As the first season of Fear the Walking Dead progresses, it inevitably moves further away from the “talking about the zombie apocalypse” stage and progresses into the “in the thick of the sh!tstorm of the zombie apocalypse” stage, where – let’s face it – most fans want the show to be. Last night’s episode, “The Dog,” took a major leap in that direction… so let’s talk all about it!
WARNING: What you’re about to read contains spoilers about this episode and possibly this season of Fear the Walking Dead. Proceed at your own risk/reward!
RECAP: We pick things up pretty much directly where left episode left us off: Travis, Chris, and Lisa are still trapped/safe inside the barber shop with the Salazars, but when looters break into the shop next door and set it on fire, the decision has been made for them: it’s time to go. The six leave the shop together, even though Daniel makes it clear that he prefers the two families to go “in opposite directions” once outside. The looting is so crazy, though, that they all end up taking what appears to be the only real safe-ish path; just as they are almost clear, though, Griselda gets slightly pinned underneath a falling construction gaffe, necessitating the sextet to stay together for at least a little longer. They conveniently find Travis’ truck untouched and ready for them to escape in, and they roll out just before the rioting gets super-dangerous. Whew!
Back at the Clark homestead, Madison tries to keep Alicia and Nick occupied by playing the one board game virtually guaranteed to rip families apart: Monopoly. It works for a while, but strange noises outside and the intermittent loss of power spells trouble hitting home: neighbors-turned-zombies are starting to zero in on the Clark residence. Nick remembers that a neighbor had a shotgun in their house, so the trio makes their way through a treacherous backyard hanging-garden maze to find the weapon. They are successful, but wouldn’t you know it, they see a zombie wander into their own home (stop leaving doors open when you leave, people!) moments before seeing Travis and crew arrive home, unaware of the danger now waiting inside.
Madison and the kids rush back home (and not long after, Alicia wanders back to the neighbors’ house to get the forgotten-but-extremely important box of shells) just in time to see Travis struggling with the undead fella – the zombie is a neighbor, and Travis seems reluctant to kill him. Fortunately for the group, Daniel has very few reservations: he takes the gun from Madison and blows the walker’s dead head right off. There’s another zombie out back! It’s the wife from the house with the shotgun, but she can’t break through the fence that separates the yards, and Travis convinces Madison not to kill her just yet, in case there might be a way to cure her. The Manawa-Clark-Ortiz contingency decides to finally leave town in the morning, but the Salazar’s (solely on the strength of Daniel’s decision-making) opt to stay at the house until a “cousin” can come pick them up.
Morning rolls around and the travelers roll out in two cars; they get about half a block down the street before Madison sees the zombie-wife’s husband arrive home, unaware of what’s waiting for him in the backyard. Madison decides she has to help him, but she’s a little late this time. The wife prepares to have her next meal when suddenly the cavalry arrives, literally: armed troopers shoot her and begin to secure the neighborhood. Feeling safer now (and possibly not being allowed to leave), the entire group stays at home, unsure of what their next move will be…
>>> Building on my note from the previous episode, we are now given another prominent shot of an airplane in mid-flight – and this one is clearly in distress. It appeared to be a Southwest flight; how important are those no-checked-bag-fees feeling to you now?
>>> I understand that tension in a show like this is bound to exist, but to me, the conflict between the two heads of household, Travis and Daniel, is feeling a little forced. Unless we’ve missed some cut scenes in the barbershop (or unless Daniel took sever offense to Travis’ line of “what are they gonna steal, combs?,” it seems like there’s no real reason for them to be at odds already. But I suppose stressful situations put people in tough positions…
>>>Is there a deeper back-story between Chris and Alicia that we haven’t been exposed to yet? When Chris went to help Alicia escape Susan, the wife-zombie, it seemed like he was legitimately trying to help, but he was rewarded with a “get off me!” and elbow to the face from Alicia. Hopefully time (and future episodes) will tell us more on this.
CLOSING THOUGHTS: With this first season being a “shortened” style, we now only have three episodes left before a finale (and probably cliffhanger) hits us. For all the show’s conceived shortcomings (too soap opera-esque, not enough zombie carnage, etc.), consider me hooked and waiting eagerly for the remainder of the season. In the first episode’s Observations, I noted that it might be odd having Nick, the drug addict, seemingly act as the “voice of reason” to the audience, what with us knowing so much that the characters don’t and all. This episode gave us a clearer “voice” in Daniel and his “fend for yourself and do what needs to be done” mentality. “Good people are the first ones to die,” he says; will this statement prove to be pessimistic or prophetic?
PRINCIPAL CAST FEATURED IN THIS EPISODE:
Cliff Curtis as Travis Manawa
Kim Dickens as Madison Clark
Frank Dillane as Nick Clark
Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark
Lorenzo James Henrie as Chris Manawa
Elizabeth Rodriquez as Lisa Ortiz
Mercedes Mason as Ofelia Salazar
Ruben Blades as Daniel Salazar
Patricia Reyes Spindola as Griselda Salazar