Fear the Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 4: “100”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 4: “100”
Directed by Alex Garcia Lopez
Written by Alan Page

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, TEOTWAWKI”” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame” – click here
Pic 1We see the journey of Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades), after escaping from the massive fire where he and the group were staying awhile back. So glad to see him back. Although not without struggle and pain. He didn’t simply escape the fire, he barely made it out. His hands and neck and legs burned. Walking through the streets, he winds up stalked by one of the dead. He barely makes it away from it when a dog draws the thing away.
One thing I fail to mention each episode is how much I love the low-key, subdued opening. I also dig the original series’ opening sequence, the music. But something about this series is more unsettling, very creepy, an ominous sound leading us into every episode.
Pic 1ADaniel comes across a man named Efrain (Jesse Borrego), he seems like a bit of a religious man. He kills the dead like an old school vampire hunter, only putting his version of the stake – a long nail – through the zombies’ heads. Either way, it’s another human to help Daniel, at least for now. He aids the old man in getting someplace safe; our friend isn’t well, and definitely parched. They get a bit of water from a nearby fountain, it looks like it only comes on at certain times a day. Each Tuesday, 5 PM. Ah, the water wars we saw last episode, a situation into which Strand (Colman Domingo) has put himself. Looks like Daniel may wind up there, too.
Daniel: “What are you?”
Efrain: “Me? Im the fifth Beatle. You?”
Efrain is a wild dude. He bottles water when he can, then heads out on a bicycle cart with a speaker shouting AGUA in the streets to alert the thirsty people. At the same time men patrol the streets in vehicles with guns, not wanting a black market on water to crop up.
Our water dealer takes Daniel to a woman named Lola Guerrero (Lisandra Tena). She assess his leg, that it’s starting to rot. Either scrape away the pants burned into the wound, or it’s possible he’ll lose it. Poor old lad, he’s got to take the pain in order not to draw out the dead too much. He and Lola sing a song together in Spanish, as she goes about scraping out the wound. Lucky for him it works, and he’s only relegated to a crutch for awhile until it heals.
Pic 2Something is rotting in you far worse than your leg
When Efrain and Daniel bond, the former learns more about the latter. Mainly the fact Daniel has killed “ninetysix” people, that he feels he isn’t a good man and has to pay a debt, to redeem himself for his sins. He tells Efrain about leaving El Salvador, coming to Los Angeles to become a barber. He also cuts his new friend’s hair; an intimate and powerful gesture in its own right.
Now the old guy’s biggest worry is for his daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason), wondering where she is, how she is, if she’s safe, or what is the case. Even after nearly burning alive he’s still hard on himself. Because he believes he possibly burned his own daughter to death in that fire. He seeks forgiveness, but Efrain isn’t the one to give it to him.
I only hope Daniel doesn’t push himself too far. He’s determined to find redemption. So he prays. And out from the sky comes a lightning bolt, crashing into the head of a walker that nearly chomps down on him. A sign, if there ever were one. Still, Daniel ends up washing away in flood waters with the zombie. He winds up at the Gonzalez Dam, and by a stroke of luck he’s located by Lola. Dante Esquivel (Jason Manuel Olazabal) runs the operation, “distributing water” in his own fashion. A man named J.C. (Ricardo Chacon) confronts Lola when she brings the old guy around, though they cover, saying he was desperate for work. They put him out around the drainage area, hauling bodies. Where he’s able to get a good look at the dam’s entrance, where Strand soon winds up.
Daniel starts to see what daily life is like there, a far cry from where he once was and yet troubling. Everyone stands for Dante as he walks into the lunch hall, except for our man. It’s like a cult, ruled by authoritarian hand. This guy J.C. has got it in for Daniel, too. A fight breaks out when he tries acting like an asshole a bit too much. This gets the boss’ attention. Turns out, Dante knows a bit about Daniel, at least what he can gather from knowing the old man lived in El Salvador, the capital in fact.
He’s got a lip tattoo which reads SN, prompting the boss to speak the words “Sombra Negra“; in reference to the Black Shadow, a death squad in Salvador that targeted criminals and gang-bangers for execution in a form of government-backed vigilante justice. Now we see more of why Officer Salazar feels how he does about himself, why he’s in a sort of moral prison in his mind. He’s done some seriously bad fucking shit.
Pic 3With this revelation, Daniel’s ingratiated himself into the inner circle of the dam. Dante wants him on their team. Although our guy is mostly just concerned with finding a way to search for his daughter. So he’s out on patrols with the boss’ boys, they’re looking for sneaky people stealing water where they shouldn’t be. Daniel watches the clock, worried Efrain will show himself at 5 PM. Afterwards he leads them right to his new friend. What a cold move. He tries telling Lola that it was to protect her, that they’d find out sooner than later. Same kind of bullshit he used to convince himself while working on a Salvadoran death squad years earlier.
Lola: “This place is perfect for you. You are a thug. Go get your prize, thug.”
Finally, Daniel watches Strand stroll past the gates. Taken to see the boss. And later when Victor is placed in a cell, Daniel goes to see him with water. A meeting after so long apart. He hears that Ofelia made it out, she’s alive. This gives him hope, for the first time in forever. However, the old guy won’t believe him, believing this is all lies. Oh, christ. He’s going off the deep end. This is not good, at all.
Not to mention Daniel’s called int to torture information out of Efrain. This is ugly. Maybe some of the ugliest stuff we’ve seen so far on Fear the Walking Dead. As if he didn’t have any farther down to fall, after the death squad reveal. He’s being pulled back into that old, hideous life he fled in Salvador. If he even does make it back to Ofelia, he’ll never be the same person. And redemption can’t ever really come.
For Efrain’s sake, Lola throws herself on him. Before Daniel can kill him. Just a tragic situation altogether. You know where they’re being taken, too. Out to the damn, to face a fall. Strand, Lola, Efrain, and more are faced with execution for their crimes against Dante. Instead of tossing them all over, Daniel turns on Dante, pulling a gun and putting a bullet in his head. Saving the remainder of the people from a nasty fate. This is a start to redeeming what he’s done. He offers Lola a gun, a chance to do him in; he begs forgiveness. And it’s that she gives him.
Pic 4WOW, this is a stunner of an episode! One of my absolute favourites. Because Daniel Salazar was always interesting to me, this only upped the stakes. His backstory, his history is vile, and with the fall of society, the fall of civilised men comes another moment where he must face the ugliness of his past.
“Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame” is next week. Haven’t been this excited for a new episode in awhile.

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Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 14: “Wrath”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 14: “Wrath”
Directed by Stefan Schwartz
Written by Kate Barnow

* For a review of the previous episode, “Date of Death” – click here
* For a review of the Season 2 finale, “North” – click here
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Here we are at the penultimate episode of Season 2! Can’t believe it’s here so quick, honestly.
Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) is off on her own still, only the truck she’s driving breaks down on the road. As she takes care of it a couple walkers sneak up on her. She manages to get out of a jam, but now she finds herself on foot, walking down across a long wall in the middle of the desert. Is she headed back into the U.S. or what is the plan? I only hope she doesn’t get eaten alive.
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Nick (Frank Dillane) and Luciana (Danay Garcia) lay in bed together, having gotten closer with each episode as of late. Except he and his buddy Reynaldo (Cuauhtli Jiménez) are sneaking around under the nose of Alejandro (Paul Calderon) trying to make sure things go smoothly for the colonia.
At the hotel, Madison (Kim Dickens) watches over her newly returned husband Travis (Cliff Curtis) sleeping. They’re not doing well since his fateful last moments with Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) before he callously left his father behind. “Hes safer with people who understand him,” Madison tries to explain. Not going to fly right now. It’s hard, no matter how shitty of a person they are, to let go of someone you love, especially a child.
At the overtaken supermarket, Nick and Reynaldo head in with the oxy. Not only that, they want to see Marco (Alejandro Edda). They offer him oxy, every week, for a promise to be left alone to their own devices. Turns out Marco doesn’t need them any longer, and that spells trouble for their little colonia. ‘Cause this Marco, he’s fucking ruthless.
Serving up a bit of breakfast, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) tries to bond a bit with Travis. She feels as if she pushed his son away because of his behaviour. Rightfully so, which he readily admits, too. “Hes sick,” Travis tells her. He knows, it’s just a damn hard thing to accept as a father. He further apologises not for protecting her when Chris went haywire on them.
Worse than anything is the fact Brandon (Kelly Blatz) and Derek (Kenny Wormald) have wound up in the hotel. And when Madison asks about how they got there, they make it sound like their friend driving, who we assume is Chris, didn’t make it. Shit. That’s going to devastate Travis if and when he finds out. Madison goes to tell Strand (Colman Domingo) about what she’s discovered. He thinks they’ve got to try and keep it from Travis, at least until they can figure out what to do from here. He worries that if Travis finds out Chris is gone for good, it may do terrible and irreparable harm. “Hes already broken, thatll kill him,” confirms Madison.

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Back at the colonia, Nick lets Luciana know about their new predicament, advising they tell Alejandro. The head honcho isn’t pleased; not about the whole thing, nor about Nick going out on his own. There’s a bit of zombie trouble first, though. A walker stumbles in, about to bite Nick, and Alejandro takes a CHOMP right in his forearm. Nick tumbles over a railing with the living corpse, and this puts it right in the hospital bed of unsuspecting patient – whose nose gets bits off – then a nurse gets her fingers eaten. All before Nick puts an end to the zombie by pushing his fingers into its eyeballs until POP! What a god damn mess, every bit. Tragic, yet an awesome scene of chaos.
Along the border fence, Ofelia finds a hole cut, and starts in through the desert on the other side. At the same time in the colonia, those bitten – excluding Alejandro – head through the bus, into the wall of undead. Now Nick is worried that soon the “shooting starts” and he knows “faith is not gonna protect us.” He wants Luciana to go, although she isn’t as willing. Until Alejandro reveals to her he isn’t immune, that he was bitten by an addict, then the story went wild. She won’t leave with Nick, no matter the lie.
The hotel turns into chaos, as well. Refugees there in the parking garage aren’t happy that Brandon and Derek are being treated first. Little do they know this is a ploy for Madison to get them out of there without Travis knowing. Only he sees this from upstairs, spying the men who were with Chris. He manages to get down there before they’re tossed out.
Out of nowhere Ofelia gets bullets fired near her feet. She takes off to find what little cover she can. A man (Dayton Callie) with a rifle stalks her down, removing her knife: “Welcome to America.”

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Travis has Brandon and Derek taken back inside. He wants to know about Chris. Things get very, very tense. They tell him how it all went on the road. When Chris volunteered to drive, he dozed off and flipped their truck. Instant death through the windshield. Or is it really how things went down? Travis starts noticing their stories don’t add up. Little slips of the tongue. So he locks everyone outside, then starts in on beating the two young men. He kicks the living shit out of them before Brandon confesses: “We killed him.” His injuries were too bad and they decided to put him down. No surprise there. And that’s all Travis needed to hear. He cranks Brandon’s arm back out of its socket. Derek tries to fight him off, but Travis lets the beast out and demolishes what’s left of them both. Even stomps Brandon’s head in leaving him dead like Chris was on the road. Savage.

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What a whopper of a penultimate episode. Can’t wait for “North” up next.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 13: “Date of Death”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 13: “Date of Death”
Directed by Christoph Schrewe
Written by Brian Buckner

* For a review of the previous episode, “Pillar of Salt” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Wrath” – click here
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Swarms of bodies are at the gates of the hotel. But not walkers: people. They’re refugees trying to find safe haven. Madison (Kim Dickens), Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), Elena (Karen Bethzabe), they all stand there not knowing how to turn people away, yet having to do just that.
Then in the crowd Madison sees a face – it’s Travis (Cliff Curtis). He’s finally come back to her.
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We switch back to some time before with Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) standing over the dead man he shot. This is the moment which ultimately devastates his father. For the time being, Travis sticks around to try helping James (Israel Broussard) got shot in the process, doing a bit of stitching to the best of his ability. The humanity of Travis is still there; he digs a grave for the man who owned the farm, even makes a cross to go on top: “I dont even know your name,” he laments over the closed up grave afterwards. Later that night everyone sits by the fire and eats chicken, enjoying the farm’s commodities, except Travis. He has no time for the way his son’s acting after having murdered a man in cold blood. I genuinely don’t like Chris. He is a “savage” just like his father says.
Cut to Travis at the gates of the hotel. Alicia asks him outright where Chris is, and the look on his face certainly does nothing to assuage any fears she might have in her heart. But again, I can’t stand Chris. He deserves whatever he gets.
Madison and Travis talk about Nick (Frank Dillane) a little. Inevitably, Chris comes up. Travis tells her “I had no choice.” And so we’re back to the farm again. The chicken is gone, then the crew are ready to move out after a week; heading to San Diego. Feeling it isn’t the right choice, Travis does his own thing around the farm a while. He searches the house to try and find the owner’s name. After finding a wallet, he’s able to carve out the name in his cross: Elias Suarez. Soon they all board the truck and leave. Not long and they have to stop because James isn’t healed enough to travel. And you know what that means – Travis is at odds with the group again, as they’re ready to leave James behind to die.

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Guns are drawn and shit gets serious. Travis waits it out with James to try protecting him from the group. Chris ends up coming in and tricking his father, they hold him down and then James is murdered in mid sentence. “Your way doesn’t work,” Chris tells his father before leaving with the other two men: “Im better off without you.” He believes that who he’s becoming is right. He has actually become a sociopath. Much as I hate him, seeing Travis have to watch him drive off is heartbreaking.
At the hotel, Travis at least feels lucky to be at the hotel with Madison. He still feels guilt for what’s happened to his son. “I left him,” he tells Madison. She tries to reassure him things will be okay, but sadly too much has happened and right now Travis is profoundly wounded. His morality is all mixed up for having lost his boy.
Meanwhile, there’s all the refugees. They were let in because the people at the hotel haven’t become hardened, they still want to help others as much as they can. Alicia is checking people out in a makeshift medical tent, although her mother comes to get her – Madison reveals the truth about her father’s death not being an accident, and in fact a suicide. His note simply stated: I LOVE YOU ALL BUT ENOUGH’S ENOUGH. This, of course, rocks Alicia. The honest openness of Madison is enough to keep mother and daughter from any hurt feelings, even if it’s tough to digest. Alicia is strong, though, and together these women can get through anything. At the same time I can see there’ll likely be fallout from this decision of Madison’s because Alicia still feels upset deep down. And who wouldn’t be?

