Tagged Robert Kirkman

Outcast – Season 1, Episode 4: “A Wrath Unseen”

Cinemax’s Outcast
Season 1, Episode 4: “A Wrath Unseen”
Directed by Julius Ramsay
Written by Robert Kirkman

* For a review of the previous episode, “All Alone Now” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Road Before Us” – click here
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Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) presides over a very small funeral for poor Norville, after Kyle (Patrick Fugit) found him bloody and murdered at the end of last episode. And then Sidney (Brent Spiner) shows up, claiming himself as a “friend” and claiming Norville must have been distraught over the loss of his wife. Sidney says he’s in town to take care of Norville’s affairs, all that stuff. What a god damn liar. Although I can’t wait to see more of his character. He’s sinister, as we know it was him to have done the need. Or at least it’s highly likely, anyway. So I want to know his full deal. I suspect he’s a demon, but won’t jump to say anything. I’ve never read the source material, I wouldn’t know where this is headed. I can only judge by what we’re given. And I dig the slow burn nature of the plots coming together.
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Anderson is an interesting character, too. He has a bunch of keepsakes at home. Little trinkets he keeps from the exorcism work he performs. When he touches them the memories come flooding back, of the demonic possession he’s seen, the victims of said demons. Tragic life to live. In other parts of town, Mark and Megan Holter (David Denman/Wrenn Schmidt) are happy. At least they seem to be, even if she’s got other things happening in her life that he doesn’t know about – Donnie Hamel (Scott Porter) kicking around town and all. He actually shows up while they’re out at dinner. He brings up awkward conversation  and while Mark does his best to be polite, his wife is rocked by his presence. There’s a very aggressive element to his presence. More plot and character development/history to come out. I’m sure there’s something deep lying behind their relationship.
Then we get more of Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey), this time at home with his wife and friends, Mr and Mrs. Ogden (Peter Burris & Debra Christofferson). When they’re alone, Giles passes the gold watch over to his buddy. With that, this plot thickens.


At a bar, Kyle runs into Donnie. The whole family clearly has a connection to him. That comes up quick and violent after Kyle attacks him right off before they’re both tossed out of the bar. They fight some more outside. Mostly, Kyle gets his ass beat down. “Always playing the guardian angel,” Donnie smirks above him: “Havent you figured out they dont exist?” Next morning Kyle calls his sister. He’s not willing to “ignore” whatever it is that’s happening(/has happened) between them. For the time being he promises not to do anything too drastic. Something big is behind all this and I’m intrigued as hell.
Later on Kyle goes to see Anderson, who’s busy cleaning up the cemetery, picking up trash. The Rev lays it on his younger friend, saying that to get into this whole thing and help people, to fight those demons while using that gift of his there’s a need for people to trust him. They don’t right now. Lots of talk, then his dust up with Donnie. No matter what’s going on there is a good bond between these two. Because really, they’re the only two who know for sure that there’s something dark going on, that the devil is more real than many are willing to believe. And it’s no big religious thing, at least not to Kyle. It’s merely a stand between good and evil. Well the exorcist duo head over to another house, the door has a German “Willkommen” on the door. Inside Anderson sees a few ceramic boys on the window ledge and starts to have flashes of what he’d thought of earlier while touching the trinkets he keeps as souvenirs. Meanwhile, Kyle goes in to see Mildred (Grace Zabriskie). She knows all about Kyle. She alludes to him beating his wife, and in general having a problem with violence. Mildred has trouble sitting down, but when Kyle goes to help her it all but sears her skin. The whole thing is incredibly unsettling, which sends Kyle out fast. We discover more about Mildred, how she’d supposedly been exorcised. And Anderson says she’s been in church for the past couple years, singing, praising Jesus. Could he maybe be a bit too naive? Perhaps the fresh eyes of Kyle Barnes are really needed to figure out exactly how devious the devil can get in his work.
Out on his own, Giles is suited with rifle in tow for a trek in the woods. He’s back at that dirty old trailer trying to find out more about what’s going on out there.


