The third episode of Fear the Walking Dead is out and it was a good one. I think it’s about time to start talking about it now that we have 3.5 hours of show to digest. There are plenty of spoilers ahead so if you are behind on Fear the Walking Dead (FTWD) or the original The Walking Dead (TWD), stop now and immediately head to your nearest Netflix machine.
I have to admit I was a little skeptical. The last few seasons with Rick and the gang have been tough and repetitive. The group thinks they are safe, but really they aren’t. OH NO! Basically sums up the last 4 seasons or so. Carol has grown from the battered homemaker to a tough as nails mother bear following the death of her daughter, banishment, etc. Darrell is as angsty and outcasty as ever. Carl is still annoying and won’t take off that damn hat even though he’s way too old to be playing sheriff. It has been wearing on me, so it’s not so surprising that I wouldn’t quite trust a companion series.
Here’s why it works for me. Strap in, this is going to be a long one. Skip to the end for the teacher/education stuff.
The main characters are two teachers who have, potentially through some sneaky office romance, shoved two broken families together in a classic step parent drama complete with angsty teens, substance abuse, and now zombies.
Episode 1: Pilot
Episode 1 started off strong with the junkie son witnessing his newly zombified girlfriend eating another guys face off and wraps up with that same junkie running over his zombified dealer, saving his mom and (almost) stepdad in the process. The weird thing about this episode was how quick Papa Teacher (Cliff Curtis’ Travis Manawa) believed the seemingly inasne rantings of his junky (almost) stepson. I’m all for being prepared at all times for the zombie apocalypse, and usually nobody believes the often correct crazy character, but this struck me as a bit sudden. Who did they need to listen to? Tobias the misfit. Sure he seems to have some sort of mental/social/emotional issue, but he’s on top of things.
Episode 2: So Close, Yet So Far
Episode 2 saw LA explode into riots. Yes, this is what LA does. They riot. The best part about it is that it was based entirely on a misunderstanding contributing to way more zombie related injuries. You have protesters causing mayhem and getting bitten over misinformation. The story with the daughter (Alicya Debnam Carey’s Alica Clark) was a bit meh for me. Her and her brother (Frank Dillane’s Nick Clark) are great actors. They work very well together and he’s doing a great job acting out withdrawals, but I really don’t care about her boyfriend. I don’t care that he was bitten. I don’t care that he’s dying. We haven’t spent much time with the character and I think the show could have kept him around and developed him more. As it stands, his death and the trauma it causes her only looks like a small part of her angst. The boyfriend was a tool, a device, not a character. The star here was Tobias. This outcast misfity character was a star and a half in the battle against the zombie principal. Best part of the episode? Mama teacher (Kim Dickens’ Madison Clark) watching her neighbor get eaten and just locking the door. She’s gone full on zombie apocalypse and she doesn’t care who knows it.
Episode 3: The Dog
Episode 3 was a banger. Straight up fire of a thousand suns hotness of an episode (at least compared to the last 2). The episode starts off right after Mama teacher just let her neighbor get eaten. The family is just sitting around playing monopoly. From what I can tell the banker is cheating (as usual) and they are just trying to wait out the apocalypse. This doesn’t really go for me at first. Mama teacher already confirmed she was full apocalypse mode when she killed her principal, so how is she being so calm? I ultimately conclude it’s for her very unstable kids. The addict and the angsty need that stability from her and when she gets shaken, so do they.
The riot stuff is more potent in this episode than the last. It was weird that Papa Teacher (Travis) just rampaged in that Latino family’s shop and even stranger that they let him and his first family stay. I think this riot business is intentional. It parallels a lot of the social unrest of the past few years and the writer engineered confusion over police action vs the zombies was no mistake by the show. It seems to me that the show is leaning a little toward the “cops have hard jobs, give them the benefit of the doubt or everything falls apart” attitude, but that’s a discussion for another day. Point is, the riot is happening. Kind of cold blooded for Papa Teacher to try to abandon the Latino family after they helped him, but good on Daniel Salazar for making him return the hospitality to his family. Eye for an eye and what not.
This week we get a 2nd character that is in full on apocalypse mode. Daniel is all about his family. Us v. them. I love it. He’s shooting zombies in the face, suggesting they syphon gas to burn the bodies, and even goes as far as to call mama teacher, who is also in apocalypse mode, weak for not killing her neighbor with a hammer. These are the two most interesting characters in the show to me. She has the 1st wife, who it seems like she has a fairly antagonistic relationship with, promise to kill her if she becomes a zombie. Pretty hardcore for day 2 or so of the apocalypse.
Now for the teacher stuff.
I love watching this show because it has an added bonus of connecting me to my students. Many of them watch the show and the zombie apocalypse is a great way to examine human nature.
Principal listening from his office to do his observation? Classic. Very realistic. LEAVE YOUR OFFICE ONE TIME! ACTUALLY SEE WHAT YOU’RE EVALUATING. HOW DO YOU KNOW THE KIDS ARE GETTING THINGS FROM YOU OFFICE!?
Covering for a kid that brings a knife to school just because you know him is maybe one of the worse school counselor/teacher moves on the planet. Not realistic, but A+ teacher move in the zombie apocalypse.
Taking in the dog was heart warming but short sighted. Zombies are attracted to noise people! Also, glad this isn’t resident evil. Zombie dogs wouldn’t work for TV.
Pretty solid examination of the choices people have at the beginning run, hunker down and wait it out, riot, start scavenging for supplies, look for help, or some combination or permutation of these options. This is something FTWD has over the original and something I’m looking forward to watching.
The cops in riot mode opening fire on infect people in front of the hospital was epic classic zombie action. Exactly what I wanted from this show. The struggle to contain the zombie apocalypse is something we rarely see. Most stories happen after things have already fallen apart.
Episode 1: B-
Episode 2: B
Episode 3: B+