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They’ve got worse things to worry about right now. Because at the gates, up turn the group Travis left behind. You know he can’t be in the same place as them. Will Chris pull Travis back in and will they be let past the gates? Or will someone let them through unknowingly? Is Chris even with them??
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Can’t wait for next episode – “Wrath” – and I’m hoping for a big, angry confrontation! This was a nice episode. I’ve seen reviews already saying it was boring, nothing happened, same old stuff. This is the episode I’ve waited for, to see a rift open up between father and son. Again, that’s also paralleled in the troubles Madison has with her own kids, albeit less intense than Travis and Chris.
Either way, pumped for the next chapter in Season 2.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 12: “Pillar of Salt”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 12: “Pillar of Salt”
Directed by Gerardo Naranjo
Written by Carla Ching

* For a review of the previous episode, “Pablo & Jessica” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Date of Death” – click here
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In the villa, a family of three – mother, father, daughter – looks to be escaping. They quietly make their way through, past the empty streets and sleeping people, to try getting through the wall of zombies. Papa cuts open a walker and they all paint themselves, trying to make it through the wall like that. This opening sequence is chilling. An aerial shot craning upwards, wide on the ground, shows us how many of the zombies stumble around in the fenced off area. The family, luckily, gets out alive.
Then out of nowhere comes a vehicle. Some men confront the father. Marco Rodriguez (Alejandro Edda) pulls his gun on them, eventually forcing them into the vehicle, too. And off they go.
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Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason) is off on her own. She’s doing fine. Killing zombies, taking care of business. A lot easier just to watch one person’s back. But then again, there’s nobody to watch yours except you. That isn’t always easy. For now, Ofelia finds herself near the ocean on the beach in a little house. She remembers life, before the fall and the zombie apocalypse. Her fiancee, their plans. All that’s long gone, painful memories at this point.
Back at the hotel everybody does their part to get things going. They’re locking the gates, making sure the electrical systems and generators are running to the best of their abilities. A garden’s being planted. Madison (Kim Dickens), Strand (Colman Domingo), Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), they’re actually enjoying themselves for the first time in so long. Although Alicia worries for her brother, Nick (Frank Dillane). Speaking of Nick, he’s spent the night with Luciana (Danay Garcia). They’ve found about the family taking off in the night; the father was the one who helped get water for the villa. So Nick and Luciana have to take charge.
Tragedy strikes when the mother of the bride stabs Strand for having dispatched her daughter. Some of the hotel survivors try helping Victor, as do Madison and Alicia. One of the survivors studied in med school. He works to keep Strand alive.
When Alejandro (Paul Calderon) discovers the family missing from their villa, he isn’t happy. Mostly he feels slighted, so it seems. There’s something more here. Something boiling. I feel like Alejandro is wearing a mask, or at the very least hiding something.
Problem at the hotel is Ilene (Brenda Strong), the grieving bride’s mother. Madison lays down the law: “If anyone raises a hand to another, theyre out. Any of us; gone. Thats how it has to be. Thats the only way this works.” And such is the grounds for a new, primitive society in the hotel.
Nick is starting to wonder about Alejandro, who, for his part, doesn’t exactly appear calm and collected like he did once. He and Luciana want to head out to take care of their business. Except now Alejandro says nobody leaves their villa, for as long as he says. Hmm. That’s definitely sketchy.

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Elena (Karen Bethzabe) and Madison are on the road to seek out medication and supplies to help Strand. They bond a bit, as Elena tells her own personal story, more than we’ve heard yet. And just so happens it involves drug addiction, or someone of hers addicted to them. Something Madison knows too well. Her own son was lost in the drugs. At the same time, he’s lost in Mexico. Stuck in Alejandro’s little “colonia” (a creepy word if you think of this) – the villa he’s ruling over.
But the villa and the hotel are connected. Madison and Elena head to that big supermarket the gang controls, that’s where they go for the medical supplies necessary to treat Strand. Will this soon bring Nick and his mother together? Alejandro’s kept Nick from going anywhere today, so the reunion will have to wait. While Madison and Elena do their shopping, Marco is upstairs questioning the escapee father about the colonia from which he ran in the night. When Madison gets wind, via Elena, that an American came with Luciana about the drugs, things get tense. She flips, wanting to find her boy. Before Elena has to get them out fast.
Well, Nick is worrying more by the minute. Alejandro is gone paranoid, to the extreme. Acting like he’s been burdened with everything. He requires faith. “So you want me to just follow you blindly?” Nick finally outright inquires. However, it’s only more control Alejandro wants. That’s how it seems to me. Either way Nick doesn’t want to be under anybody’s thumb. He’s worried most about people going without water, and that Alejandro keeps pressing people not to leave, under any circumstances. You know the former junkie won’t have that. His philanthropist side has emerged larger with every episode he’s in. Simultaneously, he softens the hardened exterior of Luciana slowly.

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Everything’s slipping. On the rooftops, Nick spies Marco and his henchmen with binoculars: looks like they’ve found Alejandro’s colonia. Uh oh.
Back to Ofelia – she flashes to memories of her mother Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola), talking about men and how you find the right one, et cetera. All those things she’d be thinking on the edge of a marriage. Her mother also talks about the violence of where they lived, and that leaving their original home wasn’t a struggle; they had to leave. They did not want to “live in fear” everyday. Griselda says she’d do anything on Earth for her family: “That is love.” On her own in the zombie apocalypse, heading back towards the USA, Ofelia understands her parents more than ever.
At the hotel, everybody’s going a little crazy. Elena isn’t pleased with the way Madison is acting after possibly hearing of Nick. She turns on the hotel lights, she’s made everything difficult with Marco and their crew. Madison is letting her head get clouded and Alicia doesn’t see things the way her mother does; not about the new world, not about Nick and what he did or where he’s been. Lot of tension between these two.
Although, out in the darkness Travis (Cliff Curtis) can see the hotel lights. When they shut off, he walks in their direction; alone. His son is nowhere to be seen.
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This was a stellar episode! Loved the twisting  bits wondering if Madison will finally find Nick, the intrigue about Alejandro and his paranoia. And now Travis is on his way back to his wife, hopefully having either put his son down or left him with those crazy dudes.
Next episode is titled “Date of Death” and I have a feeling we may see a cast member depart. Will it be Strand? I hope not. Someone else, please. I dig Victor. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 11: “Pablo & Jessica”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 11: “Pablo & Jessica”
Directed by Uta Briesewitz
Written by Kate Erickson

* For a review of the previous episode, “Do Not Disturb” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Pillar of Salt” – click here
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Victor (Colman Domingo) and Madison (Kim Dickens) are trapped in the hotel bar. Surrounded by a wall of walkers. They do their best to start taking out zombies, one by one, when Madison can hear Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) calling out from somewhere. Bad ass mom starts taking charge, as she and Victor cover themselves in dead blood to mask their scent. Slowly, they push through the throngs of living dead to get out of the bar. The pair climb up to a balcony, at least away from the walkers a moment. Certain areas of the building are just – pardon the pun – dead quiet. Not a soul around. Strand believes maybe, if it came down to it, Alicia would leave: “To survive.” And for a second Madison almost believes that.
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They keep hydrated, stay vigilant, as outside the zombies ramble around. From a way off they hear living people banging on a door. It’s Alicia and Elena. Reunited again. Strand’s not exactly happy to see strangers, though.
Back in the protected Mexican villa, Nick (Frank Dillane) is adjusting to some kind of new life. He’s trying to make up for his recent mess, offering his services to Alejandro (Paul Calderon). He wants to use his junkie experience to make things right. Out comes that old side of Nick he left behind him. Alejandro watches on as Nick shows off a little drug magic to “2020” by Suuns. Nice, fun little sequence to add in amongst the horror of it all.
Madison doesn’t want to leave Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) behind, not without knowing for sure where she’s gone. Strand and Alicia don’t think it’s worth it, as Ofelia didn’t think they’d make it anyways. She probably left on her own. At the same time, Elena lets the group know about some supplies still kicking around the hotel. Victor and Madison go to try talking with a man named Oscar (Andres Londono), although that’s not exactly easy at first. After dropping their weapons, Madison takes charge: “Im tired of runnin‘, Victor.”
She tries to convince Oscar and his people they need each other. First, they need to clear out all the zombies. Only they don’t want Elena to stay because of what she did. Kinda understandable. But then again, I might’ve locked people inside that room too if I were here. You can’t be sure. Barbaric? Sort of. Smart? You betcha. Either way, Oscar’s willing to give up some keys for the hotel. That’s a start. As for Strand, he isn’t convinced with Madison believing they can make a home out of the hotel.
The story of Alejandro’s bite comes out, as he was “beaten by the living” he was simultaneously “bitten by the dead.” Luciana (Danay Garcia) brought him away from it all, to their villa. And death never came for him somehow. All because Alejandro tried saving a poor junkie that was mistaken for a walker. Ah, emotional intrigue between these two. I like their chemistry as characters together. A new relationship and connection for this season to feed off.
Then words comes to the villa: they’ve found Pablo dead, Luciana’s brother.

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At the hotel, Alicia, Strand, everybody pitches in to clear the hallways and rooms. Madison leads everybody in doing what needs to get done. Alicia says it’ll “take weeks” for them to get everything cleared, every floor, each building. Mother and daughter get a bit of time together, Madison apologises for her perceived failures as a mom. I really enjoy Fear the Walking Dead because of the amount of smart, tough female characters so far. These two, of course, being some of the best.
Nick now has his own trailer in the villa, a place of his own. Semblance of a normal life. He doesn’t necessarily want it. Alejandro insists. First thing Nick does? Touch the ceiling. Not because he’s too tall. Because it’s a room, four walls. For the first time in a long time.
The hotel clearing takes on new form, as Alicia’s come up with a plan to use the high riptides in order to get rid of some walkers. Alicia and Hector start luring them outside. Inside, Strand and Elena open up doors, Madison gets zombies piling through the halls. They draw hordes of the undead out the doors and onto the pier. Madison is the one to take the long walk alone, locked on the pier with the zombies, pushing further and further. The others plan to get her on a small boat at the end. Madison jumps off and the zombies, like lemmings, go toppling after her into the water. Luckily, Hector and Alicia are there to scoop her up.
Later, everybody celebrates with a nice dinner together, candle light, wine. Strand goes off and winds up talking with the former groom, the one who lost his bride. “I wont let you touch her,” he tells Victor. She’s not lost, but she certainly isn’t herself anymore. Eventually you just have to let go. That goes for Victor, as well.
Oh, and the bride’s name was Jessica – hence the Pablo (Luciana’s brother) and Jessica of the episode’s title.

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Again, I enjoyed this episode. A few inconsistencies, though nothing major for me. People complain about the cell phone? There’s no guarantee that was Alicia’s cell. She could have easily found it in the hotel, so chill, nitpickers.
Most of all I enjoyed Madison and Alicia this week. They are a great mother-daughter combo: smart, fierce, determined, flawed. Awesome stuff. Excited for “Pillar of Salt” because I can’t wait to see a few of these threads develop further, and maybe we’ll see more of Chris and Travis, too. They’re at a crossroads, which I’m dying to see resolve, or explode.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 10: “Do Not Disturb”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 10: “Do Not Disturb”
Directed by Michael McDonough
Written by Lauren Signorino

* For a review of the previous episode, “Los Muertos” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Pablo & Jessica” – click here
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This episode starts with a wedding reception. Might look familiar, as it’s likely the one that happened right before the zombie apocalypse broke out. Everyone is happy, having a good time. Or at least most people are, anyway. Such is life. The world went on turning while the infection came on strong. And some guests start to get wary of sticking around too long, no matter if it’s a wedding. When the bride’s father collapses mid dance with his daughter, the phone lines go dead, nothing’s looking too good for any of the guests. Dear ole dad comes back to life from the dead, and then one of the women from the hotel locks everybody inside the reception hall to let things take effect. Nasty, creepy opener.
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We’re finally back with Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) and his son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie). They’re not exactly bonding, as you can tell Travis has trouble relating to his boy. Nevertheless, he lets Chris head off on his own to check out a nearby building. Voices and walkers send him into survival mode. Several men inside are shocked to see Chris, who takes off with his father quickly, not waiting to find out what the men were up to, or what they were like. With a new-to-them car they’ve stolen, Travis takes his son “away,” he says, wherever they can manage. He lets Chris take the wheel to learn to drive.  They have a normal moment for once.
After their car runs out of gas, Travis and Chris start a fire, camping along the highway. They start to figure out what’s next. At least Travis tries to make it seem positive. “It might not be perfect, but itll be ours,” he tells his son. “And then what?” Chris replies hopelessly. Soon, a truck comes by; the men who Chris ran into earlier. They don’t seem dangerous, although they do feel sketchy. For the time being they all relax.
Back with Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) in the hotel, she watches zombies stumble through the hall. Waiting for her time, counting how many of them there are nearby. When she feels ready Alicia walks out into the dark hallway, undead lurking not far. Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) is nowhere to be found. So Alicia goes it alone, down an elevator shaft. Narrowly missing being eaten. The hotel employee from the wedding helps her up, then questions Alicia frantically: “Where is he?”
Where is who?

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Chris and Travis get to chatting with the trio. Lots of tragic stuff, as they recount to the men about how California’s basically been decimated. They roast Spam over the fire, talk about killing the “wasted” – what their group calls the zombies. But Travis doesn’t like having his boy around people like them, eager to trade tales about murder and mayhem in this new world. More and more, the father-son duo bump horns.
The hotel employee, Elena, let zombies into the halls. To contain the problem, so she says. She’s searching for a man named Hector. Only Alicia wants to get to her mother, Madison (Kim Dickens), who’s trapped with Strand (Colman Domingo) in the bar. Trouble is this woman seems pretty dead set on keeping Alicia right where she is, and until Hector comes back she isn’t totally thrilled about going anywhere else.
Father and son can’t get on the same page. Travis wants to keep his son non-violent, he doesn’t want him swept away in the carnage of their new existence. “I want to take care of you,” he tells Chris. But the kid doesn’t care. He wants to be with who he sees as strong people. However, Travis finds them too dangerous. And they are, you can just tell.
Alicia and Elena take their chances together. They lure walkers into a room then trap them inside. What I dig in this episode is how Alicia is becoming a big time bad ass. She’s stabbing walkers, dangling from hotel room balconies, she’s just owning it. This is how things are now, and she doesn’t hesitate anymore. Well, Elena and Alicia get downstairs, first to the reception hall. Elena’s no slouch, either. She “contained” that problem and she will continue to contain them all until she’s dead or there are no more problems left to worry about (like that’ll ever happen). “Ive seen worseWeve done worse,” Alicia assures her.