Poor Megan is twisted up over the appearance of Donnie in her life again. Her husband’s worried, and their life is being affected. She can’t even think of anything related to Donnie without getting upset. Then we get a flashback from Megan, she peeks through a bathroom door before running to her room, towel on, and then who I can only assume is a young Donnie corners her, crushing the tail of her white stallion toy on the floor. In the present, Megan takes out a gun and holds it with a look of intent in her eyes.
On the street Mark picks up his brother-in-law Kyle, who reluctantly gets in the cruiser. They go for a beer. Mark wants to talk about Donnie. Right away you can see the look on Kyle’s face change, his entire body language and demeanour becomes more tense. “Is that him?” asks Mark. He obviously knows about whatever happened, just not who did it. We find out Donnie was a foster kid that their family took in and he abused Megan. Yowzah. Lots of explosive stuff about to happen. Disgusting that Mark had to figure it all out this way. Furthermore, Kyle tells Mark about how when he found out what Donnie was doing, he started sleeping on the floor of Megan’s room. So more and more he’s painted as less of a bad guy, and even Mark comes to see him a bit differently, even after all the stuff with Kyle, his wife, his child – something we still have yet to fully discover ourselves.
At the hotel, Megan confronts Donnie. She wants him to leave and he tries saying that he’s changed, that he was a “fucked up kid” and nothing like that anymore. Not sure how this will all play out. I’d like him to get shot, Megan definitely has her gun. Though I doubt she’ll do that.

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Anderson is back to visit with Mildred. After the incident with Kyle he wanted to be sure she was all right. Truthfully, he’s doubting his own work. He believes Kyle may be right, underneath it all. He questions Mildred about her grandchildren, the fact she doesn’t want to be around them these days. This is a truly eerie scene. I love it. “What if we like who we become?” Mildred ponders out loud to the Reverend. It becomes clearer by the second there is still something demonic, something evil lurking inside that woman, and it’s obviously gotten better at concealing itself beneath her skin. The Rev finally admits to Kyle he didn’t get the job done on Mildred. Off they go on their merry way, exorcism kit in hand and ready to fend off evil once more. Only Mildred’s daughter won’t allow them in, she knows what Anderson did to try and get the devil out of the old woman before – the demon tells lies, of course.
In the woods, Giles sees his old pal Ogden throw a load of gas over the trailer then proceed to burn it down. Ah, more developments.
Out on the highway Mark pulls Donnie over. He orders the man out of his car, and you can feel the tension fatten up, so thick you could cut it with a knife. And in this day and age you can be sure the dash cam catches Mark beating the hell out of Donnie, throwing him to the roadside, laying into him. At home later that night, Mark gets a call from the Chief to run all that evidence he collected previously down at the trailer. But now Mark has to deal with his own morality, he has to live with himself. No doubt Donnie deserves all he gets, though this whole thing has definitely damaged Mark’s moral core.
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The worry in Kyle for the mistakes Anderson has made mounts. He worries now for his own wife Allison (Kate Lyn Sheil), even if she’s got a restraining order on him. What if the Rev has failed to exorcise many demons, not just Mildred? Might mean a ton of dark souls are out there waiting to be saved, or trying hard not to be.
In the trees somewhere, Megan sets up a bunch of glass. She smashes it with a hammer taking out her rage in the privacy of the forest. The pain inside her has to come out, and luckily she isn’t doing anything nuts. I thought she’d have killed Donnie, or maybe she was heading down to do some target practice in preparation. However, I think what we’re seeing is that she is a good person, she’s been degraded and abused terribly yet she chooses to take out her aggression without hurting anyone, putting her in juxtaposition with her husband. Here, the person that was abused isn’t the one wanting the revenge, or at least she isn’t taking it herself. The man always has to step up and make it about his own feelings and his own rage. At the same time there’s a division between people willing to step over the line when necessary and those who will never step over it on principle. Mark is a good man, but this episode sets up a big duality between those who choose to take care of evil firsthand and those who would simply rather try to get past it, however they can.
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A great episode. Love this series so much already. Some think it’s too slow, I find the pace extraordinary. It sets things up well and gives us a chance to speculate, before the plots and the characters develop. Lots of surprises, lots of creepiness. Can’t wait for the next episode!

