Fear the Walking Dead: “Things Bad Begun” / “Sleigh Ride” (S3, E13 & E14 review)

It’s very much a case of a Punch and Judy show-esque “Behind you! Behind you!” with all the nasty and brutality that entails (photo by Richard Foreman Jr/ AMC)

 

  • SPOILERS AHEAD … AND A GREAT BIG HELPING OF PARADISE LOST …

Being a doublebanger finale, “Things Bad Begun” / “Sleigh Ride” was always going to be an epic, grand, monstrously big, finish to the exceptionally robust and compelling storytelling of Fear the Walking Dead.

And so it proved, but oh the narrative riches contained within.

For a start, the writers didn’t resort solely to staging a great big bombastic battle for the dam.

Sure that happened with the Proctors, led by the calmly menacing Proctor John (Ray McKinnon) who adopted Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) as his private nurse and good luck charm – she talked him through an anesthesia-free operation to remove a spinal tumour during which John seemed also homespun nice – storming the dam, using the tunnels of water by, yep you guessed it, Victor.

He somehow managed to turn an entirely selfish act into a noble one, from his perspective anyway, arguing that betraying everyone including Madison (Kim Clark), Nick (Frank Dillane), Daniel (Rubén Blades) and dear sweet Lola (Lisandra Tena) to get himself a position of power was exactly the sort of thing that self-sacrificing people do all the time.

Only it wasn’t – Victor knew it, everyone else knew it and when it emerged that Victor hadn’t quite delivered on his promises because Nick and Troy (Daniel Sharman) had warned everyone the bad guys were coming – guess what? Troy regretted nothing; the hordes, the deaths, the motivating racism, none of it and Madison, um, killed him for his unrepentant troubles – John knew it and it was only because of some dramatic last minute sacrificing by Nick (who actually knows what the word means) that Victor managed to somehow, once again, get away with it.

Frankly he didn’t deserve to but then you had a hard time finding anyone who really deserved to get out of the whole mess alive, besides Lola and Alicia who at least has decided what matters to her and followed through on it.

The double-ep finale was a settling of accounts but oddly enough not everyone paid the price you might have expected.

 

Frenemies together again and once Victor has, surprise surprise an angle he’s working (photo by Richard Foreman Jr/ AMC)

 

Take Daniel, for example.

After interrogating Nick and getting him to admit, indirectly at least, that Troy is, or rather was, a horde-shepherding, racist douchebag, and staring down Victor only to have a bullet almost rip his face off when Mr Self-Sacrificial tried to be embellish his Proctors-aspirational badassery, Daniel found himself at the bottom of a concrete tunnel, bleeding profusely and seeming ready to finally pay for his sins (a phrase he has repeatedly used through the show).

But just when you thought he was down and out, he rose to the occasion once again, dispatching a few well-armed Proctors like it was nothing, shooting a few more of them atop the dam and rescuing Nick after he’d set off the C4 and demolished the dam.

Or did he rescue Nick? Like all good season-ending cliffhangers, the fate of Daniel, Nick, Victor and Alicia hangs in the balance – the first two possibly crusged by rubble; the latter two lost in the rubble-filled wild water swirl of the dam explosion, with only Madison washing up in the town below – but at least Daniel tried to do the right thing, which is a damn sight more than Victor, who claims no sinning at all of any kind, has managed.

The thing is, it speaks to the sophistication of the writing for Fear the Walking Dead that they don’t necessarily need to kill people off to make a narrative statement. Sprinkled through these two episodes were some intense one-on-ones between people like Madison and Victor, and Daniel and Nick with all of them revealing something about the torment or longing all of the characters are harbouring in the midst of the apocalypse.

That’s always been the great strength of the show, its ability to make a point without cheap death stunts or endless recourse to zombie moments; it’s used them yes but not as a be-all and end-all, something its parent show The Walking Dead could learn a great deal from.

Of course, half the main cast could be dead, crushed under rubble or drowned but I suspect they’re not, since they don’t need to die for us to understand that the apolcaypse has changed things, ruined things, elevated some things, downgraded manty others. It’s there in every anguished conversation, every glance; in fact, it’s suffused throughout the show in such a nuanced, evocative way and so immediately obvious, that you don’t need the show to resort to cheap, nasty stunts that make an impression sure but add little to the overall narrative or emotional impact of the storytelling.

These two episodes were brilliantly well-written, beautifully calibrated, giving us the requisite cliffhanger and action but with the kind of inspired imagination that has elevated Fear the Walking Dead well beyond any kind of simplistic comic book adaptation.

 

Ever since the apocalypse hit, Madison has seen a lot more of her son than ever before; the locations for their catch-ups, however, left a great deal to be desired (photo by Richard Foreman Jr/ AMC)

 

Where Fear the Walking Dead really excelled this time around, adding a beguiling and poetically sense of the fantastical to the show, was Madison’s dream sequence, which was threaded throughout “Sleigh Ride” – and yes the song was part of the soundtrack, as was Peggy Lee’s “The Christmas Spell” – and featured her preparing a perfect turkey Christmas dinnwer with all trimmings and decorations, to which she’d invited Troy, Victor (armed with presents), Daniel, Taqa (Michael Greyeyes), Jeremiah (Dayton Callie) and another Rancher or two.

In other words, a gallery of the dead, many of them reduced to that state at her hand, directly or indirectly, a picture postcard-Christmas by Currier and Ives death scene that was given full import by its dissolution, once she swept out onto the windswept prairie grasslands, into an unending field of gravestones.

The message was hope and loss, life and death, existing side-by-side, cheek by jowl, pointing to the imperfect, messy way that life deals with things, even in the apocalypse, and how even in dire times, there’s a part of you that hangs onto the hope that maybe, just maybe, things can get better.

You know deep down that’s probably not going to happen, with death more likely that boughs of fairy lit holly these days, but Madison’s vision/dream/alternate twist on the present, all experienced most likely while she floated down in the damn explosion’s trubulent afterwash, point to the power of hope but also of recrimination and guilt, and as the appearance of Travis (Curtis Manawa), who almost lifts Madison out of the water (in her mind, at least), of overwhelming loss.

It was powerful, deeply creative, clever television that said a great deal in a way that its parent show has never really managed as effectively; as much poetry as bleak reality, Madison’s twisted perfect Christmas dream was a beautiful though confronting thing, the centrepiece of two riveting episodes of television that neatly summed up a season when imperfect people struggled not so much with the undead, although there were plenty of them, but with the existential demands of a world gone mad where none of the old rules apply but all the people who once subscribed to them still, rather traumatically, remain.