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Meanwhile, Travis is still highly unsure about being with these new men they’ve met. Chris is right at home laughing and talking with them. His father’s uneasy. “The end times made us gods,” one of them says to Travis. They’re somehow pleased with the evening effect of the apocalypse. Seriously? Fucking idiots. Coming across a farm, Travis suggests they stay there, but Chris thinks they need to be with a group.
Things at the hotel get tense. Other survivors have a hold on Hector and they want Elena out, along with Alicia if she’s on her side. But the sly women make their way out of the situation, down into the bowels of the hotel. There, they find Strand and Madison hiding behind a locked door; reunited and it feels so good!
At the same time, Travis realises someone owns that farm and he’s still around. He has a shotgun, too. Now the men they’ve met want to take the farm. Travis can’t let that slide, even if his son isn’t too bothered. And then Chris shoots the guy, killing him. He and his father have officially been separated, this act made sure of that. There’s no telling what happens next for them.

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What a great episode. I often say that, but this one really put the screws to us, emotionally and viscerally. A couple nice zombie kills, plus lots of intrigue. The drama between Travis and Chris is what interested me most, and of course the unstoppable Alicia.
Next episode is “Pablo & Jessica” and I can only imagine what we’ll have in store for us.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 9: “Los Muertos”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 9: “Los Muertos”
Directed by Deborah Chow
Written by Alan Page

* For a review of the previous episode, “Grotesque” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Do Not Disturb” – click here
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After checking in with Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) last episode back from the break – where is his mother Madison (Kim Dickens), his sister Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey)? What about the others?
Well, Nick’s enjoying a bit of peace and quiet in the Mexican commune where he’s found shelter. Although not everybody there’s having a great time. There are still those who are ill, those injured, and so on. For the most part it’s a paradise compared to where he’s been since the zombie apocalypse began.
Except for when it isn’t. Everyone has their own way of dealing with things. Mexicans are no different than the rest of us. Let’s just say the first 5 minutes opening this episode are intense. Looks like south of the border human sacrifice has come back.
This is my favourite Fear the Walking Dead opener yet, out of both seasons. Chilling to the bone. I love it.
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We catch up with Madison and Co. She and her daughter ride in the back of a truck, scoping out the horizon with Strand (Colman Domingo) and Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason). The mother is the only one dead set on continuing to search for her son. She knows he’s a survivor. And indeed he is, help or no help. He’s doing her proud, though. Helping out in the village where he’s been taken in, not sitting by idly while others work. A good man.
When Strand and their small group go back to the coast his boat is gone. The military’s taken it. Totally different situation for them at this point. “Its me and you now, whether you like it or not,” Alicia tells her mother when Madison worries Nick won’t find them without the boat. They do the smart thing now and leave a message in the sand, just in case.
Then they head off to scope out a hotel by the beach. Shelter is a must. After watching the place awhile they head on inside. Not expecting to find anything other than a roof over their heads. In the building there is a barricade against the door; a last stand was taken, no doubt.
Will they find humans? Walkers? Both? Strand, with his big ole balls, starts ringing a service bell. Not a sound, other than the ringing. Safe for now.
In the village, Luciana (Danay Garcia) does a lot of the boss work. She keeps an eye on Nick, enlisting him for a bit of help. She knows what he’s capable of after seeing him on the road, caked in blood, walking amongst the dead. I wonder what she has in store for him. Out in the sacrifice pit she starts killing zombies, laying out rules: “You stay absolutely quiet.” They cover themselves in blood then get going.
Strand and the crew find a wedding inside, left with the cake barely cut into. They share a bit of personal information, as Ofelia talks about a near marriage. “The pastitll make you sick,” Strand tells her deciding the chat is over. Smart move.

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When Nick asks about the morning ritual, Luciana talks about faith. There’s lots of superstition in the way she, as well as many of the Mexicans, understand the apocalypse. She and many of the others, such as the doctor Alejandro (Paul Calderon), believe that once everything passes, the world is washed clean. Yeah, okay. I wouldn’t hold my breath. After some time they come across a gang; guys you do not want to fuck with, whatsoever. The man running it all? Marco Rodriguez (Alejandro Edda). Seems that Luciana has a deal going with the gang, a trade-type setup. They’ve got a supermarket full of everything, stocked on the shelves, and Luciana wheels herself a cart to get supplies.
At the hotel, Madison and the others start searching. She wants to keep things careful, although Alicia and Ofelia are off to starting searching on their own. Strand and Madison do a bit of hanging at the bar. “You need a drink, I need a drink,” he quips. They pour themselves some martinis, take a load off for a few minutes. Upstairs, Alicia and Ofelia look through the corridors, checking to see if there’s anything of use to them. Not all the rooms are clear, as the sound of zombies is evident behind several doors. They do find empty ones; relatively. One of the creepiest walkers yet is in a bathroom, though he poses no threat. However, he does start a conversation between Alicia and Ofelia, about the tiresome nature of surviving amongst a new and awful world.
When Nick leaves the supermarket, he’s caught taking an authorised treat in his pocket. They want to cut off his hand. But the tricky ex-junkie makes a deal, saying they won’t bring any more drugs. And that’s no good for Marco, whose family would be directly affected. A close call, nearly getting Nick’s throat cut. What a deal maker. He gets his tasty treat, too. Luciana isn’t too happy he did that because now the gang is following them, hoping to figure out where their little commune is located.

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The drinking makes Strand get closer to Madison. She tells him about what happened to her husband; impaired driving I assume, Madison doesn’t say it in so many words. She told the kids he fell asleep at the wheel. “To false hope,” she and Strand toast while she drinks and tosses glasses at the wall. Smart move. More so when Strand bangs on the piano a bit. They make lots of noise and nearby there are zombies, dying to get close to some human meat.
Alicia gets out of the shower and sees walkers taking swan dives off the balconies. They hit the ground, then get up walking again. Shit. All the noise downstairs has been drawing walkers through the halls, down from stories up. Real smooth move. Sort of ironic, after Madison was talking about trying to protect her kids.
Remember that treat Nick stole? It wasn’t even for him. It was for the little girl whose father got eaten alive in the opener. Wow. A good man becomes more good by the minute. This puts Nick in a room with Alejandro. They chat, Alejandro talks about their current situation. He doesn’t want to offer comfort. Only faith. Strange that he can’t see that it’s all the same thing. He believes that the dead will leave. Nick catches a glimpse of the man’s shoulder: a big bite once taken out of it is now a healed wound. Very, very intriguing. He’s like a sort of Jesus figure amongst the zombie apocalypse. The one who has risen after the dreaded, infecting bite: “This world is for usthe children of the resurrection,” he preaches to his masses. Nick is falling into the faith head first. Not good.

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At the same time, Victor and Madison are starting to discover their walker problem at the hotel. Time to check out? Definitely time to start moving, as the zombies are encroaching on the bar. Nice time to be hammered. They are boxed in crazily. How will they manage to get out of this one?
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A solid episode to add to this back half of Season 2. I’m hoping that next episode we see more of the crew and find unity once more. Also, I worry for Nick. He is becoming sucked into a dangerous place, I think.
Next episode is titled “Do Not Disturb” and it’ll be good, I can feel it.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 8: “Grotesque”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 8: “Grotesque”
Directed by Daniel Sackheim
Written by Kate Barnow

* For a review of the previous episode, “Shiva” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Los Muertos” – click here
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They’re baaaaa-aaack!
Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) wakes amongst dead, fly-ridden bodies. A woman and her boy are there, but you know Nick – he’s doing his own thing, all the way. So much so he’s off on a dangerous path, away from his family, his few friends remaining. By far, he’s always been my favourite character, ever since that great opening to Season 1. What I’m hoping is that we get to spend a nice while with Nick, past this season. But especially right now. I want to get more into his character.
Having him on his own is perfect for that. Even if there’s nothing except death and madness lying ahead of him on the path he’s chosen. At least he figured out how to exist surrounded by walkers without them eating him alive. That’s one thing he’s got going for himself.
This opening sequence sees Nick headed towards Tijuana, all the while “How Low” by José Gabriel González plays and the softness of the music makes me wonder: how low are we about to get, or how low can this world plagued by zombies go in its descent?
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Nick flashes back to a time with Gloria (Lexi Johnson). He’s in rehab trying to get clean. “Exploring his thoughts and feelings” and trying to get his head wrapped around how he’ll deal with his family once he gets out. He talks about his father, the lack of not being shown “how to be a man in the world” that’s so obviously lacking in his tutelage of Nick as a son. The deep pain inside him is starting to come out, so this is exactly what I was hoping for coming in.
In Mexico, Nick is still figuring out how to be a man. Only the world has changed, drastically. In this new world he doesn’t need a father figure, nor could he hope to find one. Because this world is dead, full of blood and guts and killing and worse. Nobody’s experienced it before, nobody knows how to do anything in this world. So to ‘be a man’ he needs no one other than himself. He can make his way, discovering what it is to be a man now on his own.
During the night a woman creeps up on Nick as he sleeps. She whacks him with a bat, speaking Spanish. She runs him off without his supplies; great. A headache AND no stuff anymore. Doesn’t phase him. He goes on down the road, off on his journey. Zombies and abandoned cars litter the landscape, the open plains and roadways of the Mexican hills. From one direction comes a jeep with a few armed men inside. Looks like Nick’s wandered into gangland territory. These guys are n’t the simple Mexicans out in the country, these look like militia-types packing serious weaponry. They also take enjoyment out of finishing off an old man in his car. Nothing bodes well for Nick once the men give chase, starting to fire round after round at him. Luckily he’s able to outrun them. But finds himself out in the middle of nowhere.
Smart thinking Nick tries to get some water out of a cactus. Not so smart when he eats a bit of it then pukes. At least he’s trying. This leads him to drink some of his own piss, Bear Grylls style. Surprisingly, it isn’t as a bad as the cactus. Good on you, Nick. You’re a survivor. I guess being a junkie doesn’t exactly leave you with no skills at all. Regardless he’s got a long trek ahead of him, wherever he’s headed. In the night, he flashes back once more to being with Gloria. They receive visits from their parents respectively in rehab. Madison (Kim Dickens) comes alone, without her husband. He died in a head-on collision. A bit of devastating news, even worse to be in rehab and hear it.
Nick winds up getting attacked while daydreaming in Mexico. A couple dogs nearly do him in. Just what you need: a bit of rabies! Well, he gets up on a car and escapes the animals. Right before a horde of the undead come shambling down nearby. They’re distracted long enough to eat the pair of dogs, and then they turn their attention to Nick.
When he thinks he’s finished, Nick almost silently prays to be saved. And he is delivered. Gunshots and vehicle horns sound in the distance. This gives Nick time to rip a belt off a zombie to tighten on his wound, as well as have a bit of lunch himself on one of the torn up dogs. He really has been watching Bear, hasn’t he?

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The one thing nobody can fight or trick is blood loss. Nick starts going a little wobbly after awhile. He sees a zombie that looks strikingly like Gloria – a vision only – he hears her voice, other voices, all surrounding him with the zombies. Dude is fucked up. He lurches along with the walkers, as they get closer to Tijuana.
Those armed men return and open fire on the zombies. One by one, they’re mowed down. Nick stands his ground while walkers are blown away next to him. But those men aren’t quick enough. The zombies close in and take two of them out, eating them alive. Nick walks past as the men are devoured. Down the road people watch the walkers, they see Nick collapse. A woman named Luciana doesn’t want to help him, although the men she’s with do.
Laying in the road, bleeding, Nick flashes back again.
He and Gloria lay together. They’re in the old church where the series first began in Season 1’s initial episode. Remember? They prepare to shoot up, both eager to get their fix. I’m excited to see more on this end. Are we going to see some dark secret lurking in Nick’s past?
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Without any help Nick makes it through the night lying in the road. Rain wakes him up, washing him (relatively) clean. He staggers further into town. Tough bastard, you’ve got to give it to him. In a store, he seeks out a bit of medicine to help with his nasty leg. Not sure if the junkie needs any medicine in the zombie apocalypse, post-fall, beat up leg or no. He eventually comes across Luciana and the men. He explains about the dogs, gets himself a drink of water. They take him to a legitimate doctor in their camp. He gets to work on Nick. They chat some.
And while Nick wants to be on his own, out with the “monsters” and such, the doctor shows him their settlement. It’s big, filled with kids and adults and all sorts of places within a walled compound. He sees a community.
So the world, it goes on. There are people trying to build it back up. There is hope.

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A nice episode to start up this second half of Season 2. I love Nick’s character. Now we can look forward to the rest of the gang this following episode I’m sure, to propel us forward into more wild situations, more journeys and self discoveries and death and zombies.
“Los Muertos” is next.

Fear The Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 7: “Shiva”

AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 7: “Shiva”
Directed by Andrew Bernstein
Written by David Wiener

* For a review of the previous episode, “Sicut Cervus” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Grotesque” – click here
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The mid-season finale is here! What will happen? Who will survive, AND WHAT WILL BE LEFT OF THEM?
We open on a flashback from the life of Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades). In the jungle, a boy comes across bodies strewn through a dirty pool of water. This is Daniel as a little boy. Someone tells him to take a gun.
Then he wakes, he and his daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) get out of bed quickly at the sound of a gunshot. She’s not well, though. Not well at all.
And then Daniel wakes from a dream within a dream. Outside there’s commotion. We’re back over with Strand (Colman Domingo) after he’s put Thomas out of his misery. Then in a fit, Celia Flores (Marlene Forte) rages at him. As well as at Madison (Kim Dickens) a bit. Everyone is slightly in shock. Nick (Frank Dillane) offers his condolences, but ultimately Ofelia doesn’t want to hear much.
At the same time, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) tries to tell Travis (Cliff Curtis) about what Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) did. Though the loving father, a bit dumb because of it, refuses to listen. So many things happening. Even worse, Celia has kicked everybody out. Every last one of them. Now, the search for a new place to settle begins.
Travis goes after his son, who leads him on a bit of chase out away from the house. An ominous opener.


Out and about Travis picks himself up a knife from a corpse. In the distance, his son watches and maneuvers around. Back at the house, Madison tries to get her kids in gear so that they’re not totally unprepared when the time comes to start leaving.
Travis comes across a man in his house. At first they’re at odds, but things smooth out. With his foot in bad shape Travis rests a moment. It’s nasty, too. Definitely needs to get patched up.
Most impressively, Nick brings back the zombified Luis. This buys them brownie points with Celia. He understands them, in some way. Or at least he’s able to empathize. And perhaps that’s a unique quality in any world, our real world, let alone the zombie fucking apocalypse. Celia doesn’t want the others around, though allows Nick to stay. He isn’t going to stick around without his family. She eventually agrees. Aside from Victor; he must go.
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Celia: “This is not the apocalypse. This is our beginning, Nicholas. The end of death itself. Life eternal.”