Outcast – Season 1, Episode 3: “All Alone Now”

Cinemax’s Outcast
Season 1, Episode 3: “All Alone Now”
Directed by Howard Deutch
Written by Chris Black

* For a review of the previous episode, “(I Remember) When She Loved Me” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “A Wrath Unseen” – click here
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Blake Morrow (Lee Tergesen) is with law enforcement partner Luke and his wife, being setup on a date, they’re out for a night of bowling. He starts to feel strange, sweating and ill. Only there’s something a bit more strange than it initially seems. Suddenly, he’s feeling much better, and that means trouble for his partner’s wife. She tries to fight him off, but his strength is almost inhuman. More than human. Supernatural, even. When the partner returns home with a few grocery items he finds nothing but devastation. What I love about this opener is we don’t see what this man sees, only his reaction. We’re left to assume. And likely we can assume the worst. Also, dig that Tergesen is a part of the cast right now. he is a fantastic actor, so I look forward to anything he brings to the series for whatever length he’s in there. Excellent addition.
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Reverend Anderson: “Call me old fashioned, but I think our vices should leave a rotten taste in our mouth. Helps keep us honest.”
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Kyle (Patrick Fugit) and Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) are headed out together. The younger of the two still isn’t sure how he’s meant to play his part in the whole thing. Nevertheless, he rides along. We get a bit of a look at Anderson and his son; a picture of the boy flies out the window, sending him into a frenzy. Look forward to seeing more on that. When Kyle and the Rev arrive at their destination, it’s a military facility. And Morrow’s partner Luke is there to greet them. Inside we see how badly Blake has deteriorated. What he did to Luke’s wife was savage and hideous. Clearly something has gotten into him. All too literally. In comes Rev. Anderson and Kyle, the exorcism duo. Can they help or heal this man?
Meanwhile in other parts of town, Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) and Mark Holter (David Denman) are at odds over the dead animals in the woods, and what exactly’s been going on. And Megan Holter (Wrenn Schmidt), she seems distracted. On her way home she sees someone that startles her. Later at school she thinks she sees the same man’s car, though it’s only a parent. There’s something intense going in there.


Anderson can’t find anything demonic hiding in Morrow. When Kyle decides to have a crack, things are a little different. “Do you know me?” he asks before grabbing Morrow by the face. The skin burns under Kyle’s touch. “Yououtcast?” mutters Morrow. A-ha! Well, there’s a bit of elaboration on the part of the demon. Through Morrow he feels charming, he’s talkative, intuitive even. They chat a little about Kyle, his life, why the term outcast fits him perfectly. What I love is the parallel that comes out between Anderson and Kyle: the former wants to chase the demons, needs to almost, to the detriment of his personal life and his family; the latter would rather not have anything to do with the power that holds onto him, he’s lost his family (likely because of this shit), and all he wants is to give all the demon hunting up to have them back. Great writing on Robert Kirkman’s part, excellent writing for the series that keeps things building and interesting.
As for Megan, she’s tracking down the man in the red car – Donnie. Her husband, he’s out in the woods where the nailed and mutilated animals were displayed, in an old camper. With his little DNA kit, Mark tries to figure some things out. The Holters have trouble headed their way, as Donnie’s apparently tracking Megan down.
And can’t forget about the mysterious Sidney (Brent Spiner). Holed up in a motel. Resting his fedora. Shaving with an old fashioned straight razor. Can’t wait to see more of this guy, as well as his connection to Kyle, his mother, that whole debacle. Should be fun to watch that develop. Oh, he’s spitting up black blood, too.
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Kyle and Anderson are at odds because the Rev only wants to get their exorcism business finished up. Morrow and his demonic influence fight back with their sassy behaviour. And Kyle, he walks away. He ends up talking to Luke whose passionate plea makes him reconsider. Anderson can’t get the job done. Afterwards, Kyle takes on Morrow and the demon inside in a bloody confrontation that ends eerily. A great sequence. This series does the supernatural horror well. The exorcism sub-genre of horror can get tired, but this gets exciting. Even better, we find our expectations subverted when not all the demons can be exorcised. Not all the victims can be freed, such as Morrow, left with a sinister spirit coursing through his body.
But maybe Luke shouldn’t have been told that. He knows there’s no way out for the evil in Morrow. So, that means other methods must be considered. Such as death. Luke opts to take the high road after indulging himself a moment. Should’ve killed the bastard.