  • And that, my friends, is that for season 3, with Fear the Walking Dead renewed for a fourth season, and The Walking Dead season 8 (“All Negan, All the Time”) due to premiere 22 October USA and 23 October Australia …

Fear the Walking Dead: “This Land is Your Land” / “El Matadero” (S3, E13 & E14 review)

Behold I have become the destroyer of worlds … it’s highly unlikely that Troy, now an official mass murderer, would be so poetic though he did attempt it to bullshit away the full effect of Jake’s death (photo by Richard Foreman Jr/AMC)

 

  • SPOILERS AHEAD … AND WAY MORE HUMANITY (AND WAY LESS OXYGEN) THAN YOUR AVERAGE PIECE OF APOCALYPTIC STORYTELLING …

The thing that has been most compelling about Fear the Walking Dead from the word go has been its willingness to wear its humanity on its sleeve.

While its parent program The Walking Dead often showed bad things happening, and yes, showing how badly it affects the people involved, it has never really shown the full existential drip feed of life in the apocalypse to the extent that its progeny has.

Fear the Walking Dead rarely show people getting their apocalypse on without considerable moral repercussions nor are its bad guys or girls ever as one note; lordy, even Troy (Daniel Sharman), head cheerleader of the zombie horde cleansing movement, has some weirdly redeeming qualities (not many mind you but they are there, you know, somewhere).

The brilliantly-etched humanity of the show was on immensely evocative display in these two episodes, with every character facing up to an titanically epic event – the overunning of the Ranch by Troy’s shepherded horde and the imprisoning of the survivors, bitten or otherwise, in an airless bunker – in ways that spoke of the toll its taking on them.

Sure, they did what needed to be done and did it, for the most part, impressively well, but there was always an undercurrent of frailty, of moral loss, a slow, crippling ebbing of what it means to be human and it made the storytelling all the richer.

Take Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) as prime example #1.

Trapped in the larder with all the survivors of the Ranch, it quickly dawned on Madison’s “least favourite child”, Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) and Lee aka Mad Dog (Justin Rain) that there wouldn’t be enough air to keep them alive beyond the two hour marker, what with the block air shaft showing a determined reluctance to do its job. (You had one job! ONE JOB.)

Kinda of a big deal when you’d like to live for as long past that time period as possible, and when failure to do so, at least by your bunker companions, means that you’ll be trapped in a room below ground with newly-minted zombies.

Yeah, not exactly an optimum survivability scenario is it?

 

Long live Alicia, new temporary leader of the many ranchers who survived the zombie horde’s arrival and … oh, never mind … (photo by Richard Foreman Jr/AMC)

 

Realising how high the stakes were and with Ofelia and Lee off to find out why the air wasn’t flowing, Alicia stepped up, despite significant reluctance to take centre stage, painfully and with a real sense of the anguish it was causing her, moving to cull the numbers in the bunker by despatching, with real grace and sadness, the dead people walking aka those bitten by zombies in their midst.

Granted, it involved massively big doses of morphine to everyone affected, which means their deaths were as humane as possible under the circumstances, and the unstinting moral support of Christine (Linda Gehringer), who sadly didn’t survive the asphyxiation ordeal, but the whole process, necessary though it was, took its toll and you could see the agony written all over Alicia’s face.

She knew it had to be done, and she was brave enough to do it, but it sucked away a little bit more of her humanity, and convinced her that there was no safe place left in the world, that Madison’s quest to circle the wagons and fend off the bad guys was a fool’s errand that could never be satisfactorily completed.

This led her to strike out on her own, battered by the loss of Jake (Sam Underwood), in the hope she could find the idyll he spoke of, find some peace, and maybe retake some of her humanity back in the process.

Her willingness to do what needed to be done while still remembering she was a person contrasted powerfully with Nick (Frank Dillane) who, god bless him and his aspirations to completely shoot hole’s in his status as Madison’s favoured child, ineffectually handled Troy’s horrifically bloodthirsty acts and to add insult to injury, went on a drug and alcohol fuelled bender at the trading post.

Yep, pick the exact last thing you should do after you’ve covered for the guy who killed almost everyone at the Ranch and Nick went ahead and did it!

He even decided that he and Troy were the bad black sheep of the piece, as Troy had alleged, and that he might as well live up to that; yeah, not the brightest thing he’s ever done and proof that humanity is a gift well served in some (I’m looking at you Alicia!) and poorly entrusted to others (Nick you freaking idiot).

 

Not quite the reunion Daniel had in mind and way more portentous than he meant it to be (photo by Richard Foreman Jr/AMC)

 

The other great and powerful moment of raw, palpable humanity came when Madison (Kim Clarke), who played the part of the cavalry with Victor (Colman Domingo), Ofelia, Lee and the others, rescuing Alicia (and alas no one else) from the Bunker o’ Hell, stood her ground and ensured that Ofelia got her wish to be see her father again.

She moved heaven and earth and sold a shit load of guns to the mercenary souls at the trading post, staffed largely by ex-fast food workers by the looks of things, to get Ofelia drugs and drinks to ease her final moments as the zombie bite she suffered while clearing the air shaft took its toll.

Sadly Ofelia died just minutes before dad Daniel (Rubén Blades) made it to her side, imperilling Madison who almost earned a summary execution for her troubles, leading to one of the saddest father-daughter reunions I’ve ever witnessed.

In one emotionally-charged scene, the kind Fear the Walking Dead does so well, we witnessed the kind of heart-searing loss that the apocalypse has delivered to everyone, and the high price paid for sins, real or imagined.

It was powerful, arresting, desperately human television which left you reeling, not because of the epic nature of the storytelling, thought  that was definitely there, but because it focused on the intimate, soul-scarring human toll that survival is taking on everyone.

We all know that living in the apocalypse isn’t easy but Fear the Walking Dead, fearless in its narrative bravery and willing to take the time to really tell a story and address its authentic, damning effects on the soul, is excelling still in taking the time to show us what humans to people, on a stripped back, existential level, when the new brutal realities of life call for all kinds of horrific choices to be made.

