed false sense of security that’s effective enough I wanted to breath a sigh of relief along with the rest of them, save maybe the commercial airliner that teases the tie-in to an upcoming webseries short. Of course, as the military marks the houses, akin to any post-disaster scenario, we have Daniel there to foreshadow what we already know, that it’s already too late.