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When Kyle goes to see his neighbour Norville, he finds the old man dead. A pool of blood underneath him, a straight razor sitting in it. We know where ole Sidney went after leaving the motel. Now how does that connect with Kyle? I guess there aren’t just demons out there looking for him. Or is Sidney one of those, too? I would think so, judging on the black stuff that came out of the kid Kyle saved, the stuff Sidney spit up, the black blood on the teeth of Morrow as he looks maniacally at Kyle. Lots of demonic shit going down.
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Another solid episode. This season keeps building up each episode with a great amount of tension, lots of character development, and similar to AMC’s Preacher it doesn’t give us too much while giving us enough to keep things interesting, allowing the interest to grow. Next episode is titled “A Wrath Unseen” – stick with me, fellow fans.

Outcast – Season 1, Episode 1: “A Darkness Surrounds Him”

Cinemax’s Outcast
Season 1, Episode 1: “A Darkness Surrounds Him”
Directed by Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way to Die, You’re Next, The Guest)
Written by Robert Kirkman

* For a review of the next episode, “(I Remember) When She Loved Me” – click here
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Cinemax has blessed us. Let us indulge in the Adam Wingard-directed pilot of Robert Kirkman’s Outcast, shall we?
Even the credits sequence here is awesome, a nice ambient and unsettling bit of music over eerie imagery. This first episode begins with a boy that’s definitely not quite right. When he smashes a bug to death with his head (/face?) this only confirms suspicions. Downstairs his family is arguing. When he pops down to see them, covered in blood, they’re too busy arguing to notice at first. The way the boy moves is so creepy, you can tell his head is messed up. Finally, his mother notices he’s not eating chips like he was at first. Now it’s his finger.
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Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) is playing some cards with some colleagues from the local fire department and the local holy man Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister), too. They get interrupted by an urgent phone call from a Mrs. Betsy Austin (Lacy Camp). She owns the little boy, Joshua, whose body’s definitely being possessed by something.
At a rundown-looking house, Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) is sleeping. He dreams of another time before the nasty dilapidation of his current situation. He sees a woman, himself with her. But a knock comes at his door, he snaps back. In a room nearby there looks to be some things belonged to a woman. Instead of answering the door Kyle wanders around his home ignoring it. Finally, he opens the door and it’s Megan Holter (Wrenn Schmidt). Clearly a friend, but he is at a distance. She thinks he’s “punishing” himself. He doesn’t want any of her shit, or her charitable friendship. The house is his childhood home, he doesn’t feel like leaving.
Yet it isn’t all roses in his memories. Living with his mother there did not always feel like family time. By the looks of it his mother was possessed, similar to young Joshua. She’d lock him in the closet and that’s where he’d stay, for who knows how long. A traumatized young man. Why does Kyle want to stick around, though? How is it healthy? Or might there be unfinished business, a reason to stay close?

 


We discover Kyle shouldn’t be calling somebody. The woman in his dream. For her part, Megan does her best to encourage him positively. While they’re out shopping Kyle runs into some people who knew him. They also suggest he head back to church for a good rip roarin’ sermon. They further tell him about Joshua, who’s “fallen prey to dark forces“, which starts intriguing Kyle.
At the Austin house, Father Anderson is calling out the dirty demon. It starts kicking the shit out of everybody. Brutally. One awesome exorcism scene that both calls on films we know, plus adds its own creepy stuff.
Furthermore, it seems as if Kyle was once under the influence of Anderson. Yet now we know Anderson ain’t full of shit. Megan wants to have him over for dinner, though he isn’t so keen. He’s her adopted brother. And apparently people have… ideas about him, particularly nowadays. She’s married to Mark (David Denman) and he definitely does not want Kyle around. This is obviously a point of contention between the married couple. Surely we’ll see that develop the more this season goes on, as Kyle’s being around will impact a lot going forward. His little niece reveals a possible clue: she says he hurt his little girl, now Kyle isn’t her daddy. This upsets him, then he leaves. If this is really the case, that’s a devastating, heavy thing, and certainly paints Kyle as a character in a wholly new light within this first episode.