  • And so onto the series 3 finale, “Things Bad Begun” / “Sleigh Ride”, where everything, as you might expect, goes right royally and cliffhangeringly, to shit and Alicia’s idea that there is no safe place proves rather prescient …

 

 

Fear the Walking Dead: “Brother’s Keeper” (S3, E12 review)

So much for posting selfies on Instagram and kissing boys behind the bleachers … apocalyptic teenage Alicia is definitely not living the teenage dream (photo by Richard Foreman Jr / courtesy AMC)

 

  • SPOILERS AHEAD … AND MORE ZOMBIES THAN YOU CAN POKE A POINTY STICK AT …

So you know how they – yes the mysterious “they” who are responsible for pretty much everything it seems – always say revenge is a dish best served cold?

How about undead with trailing entrails and an unearthly growl?

Not all that appealing on one level but definitely capturing the revenge vibe which, let’s face it, it not exactly cute puppies, warm hugs and all the cheesecake you can eat.

In “Brother’s Keeper”, which saw Jake (Sam Underwood) and Troy (Daniel Sharman) circling around the turgid drain of brotherly love, revenge was all the rage, particularly if you’re a zombie since mindless raging is pretty much all you have left to do, beside chomping down on stray living creatures like cows and yes sadly, Jake.

Troy was smitten, in his lifetime state of delusion which had received an extra helping hand of detached from reality when he was exiled from the ranch and left out in the wilderness by Madison (Kim Dickens), by the idea of making everyone at The Ranch suffer.

But, and this is a tribute to the quality of the writing that uniformly the storytelling on Fear the Walking Dead, his motivations were actually far more nuanced and decidedly filial.

In his state of ravaged sanity, the product of more abuse than anyone should have to endure, Troy saw herding a massive, and I mean dust storm-creating massive horde of the undead towards The Ranch as some act of brotherly love.

That he, Troy, son of the cruelly slain Jeremiah (Dayton Callie), wasn’t going to take the necessary death of his father lying down – not that he saw it as necessary; adding to Jake’s torment, he did, an acknowledgement that diabolically increased the intensity of his emotional pain – and so, in a plan straight out of the “what the living f**k are you doing?” playbook (best avoided if you can) Troy spent two days sending a sh*t ton of the undead towards a whole lot of wholly innocent people at The Ranch.

 

It’s always the same … post a party on social media and all the undead lowlifes in the neighbourhood turn up (photo by Richard Foreman Jr / courtesy AMC)

 

The only reason anyone knew it was happening though was because, in a Bond villain-esque moment, Troy visited his unhinged soul brother Nick (Frank Dillane) and cryptically hinted that “a reckoning” was coming.

Ah vaguely redneck Biblically malevolent language is such a hoot isn’t it? All kinds of doom and death and destruction tied up in a great big pile of camp craziness.

For reasons known only to Nick, and seriously wouldn’t you have run down the hill to tell people, Madison’s #1 child – yeah sorry Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) but you know it’s true, he waited until morning light to saunter down and let Alicia, Jake, Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) and Lee aka Crazy Dog (Justin Rain) know that (a) Toy was alive (b) he was babbling like an end-times prophet on way too much mescaline, and (c) doom might soon be upon them.

Well hurrah Nick and wouldn’t like bacon and eggs with all that doom and gloom?

Naturally, the only way to sort out whether anything was actually going on for sure since Troy was not exactly the most reliable of people with a few thousand holes in his credibility rating, Jake and Nick set off to find him and see if the Bond villainy was real or imagined.

Sadly, real which c’mon they must have known would be the case.

As the horde of the undead ambled past them Z Nation-like, Jake and Troy had a brotherly moment, but not the kind you’d see featured in a Hallmark movie around Christmastime.

No, theirs involved Jake holding a gun to Troy’s head saying he had to end it here, Nick saying “No, don’t do it, think of the pain and regret!” – yes that’s right folks, Nick was more worried about Jake’s fragile emotional state than he was about the lives of many others back at The Ranch; priorities, Nick, priorities! – and Jake failing to follow through.

Push came to shove, undead hordes to the squabbling three and before you knew it, Jake had been bitten, had had his arm chopped off, died, turned, all while Troy tearfully realised that maybe a card saying “I love you brother” might have been a way less messy an option.

 

Let’s hear it for brotherly love and … yeah, well, maybe not the type that leads to zombie chomping (photo by Richard Foreman Jr / courtesy AMC)

 

So the sh*t, or in this case, desert dust royally hit the fan, and the horde arrived at  The Ranch and quickly overwhelmed the circling of the wagons aka Winnebagos defence, forcing everyone bar a few hapless Ensign Ranchers to flee for the cutely-named Pantry wherein lie lots of food, water and guns … and bloody big doors to keep zombies out.

Getting in was relatively easy for everyone bar Ofelia, Alicia and Lee who had to fight their way to safety through a group of fairly determined zombies but getting out could be a mite tricky.

Fortunately Madison, Qaletaqa (Michael Greyeyes) and Victor (Colman Domingo) are coming back with a tanker of water and Nick and Troy are still out there somewhere but man alive, there’s a lot of the undead to dispatch before anyone can kick back and watch a Texan sunset anytime soon.

For all the gory zombie action, and it was freaking spectacular truth be told, “Brother’s Keeper” was a beautifully nuanced Shakespearean tale of brotherly love and delusion that carried a huge amount of emotional romance.

It emphasised again that Fear the Walking Dead‘s great narrative strength is its ability to tell emotionally-impacting very intimate stories within a broad broadstrokes canvas, focusing on the fact that for all the big action set pieces, the apocalypse is really about how the lives of various people and groups are affected.

While big dramatic baddies may look enticing – The Walking Dead is almost fatally addicted to them now; yeah I’m looking at you Negan – what really matters in these apocalyptic tales is what’s happening at the human level.

“Brother’s Keeper” captured this profoundly and movingly, giving us the big zombie battle we all crave but remembering that for it to mean anything at all, we need to see the humanity behind it, something that was on palpably powerful display in this exquisitely well-wrought episode.

  • Next time on Fear the Walking Dead … “This Land is Your Land” where who has what plot of ground looks to be less of a concern than, you know, actually surviving to stand on it …

 

 

Fear the Walking Dead: “La Serpiente” (S3, E11 review)

He may be existentially damaged after years of staring into the darkest parts of the human condition but lordy can Daniel shoot a gun (image courtesy AMC / Photo by Richard Foreman Jr)

 

  • SPOILERS AHEAD … AND THE BASEST PARTS OF HUMANITY, BOTH COLORECTAL AND OF THE SOUL …

“La Serpiente” was a really shitty episode.

No, I mean, really … shit everywhere as Madison (Kim Dickens), Victor (Colman Domingo) and Qaletaqa Walker (Michael Greyeyes) followed the shhhhh! super-secret squirrel route into the Lola’s kingdom of damned water (again literally; honestly, not being crude just for the sake of it).