While Strand goes on with burying Thomas, Daniel advises not to, as the ground itself is infected. Everything there is infected, Celia, her walkers. Very seriously, Daniel says not to put him in the ground on that property. Paranoid? Who knows any more.
Madison notices Nick is different lately, especially since getting out of Los Angeles. He seems to have a fascination with the zombies. He relates Celia’s hope to be back with Luis to his own mother’s desire to have him back, when he was using. Although his view of walking amongst the dead is a bit naive, a bit too confident (scaring me at the mid-season mark), there’s part of him I understand, as a former addict and alcoholic. Part of his rebirth has now become inexplicably tied to this walking out into the undead hordes.
Daniel and Ofelia end up at odds with the guards at the house. He pulls a knife and things get serious. Simultaneously, Strand is told he can’t stay, though it doesn’t bother him much. And as Madison gets a bit emotional about it, he reassures their supposed friendship, or whatever it’s been, was only means to an end.
Travis finds there’s somebody in the man’s place where he rests: Chris is hiding in a room, with a gun, and a little kid. Whoa. This young man is losing his god damn mind.
At the house, Celia says some words while Strand buries Thomas in the ground. Then she tells him to get out. However, he wants to bury Tom fully, throwing on the dirt and all. Ofelia worries for her father. They’ve got Daniel stashed away somewhere. Turns out they’re apparently worried about his recent behaviour.
Back to Chris – he thinks Madison and Alycia believe him to be a “monster” even though his dad disagrees. The son runs off before his father runs him down. Chris even tries to stab his dad. “Look at me,” Chris pleads with Travis: “Im no good.”
Then there’s Daniel. He finds himself tied up, being monologued to death by Celia. The poor guy is a haunted man. All those years ago he was clearly forced to do awful things, as a boy. Now, as a man, those memories plague him. Eternally. But even in the face of Celia and her brand of madness, Daniel holds strong. He is one of the toughest bastards out there. He sees a woman afterwards: his wife. He really is starting to lose it.


When Nick, soaked in blood, finds Travis, the father and son are not going back. He says Chris needs him, and can’t be with the others. Not now. Seriously? C’mon, Travis.
Youre makina mistake,” Madison says right after the last scene. Perfect moment. Though she says it to Celia, talking about Strand, it works perfect because that’s exactly what her husband is doing, as well. As far as Celia goes, she runs a tight ship. Won’t seem to budge much. Madison pleads to understand how Celia sees the undead.
Meanwhile, Daniel falls apart. The vision of his wife, the one speaking to him earlier as Celia spoke. He sees her, flashing back to his past as a boy; the bodies, the water, all that horror. He was forced to kill his “first victim” that day: “No, my love. The first victim was you,” replies his dead wife.
Then once Celia shows Madison where the walkers are kept, as the former talks about what a mother wouldn’t do for her children, you can almost see it coming. It’s just as intense, either way. She closes the gate behind her, leaving Celia inside with the zombies. Awaiting death.
WOW! MADISON! YES! Fuck that Celia. They’re taking the place for themselves. Or is that wishful thinking?


Daniel goes full bad ass and gets himself out of the chair to which he was tied. His wife’s still talking to him. But still, he’s… okay, for the time being. Also, Strand is being escorted out. “Dont worry about me, Ill hail a cab,” Victor quips, as the gate closes him out and Alicia waves from the distance.
Resident bad ass Daniel heads in to where the undead are kept. He pools a load of gasoline around their cage. In between the zombies, he sees real people. Maybe some victims, people he knew. Then his wife is there, too. He lights the match and lets the place go up. He stands in the middle of it all. Is Daniel going to die in there? Well the whole place starts to go up. The work Madison did is worth nothing now. Everything is on fire. Daniel is no more, obviously. Kills me. Nick and Travis are nowhere to be found, though we know the former was planning on staying away with Chris.


When Nick arrives, he isn’t happy. About Travis not coming back, about their group being destructive. He turns around then walks back into the zombie masses. Strand piles the rest into his vehicle before taking off. They leave Nick in the distance, the smoke, by himself. The group is all split up.
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Great mid-season finale. I’m not going to be surprised if Daniel decided to bolt last minute and somehow made it out, there’s no definitive answer on him. Although, it’d be emotional if he were gone. Maybe Ofelia’s character, through tragedy, could grow more. Regardless, a lot of fun. Can’t wait for the show to return later in the year. Stay with me, fellow fans!

Fear The Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 6: “Sicut Cervus”

AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 6: “Sicut Cervus
Directed by Kate Dennis
Written by Brian Buckner

* For a review of the previous episode, “Captive” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Shiva” – click here
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We begin this episode in a Mexican church, as the priest speaks of the world’s troubles not as from God, because he wouldn’t do such a thing. Then out from the church everybody goes, grabbing weapons. Thomas Abigail (Dougray Scott) shows up to warn the priest not to go ahead with what they’ve got planned. But everyone starts bleeding from the eyes, collapsing, and Tom is left in the midst of it. Incredibly creepy opener to this week’s episode.
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Back out on the boat, Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) is defending his decision to shoot Reed. Turns out Madison (Kim Dickens) is worried about Travis’ (Cliff Curtis) son. Inside, Luis (Arturo del Puerto), Strand (Colman Domingo) and Madison spot some incoming trouble, people in a smaller boat. They’re interested in the nice boat. Luckily, Daniel (Rubén Blades) listens in to the Spanish conversation, sussing out what’s going on. And things start to take a turn for the worse.
Gun shots. Footsteps running everywhere. All of a sudden the boat starts up, Strand is all right. Daniel heads out to start taking care of the soon to be zombified corpses. Poor Luis hasn’t fared too well either, taking a shot in the gunfight and ready to die. He doesn’t want to get it in the head. Preferring to walk the land as the undead.
But soon the survivors arrive on shore. They head into the village nearby where things are… rough. Piles of bodies everywhere. Some impressively nasty practical makeup effects work. The whole place is an outright massacre, which of course sets Victor off worried for Tom. A large group of walkers turns up around the corner, even some of the choir boys from the church earlier, and the zombie action is pumping! Everybody takes their turn swinging. But the swings in turn take their toll: Nick (Frank Dillane) is forced to kill a little girl in her pink dress with the bow in her hair.
However, even worse is Daniel’s experience. He first kills the zombie priest, then a little boy comes at him. He grabs him by the throat, immediately flashing back to a devastating time, some time long ago; the first visual glimpse of Daniel’s past we’ve seen, of what he’s only so far alluded to in brief chats about having seen awful military situations before. Can’t wait for more of this to come out. Wow. More than that, Chris almost lets a zombie eat Madison before Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) intervenes. Yikes! That’s some stepmother-stepson shit that’s dangerous.


Finally, a little hope. They reach the gated path to a load of fields approaching that palace where we saw Thomas and Strand back before the fall of humanity. For the moment, everything is safe. Well slightly, anyway. Everyone has to give up their weapons, but that’s a small price to pay. “Theres no need for them here,” says one of the staff. Daniel is a little reluctant, though relinquishes his weapons after all.
Tragedy isn’t too far. Strand finds Tom in his chair, staring out the window. A deep bite in his arm. Obviously a devastating blow for Victor. This is way too sad, knowing that it was essentially Tom driving him to get there, to survive and to carry on. Their story was so interesting and unexpected, too bad Tom is on the way out.
All the others are doing their thing to relax a little while they can. Alicia isn’t happy with Chris. He is going off the rails. Basically, he threatens her: “I dont wanna hurt anyone.” This is one creepy turn of events now. I’m really worried, and interested, where this is headed. Nick is in the kitchen with Luis’ mother Celia (Marlene Forte), eating before supper and also confessing to being “sick of it“, the murder they’re all forced to commit in the post-apocalypse landscape. All the same, Mama Madison isn’t too keen on Celia filling Nick’s head with her Mexican faith.
Madison also gets a glance at the other side of Victor Strand, in bed with his lover. This is something new for them. Even more than that Tom requests she “look after him” once he’s gone. Naturally, Strand wants to brush it off as not needing to be talked of, no death, nothing like that. Madison still recognizes the request. I hope her and Strand form a closer bond from here. They’re both tough in their own ways. Right now I’m actually worried about Daniel, as he seems to have slipped slightly from his tough exterior, softening due to the horrific experiences of his lives.


Alicia: “Its kind of pathetic how much I miss t.v
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Now that Alicia has made her fears clear to Madison, the married couple are arguing about Chris’ intentions. Travis doesn’t exactly like the talk of his son being dangerous, especially because he’s supportive of Nick, her son and his problems. There’s a big wedge stuck between Madison and Travis at the moment. They each want to side with their child, obviously. It’s just a difficult thing with which to deal, at any time. Let alone in the midst of zombies. Meanwhile with Tom on his deathbed, Victor even offers to go with him. He admits Tom is his only reason for living.


Victor: “Im begging you. This world was never good enough for you. Let it go.”
Tom: “I dont want to leave you
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At the same time, Daniel has discovered something altogether disturbing. In a cellar there are a bunch of walkers. Seems they’re mostly Celia’s family. So that’s why Luis didn’t want to be put out. They all come back, y’hear. Well Daniel and Celia have a tense, unsettling conversation about what she’s been up to, and none of it is pretty.
Upstairs, she tends to Thomas whose final minutes draw closer every minute. Strand watches on in pain. However, he’s decided to join his lover. Celia has the right remedy: communion wafers, just like the parishioners from the church she poisoned. Now they can all remain in the afterlife, still on Earth. Crazy bastards. But Strand’s not really going out like this, is he? I doubt that very much.
Thomas passes away silently with Victor by his side in bed. In a world of terror, this is a slightly more peaceful death than many have been allowed. Simultaneously, Chris gets up in the middle of the night and finds himself standing over Alicia and Madison, holding a knife. Uh oh. He’s interrupted when Strand shoots Tom in the head to prevent his reanimation, and of course decides not to Celia “Jim Jones” Flores himself.
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Developments are adding up and things are getting exciting. Looking forward to the next episode titled “Shiva” and that worries me, for anyone who knows what the term means that points to the likelihood of something terrible happening. And it’s been awhile since we’ve really lost anybody too important, right?

Fear The Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 5: “Captive”

AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 5: “Captive”
Directed by Craig Zisk
Written by Carla Ching

* For a review of the previous episode, “Blood in the Streets” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Sicut Cervus” – click here
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We open on someone cooking steak – it’s Connor (Mark Kelly). Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) looks around nervously, as Patsy Cline croons in the background. They have a little chat after serves up one of his apparently famous New York strips. Seems they’ve got a “selective” little community going on there. But at the moment the generator goes out. And Alicia winds up locked in the cabin. She manages to sneak a way out to see they’re docked at a huge port. A massive open space.
Well Jack finds her out there and rushes her back inside. She wants to see Travis (Cliff Curtis), so she can make sure he’s okay. I don’t know why Alicia keeps trusting Jack. I hope that’s just what she says, and not how she actually feels.
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Over on the boat with our survivors, Reed (Jesse McCartney) has a brutal wound, to which Daniel (Rubén Blades) tends with some field medicine. All the while Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) gets taunted by Reed about his father. This Reed is a real dick, and has a huge pair on him to talk so boldly while a) hurt and b) in the midst of people he tried to hurt/kill. He says Connor will not be happy, lots of threats. They’re brothers after all. But of course Daniel isn’t the least bit impressed having seen men far worse and far more terrifying than this little idiot. I love Blades as an actor and this is possibly one of his best parts, to be honest. Not just that, Daniel as a character fits in well because he’s someone who’s been through very tough times and that’s informed his behaviour in this current apocalypse filled with zombies.
Now Daniel and Madison (Kim Dickens) have their plan, to use the brothers against one another. Only problem is that while Madison obviously wants to get her family back, Luis (Arturo del Puerto) has a window of time to get them across the Mexican border. Lots of tension and complications. Poor Strand (Colman Domingo) is still lying up after his swim in the ocean during the previous episode. For his part, he gives Madison half a day to take care of business.


On the other boat, Jack is assigning Alicia some work. Now I start to get the feeling she’s playing him, thankfully. There’s a sinister bit of stuff happening on that boat: “This is the world now. This one lives, that one dies.” Alicia is meant to pick a boat for annihilation. Really? That’s grim. Meanwhile, Travis wakes up in a grungy little space down below deck somewhere. And then, Alex (Michelle Ang) appears. She is certainly not happy with Travis, even if it was never his fault. Though he feels responsible because of negotiating them out onto that raft. Regardless, things aren’t looking too fun from where Travis is standing.
Back with Madison and Strand, she makes clear not to send Nick (Frank Dillane) out alone anywhere on any missions again. “He knows how to move through this world,” says Victor. While Madison doesn’t like it, Victor sees a tough and “capable” side to her son. I wouldn’t get between her and either of her children, as she makes clear to him. You just know there’s a fierceness in her waiting to come out over threat to her family. Even for Travis she would more than likely kill.
Hoping to avoid her people getting annihilated, Alicia ends up with Jack on her side. They pick a ship to put Connor on. And down in the bottom ship, Alex reminds Travis: “You knew the right thing to do. And you chose. You chose the other.” The two of them have a deep conversation, which brings up Travis having to kill his ex-wife. I love Cliff Curtis. He is possibly the most underrated character actor in the game today, endlessly talented. Here he gets to show those chops off. Great writing in this scene, as Alex and Travis go back and forth on what humanity “can become“, or what it can’t.

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Reed is still taunting. At the same time, Chris is getting tougher, on the outside and the inside; at first, and up until recently, I found him slightly annoying in certain ways. Now he’s evolving. Signs of some developing writing. So now he’s confronted with Reed bringing up his mother, all sorts of things. The tension in this scene mounts to an impossible degree. Nick shows up to close the door, but Chris reveals he’s disappointed in himself for freezing up, allowing those people on the boat. I really love Nick, too. Dillane plays him well and he is written well; he is a junkie redeeming himself in the post-zombie apocalypse. Wonderful character development.
At the bottom of the boat Alicia tells Travis about the boat coming back. But he has faith in Madison. That’s another aspect of the whole story I love, the strong bond between Madison and Travis. They are a great couple. So now Travis is left alone on the ship after Alicia and Jack plan to get going.
Madison finally calls over to Connor. That situation is getting intense, quick. The hostage situation has become heated: one hour clock. A trade off is set. Then from nowhere, a gunshot. It’s Chris – he did something preemptive. And now the hostage situation gets even wilder, as Reed is dead. He tells Madison he did it because “thats what happens now” and that Reed was turning. In a jam now, though.