 

 


Kyle calls the woman he isn’t supposed to. She knows it’s him without his saying a word, and it unnerves her. He borrows his neighbour’s car, a man named Norville (Willie C. Carpenter). He heads over to the Austin household, asking for Reverend Anderson. Then inside he goes. Evidently to help. Anderson believes Kyle stopped whatever was happening to his own mother, so apparently he’s got a gift. Possibly.
Within the room, Kyle comes face to face with evil: “I know you,” says the thing inside Joshua. The way Kyle approaches it is from a rational, adult perspective. He sees it as nothing more than a kid pretending to get out of school. But the demon in the boy talks more about things he shouldn’t know, about the pictures in the pantry on the door, all those things. It’s terrifying. He evens scratches like Mrs. Barnes. “So long have we tried to find you Outcast,” the demon explains. Then it jumps Kyle, sucking something out him as Kyle flashes back to when his mother seemed to have done the same. What a god damn unsettling moment.
Afterwards, Kyle only has one bit of advice: run. He doesn’t have any faith or belief in a higher power. Pretty much the very opposite. However, it was what happened in the Barnes house that turned Reverend Anderson into an exorcising machine. So they’re at two different places, which is an interesting juxtaposition between the characters. Look forward to more of their relationship.

 


The tortured childhood of Kyle is awful. We get more flashbacks, as he goes to visit his catatonic mother in the hospital. He remembers being locked in that closet, similar to how she’s now locked inside herself, imprisoned in her own body. Some justice, I suppose, for all that terror. Later, he and Norville chat together, eating some stew. We discover Norville knew something terrible was happening when Kyle was a boy. The crew of characters that we’re being introduced to is excellent. I’ve never read the comics, though I certainly will not. And I’m already intrigued to see where a lot of these plots and threads end up weaving.
Kyle goes back over to the Austin place with Anderson. He starts to figure out further similarities between Joshua and his mother. First it’s the light that burns their skin. Then they begin to torture the demon, trying to hurt it. But the thing is strong and it fights hard. Sucking more of the essence out of Kyle, at least until he gets the upper hand and starts beating Joshua a bit. Love that this show has a grown man beating a little kid, evne if there’s a demon inside him. He goes a bit too far, but then the demon bites him, and Kyle’s blood burns him badly. Ah, interesting. The Outcast has power. Because this sends projectile, black vomit spewing out of the kid before dissipating into smoke-like fog. Luckily, back to the real world comes the boy, a little worse for wear but alive.
Of course Kyle ends up in cuffs after the whole ordeal. Although, he’s let go and Mrs. Austin doesn’t want charges pressed. Thankfully. That’d open up tons more cans of worms in Kyle’s life. As if he needs anything tougher to push through.

 


At the end of the episode, Kyle goes back to his house alone.
Then we flash back to a time before. Something had been possessing his wife, hurting his child. Love that we’re only getting bits and pieces, so as to draw it out. Keeps me wanting more. “Come and get me,” Kyle speaks into the dark sky at whatever darkness is surrounding him, right before the credits roll. Gnarly. Dig that line so hard.
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Stay with me. When the series officially airs, as Cinemax has only given us a taste just yet, I’ll be continuing on following this series. Adam Wingard is a favourite director of mine, so I wish he were sticking around (at least he isn’t that I know of other than directing the first episode). Nevertheless, I have faith in Robert Kirkman, as well as Cinemax after The Knick and Banshee.
This one’s going to be a wild ride.

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: Series Premiere – Review

AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead
Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
Directed by Adam Davidson (The FollowingHell On Wheels)
Written by Robert Kirkman & Dave Erickson; based on the graphic novel series by Charlie Adlard/Robert Kirkman/Tony Moore