Unfortunately for their personal hygiene, sense of self-worth and mounting dry cleaning bills, Victor’s amazingly direct route into Water Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink Land (if you’re the surrounding people of Tijuana who take a while to figure out “Hey we could take the water they give us by force!”) involved crawling through faecal matter and killing a zombie who was blocking a pipe that when cleared … well, honestly you really don’t want to know.

Suffice to say, it was not pretty; so much so, that when they arrived at DamLand, the wettest land of them all, and didn’t get shot by Daniel  (Rubén Blades), one of the first things pretty much everyone demanded was that they wash.

Just another one of the sacrifices you have to make to stay hydrated in a world where all the water engineers and pipe maintenance folk are more interested in some human sushi that practising their craft.

As it turned out, well initially at first, all they got for all of their jeans-soiling trouble was Lola (Lisandra Tena) aka She Who Shall Not Corrupt Her Soul – for the record Madison respects her stance to stay apocalyptically virginal and not kill anyone; thinks it’s massively shortsighted and going to get her killed but respects it … all together now “Awwww” … see ya Lola – refusing to give them a drop off the much-need H 2 and O.

This was largely because Efraín Morales (Jesse Borego), one of the Lola’s true believers – well mostly; he was all for “release the river! God will get us more water!” – ratted on Daniel shooting at the rioting villagers as the retreat, leaking water tank in tow.

Not exactly a team player now are we Daniel? (His performance appraisal was beginning to look more than a little shabby; no water bonuses for you, angry old man.)

 

Poor zombies – always on the outside looking in (image courtesy AMC / Photo by Richard Foreman Jr)

 

Lola sided with Efraín at first, believing Daniel was about to leave her to run back to The Ranch to see Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) who is alive and well and poisoning people en masse – BIG mistake by Walker was proudly boasting to Daniel that he’d turned his daughter into the killer Dad never wanted her to be; strike one against father-in-law/son-in-law harmony and friction-free apocalyptic festive events – and only decided to give Madison 10,000 gallons a week (ever the cockroach of measurement systems, imperial even survives the end of the world) until the rains come.

Why? Glad you asked!

Because “La Serpiente”of the episode’s title, that would be Victor who never met a situation he couldn’t turn (mostly) to his own advantage, figured out a water for The Ranch to get their water, Daniel to bolster his position and for everyone, bar the water tanker attendants who ended up rather undead and on fire, and perversely wet through at the same time, to get what they want.

Right on cue, as Walker stomped off all upset a little too early that they weren’t getting water, and Madison was a mean lady and he would have to kick off The Ranch and he hated himself etc etc tantrum-tantrum-tantrum, the angry villagers arrived sans pitchforks and torches (honestly does no one respect the classics anymore?) to back up Daniel’s claims that Lola was being was too sweet and naive and that Victor, serpent-brain and all, was a cleverly-manipulative so-and-so.

It was some rather clever politicking and realpolitik strategising that saw two of the wiliest people in the show, Victor and Daniel, achieve a two-birds-one-stone goal while leaving Madison looking as lustrously above the fray as ever.

It was masterful work, and proof once again that Fear the Walking Dead is a great deal more intelligent and nuanced in its storytelling than its rather more blatant parent.

It also nicely examined, once again, how hard it can be to hang onto your humanity when every facet of this hard, cold, cruel and shit-covered (again, literally) new world cried out for parking your humanity, killing as needed and then trying to be warm and cuddly again if you can.

Madison, as much as anyone, appreciates there’s no way to kill and finagle your way to getting what you want and need then shove those necessity is the mother of ruthless invention back in their holes and carry on as if you’re not two steps beyond serial killer status.

Lola, at least, for now, remains largely shielded from that thanks to the willingness of the Victors and Daniels of this world (and Madison who damn well knew what was going on, and find it freaking hilarious thank you very much; later on, not in front of Lola, because no one has timing that bad OK?) to do the dirty work for her and keep her believing she can stay pure as the dam water before her.

 

Why, if only one of the tankers would explode so we could convince Lola she’s being naive and … oh, there it goes! (image courtesy AMC / Photo by Richard Foreman Jr)

 

And so, after a few heart-to-hearts where Daniel said he’s stay with Lola because he knew Ofelia was safe and didn’t have to see her – Lola arranged for him to see her anyway; once again awwwww she’s so dead – Victor and Madison had a lovely moment of friendship where the former demonstrated he does have a beating heart down there somewhere, and Daniel and Victor affirmed they get, I mean really get each other, water flowed back to The Ranch, Walker got picked up on the side of the highway in a smiling Murder She Wrote end of episode kind of way (where was a zombie Jessica Fletcher? Where?!) and everyone, for one more episode at least, lived happily ever after.

The reality, of course, as with any somewhat happy ending in the apocalypse is that the neat tying up of loose ends is not a permanent state of affairs, merely a temporary stay of execution, and trouble awaits pretty much everyone involved.

Lola can only hold off the water-starved hordes for so long without becoming The Damned Queen of the Water, soaked in as much blood as aqua, Madison and Walker, despite the knowing smirks are cruising to a fighting for The Ranch bruising, and Victor’s mind, the “La Serpiente”of the episode is still conniving, plotting and planning and, yes and, heading back to The Ranch where all that Machiavellian self-interest is going to result in the singing of “Kumbayah” around the camp fire with S’mores.

The world has ended, the rule of law and unsullied humanity with it, and no one, no one at all, gets to emerge unscathed, including those, like Lola who would most like to do so.

The apocalypse is a nasty piece of work people and Fear the Walking Dead did a masterful job once again of demonstrating just why that’s the case and how only the canny and the clever will ever get ahead (and get a glass of water and clean clothes).

  • Next week on Fear the Walking Dead … death, guns, zombies and much shooting … in other words pretty much what the apocalyptic doctor ordered and Lola, most certainly, did not …

 

Fear the Walking Dead: “Minotaur” / “Diviner” (S3, E9 & E10 review)

It’s shooting time! Oh who are we kidding? It’s ALWAYS shooting time in the zombie apocalypse – right Kim? (image courtesy / photo Richard Foreman Jr)

 

  • SPOILERS AHEAD … AND SOME TECTONIC SHIFTS IN POWER … AND SHOPPING …YES SHOPPING 

From the beginning – both of the show and the apocalypse it so brilliantly documents – Fear the Walking Dead has excelled at exploring what humanity is like under stress.