Ofelia: “Its what we do now: spill blood, clean it up, spill it again.”
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Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) almost gets a bite when Reed comes back to life, his brain still not gone. Luckily her father pins the new walker up against the wall. A very surreal moment happens afterwards, as Daniel has the Reed zombie hooded and tied up, and he hears a voice tell him to take the gun; a flashback to tough days in war?
In other news, Alicia did play Jack. I knew it. More to come.
And Nick is arguing with his mother. Essentially, she worries he’s found his new addiction. He questions why she won’t let him go do the trade off: “Because you want to,” she replies. Quite telling.
The deal is underway. When Madison goes to do the drop, she unleashes Reed to his brother, which begins a big mess. Travis even whips out a heavy duty headbutt; all right, dude! Zombie madness lets loose, as one bite leads way to the next, and so on. This is a great action sequence. Also, Alicia gets back to Madison and Travis. So glad she made it out safe, and left that Jack(ass) behind.
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Thrilling episode, all around. Next up is interestingly titled “Sicut Cervus”, which ought to be another solid chapter in this fun Season 2. Stay tuned with me, fellow fans!

Fear The Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 4: “Blood In The Streets”

AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 4: “Blood In The Streets”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Kate Erickson

* For a review of the previous episode, “Ouroboros” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Captive” – click here
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Nick (Frank Dillane) has swam onto a nearby shore with some supplies in a bag. He finds a tent city where survivors once waited for help; a giant makeshift sign pleads SAVE US. The whole place is eerie now, a moment to the plight of people in those first days after the world fell apart. Luring any walkers, Nick manages to prove he’s a worthy hand at getting around. And he can kill them without too much fuss. Also, now that he’s figured out the trick of smearing himself in the guts of zombies to stay immune while walking amongst the undead, a whole new world has opened up. Perhaps a great reason for this episode’s title?
Then out into the darkness Nick leaves, covered in zombie blood warpaint.


Back on the ship, both Travis (Cliff Curtis) and Madison (Kim Dickens) are wondering how to move forward after Strand (Colman Domingo) left float the other survivors at the end of last episode. For his part, Travis feels responsible because of putting those people in that raft. But Madison, she plans on keeping her faith in Strand. In a harsh new reality he may actually be the only one worth following, right now. At least as far as we know, concerning his character.
Meanwhile, Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) and Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) try to pass the time, wondering about Mexico, talking about relationships and so on. But out of nowhere some people in a raft arrive, one of them not well – she’s pregnant and having real trouble. The whole boat is up, wondering what’s going on. It certainly isn’t making Strand happy. In fact he looks downright panicked. The people boarding claim they’re “good” and that nothing is wrong. However, you can never shake that paranoid feeling. Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) recognizes one of the voices: it’s Jack, from the radio.
Then the gig is up. The people onboard take charge, putting everyone at gunpoint; everyone, that is, except for Strand trying to get away on an inflatable raft. And luckily Nick is off onshore somewhere for the time being. Yikes. This is intense.


We flashback a little. Strand drinks in a bar and chats with a man named Thomas Abigail (Dougray Scott) about all sorts of things, from business to Napoleon. Turns out Strand had some troubles after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. After Tom gets wasted drunk, Strand brings him to his hotel room then robs a few of his credit cards, though Tom does see him: “Maybe I wont remember,” he quips. This is a perfect scene to cut to then cut back from to Strand in the water, as we’re seeing him just as he was in that bar: starting over from the bottom. Now, he’s stranded out in the water with little to no options left. And certainly no Thomas Abigail to fall back on now.
Things are more tense by the second on the boat. The ringleader of the assailants gets serious, threatening Chris before Travis gives up that Strand has the boat’s key. Everybody is fine for now, but everything is getting more dangerous. Alicia feels bad for having brought this on the group and tries to do her part towards helping her family and their group get through the situation. Jack talks about everyone having a “function“, and to a point he does know what’s going on in this new post-zombie apocalypse. In a world of walkers, everybody does have a purpose, it’s true. Unfortunately that doesn’t work well for anyone against a group that is hellbent on making sure everybody’s got a ‘function’ in this next life.
As everything happens out on the high seas, Nick is successfully wandering the streets, not just covered in blood, he mimics the walkers with their same noises, the same limps and contorted movements. It’s interesting to see him amongst the withered streets, nothing the same anymore.


Skip back again. Strand is caught by Abigail having made a few moves with those credit cards. Victor is certainly sly, he weaves excellent banter, that’s for sure. Nevertheless, he’s on the hook, not with the cops but with Abigail. We segue back to Strand who eventually loses his phone in the water. Things are just getting worse for him. I dig his character, though, and hope he doesn’t die. At least not for a while.
Travis does his best on the boat to try and get the motor going without a key. At the same time, the rest of the group try their best to start a revolt. With a bit of motherhood bonding, Madison distracts the pregnant woman as Daniel (Rubén Blades) attempts getting loose. Downstairs, Travis also keeps the ringleader busy watching him in the motor room. Everyone in the group of survivors already onboard is tricky. Very, very tricky.
Over on land, Nick traipses through apolcalyptica until someone runs up on him with a gun. He lets the guy know he was sent by Strand. Seems this is the guy that’ll get them all across the border to Mexico. Hilarious exchange as he doesn’t any of the blood on Nick to get on his sexy leather interiors.


The women on the boat start getting to the pregnant lady, wondering if the baby died inside her and maybe it could turn into a zombie inside her. WHOA. Nasty. Yet something I’ve always wondered about, and something we’ve already heard wondered aloud on The Walking Dead. Well, things get very tense, but for now everything remains on edge.
On the shore, Nick is leading the new addition to their group. He’s known Strand since Strand met Abigail. Speaking of which, we flash back to them both sitting together by a pool, everything working well and the money clearing flowing. Tom talks about the rest of the world feeling as if it wastes away. And then, we see them hold hands, as if against the world. Are they more than business associates? They seem like lovers.
Back at the boat, more of the hostage taking crowd has arrived. They take Travis and Alicia, black hoods and all, leaving the rest in fear. Still, Daniel tries to free his hands. So many things are happening at once, as Madison and the others angle, Nick heads back towards the boat, Strand floats in the waves. Then once Nick and his new buddy Luis get closer, this provides enough distraction. The survivors fight back and everything is settled for now.


As the finale of the episode comes around, we see Strand and Tom kiss back before everything happened and the world collapsed. Then we cut over to Strand, floating in the sea. Just his luck, Madison comes to find him. At the end of a tumultuous hour, the crew is all right. They can move forward from here.
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Next episode is titled “Captive” and promises to get even more exciting after this week’s excellent chapter. Stay tuned with me, fellow fans.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 3: “Ouroboros”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 3: “Ouroboros
Directed by Stefan Schwartz
Written by Alan Page

* For a review of the previous episode, “We All Fall Down” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Blood in the Streets” – click here
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Moving along in Fear the Walking Dead‘s second season, the group are trying to figure out where to go next, how to proceed. But it isn’t so easy.
We start out on a group of people whose boat has gone under. They’re in rough shape, including one man with a bite that takes an oar to the head and goes overboard, as well as a badly burned young man. The paranoia of people turning is already evident. Another man has to be killed after he tries to eagerly kill the young man before the burns do and he becomes a walker. The others left on a small rubber dingy are left to figure out what to do for themselves. Finally, the kid says “Its okay” and gives his consent, leaving the other two to do all that’s left to be done. Creepy opener.
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Strand (Colman Domingo) is on the phone, seeming desperate. Still on his way to meet whoever’s on the other end. Such a mysterious dude. I’m still curious as to who he is, really. Meanwhile, Madison (Kim Dickens) and Travis (Cliff Curtis) lay in bed trying, if only for a moment, to forget about what life is now. Only there’s engine trouble. Daniel (Rubén Blades), Madison, Travis and Strand try and talk out how to try fixing it. Someone needs to get down in the water and fix it, though. Travis valiantly offers, to Madison’s chagrin. This is a super intense, subtly eerie few moments.
Topside, they start to clear things out. Big job. A guy’s arm got sucked up the intake and jammed the filters, the whole thing up. Strand is edgy, which doesn’t go over well with Travis. But they go along to get along. For now, everyone is stuck on the water until the box is up and running again. In other areas of the boat, Daniel finds his daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) in rough shape, too. Her wound is a bit infected. He doesn’t want to rely on Madison, or anyone else, so for now they keep it to themselves.
On a nearby shore, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) has spotted a ton of luggage washed up. Her, Nick (Frank Dillane) and Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) want to go over and get supplies. Of course that goes over like a fart in church. Until Daniel offers to go. At the same time, Daniel brings up Mexico, teasing to Madison that Strand has other things in mind than just his passengers.


Over onshore, Daniel and the younger crew search. At the boat, Travis goes under quickly to get some more work done. Everybody’s doing their part; a good sign for early zombie apocalypse group behaviour. A little note so far – love the music in this episode, really great. Very beautiful, as well as very ominous. Lots of nice piano.
Chris, as could’ve been predicted, decides to head off away from Daniel and the others. Dummy. Why do you insist on doing dangerous shit? All the while his father is doing dangerous things. Necessary danger, to get the boat moving. So out by his lonesome Chris finds remnants of a plane, inside there are zombies strapped into their seats, one still with an oxygen mask. He’s surprised to find one man still alive.
On the boat, Madison confronts Strand about what’s going on with his plans for Mexico and such. He tells her about a house with reinforced walls, proper water, et cetera, and there’s a window of time closing to get there. She wants them all to be a part of it. He doesn’t seem opposed, though their trust needs work.


Madison: “And Victor, you even look wrong at anyone in my family I will throw you overboard.”
Victor: “Youre not a killer


All of a sudden, Daniel realizes he can’t see Chris. The kid is busy trying to help save the man in the plane. But the guy is seriously injured. This puts Chris in a terrible position. There’s literally nothing they can do for him. Except kill him. So he does. A harsh, vicious thing to have to do, yet he got it done.
Travis is busy trying to fix the boat. Madison tells him about the situation with Strand, saying they ought to trust him and head for Mexico. He’s not sure about believing in Victor, though Madison seems to be sold on the whole idea. Either way, the married couple are having problems.
Daniel comes across a woman running on the island. Because a bunch of walkers are headed over the horizon towards them. Simultaneously, Nick slips and falls into a small pit where a zombie, stuck in a hole being eaten by crabs, nearly kills him. Then up above another walker tumbles down. “Oh shit,” screams Nick – oh shit is right.
But Daniel is the one most in trouble. While Chris and Alicia meet up with him on the beach, they still can’t find Nick. And the place is overrun. Travis gets the boat running in time. Only the walkers are outnumbering the survivors on the beach outrageously. Alicia, Daniel, they all fight hard.
Until Nick shows up, covered in walker blood looking fucking zombie Braveheart. Bad. Ass. He’s found out, after coming literally face to face with one walker and mirroring him, that the zombies can’t tell a person from them if they’re covered in guts. This whole sequence is incredible. The music kicks it up a whole other notch, continually from one scene to the next in this episode.


Except once they’re back at the boat, Strand isn’t happy about the new additions from the island – the woman and the kid from the beginning of the episode. Then Madison breaks the news of Mexico to the rest of the group. Even Travis agrees with her: “We made a decision. We have our destination.” The deal is, for now, the woman and the boy will get towed in their raft behind them. Strand won’t have it any other way. Sad, but a microcosm of how life needs to be now that the world is collapsing, quicker by the second.
Aboard the raft, the woman – Charlie (Michelle Ang) – assures the boy this is “the worst” their situation will get. Things are looking up.
Then Victor comes down and chops the raft loose of the boat, setting the woman and the boy back into the ocean. Whoa. That is a cold way to do it. And now it’s made clear to Madison who watches him: nobody fucks with Strand.


Next episode is titled “Blood in the Streets” and I’m excited. This season gets better with each chapter. Look forward to more new developments, some revelations, and more zombie action!

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 1: “Monster”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 1: “Monster”
Directed by Adam Davidson
Written by Dave Erickson

* For a review of the Season 1 finale, “The Good Man” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “We All Fall Down” – click here
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Back again for another season, and out on the open sea, too!
The first episode of Fear the Walking Dead‘s Season 2 opens on Madison Clark (Kim Dickens), Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) and their families, or what’s left of them, on the beach by the water. On the boat named Abigail, Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) and Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) are regrouping. Everywhere on the shores nearby looks devastated.
And as Chris Manawa (Lorenzo James Henrie) mourns the death of his mother, zombies start to encroach on their brief reprieve. Travis and Madison fend off a bunch of the undead, as best they can. They’re a pretty kick ass team.
Luckily they all make it free of shore and off into the water by a small motorboat, as Nick gets Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades), his mother, and the rest out of harm’s way and onto Abigail.
But what next? Where does their new course take them? Safe, for now, everyone watches their city get blown to bits. An ominous, terrifying sight. Sort of like a moment we saw in The Walking Dead when Shane and Lori saw Atlanta getting bombed.


Out on the high seas, Madison and the group see a bunch of people stranded in the ocean. Strand isn’t willing to stop, though, Madison, her daughter Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), they want to help them. In the early days not everybody is willing to simply help people first thing. People are suspicious. Strand is one of those because he saw some of the darker shit the military were doing, so he understands. Madison hasn’t seen all that, not as much as someone like him.
The foreboding warnings on the radio are creepy, eerily reminiscent of the classic zombie films from George A. Romero, as officials warn there is no help – not by air, not by sea, certainly not on land. Imagine hearing that. What a punch to the gut.


Strand: “The whole world is I dont know right now


Nothing is good for these people. The zombie apocalypse has begun, but the human drama is still always there. We know that from its parent series. Right now there’s Travis dealing with his son, whose feelings about his mother are obviously tumultuous. And there’s Alicia, she’s a young person which is already tough, then add on top of that the effective end of the world. So to be going through a formative period of life then have this happen? Can’t be easy. For the time being, she chats over a radio with someone playing tunes over a station, soundtrack to the collapse.
In lieu of bonding with his father, Chris finds himself fishing with Daniel. They’ve both lost someone close to them: “Neither of us got to say goodbye,” says Chris. And Travis sees them, bonding or whatever it is they’re doing. Hopefully he’s not the type to be jealous. After all, he did have to shoot his ex-wife. Zombie virus or no zombie virus; tough to get over for everyone involved. Travis asks Daniel about it later, and the older of the two reminds him that what he did for his ex-wife was the right thing: “What I wouldnt give to trade my failure for your mercy,” Daniel tells him.
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On the radio, Alicia tells the guy she’s talking to a little too much about Strand’s yacht. Trouble? You bet.
Speaking of Strand, he’s mysterious. Everybody is watching him closely, particularly Madison and definitely Daniel. They’re grateful, at least Madison is, but Daniel has suspicions. About his intentions, his “motives” possibly.
Everyone on board attends a brief, semi-funeral for Liza. An emotional scene, as Travis eulogizes his ex-wife, and Chris says goodbye to his mother. He dumps her overboard pretty fast. Then father and son have a fight. This is quite clearly a rift they won’t soon get over.
The voice on the radio asks Alicia for help. She gives up a bit of information trying to help coordinate their locations. Only Strand is not happy with everyone else doing whatever it is they want on his “goddamn boat“, and I can’t say I blame him. Healthy scepticism. The relationship between Strand and Nick is interesting, too. I enjoyed them in the latter part of the first season. Hoping they’ll go further as friends and allies because there’s something kindred about them, beneath the exterior.
Later, they all sit to a fancily prepared meal, as if nothing ever happened. Though, the air is heavy with tension in certain places. Out on the boat’s edge Chris jumps in. Without a though, Nick goes in after him. But he just wanted to take a little swim, so then he and Nick wade around a little.


