Tagged Mercedes Mason

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.

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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 SpĂ­ndola), 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 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 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 Walking, The Stone Angel, Vikings)
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 SpĂ­ndola) 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 (RubĂ©n 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 Luther, Spooks, House, The Walking Dead, Dexter, Low Winter Sun, The Americans, The Bridge, and more. Stay tuned, Walking Deadites! Close out the season with me next week.

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 Wheels, The Following, Low Winter Sun)
Written by Jack LoGiudice (Sons of Anarchy, The 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 (RubĂ©n Blades), and Griselda (Patricia Reyes SpĂ­ndola) – 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 Killing, The Borgias, Boardwalk 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 Wheels, The Following, Low Winter Sun)
Written by Marco Ramirez (Sons of Anarchy, Orange is the New Black, Da Vinci’s Demons, Daredevil)

* 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!