I mean, extreme, world-ending, civilisation-collapsing, everyone you know and love is gone, zombies are everywhere stress.

Unlike The Walking Dead, which has shown an increasing penchant for violence for the sake of violence, its philosophical soul rung dry, Fear has always kept a canny eye on the fact that while there will inevitably be some violence when the world ends since people aren’t that good at coping with the everything going royally to shit, humanity will also demonstrate an aspiration to be better in some way, regardless of how harrowing the circumstances become.

So it was again in the double-episode opener, “Minotaur” and “Diviner” where the Ranch, newly-devoid of its sole remaining co-founder Jeremiah (Dayton Callie) to “suicide” – *cough!* Nick (Frank Dillane) killed him! *cough!* Shhh don’t tell Troy (Daniel Sharman) – opened its gates to Qaletaqa Walker (Michael Greyeyes) and The Nation who claimed ownership of the land and were determined to have it back one way or another.

Part-idealism, part-hands-forced practicality – more of the latter than the former right Madison (Kim Dickens)? – it was a marriage of convenience with The Nation in dire need of the protection and resources of the Ranch, and Jake (Sam Underwood), the successor fairly certain none of the people under his care wanted to die.

It was that basic and that necessary and so two competing parties, pushed apart from some pretty big, continental-sized grievances, not all of them sourced from the apocalyptic imperative to go all Lord of the Flies and survive, ended up together.

They all lived, as you’d rightly expect, happily ever after.

Hahahahahaha … or not. Very much not.

 

We’re all friends now aren’t we? Aren’t we? Um, OK maybe not so much (image courtesy / photo Richard Foreman Jr)

 

It was not for want of trying to be fair.

While Madison, the power behind the throne, who back-channelled to Taqa like it was a U.N. summit on steroids, much to peacemaker Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey)’s disgust (she stuck firmly to idealism, partly because she believes in it, partly because what choice they have and to support her man, Jake), played a hard-nosed endgame, Jake, and yes even Taqa himself tried to make the uneasy new arrangements work.

No prizes for guessing that it was fraught from the start, but borne of a recognition that both parties really had no choice, they gave it a red-hot, kumbayah go.

Unfortunately in quick order, the sharing of responsibility for weapons devolved to Taqa controlling all the weapons and policing the Ranch which went down a treat with the conspiracy-addled racists, and the scarcity of water, something Jeremiah had kept well hidden, opened up the kind of fissures you’d expect in such a tense situation.

Surprisingly, or not surprisingly if you’ve paying any kind of attention to the nuanced, thoughtful storytelling style of Fear the Walking Dead, violence was the overwhelming choice du jour.

Most people at the Ranch accepted their loss of weaponry and the necessity of water rationing with the only holdout being – go on guess! You’ll never guess! Ha you totally will! – good old Troy who managed to rope an unwilling but easily coerced Nick into staging a massive shootout at Jeremiah’s old ranch house.

With shades of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid but WAY more firepower as Taqa’s guys opened fire despite Madison’s entreaties – it’s my son! What about my son? Once again you can understand Alicia’s quiet despair at the way her mother plays favourites – Troy was determined to go out in a blaze of misguided glory.

That he didn’t was testament to some desperate arguing by Nick, and the admission that he’d killed Jeremiah – way to kill the rebel without a cause mood there Nick! – and so Troy lived and was exiled, Nick was sentenced to sit in a metal box in the sun for days and everyone went back to sullenly resenting each other in a grand experiment that was proving all to fallibly human after all.

 

Nothing seals a relationship of convenience that a spot of post-apocalyptic shopping (image courtesy / photo Richard Foreman Jr)

 

While there were diversions to get some water, which mainly served as a way of reuniting Victor (Colman Domingo) with Madison at the most weird-ass apocalyptic shopping centre ever, and a peek at how the new water-sharing regime at the dam under Lola (Lisandre Tena), the kindhearted idealist, and Daniel (Rubén Blades), the shrewd, bloody-handed pragmatist – the yin and yang of the new world order if ever there was one – these were episodes that squarely balanced whether humanity was capable of sitting down with the better angels of its nature when everything was screaming to play down, dirty and downright bloody.

All indications were that it was going to be idealism 0 reality 1 but “Diviner”, which naturally enough, centred on the search for water in forms both natural and thoroughly, industrially-practical, ended up on an amazingly positive note.

A tentative as hell one granted, and honestly who believes it has legs, but for one brief shining moment, guns were downed, violence was forestalled, and everyone chose idealism over violent pragmatism, humanity over sheer brutish survival.

For all of the obsession of dystopian literature and visual storytelling with humanity’s willingness to do whatever it takes to survive, the end of the world would be way more layered than that, at least once the dust settled, with the majority of people, wanting to believe, deeply, to the depths of their soul believe that civilisation wasn’t some blip on humanity’s chart but the default, the natural and preferred way of things.

It may not be, and perhaps we are at heart still animals with enough intelligence to be aware we are our own worst enemy, but Fear the Walking Dead insightfully gave voice to both sides of the equation, told an engaging story, as it has always done, with a deep appreciation for the contrary nature of humanity, and a shrewd understanding that people would meet the end of the world with both guns, knives and violence but also with a burning hope that there was some way back to who we used to be, or at least, to a better version of the future than currently on offer.

  • And so to the next episode, which comes with the evocative title “La Serpiente” and this kickass promo which presages that there may be a little tilting to the violent side  of things …

 

 

All the undead: #SDCC2017 trailers for The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead

(image via IMP Awards (c) AMC)

 

After a very rocky season 7 in which I (a) seriously questioned my sanity and tolerance for torture-porn violence (damn near negligible) and (b) wondered if The Walking Dead had surrendered what was left of its once-philosophical soul to empty, ever-more murderous narratives, season 8’s trailer arrives with an emphasis on war, war, war.

Now as movies like Dunkirk and Saving Private Ryan have shown in all their exemplary glory, it is possible to tell compelling stories of war that move you profoundly as long as there is some kind of beautifully-expressed moral underpinning that makes it more than just a gorefest.

After season 7’s unevenness I am not completely convinced The Walking Dead can do this, saddled as it is too by characters like Rick (Andrew Lincoln) that are so morally-compromised and relativistic that you wonder if there is any difference at all between them and big baddies like Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

That’s a problem since we like our good guys, hate our bad guys and therein likes the sort of drama that draws you back, again and again.

Still this Comic-Con 2017 trailer is pretty damn atmospheric and gripping in its own way, switching between meditative and then all-out rock-soundtrack action, and finishing with a very interesting flash-forward.