When Alicia tries to tell the guy on the radio they won’t be coming, he replies: “I got you. Ill see you soon.” And upstairs, a radar detector goes off on Strand’s console. And above Nick down under the surface floats a zombie. In fact, there a ton of them in the water ahead in the wreck of a boat. The altruistic side of Nick continues to emerge, and he heads off saying there’s a voice nearby. Turns out the smashed boat is a result of bullets; lots of ’em.
Strand finds someone on their trail. “Could be no one,” he says. Also could be the people who shot down the other boat. I knew Alicia never should have gotten on that radio. Guaranteed they’re involved in the fate of this other boat. Now they’re headed back for the survivors.


I enjoyed this opener to Season 2. Introduced us to what will most likely last a few episodes, trouble on the ocean. Next episode is titled “We All Fall Down” and will hopefully start in with more action and excitement to get the season rolling.

Night of the Living Dead: George A. Romero Births a Modern Monster

Night of the Living Dead. 1968. Directed by George A. Romero. Screenplay by George A. Romero & John A. Russo.
Starring Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Keith Wayne, Judith Ridley, Kyra Schon, Charles Craig, S. William Hinzman, and George Kosana. Image Ten/Laurel Group/Market Square Productions/Off Color Films. Rated R. 96 minutes.
Horror

★★★★★
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Before this 1968 classic, the zombie movie was all about Haitian voodoo zombies and similar tales out of folklore. With Night of the Living Dead, George A. Romero brought the modern zombie into our lives. Nowadays, with The Walking Dead, its spin-off Fear the Walking DeadWorld War Z, and many many other titles, the zombie sub-genre of horror movies has become nearly mainstream. Whereas years ago only a certain section of movie fans were into zombies. After the rise in popularity over these past few years, it doesn’t seem anymore like zombies are as scary as they once were, at least not all the time.
But in Night of the Living Dead there is a constantly dreadful atmosphere in which you’ll find yourself very much afraid, very unsettled and without tons of blood and gore dripping from the frame (though there are some nasty bits for ’68) Romero manages to make the zombies in his film quite creepy. From the setting to the music, to the excellent and revolutionary script at the time, there’s a reason why people look at Romero’s film and consider a grand achievement, both in film generally and in the horror genre. This is not one of those films where people look back at it and gain much of their respective for it through nostalgia. Even post-2000, Night of the Living Dead remains as relevant as ever tackling sociopolitical issues within the context of a horrific situation and setting.
l1hs4jqklr5y3l6asxg4Barbra (Judith O’Dea) and her brother Johnny (Russell Streiner) head out to the countryside where their father is buried, sent to put flowers on his grave by their mother. When a strange mute man approaches Barbra and attacks her, Johnny tries to intervene but gets his head beat in over a gravestone. Finding her way out to an isolated farmhouse after crashing her car, Barbra meets a man named Ben (Duane Jones) – they barricade themselves inside and try to stay safe as possible. Soon, the pair come to find five people hiding in the basement. Things get tense between the people inside the house, as the living, walking dead shamble around outside; and they’re eating people!
With limited options, and worried what may happen if the dead break in, the group tries hard to band together, or else they’ll die apart.
notldA hue part of why I love Night of the Living Dead is the acting. Duane Jones is the obvious standout, as his portrayal of Ben is just incredible; he is tough and calculated, calm, yet he is also able to bring out the fear any man or woman would feel during such a situation. Not only that, the fact a black man was playing the lead, the hero so to speak in a 1968 film is astounding. He did the role justice and in a way he + the whole film takes a stand. Further than that, the plot itself has racial undertones (particularly at the very finale of the film), so I think having a great actor like Jones play the character of Ben did wonders.
Judith O’Dea as the near catatonic Barbra does fantastic stuff with the role. While many might look at her character and feel she’s boring, I feel O’Dea played the traumatized young woman well. And who wouldn’t be traumatized? Romero and Russo switched the script up to work better with the way she played Barbra, so the writing and her talent go hand-in-hand, it all compounds into a subtle and appropriate performance which contrasts perfectly with the character of Ben. When these two meet up at the farmhouse accidentally, there’s a nice back and forth sort of, as Ben is highly active, he wants to make sure things are boarded up and the house is safe while Barbra can hardly even talk except for a few sentences now and then. Really great stuff. The rest of the actors do a good job, but these two are most certainly the big highlights in terms of performance.
night_of_the_living_dead_3 night_of_the_living_dead_2The entire film is unsettling to me. Don’t try and say “Oh you must not have seen this or that or this other movie” because I’ve seen over 4,100 films in the past 30 years. No joke. Many of those, at least 1/3 likely, are horror films from the more tame to the most extreme. Check out the rest of my reviews if you think I’m naive.
There’s just no way I can accept someone telling me this movie is not a massive creepfest.
About 45 minutes or so into the movie, a bunch of the living dead are moving slowly towards the house, they’re all walking in their own way and eating bugs off trees, et cetera – Romero captures them so dark and ominously, the music and the shots themselves combine to make these few moments very spooky. Moreover, the score in general is part classic Hollywood-style sound and part scary movie. It’s an awesome sound. Even the sound design itself adds a major element to Night of the Living Dead, from the zombies and their various noises to the chopping of fingers to little ambient pieces, and so on.
Best of all are the zombies, the meat, the blood! Romero used Bosco chocolate sauce to simulate blood here, working well under the black-and-white aesthetic of the cinematography. Apparently when the zombies are feasting on human bits outside the farmhouse, it’s cooked ham and chocolate sauce they’re eating; the joke being, Romero and the crew laughed that they didn’t really have to do makeup on the actors playing the zombies because the ham/chocolate made them sick and pale all on its own. Right near the start of our venture into the farmhouse, Barbra stumbles over a dead body in one of the hallways: Romero made this body himself, including ping pong balls for eyes. This brief bit is nasty and awesome, it’s a real slice of gore for a black-and-white film, and there are few nice moments like that throughout the film.
vlcsnap2012052517h22m38Night of the Living Dead is not simply a revolutionary and exciting film for its time, it is consistently both of these things even now, as I write in late 2015. There are uncomfortable issues at hand, including race and even a tensely scary scene involving a daughter becoming zombified and attacking her parents. Not only that, the zombies are unnerving in their quiet, subdued sauntering and the nibbling of human bits, plus the black-and-white cinematography and the stock music really do add something to the overall quality. An absolute 5 star film, all the way. Though I do love Day of the Dead most out of George A. Romero’s zombie films, this will always be a perfect piece of horror cinema for me and each time I put this DVD in there’s something new I find creepy or interesting. You can never go wrong with Romero, despite what his detractors may have you believe, and this is where his greatness all started.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 1, Episode 6: “The Good Man”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 1, Episode 6:
“The Good Man”
Directed by Stefan Schwartz
Written by Dave Erickson & Robert Kirkman

* For a review of the Season 2 premiere, “Monster” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “Cobalt” – click here
fear-the-walking-dead-episode-106-nick-dillane-935Madison (Kim Dickens) and Travis (Cliff Curtis), along with Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), are getting ready to leave so they can try and retrieve the lost family members – while Nick is alive, unfortunately Griselda has already died and been shot in the head to prevent her zombifying.
Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) and her father Daniel (Rubén Blades) are at odds because of what happened years ago in their home country, El Salvador; Daniel lied to her about it all, placing himself as victim when in fact he tortured people. This causes a rift at a terribly important time, when they need to be on the same page especially once they find out what happened to Griselda.

At the big lab, Dr. Bethany Exner (Sandrine Holt) is preparing to haul ass out of Los Angeles along with everyone essential to the operation. Liza Ortiz (Elizabeth Rodriguez) is concerned about her son, but also tries to negotiate as best she can to have Travis also go along. Tentatively, this seems like a deal. However, you can be sure Travis will not go without Madison. I can already feel the tension mounting.
fear-walking-dead-6Back at the house, as everyone prepares to roll out, Andrew Adams (Shawn Hatosy) – still in the group’s custody – pleads with Travis to be taken along with them, as there’ll be maneuvering needing to be done once inside the facility where the family members are being kept.
The lively Daniel concocts a plan to make a diversion: he lets out the zombies contained inside the arena from the end of the previous episode. While the National Guardsmen are battling hordes of the undead, far as the eye can see, Daniel is pissed with Travis for trying to do the right thing and bringing Adams along.

Caged up still, Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) talks with his new friend Nick Clark (Franke Dillane). Then, all of a sudden, out go the lights. Things are starting to break down. Bullets fly out in the background, the noise of people shouting, scrambling, everything gets louder.
I’m really enjoying the brief bond between Strand and Nick, there’s something real sly and greasy about Strand yet I feel like he might be an important character in the second season. Whatever happens, I do think he’s going to be of use in terms of the show’s plot. Already he starts to give Nick advice, telling him that helping others could actually hurt them; tragic to have to say so, yet in the new post-apocalyptic landscape certainly a true statement.
Dr. Exner is trying to have her patients and staff extracted, but the infected have began to lay siege to the building. The entire operation all but literally crumbles right in front of Exner, poor Liza along for the ride realizes she may have to leave behind her family. Even worse, Exner is left with a room full of patients who won’t be leaving the facility alive, or so it appears.
At the car, waiting for the rest of the group, Chris and Alicia are harassed by some National Guardsmen who want their vehicle. When one of them makes lewd, suggestive comments at Alicia, Chris steps in to defend her and gets knocked out. Good on him, though, protecting his step-sister.
Fear-the-Walking-Dead-The-Good-Man-645x370There is a ton of excellent tension and atmosphere in general happening in this whole sequence. As the entire facility starts to go down in figurative flames, the horror and action pick up. Liza witnesses a National Guardsman get a savage bite in the neck, blood gushing from the wound, then kill himself by running into the rear blades on the tail of a helicopter; GNARLY!
My favourite bits here come when Nick and Strand make their way through the halls of the hospital facility – which is actually a local college – they see a bit of nasty zombie gut munching. But we can already tell what sort of character Strand is, how conniving in a good way he’s already proving to be, just in the way his head is totally on straight in terms of their current situation. Even in the casual way he acts from moment to moment, even in danger, it shows him as to be incredibly slick, and wildly fun.
For those who’ve been complaining about the lack of horror/zombie presence, this episode kicks things up a notch. When the group all ends up together – Travis and Madison, Daniel, Ofelia, Liza, then Nick and Strand – the horror action comes alive with skull cracks, forehead shots, hammer smashes, and more! You can already tell there’s going to be more of this next season, once the epidemic truly gets underway and things become more and more desolate zombie-wise with every passing day, each week. The grim, macabre second half of this finale gives us a preview of the horror we’ll surely be able to expect when Fear the Walking Dead returns next year.
fear-the-walking-dead-s01e06-review-750x400I think I was most chilled when Dr. Exner is found alone with all the patients, hydraulic cattle gun by her side, all of the remaining ill with holes in their heads. Just the way she’s sitting there, finishing her ‘work’, the blank and disaffected look in her eyes, the lack of any humanity remaining in her face… it is scary stuff. At first, I thought she was mostly a real bitch, but seeing her take up the gun while all the others leave, I honestly feel bad for her. It’s tragic to have to see a doctor, someone who swore an oath to try and sustain the lives of her patients, ultimately resign herself to – what appears to be – suicide.
Outside, the group witnesses a huge stack of ashes and dust, consisting of the dead from the makeshift hospital facility. Big heaps, two piles, sit in the parking lot with a bulldozer next to them. Almost as intensely frightening as the previous scene with Dr. Exner.
But UH OH – Andrew Adams crops up again, gun drawn and pointing it at Daniel. Only he doesn’t shoot Daniel; he blasts Ofelia with one shot. Reeling from that? When Travis pins Adams to the ground and beats him into bloody chunks of pulp, you’ll be jaw agape. I was, anyways. It wasn’t shock, merely the fact I was amazed at Travis, his character – there’s a switch which happened in him from the guy who was optimistic, trusting the military and the government to set things right and work it out, to the man now who is embracing the crossover to humankind becoming more primitive, more animalistic, something everyone will need to learn to do in the coming weeks, months, years. Just to see Travis so quickly turn himself into a beast, it was really something, and totally necessary.
AMC_FEAR_S1_106_TAS-800x450Strand takes everyone back to his grand home to decompress. He’s upstairs packing when Nick asks where he’ll be going; no direct answer, only that he’s going to stay in constant motion. He tells Nick nobody can stay there, though. Then he shows Nick an ocean liner out on the sea, where they’re headed: Abigail.
Liza takes a stroll down to the beach by the water, Madison following along behind her. Turns out, Liza is infected with a terrible scratch on her stomach. She wants Madison to do the job and get it over with, as Travis shows up right in time. I mean, what an emotional moment! Terribly tragic moment to see Travis, with the women he loves and the woman he once loved, and having to watch one of them literally go away; forever.
The moment when the shot rings out is unbelievably sad. So weighty. Juxtaposed with a shot of Chris and Alicia smiling, eating popsicles together and laughing, there’s a wave of emotion that hits with great impact. Such a quiet moment when the shot blasts into the air, then the aftermath unfolds with a quiet song underneath, and I honestly can’t think of a better, more emotional way to finish the season. Particularly, again, having to see Travis sort of turn around from the person he was at the start of the season to become a man who will be able to last through the hard times ahead is a very interesting, intriguing point for Season 1.
AMC_FEAR_S1_106_Inside_TheGoodMan-800x450 fear-the-walking-dead-episode-106-travis-curtis-935To be honest, I won’t apologize – I loved this first season. Others found it uneven, or flat-out did not enjoy the whole thing. Not sure why, maybe it wasn’t what they wanted in terms of zombies, but I came into this assuming it would be a prequel and we’d see the before, then move into the full-on zombie epidemic. So perhaps the marketing of the show wasn’t clear enough? I don’t know. I thought the family dynamics happening in this season were excellent, getting bits and pieces of a bunch of different stories. Not only that, I’m finding already in the first season the contrast people who people were before the infection started and after has already begun to feel really exciting and interesting. Like I’ve already mentioned, the metamorphosis of Travis specifically throughout Season 1 has brought out a quality of all people, in him a microcosm – how we’ll all eventually devolve and revert to primitive human behaviour after the apocalypse, whether willingly or pushed over the edge such as Travis was after seeing Adams shoot Ofelia.
So come back for the new season of The Walking Dead which I’ll be reviewing, as well as other series’ on television like American Horror Story if that’s your cup of tea. Otherwise, I’ll see you back here again next year for another season of Fear the Walking Dead!