* For a review of the next episode, “So Close, Yet So Far” – click here
IMG_1738The opening scene of Fear The Walking Dead is a doozy to me. A nice open throat, a man stumbling around in a worn down church, zombie woman eating a face with a knife sticking from her belly. I found the atmosphere of the scene combined with a tense chase pretty awesome, plus the guy playing Nick (Frank Dillane) ejecting himself from the church and into the street where he’s hit by a car looks genuinely frightened.
So this initial moment makes things exciting. Nothing like starting things off on a wild and creepy moment to get viewers interested. Furthermore, I found for at least a few minutes I wasn’t totally positive if Nick was a junkie, or if he was in the first throes of becoming a part of the walking dead horde. Very cool how they played with that whole angle.
IMG_1739There’s a bunch of family drama at the start of this pilot. A lot of people online seem to be lamenting this, wanting more of the zombies. But what you’re not getting, if in that camp of viewers, is that this is NOT The Walking Dead. We’re beginning at the very start, not in media res of the apocalypse like Rick Grimes in the initial episode of the original series.
So if you’re not interested in that – fine. Just don’t say it’s a bad show; first of all it is the pilot, second you can’t judge it badly because you don’t like drama and want zombies. The zombies, at least in the pilot, are not the first and foremost element of what is happening. We’re watching the world as it is about to plunge into the darkness we’ve come to know on The Walking Dead.
IMG_1740There’s a big mix of families happening. We’ve got Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) whose son happens to be Nick, from the start, so that’s enough trouble for her as it is. But then she’s involved with Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) whose ex is Lisa Ortiz (Elizabeth Rodriguez). Then amongst them of course is Nick, as well as Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey), plus Travis’ son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie). At first I found it a little confusing, mostly because it was introduced quick and brief upfront. After a little time, though, I settled in and it was interesting to me. The family represents that sort of mixed racial family that I’m sure is fairly prevalent nowadays in a place like Los Angeles; where this spin-off is set. Some I’m sure will cry that Robert Kirkman, the creators, the writers are all trying to be a little “PC” by making it such a family, but I think it’s more realism than pandering.
IMG_1741What I enjoy in this pilot episode is how Travis (Curtis) tries to listen to Nick (Dillane). Unfortunately for him, the things Nick is saying are far too real. When Travis goes to the church Nick crawled out of – a place where it’s essentially “junkie communion” as he puts it himself – there’s little to verify his story, however, the mood and tone are ominous. He doesn’t necessarily think the zombie apocalypse is upon the all, but Travis does tell Madison (Dickens) he thinks something terrible happened there. Mostly, it all speaks to him wanting to help himself as a father, a stepfather, and just feeling the need to given Nick a hand.
IMG_1742 IMG_1743Looks like there are complains about how Fear The Walking Dead has such a junkie-centric thing happening in its first episode. Although, if you look at it wouldn’t a junkie den like that church be a place an epidemic could start? Who knows, really. To me, it’s a place nobody cares about; they are the throwaways of society. So if a guy like Nick shambled out of a place like that, no doubt people would toss off anything he says. Especially if he’s saying someone ate another person. Nowadays it would spread around social media, everyone would claim BATH SALTS, then move on to the next thing. By the time anyone turned around, the apocalypse would be in full-swing and the cities would begin to fall all around us as we’d be in no position to head anything off. So, to me, I found this beginning fitting because it feels genuine, from the relationships to the entire situation of Los Angeles.

I love the scene with Travis as he’s teaching the class about Jack London and his story “To Build A Fire”. Highly ironic when one of his students says he doesn’t care about learning how to build a fire; when asked why not, he replies “I got a stove”. The irony, of course, lies in the fact we already know what’s coming. We’ve seen The Walking Dead, we’ve seen all the zombie horror movies, we can understand that eventually all of these people we’re seeing right now will NEED those skills. If not, their furthering survival is at risk of a quick extinction. So maybe some might say this scene is heavy handed. To me, it follows a great tradition of horror films – from classics like John Carpenter’s Halloween to newer films following it such as It Follows – in which there are these wonderful scenes that speak to thematic/plot elements we’ll see as the story progresses.
IMG_1744There’s solid atmosphere throughout this whole pilot, honestly. From the grim opening with Nick in the church, spilling into the street, to scenes in the hospital – an old man in the bed next to Nick goes into cardiac arrest or something similar; moments later an eerie older woman smiles at Nick, staring. Small bits like this, as well as the look and feel of the scenes themselves, really make for quite a bit of tension.
Moreover, Nick takes off from the hospital, so in terms of plot things get suspenseful. We’re already aware the zombies are out there; the apocalypse has begun officially, whether the characters realize this or not. While Nick saw it, he is a junkie and does not know for sure if he saw a zombie, or if it was the drugs, or if it was drugged madness on the part of the other junkies in that church. So he’s out on the streets, he picks up a burner cellphone, and there’s this wretchedly ominous feeling to the scenes. We’re left wondering exactly how this sad junkie will make out once things start to get insane out in the streets of L.A.