So yeah I may watch it and see … fingers crossed this is a war with a reason for being and one that Rick, King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Hilltop, effectively led by Paul Rovia aka “Jesus”, actually deserve to win.

The Walking Dead season 8 explodes onto our screens 22 October.

 

 

It wasn’t just The Walking Dead that got all the Comic-Con loving. Fear the Walking Dead, which I now regard as the better of the two shows when it comes to nuanced, clever storytelling and interesting characters, got its own #SDCC2017 trailer and, as expected, it’s an exciting piece of undead television in the offing.

 

Death Knows No Borders: Fear the Walking Dead returns 22 August (promo + poster)

(image via EW (c) AMC)
(image via EW (c) AMC)

 

So the zombie apocalypse huh?

It starts off with everyone all united, working together to get out of the damned death-filled hellhole that L.A. has become, and everything’s fine – well as fine as the end of the world can be which let’s be honest is really not fine at all – and then bit by bit, death by death, everyone fractures and diverges and any semblance of unity is lost.

That’s the grim reality facing the survivors in Fear the Walking Dead who ended the first half of season 2 separated and in some cases dead or alone.

Hardly a united front now is it?

Nick (Frank Dillane) is off wandering the highways of Mexico, covered in zombie guts and more than a little pissed off with humanity as a whole and his family in particular … Travis (Cliff Curtis) and Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) are off for some rather unorthodox father/son bonding … Daniel (Rubén Blades) is possibly but not definitely lost in the fire consuming the compound they had been sheltering in, with only the ghost of his dead wife Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola) for company … while Strand (Colman Domingo) has spirited off Madison (Kim Dickens), daughter Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Ofelia in search of the Abigail which is hopefully moored offshore in one unlooted piece …

It’s entirely possible everyone will end up back together again much as Rick’s group has done on several occasions on The Walking Dead but Fear the Walking Dead is a different beast in many ways and there’s no guarantee there will be any kind of reunion; and even if there is that it will a happy or productive one.

Life is grim, DAMN GRIM, in the zombie apocalypse and there’s no escaping that unpalatable reality anymore (if you ever could) as the promo at Spoiler TV demonstrates all too vividly if briefly.

Fear the Walking Dead returns 22 August with the second half of season 2.

 

Nick just needed a walk to clear his head ... so off he went across ALL of Mexico (image via Spoiler TV (c) AMC)
Nick just needed a walk to clear his head … so off he went across ALL of Mexico (image via Spoiler TV (c) AMC)

 

"Hey hey it's The Zombies!" never really took as the apocalyptic successor to The Monkees TV show ... for one thing their choreography was awful (image via Spoiler TV (c) AMC)
“Hey hey it’s The Zombies!” never really took as the apocalyptic successor to The Monkees TV show … for one thing their choreography was awful (image via Spoiler TV (c) AMC)

 

 

Fear the Walking Dead: “The Good Man” (S1, E6 review)

Madison and Travis's idea to recreate the iconic kissing on the beach scene from the film From Here to Eternity sounded great in theory but no much in practice, what with death and zombies a real libido killer (image via Tom and Lorenzo (c) AMC)
Madison and Travis’s idea to recreate the iconic kissing on the beach scene from the film From Here to Eternity sounded great in theory but no much in practice, what with death and zombies a real libido killer (image via Tom and Lorenzo (c) AMC)

 

*SPOILERS … AND ZOMBIES … AND DEATH ALL AROUND AHEAD*

One of the most searing lesson from the near universally-well realised first season of Fear the Walking Dead aka When the World Went to Undead Sh*t has been how tenuous civilisation and all the ethics and conventions of upstanding, moral behaviour we take for granted, really are.

They may look permanent and near-unassailable but as Travis (Curtis Curtis) and Madison (Kim Dickens) discovered to their horror, it doesn’t take much to send them crashing down to earth until all that’s left of the rule of law, and humanity’s more altruistic impulses is a bloodied knife, swarms of undead who care not for social niceties, and a beaten-to-pulp face.

(The recipient in this instance being one Cpl Andrew Adams, played by Shawn Hatosy who found out the hard way that you don’t shoot Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) in the arm – he was aiming for the chest but thankfully missed – in front of Travis Manawa and live to tell about it; especially after he rather nicely let Adams go rather than kill him like Daniel (Rubén Blades) wanted.)

The speed at which the institutions we all depend on broke down was represented in all its frightening intensity, with the military instituting an evacuation order to Edwards Air Force base that left Travis and Madison’s extended, unofficial new family and all the inhabitants of the secret hospital hanging rather precariously in the wind.

This is where Fear the Walking Dead has excelled from the start, willingly forgoing any sense that humanity will hold the moral high ground during a civilisation-obliterating apocalypse, as well as acknowledging that with people dying and rising at autonomic undead left and right that keeping the electricity on, power running and traffic signals working is well nigh impossible.

And with the cessation of all the warm-and-cosy embrace of civilisation, comes the kind of brutality and hard decisions that people like Madison and Travis, who is forced to kill his ex-wife Elizabeth (Elizabeth Rodriguez) when she becomes infected – she assents to this with a knowing resignation, knowing all too well after her stint in the hospital, what lies ahead for her – never thought they’d have to make.

And it’s as traumatic and heartbreaking as you might expect.

 

Travis and Liza share the most touching of goodbyes as both realise that the coming course of action is the only one open to them in this brave, new, nasty world (image (c) AMC)
Travis and Liza share the most touching of goodbyes as both realise that the coming course of action is the only one open to them in this brave, new, nasty world (image (c) AMC)

 

The scene where Madison, and then Travis, who have followed Liza down to the beach below their temporary beachhouse hideaway – courtesy of Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) who even has a bigass yacht moored offshore, the better to escape the undead with – have to say goodbye to Liza is infinitely sad.

Not just because of a death that cannot be avoided, and the grief that will follow, but because it represents an all too personal deathknell of everything they’ve been trying to hold on to up to that point.

While they were fenced in by the military they could pretend that everything was going to be OK, that civilisation would stand and the certainties of their life would prevail.

But any idea that this was even an option, and deep down they all knew it wasn’t but like all of us, clung to hope while it was still there in some form, vanished in the instant Travis mercy-killed Liza.

It was Nick (Frank Dillane) who rightly observed that the world, swaggering along with the confidence of people who know where they’re going and why, has caught up to him, all of whom no lost in a world with no clear markers, no sure steps forward and no roadmap that can be followed.