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 1, Episode 5: “Cobalt”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 1, Episode 5
: “Cobalt”
Directed by Kari Skogland (Fifty Dead Men WalkingThe Stone AngelVikings)
Written by David Wiener

* For a review of the next episode, “The Good Man” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “Not Fade Away” – click here
Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.38.38 PMThis episode begins with Doug Thompson (John Stewart) in a National Guard holding cell of sorts. Maybe even worse than dealing with the so-called patriotic troops, he’s stuck in there with Strand (Colman Domingo), whose mouth never seems to start running. Though, Strand absolutely appears to have his head on at least most of the way straight. Oh, and Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) is huddled in the corner, surely awaiting more of the junkie withdrawals.
Strand proves useful later in the episode – apparently he deals with the guards, trading for things. He gives up what look like some diamond cufflinks or something, all in order to keep them from taking Nick away to the basement; they see his fever is up. But Strand knows Nick is coming down, only detoxing, and this guy might prove to be a strong ally for the young man. Or will he? Could Strand simply be doing a kindness, or is it a way to make sure he’s got his own ally, under his thumb, once things get crazier? We’ll find out soon enough, I’m sure.
Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.39.41 PMBack in the old neighbourhood, Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason) appears as if she’s riling everyone up. Her mother, Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola) is off with the National Guard somewhere, with doctors, but she has no idea what’s going on. Luckily as the troops move in on Ofelia, Andrew Adams (Shawn Hatosy) her boyfriend steps in to sort things out.
At the Clark house, Madison (Kim Dickens) and Travis (Cliff Curtis) are having a ton of trouble. Chris Manawa (Lorenzo James Henrie) isn’t exactly happy with his dad, making things even worse; he’s concerned about his mother, Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez).
Chris meets up with Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and they dress up in one of the deserted houses, trashing the place. Some real chaos; is this what their generation will become now?
Meanwhile, Liza is off helping Dr. Exner (Sandrine Holt) whose sympathy for the situations of others doesn’t really run very deep. Liza wants to know how Griselda and Nick are, she wants to call her son Chris, but Exner whisks her around to help all the patients.
Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.40.18 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.40.23 PMMadison goes looking for Alicia, finding the note she’d left for Russell. She ends up finding Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades) and his daughter Ofelia: they’ve taken Adams hostage, tied him up, duct taped his mouth. The father-daughter duo have decided to use Adams as leverage, as a trade, to try and get back their loved ones; Griselda, Nick. But Daniel wants to know all the information the National Guards know, so therefore he plans to extract any and all information from Adams.
I love how the character of Daniel has seen this sort of military response before. He’s aware of what the government and the military can do. So this is a bit of an interesting angle, which fuels the paranoia he continues to display.
Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.39.52 PMLieutenant Moyers (Jamie McShane) has a little chat with Travis Manawa. He’s worried about what’s going on, obviously, after seeing the snuff job at the end of “Not Fade Away“. Eventually, after a bit of back and forth, Travis ends up getting to go downtown, to visit the doctor and find out what’s been going on. However, things seem dark, or at least to spell trouble because the soldiers are worn out, yet Lt. Moyers pushes them further and further. You can almost feel something about to happen.
On their trip, Moyers makes a stop and sets up a tactical sniper rifle. He wants Travis to take the shot on a woman down the street in what looks like a coffee shop; she is not human, it seems, rather a walking dead. After a bit of yelling, and taunting from Moyers, finally Travis picks up the rifle and sights the woman – her name tag spelling out KIMBERLY – and tries to muster up whatever’s needed to put her out. He can’t do it, though, and Moyers cockily steps in. I guess his point was that Travis willingly lives under the National Guard’s protection yet wants to criticize how they do things, while unable to pull the trigger himself when/if needed. I understand, but still – dick move. I do not like Moyers at all while I do absolutely love McShane; he does good work in almost every show you’ll see him in.
Afterwards, the National Guardsmen all pile out of their vehicle towards a building, as Travis waits in the truck, instructed not to move; no matter what happens. Then all the screams and shots and screeches ring out of the vehicle’s radio. Intense scene, very well shot. Plus, Cliff Curtis is a solid character actor who I always enjoy seeing onscreen. He gives Travis life here, and the intensity on his face in this scene shows he is solid. Real effective stuff.
Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.40.54 PMDown where Daniel has the soldier Adams held up, it seems things are getting very, very bad for the military man. Daniel gets serious; there will be no talking here. He continually asks Adams – “What is Cobalt?” – and also cuts the poor man’s inner arm, slowly lopping off pieces of skin and going deeper into the wound. It’s a real torturous moment, as we witness pure torture; hard to watch, even for the hardened horror vets such as myself, seeing his gaping wounds and the blood even for a brief few seconds is a gut punch. Great horror moment.
Even better is when Daniel goes back upstairs, Ofelia having seen his handiwork, and Madison encounters him in the kitchen. An amazingly tense scene between the two, which ends as Madison proves she’s one tough woman; I think both she and Daniel realize how terrible things are beginning to get, how fast the world is spiralling out of control and into oblivion. All she has to say to Daniel is: “Did he tell us what we need to know?
In the end, Adams gives up the goods. He tells everyone Cobalt is the code which commences evacuation of the Los Angeles area. This also includes procedures for the “humane termination of….“, you guessed it. At 9AM the next morning, things are supposed to get pretty damn rough.
Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.41.24 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.41.45 PMNick Clark and Strand have a conversation after the former finishes a fresh vomit. Turns out, Strand needs a man with Nick’s sort of talents – whatever that means exactly I’m not so sure; I guess being a junkie automatically lends itself to being sneaky – when he decides to get going. He has a key, and no doubt will have escape on his mind.
Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.43.23 PMThe National Guard is starting to pull out of the whole area – from the hospital they have setup, from the neighbourhood, from Los Angeles entirely. Things are starting to get scarier now, more and more ominous, each scene more foreboding than the last.
Poor Griselda Salazar is starting to die, she had complications after the foot she injured was removed. As Liza and Dr. Exner tend to her, she passes on. Exner breaks out the hydraulic cattle gun and advises Liza, though the time varies from person to person, everyone turns into a zombie, the living dead. Liza does what’s needed and an understanding sets in.
Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.43.43 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.43.48 PMA chilling end to this penultimate Season 1 episode, with Daniel walking up to the doors of what looks like a big stadium almost, or a similar style complex – the doors are all bared with boards through the handles, chains and locks across their fronts. And inside the sound of hungry, angry, raving zombies. Really great finish.
No doubt the next and final episode, “The Good Man”, will show us some wild stuff! I know Kirkman and Co. will want to go out with a bang, which will set up a great second season. Though others are not so keen, I’ve been a big fan of this series since the opening episode. People expected tons of zombies, but this is a lead-up, building towards where we’ve already gotten to in The Walking Dead. For what this series is meant to be doing, it is incredible.
Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.44.12 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.44.23 PMLast episode is directed by Stefan Schwartz whose directing credits include episodes of LutherSpooksHouseThe Walking DeadDexterLow Winter SunThe AmericansThe Bridge, and more. Stay tuned, Walking Deadites! Close out the season with me next week.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 1, Episode 4: “Not Fade Away”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 1, Episode 4: “Not Fade Away”
Directed by Kari Skogland
Written by Meaghan Oppenheimer

* For a review of the next episode, “Cobalt” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “The Dog” – click here
IMG_1992This episode starts with Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” playing over a montage of what’s now the new normal in Los Angeles neighbourhoods.
Travis (Cliff Curtis) jogs through the fenced in area of the their neighbourhood. His son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) sits on top of the roof and talks to his camera, in the distance noticing a flash; is it a signal, gunfire, or something else? Either way, Chris says: “Hello
IMG_1993For the time being, Travis and his son, Madison (Kim Dickens), Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), and the still detoxing Nick (Frank Dillane) are all trying to get along with normal life; quote unquote normal, anyways. At the same time, Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez) is off helping others.
Either way the friction is real, it is constant. Even Alicia acknowledges there’s nothing normal anymore.
Back on top of the house, Chris discovers the signal flashing back to him as he tries to signal it. He tries to show his father, though, Travis has no part of it. Clearly it is someone and Travis knows this, worrying too much. Will he got out on his own? Is he going to do something dumb? We’ll see.
Madison and son, Nick, are also dealing with a slight bit of friction. Although it seems Nick is trying to kick the junk a bit more proactively, his mother’s only concerned for him and questions whether or not “forgetting” to take his medication is the best thing or not. Regardless, Nick acts as if he’s willing to get clean and swims around in a dirty pool while acting fairly non-chalant about it all.
IMG_1995The National Guard has moved in. They’re not only occupying the neighbourhood in order to keep things under control, they impose lots of rules – obviously – but as Travis sees quickly, these troops mean business; strict fucking business.
Travis is called on to deal with the Thompson family, who are apparently holed up in their house and will not comply with the National Guard. Lieutenant Moyers (Jamie McShane) makes it clear, Travis either helps get him to go along, or the Guard is going to take him down.
Unfortunately, Doug Thompson (John Stewart) is having a bit of a hard time telling his children what’s been happening. Yet luckily Travis is able to get Doug calmed down, thinking level-headed. A testament to the level-headedness of Travis, but there are things even this quality won’t help him with in the days, weeks, months… years… to come. Depending on how long he makes it.
IMG_2008Nick proves fairly fast his lying self is prevalent. Seeing Liza leave a sick neighbour’s house, he sneaks himself into the room and hooks himself up to an old, obviously near death patient’s IV all to get his fix. Despicable, sad, all at once.
He and his mother have a confrontation later where she basically beats him up, briefly, telling him “You have no idea“. While it’s sad to see a mom have to essentially kick the shit out of her junkie son, it’s something certain junkies ACTUALLY need (coming from someone who is nearly 7 years clean from drugs & 6 years sober from alcohol).
What’s worse is the fact Madison is trying hard to be positive, trying to hard to be there and be strong, all for her family. All the while, Nick is shitting all over the trust she gave him earlier.
The thing I love is the writing here concerning the family. There’s a parallel between the sons, each giving the two parents grief. Nick is bad enough, but then there’s Chris who – maybe rightfully – won’t let go of the fact he saw a flash out in the distance, out where, supposedly, there aren’t any people.
Clearly, though, Nick is worse.
That night, Madison flashes a light on her own at the top of their roof. Finally, after a few flashes, one comes back and she gets confirmation Chris actually saw someone out there. Who is it? The suspense is already killing me, honestly. Loving it.
IMG_1996Everything gets more and more tense once Doug Thompson disappears in his car. Obviously Travis didn’t do such a great job talking Doug down earlier. He tries to talk with Lt. Moyers, but this guy is a REAL douche. No doubt on that one.
It feels a bit sketchy once Moyers gets sort of standoff-ish after Travis mentions his son saw a light in the DZ (for those who don’t happen to know: DZ, or DMZ, means demilitarized zone). The lieutenant passes it off, forgetting it right away, but it’s the way he’s body language speaks: you know the guy is lying, he knows something, he knows what the military knows and you can bet it’s nasty.
IMG_1997One of my favourite scenes so far in this first season of Fear the Walking Dead happens when Madison, albeit irresponsibly (and I thought Chris would be the dummy to attempt this), heads out through the National Guard implemented fence, cutting a hole through a tiny section and making her way into the DZ.
At first there’s this intense bit where we watch as Madison walks through these desolate bits of neighbourhood, everything destroyed or abandoned. Then come the dead bodies, a stench washing over her. And BAM – out comes a military vehicle, troops in tow. This was an incredibly tense sequence. These moments amped up higher than they would have even with the excellent cinematography and overall production design, all due to an amazing score from Paul Haslinger.
IMG_1999 IMG_2002 IMG_2003 IMG_2005 IMG_2006Dr. Bethany Exner (Sandrine Holt) is now roaming the neighbourhood. In private, she outs Liza to her face as not being a real nurse, and they sort of… strike a deal. Now, she’s heading through the neighbourhood, checking everyone out.
Griselda Salazar (Patricia Reyes Spíndola) is being eyed to have sugery under Dr. Exner. It’s hard to tell whether or not Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades) is willing to let that happen.
But he tells Madison a story, as they’re together after her adventure outside the fence, about how the government came and took some people from where he lived; they did not come back, only ended up dead. His whole point is that if he goes, and does not come back, she needs to be there for Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason). I thought this was a really great scene, Rubén Blades is an awesome actor whose credibility adds something to this cast of characters of which I’m a big fan.
IMG_2009When the shady Dr. Exner and the National Guard come to take Griselda, things get extremely tension-filled and a bit scary.
First, they refuse to take Daniel with his wife, as the only other name on the list is Nicholas Clark. Second, in the struggle to get Nick after Alicia tells him to run, the National Guardsmen draw their guns on everyone, from Daniel to Chris. It provokes everyone. Everything goes mad in those few moments and the troops take Nick, Griselda, and even – though willing – Liza.
What’s even wilder is that in the final few moments of the episode, Travis goes up to the roof in grief as everyone else left does their own thing, each reeling. Up on top of the house, Travis not only sees confirmation of a flashing light out in the DZ, he witnesses big bangs, flashes of light, and realizes someone has been killed. No doubt after Lt. Moyers caught wind of it from him, another party of troops went out to sweep the area, finding them in the night naturally and snuffing out the problem. Incredibly intense and disturbing as hell.
One thing’s for sure – Madison and Travis are headed for rough territory, as Liza is the cause of all this nonsense at the close of the episode. Maybe not fair, however, the only reason she was there was due to the fact Travis wanted her to be; being the mother of his boy and all. Still, there’s going to be some trouble in the house amongst everything else going on outside in the devastation that is Los Angeles.
IMG_2010 IMG_2011Looking forward big time to the penultimate episode of the first season, “Cobalt”, which is again directed by Kari Skogland. I like how the number of directors has been cut down in this first season, it gives directors the chance to sort of bridge episodes together instead of simply doing six one-off directed episodes by six different directors. Gives the season continuity in that sense, to me anyways. I think Robert Kirkman and Co. have a good thing on their hands with this series, even though the naysayers will, no doubt, continually naysay. Digging it over this way!
Stay tuned for more reviews, my friends! #FearTWD

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 1, Episode 3: “The Dog”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 1, Episode 3
: “The Dog”
Directed by Adam Davidson (Hell on WheelsThe FollowingLow Winter Sun)
Written by Jack LoGiudice (Sons of AnarchyThe Walking Dead)