Another thing I love is that the setting is Los Angeles. So while we as the audience hear helicopters and sirens going around, thinking this is the beginning – knowing it – these sounds are commonplace to the characters, as L.A is one hell of a busy city at all times. Never stops, even the helicopters flying over different neighbourhoods. Those characters would not automatically assume that the apocalypse had begun simply because of sirens and helicopters and police cars and ambulances going mad.
Then after a scene with Madison and Travis, once they’ve sped off from the highway, the next day at the school everyone watches a clip from the nightly news, where they’d been near the highway; EMTs are attacked by people on stretchers. Most assume it was drugs, maybe shock as Travis points… but us? Well we know the difference already, even before the characters themselves come to understand what is happening.
Enjoy the inclusion of cellphones, with a bunch of the high school characters watching online videos of the events from the previous night. It seems like a joke to some, yet school is let out early. There’s a sense of chaos brewing. Everything from the music, to the evacuation of buildings, the sound design with more choppers flying about and voices in the air. It’s a great build up towards the episode’s finale.
IMG_1745A scene between Calvin (Keith Powers), who is obviously a friend and dealer both, and Nick is incredibly well done. There’s a genuine terror in Nick; he’s not simply addicted to drugs, he has seen something terrifying and it’s rocking him. Not just that, Calvin is clearly paranoid because Nick’s mom came to him, he’s afraid that Nick has been saying things that ought not to be heard. Very foreboding feeling to the car ride Calvin takes Nick on, as we’re pretty much expecting him to blast the poor junkie away, which we fast discover to be the truth.
Though, it isn’t a drug dealer and a gun Nick needs to be most concerned about. When his mother and Travis show up to get him – after he’s killed Calvin in self-defense – Nick takes them down to where it happened. However the body is not there.
Do you see? DO YOU SEE?
Nick is looking crazier and crazier. Still, we know something is going to happen, something is already going bad.
THEN THE SCORE KICKS IN! That music we know well from The Walking Dead – deep bass, distorted, heavy. In the dark red tunnel, Calvin reappears and he is zombified. Thus begins the zombie apocalypse, which ushers in Fear The Walking Dead.
IMG_1746 IMG_1747 IMG_1749 IMG_1750This episode, while slow to some, is a solid opener to the series. Others wanted a ton of zombie action right away. I stress again: this is not the show you’re looking for! We are getting a slight prequel, once that begins right on the cusp of the apocalypse we’ve already been smack dab in the middle of during The Walking Dead. So it’s only natural to see a lead up to the actual zombie epidemic breaking out.
I guarantee the second episode will pick up in pace and intensity, as well as there’ll be more gore and zombies for everyone. I’m a fan of all that stuff, too! For those who’ve not read this blog, most of what goes on here involves horror one way or another. So I am a massive horror fan, love the gore and the blood where I can get it. At the same time, I do love the drama involved in a good horror series or film. It’s what makes the horror more real, more visceral.
For me, this pilot was great. An incredible mix of family drama, tension, and bits of horror. Really felt like the world going on as normal, right before the zombies descend on Los Angeles. Even more, not a moment did I find myself checking the time; in fact, I had to stop and see how much time was left simply because I hoped it would be at least 15-20 minutes more, as I’d been enjoying the episode that much. Looking forward to a second episode – it’s titled “So Close, Yet So Far” and is directed by Adam Davidson (Hell on WheelsThe Following). One thing I’m sure of – poor ole Nick is going to have some rough withdrawals as the zombie epidemic commences. It’s gonna prove pretty interesting, if anything.

Stay tuned! I’ll be keeping up with each episode of AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead. I’m also soon starting to review The Walking Dead from its first season onward, and I’ll do each episode of the new season once that comes on, too.