Everyone, and everything is lost and divining what to do in the face of this kind of uncertainty is deeply, soul-scarring unsettling; well to everyone but ex-heroin addict Nick who’s spent a lifetime in a cloud of random steps forward.

What was interesting about “The Good Man” was that it brilliantly balanced big action scenes – a stadium full of zombies swarming onto a military base anyone? Hell of an overkill diversion Daniel! – with some deeply affecting, big “P” philosophy questions about what is right and wrong in this darker age, and who is good and bad.

It harks back to the ongoing theme of the show’s parent series The Walking Dead, which through various characters such as Hershel and Dale has asked repeatedly whether humanity is innately good, of whether the better angels of our nature are civilised affectations best left to kinder, gentler non-apocalyptic times.

They’re questions with no easy answers, but Fear the Walking Dead was able to ask them in the context of big immersive action set pieces without skipping a beat, symbolic of the show’s wider ambition to investigate what happens to humanity (and it’s impressive execution) when the rug is pulled from under them, and all that’s left is who they are, and not what they own, or what they do.

It bodes for season 2 which will be able to open up this line of action-augmented questioning on a wider geographic (thanks to Victor’s yacht Abigail) and time scale (we’re right at the beginning of the descent into zombie hell) than even The Walking Dead has been able to attempt.

 

Goodbye civilsation! Nice knowing ya! (Image via 411mania (c) AMC)
Goodbye civilsation! Nice knowing ya! (Image via 411mania (c) AMC)

Fear the Walking Dead: “Cobalt” (S1, E5 review)

Not everyone loses their soul as the zombie apocalypse hits its undead lope: Travis finds himself to end someone's life even when that life has already ended by other viral means (image via Undeadwalking (c) AMC)
Not everyone loses their soul as the zombie apocalypse hits its undead lope: Travis finds himself to end someone’s life even when that life has already ended by other viral means (image via Undeadwalking (c) AMC)

 

* SPOILERS … AND AN ARENA OF ANXIOUS-TO-GET-OUT WALKERS AWAIT *

 

Ah humanity, when the chips are down, you either cover yourself in glory, self-sacrificially stepping forward to make lives better for others in times horrifically extraordinary, or you look out for number 1, making sure you’re OK and leaving everyone else to handle things the best way they can.

No prizes for guessing what route the majority of the characters, major and minor took in the penultimate first season episode of Fear the Walking Dead.

Safe to say, as things took a decided turn for the worse – yes, surprisingly it is possible for things to deteriorate further in a world where the apocalypse has arrived, all undead and ready to rip civilisation to blood-soaked shreds – “Cobalt” was not exactly humanity’s finest hour.

“Every man, woman and child for themselves!” was effectively the new motto and even the military, swaggering their way, on the whole, into this brave new world, one not even Aldous Huxley likely contemplated, took it to heart, abandoning their role as dictatorial Florence Nightingales, in favour of getting the hell out of Dodge.

And in the process, leaving everyone else to cope as best they could.

Assuming they were allowed to stay alive and breathing anyway, what with the military being more than a little fond of a combination Scorched Earth/Blitzkrieg/lock the alive up with the dead policy.

Showrunner Dave Erickson and his team powerfully brought to the fore humanity’s propensity to unleash its less than stellar angels when their very survival is threatened.

Granted not everyone caved into based instincts but enough did that the walking dead were not the only people to be feared as the temporary sanctuary of the wire fenced-compound begin to fall before the relentless onslaught of the unstoppable apocalypse, rampant self-interest and ghosts from the past rearing their ugly, tortured heads.

 

The ghosts of the past meet the darkness of the present and no one emerges with their humanity fully intact (image (c) AMC via AMC)
The ghosts of the past meet the darkness of the present and no one emerges with their humanity fully intact (image (c) AMC via AMC)

 

The man with the most ghosts peering coldly and passionlessly over his shoulder was Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades) who it turned out was not the victim of the story back in old El Salvador but among the ranks of the oppressors, the man responsible for torturing and disappearing all those people he once talked about as if he was among their number.

While his wife Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola) was party to his whatever-it-takes-to-survive ethos, daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) was not, only discovering her father’s true identity as a cold-blooded torturer when he convinced her to lure one of the few good soldiers guarding (and soon not to be) them, Andrew Adams (Shawn Hatosy) to what will likely be his undead doom.

Before he is despatched to the land of the undead, however, the young, well-intentioned who has at all turns been distinctly uncomfortable with the cavalier “I’m a military god” attitude of the commanding officer, Moyers (Jamie McShane) is treated to some drip feed torture at the hands of Daniel who seems intent on playing the role of dungeon executioner, even as Adams offers up all the information he can bring to mind.

It’s deeply calculating, unutterably, chillingly dark and something that people like Madison (Kim Dickens), anxious to get junkie son Nick (Frank Dillane) back from the “hospital” aka waiting room for the extermination camp, where he’s saved from an uncertain fate by new swaggeringly confident friend Victor Strand (Colman Domingo), while there’s still time.

Only Travis (Cliff Curtis) holds intense reservations about this whatever-it-takes approach, refusing to shoot a walker waitress in a cafe when invited to do so by Moyers, who treats shooting the undead he’s an aristocrat on a country estate wantonly shooting pheasants as he pleases, and after making it back home when the military patrol he’s on goes completely to pot, blanching when he sees what Daniel, and by tacit refusal to object, Madison is up to.

Still, even noble Travis, man of the people, and likely conscience of humanity going forward – is that really wise Travis? Those people always die – doesn’t stand in the way of Daniel’s barbaric techniques, which has elicited the news that the military is preparing to fly the coop and save themselves, screw the rest of humanity.

Yep, everyone is abandoning the sinking ship S. S. Humanity and it’s readily becoming apparent that any semblance of what passed for civility, morals or ethics is flying out the window faster than a walker’s hastily chopped-off body part.

It’s not looking pretty and Fear the Walking Dead does an exemplary of capturing this decline, this rapid, messy decline in all its putrid glory.

 

Alicia and Chris devide that the best way to handle the apocalypse is to play dress ups in a rich person's abandoned home, drink champagne and pretend like the world is theirs to picnic in (image via Dread Central (c) AMC)
Alicia and Chris devide that the best way to handle the apocalypse is to play dress ups in a rich person’s abandoned home, drink champagne and pretend like the world is theirs to picnic in (image via Dread Central (c) AMC)

 

And that where Fear the Walking Dead excels.