* For a review of the next episode, “Not Fade Away” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode “So Close, Yet So Far” – click here
Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 10.05.51 PMAt the beginning of the latest episode, “The Dog”, we see the big family still divided across the city.
While Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis), his son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie), his ex-wife Liza Ortiz (Elizabeth Rodriguez), and the Salazars – Ofelia (Mercedes Mason), Daniel (Rubén Blades), and Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola) – are all holed up in the little barber shop owned by Daniel, a riot is going down fiercely in the streets. After a few minutes they’re forced out of the shop and into the street, as a fire next door begins to make the wall literally bubble.
Not just riots are happening; the apocalypse is nigh!
Chris witnesses a person zombified, biting into the neck of another person; in fact, they’re police officers, most likely SWAT Team members. The whole city of Los Angeles, at least that area anyways, looks to be in total panic mode, full-on mayhem.
Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 10.06.34 PMMeanwhile, back at home, safe and sound, Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) is taking care of her junkie son Nick (Frank Dillane). The two of them, plus Madison’s daughter Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), play a board game.
Great juxtaposition of the two family units, each in their own space – one fighting to survive in the streets, the other in a nice, quaint little living room playing a board game. I also feel like there’s a larger statement in this segment. For instance, the Clarks are all white, and then there’s Travis, his ex-wife, and the Salazars who are all of different ethnicities. While the white people are all cozy in their houses, it’s everyone else left in the streets – at the mercy of police and zombies. I don’t know, perhaps I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, or a pile of lint, but I honestly think there’s a bit of George A. Romero political zombietary dropped in amongst it all. That’s the great part about art in any form: we’re all able to draw out what we want from the themes and events within it. I’m probably way off base from the writing, it’s still fun to theorize.
Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 10.09.23 PMAn amazing sequence is in this first 10-12 minutes. When Travis leads his group out of the downtown area riots in the truck. The way it’s filmed is heavy, man. The score, the shots themselves, they all amount to a feeling of great unease. Travis and his son Chris look out the window of their truck, as the Salazars and Liza sit in the pan: chaos is erupting, the hospital is overrun with police and at least ONE zombie – no doubt lots more – and an excellent slow motion shot sees an officer running with an automatic rifle in hand. There’s just a real sense of gravitas to everything happening. Even Travis knows it’s more than simply riots; we, the audience, know far more. So in both ways this scene cuts deep, in an immediate sense because we’re watching society begin to breakdown as the zombie outbreak begins so quickly.
Furthermore, once they get out of the populated area up on this hill, Travis and Chris watch through the truck’s windows and we can see in the reflection of the glass city lights are beginning to shut down, one section at a time, Los Angeles descending into a soon to be perpetual darkness.
Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 10.10.46 PMOnce Travis and his group arrive back to find Madison and the kids, there’s trouble.
A zombified neighbour wanders into the Clark house, killing and eating the family dog. Out looking for a shotgun at another neighbour’s house, Madison isn’t able to warn Travis before he heads inside. ZOMBIE ATTACK! Finally we’re seeing another zombie on human sequence. This time it’s more intense than Madison’s encounter with her co-worker.
Daniel Salazar intervenes on Travis’ behalf by shotgunning the zombie neighbour in the face. SUCH GNARLY EFFECTS! The first shotgun blast is savage. Then Daniel takes another pop shot and the head goes BAM; nevermore. Really wild makeup effects which I loved.
Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 10.12.26 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 10.12.43 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 10.12.49 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 10.12.56 PMThere’s some family drama happening with everyone now housed temporarily under the Clark roof. First it starts with Chris trying to help Alicia, but getting a hard elbow in the nose. This puts Chris and his father in a room together for a few moments, as they talk a little about the infection; mostly, Travis tries to reassure his son that everything will be all right. Moreover, Travis has obviously got things a bit rough with two wives in one place, which – regardless of the circumstances it being the end of the world outside and all – cannot be easy, it’s obviously a wound still partly open for some of them.
The Salazars are also at odds. Daniel doesn’t want to be in someone else’s debt at a time such as it is in Los Angeles. But clearly it’s also not a time to be alone, cast away from society or people of any kind. Everybody needs somebody (some time). The Salazar women feel a little differently, however, I get the impression Daniel is only looking out for his loved ones; he strikes me as a very family centric man and he’s not about to make anything worse than it is for his own family by siding with the wrong people. I’m sure as time goes by, he and Travis might find a bit of common ground, a mutual understanding on which they might stand together. Eventually.
Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 10.14.07 PMDaniel and Travis still have a way to go. The old guy is only trying to keep everyone safe, but Travis has a problem with Daniel showing Chris how to use a shotgun. Mainly, I think ol’ Mr. Salazar is a realist. He knows something is wrong, he’s seen some things in his life, and the guy just wants to be prepared; he wants, needs, everyone else to do the same. It’s telling when he sees Travis and Madison at the fence – Travis talks Madison out of killing her zombie neighbour-friend Susan Tran (Cici Lau), Daniel only says to himself “Weak” as they walk away. So it’s obvious he has got the realism hat on while others are having a harder time adjusting.
Even further than that, the Salazars opt not to go with the Clark-Manawa-Ortiz brigade, as Daniel tells his daughter “good people are the first to die“.
Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 10.13.11 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 10.13.57 PMThe most intense sequence of “The Dog”, though, has got to be when Patrick Tran (Jim Lau) comes home to his wife Susan. Just as he’s about to grab her in a hug, as she shuffles zombi-ly towards her husband, some National Guardsmen blow a little hole right through dead Susan’s head. I thought for sure there’d be a big zombie chase sequence or simply a blood and gore fest maybe, with a couple deaths. Instead, “The Dog” sets up the next episode with the National Guard moving in on the whole neighbourhood and, at least for the time being, the Clarks, Salazars, and the Manawa-Ortiz clan are safe. Or are they? Who knows exactly what will happen.
As Travis says “It’s gonna get better now” and the episode fades out with a slightly optimistic yet haunting score overtop, it’s hard to tell exactly how things will go immediately. Of course, we know how they’ll start to go on down the line.
But just before the cut to black happens, Daniel says to his wife, while watching the National Guard move through a house next door: “It’s already too late
Very foreboding finish!
Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 10.14.30 PMCan’t wait for the next episode, “Not Fade Away”. People keep saying the shows is boring, but it isn’t to me. Others expected full-on mayhem and madness. It’s not that type of series! Not yet anyways. The world of Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard, and yes Dave Erickson, has sprung to life in a new, unexpected way in this series which leads us into where original show The Walking Dead has already taken us. So for those who don’t enjoy, here’s a tip: stop watching. The series will do just fine without you.
Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 10.14.58 PMFor the rest, stay tuned! I’ll be back again next week with another review. Hope to see more and more craziness, now with the National Guard in the mix and the government bearing down on Los Angeles I know there’s going to be something intense and exciting happening in “Not Fade Away”. That episode, by the way, is directed by Kari Skogland whose television work includes Vikings, a 6th season episode of The Walking Dead, the fifth episode of Kurt Sutter’s new series The Bastard Executioner, The KillingThe BorgiasBoardwalk Empire; Skogland’s film credits include the excellent Fifty Dead Men Walking and an adaptation of Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel, among others. Looking forward to her at the helm of this next episode, should be fun.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 1, Episode 2: “So Close, Yet So Far”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 1, Episode
2: “So Close, Yet So Far”
Directed by Adam Davidson (Hell on WheelsThe FollowingLow Winter Sun)
Written by Marco Ramirez (Sons of AnarchyOrange is the New BlackDa Vinci’s DemonsDaredevil)

* For a review of the next episode, “The Dog” – click here
* For a review of the Pilot episode – click here
IMG_1827This second episode begins directly after the Pilot. Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) and her boyfriend Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis), along with her son Nick (Frank Dillane), are speeding away in the truck after seeing the beginning of an epidemic; what we know is the zombie apocalypse.
Worst part is, Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey) went to check on her boyfriend Matt (Maestro Harrell) who stood her up previously. He’s sick, running a massive fever, so something is certainly not right.
When Travis checks on him, Matt seems to have a bite in his shoulder. Though when they saw Calvin (Keith Powers) turn into a zombie in the finale of the Pilot he’d been shot, there’s still something suspicious about it. Alicia doesn’t want to leave Matt, but he begs her to leave because he loves her.
IMG_1828I knew it would happen – in this episode, we’re beginning to see everything go to hell, as well as the fact Nick is going to go through severe withdrawals. No more heroin. He’s on the couch sweating, rolling around, he’s hot then freezing cold. Worst time ever for it to happen, however, he’s lucky enough to have a tough mother like Madison by his side.
IMG_1831Here we’re also seeing lots of him and his sister Alicia together. She is clearly resentful of her junkie brother, whose addiction has obviously affected the whole family and her in particular. I can see how him being an addict, as well as having a completely understanding mother such as Madison, would take most of the attention up. Not saying Alicia is selfish, not whatsoever, but she’s felt the effects of the strained family dynamic due to Nick’s seemingly constant battle with addiction. There’ll be more of this to come up, as the zombie apocalypse takes hold more and more. I’m interested to see how the whole mixed family situations between Madison and Travis will work as things get tense with the zombies rising up.
IMG_1830At the same time, Travis’ own son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) is out in the middle of the streets where things seem to be already rapidly breaking down into chaos; police officers are in the streets, paramedics everywhere. Someone was taken down by police in a ton of bullets. True to the modern day we live in, people were of course down there protesting about what happened. Chris moves in with his video camera and a bit of trouble starts, as the crowd supports him and the police officer at the crime scene tells him to shut off the camera.
Travis heads out to find him. Bad idea? Sure, but you don’t realistically think a man would leave his son out there in the midst of everything, who knows where, if he knew some epidemic was on the verge of happening, do you? Not at all. So off Travis goes.
Madison heads out on an expedition of her own to the school to try and find some drugs in order to keep Nick from going cold turkey. There, in an otherwise deserted building, she meets Tobias (Lincoln A. Castellanos) who is looking for the items Madison confiscated in the last episode. He’s stocking up on food and other things, understanding what’s coming, while Madison is a little more apprehensive to give in and accept an apocalypse is about to rain down on them.
IMG_1832We get the first real personal zombie attack in this episode, in the sense that Madison watches her colleague at the school Art Costa (Scott Lawrence) attack her and Tobias. They both end up keeping him off and Madison has to bash ole Artie’s brains in to keep him from coming. Vicious and we’re also seeing how this is truly the beginning: can’t easily bash a person’s head open when they’ve only recently turned into a zombie. That’s part of why I’m interested in Fear the Walking Dead, we’re getting to see all these situations from the beginning; things we already know like how easy or not it is to kill zombies change. Fun!

One thing I’m sure many noticed but I need to mention before moving on.
Travis notices a police officer at a gas station stocking up on cases of water, loading them into the back of his cruiser. This is a highly intense moment because, as I see it, Travis realizes there’s something officially wrong. Not only that, it seems perhaps the police (and no doubt other higher-ups on the social chain) are being made aware of how serious the situation actually is, as most of the people on the streets of Los Angeles and in their homes have no idea exactly what is commencing. I think the look in Travis’ eyes says it all: pure fear. He understands there’s a terrible epidemic about to rock their city, possibly more than just L.A, and constantly throughout the episode we can see this over and over, that look on his face as he watches things fall apart around him.
IMG_1829That’s the scariest part of the zombie apocalypse scenario for me, that the government and law enforcement would take care of themselves first, then whoever else they could spare the room for afterwards. Even further, I’m terrified they would specifically quarantine and blast zones out to rid it of the infection, or that they’d systematically murder citizens in order to wipe it out hopefully. Part of that is what drives the tension in this scene.

Travis meets up with his ex-wife Liza Ortis (Elizabeth Rodriguez), who is less than thrilled to see him. But he warns her of what may be on the rise. When they go to the protest where their son Chris is filming, Liza sees the man who was shot by the police, then witnesses men in Hazmat suits exiting a vehicle; promptly this makes her revise any ideas about going against her husband. From there, anarchy starts to break out like wildfire amongst the crowds, as another zombie shows up behind the police and a SWAT Team marches in on the people. Travis and his family manage to hole up in a barber shop with Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades), his wife Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola), and their daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason). This is a bit of a tenuous situation, though, the Salazars seem to be good people.
Outside of the barber shop fires and riots have erupted in full force already. As Tobias says to Madison at one point, when the end of civilization comes it comes quick. That’s exactly what’s begun to happen in “So Close, Yet So Far”.
IMG_1833 IMG_1834The finale of the episode starts showing us how the virus is spreading. Already, out in the Clark neighbourhood, zombies are wandering and beginning to attack. As one of the neighbours is attacked by another neighbour, Alicia tries to go intervene but her mother stops her. It seems Madison is starting to heed the warnings of young Tobias, who as kids are these days is prepared for a possible apocalypse, or at least wants to be prepared and is willing to accept things might be collapsing.
What’s most telling here is the way Madison shuts the door and she sort of leans back against it, a close-up lingering on her face as she doesn’t want to have to stop her daughter from helping another person – however, this is the new world they’ll be living in. She accepts it partly and by closing the door she’s ushering in a new law of acceptance in her own home, in her mind and heart, that civilization is collapsing and doing so like they’re skiing down a collective slope into oblivion, picking up speed.
IMG_1835 IMG_1836 IMG_1837I’m happy with how the show is starting. Naturally we’re not directly in the midst of everything, it’s the actual start. So things in this episode have actually begun to devolve. Anticipating the third to have a bit of intense violence and zombie madness. There’s a slow burn aspect to these first two episodes that I’m enjoying. Surely there are people who’ve had their share of problems. Me, I don’t see anything to complain about.
Another part of what I like is that it’s not completely copying The Walking Dead. Even the aesthetic is proving different. One thing I noticed watching “So Close, Yet So Far” is the music. LOVING the score! It has a similar edge at times, yet totally different. An interesting electronic vibe going on throughout this episode. Paul Haslinger has been doing the music for this season of Fear the Walking Dead, he’s also scoring the AMC series Halt and Catch Fire. Other films he’s done I’m not overly keen on, so I’m glad to be hearing some work of his that’s pretty awesome so far. Great score helps a horror film/show in an enormous way.
IMG_1838 IMG_1839Dig this episode a good deal. Looking forward to the next one titled “The Dog” which is again directed by Adam Davidson. I’m enjoying that he’s directed the initial three episodes of this show because it offers a bit of continuity. Would’ve obviously been better to have one person direct the whole six episode season, however, it’s still awesome to have him start the season off with three solid episodes. Sets things up nicely moving along.
Stay tuned for next week, Deadites!