It’s unafraid to admit that much as we’d like to think people will nobly step up in humanity’s darkest hour Hollywodd hero-like, and it’s true some will, the reality is more than not that fear and self interest will win out over altruism and self-sacrifice.

It may seem indulgently pessimistic to some but the reality is civilisation hangs by a gossamer thread of collective goodwill, and as Fear the Walking Dead starkly portrays, once that’s gone, and it won’t take long alas, then it really is every person for themselves.

“Cobalt” vividly brought to life, or undeath, your call, what the end of the illusion of civilisation is like, when the last tattered vestiges fall away and we see each other as we really are.

Not pretty is it?

  • And it’s likely to look even less pretty by the time next week’s episode “The Good Man” wraps up the first season of the show …

 

 

Fear the Walking Dead: “Not Fade Away” (S1, E4 review)

Madison realises with horror that the windows in her prison ... er, house are dirty (image via TV.com (c) AMC)
Madison realises with horror that the windows in her prison … er, house are dirty (image via TV.com (c) AMC)

 

*SPOILERS AHEAD … AND THE DEATH OF DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM (FUN HUH?)*
Early on in “Not Fade Away”, and perched on top of the roof his dad’s girlfriend’s house watching the undead world go by while he films it, Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) ironically notes that their new military protectors are calling them “the lucky ones.”

Quite how lucky they are, however, is another matter entirely.

With the zombie apocalypse supposedly stopped in its tracks, so says the swaggering and none too E.Q.-inclined commanding officer in charge of their particular “safe zone”, one of 12 stretched across the southern side of L.A., the residents of the Manawa’s neighbourhood are “enjoying” life returning to normal.

But trapped behind metres-high barricades of prickly wire fence, and with no sign of phone reception, or regular water and electricity supplies returning, and precious few freedoms, any normality is a rubbery concept, and open for debate.

Or not, as the case may be.

Because what Moyers (Jamie McShane), the golf-loving military commander in question, says goes without question, and even Travis (Cliff Curtis), the so-called “mayor” of their enclave of survivability is becoming dubious about the merits of this experiment in keeping the wolves of the apocalypse at bay.

The truth is, all signs and rhetoric to the contrary, that society is breaking down, and breaking down fast.

Outside the “safe zones” there’s no sign of life or undeath; just silent empty streets full of corpses, putrefying flesh and blatant signs that the military, in a hammer squashing a then-gnat effort to stop the zombie plague in its steps, has indiscriminately killed anyone, infected or not.

We know this, not because Moyers or any of his men are admitting to this grim reality; rather, because Madison (Kim Dickens), who looks to be the conscience of the survivors as well one seriously pissed-off mother of a refusing-to-kick-the-habit son (Nick played by Frank Dillane, who develops a cosy morphine habit thank you) goes for an authorised walk outside the fence, and Sees Things.

Unsettling, democracy is dead and buried along with much of the human race, Things.

None of which bode well for the soul of the human race.

 

Ofelia Salazar tries a little "wartime" romance, the better to help her mother get some much-needed meds with (image via YouTube (c) AMC)
Ofelia Salazar tries a little “wartime” romance, the better to help her mother get some much-needed meds with (image via YouTube (c) AMC)

 

It’s a theme that Fear the Walking Dead‘s parent show, The Walking Dead (the fear is implied, thank you), has long explored, so it makes sense it pops up here, even 9 days into their internment, and supposed salvation.

The idea that you must destroy the village in order to save it is a naturally controversial one, made all the more so by the fact that simply getting rid of people you can’t be bothered dealing with in order to save those you can reeks of some sort of abhorrently Third Reich-esque program of unnatural selection.

In this case, it appears only the good, healthy people of Manawaville, as no one but me is calling it, are going to be spared; everyone else, the healthy survivors out in the dead zones – proof that not everyone is dead is evinced by some Morse Code conversations that Chris, dad Travis and Madison have with someone in a far off building – and anyone inside the zone who may be mentally-troubled, terminally-ill, sick (Ofelia’s mum, Griselda played by Patricia Reyes Spíndola), or drug-affected (hello Nick who is inadvertently ratted out by Elizabeth, Travis’s ex, played by Elizabeth Ortiz) is grist for the the hardline mill.

It appears that less than 2 weeks after the world went to hell in an undead handbasket that any semblance of civilisation as people once knew it is gone, all protestations to the contrary.

Not only are all these “disappearances” of the sick and injured and unwell to a mysterious “hospital” 50 minutes away a sign that humanity has lost its soul at lightning-fast speed, but a worrying trend, notes a man who fled a ruthlessly oppressive regime in El Salvador and knows of which he speaks, Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades), that far worse is to come, all in the name of keeping order.

But whose order exactly and for what purpose?

Oh, it’s all dressed up as saving the world rah-rah-rah, start the ticker-tape parade stuff, but the truth is, and everyone knows it – though as in keeping with humanity’s predilection for delusion since the cave when they are threatened by forces beyond all comprehension, no one is admitting it – but civilisation is doomed and these “safe zones” are simply a pit stop, a well-run, freedom-less pitstop, on the road to the apocalypse.

It’s just that no one bar a few can bring themselves to admit that yet.

 

"Look! Look! We're saving you! Yes saving you! Isn't it fun?" (image via AMC (c) AMC)
“Look! Look! We’re saving you! Yes saving you! Isn’t it fun?” (image via AMC (c) AMC)

 

“Not Fade Away” in a brilliantly-piece of political theatre.

It doesn’t flinch from alleging that with their backs against the wall, humanity is capable of great and noble things – witness Travis helping the Salazars escape the hell of downtown L.A.  for instance – but also great barbary and deceit, all in the name of survival.

It sagely notes too though that with all the usual trappings of civilisation slipping quickly through its fingers, that any semblance of what passes for ethics, morality, a conscience or a soul is quickly cast aside in favour of simply getting through the crisis.

But then what?

The underlying idea is that this crisis is going to go away, and even if it does by some miracle – we, of course, all know, it won’t, what happens to society then? Does it magically bounce back to what it once was?

The fact is it doesn’t, and it won’t and by episode’s end, as the strong hand of the military spirits off Nick and Griselda, with Elizabeth in full fake nurse mode along for the ride, to places unknown, Travis and Madison fighting, and Alicia (Alycia Debnam Carey) appearing to self harm to cope with the stress of it all, everyone knows it.

They just can’t bring themselves to utter the words just yet.

*What horrors await the Manawa-Clarks, and the Salazars and indeed, all of humanity? We find out in next week’s “Cobalt” …