In Fear the Walking Dead’s second episode, “So Close, Yet So Far,” we are still getting the slow build, and for this writer that is a very, very good thing. If you’re reading this post wondering if I still recommend watching the show, maybe you haven’t started yet or maybe you weren’t convinced by episode 1, I still say yes, watch the show. For more detail, let’s dig in a little bit, spoilers ahead.
First what I did NOT like.
There were some really dumb moments. First of all, what the hell is up with Madison’s character? She’s calm as a cucumber in episode 1 when her son runs over his childhood best friend multiple times since he’s clearly a zombie, and we’re pretty sure she gets that. She sees other zombies and keeps clear as if to say, yup, that’s a zombie. But then she sees her friend the high school principal and all of a sudden she’s forgotten everything. “Oh no! What’s wrong with my principal friend? Is he sick? Let me put my face right next to his despite everything I’ve seen so far.” OK this could be chalked up to denial, a stage of grief, and also shit’s happening kind of fast in the world of the story really. It’s only been a few days, I’ll cut her some slack for getting herself in danger, but then beautiful young Tobias gets attacked and is literally an inch away from being eaten and she’s just standing there still contemplating what this thing really is. What the hell lady? Get it together.
Also while we’re talking about that scene, after they kill the principal that food is still sitting there. Why didn’t Tobias take it? He makes this long, scary journey to the school by himself to stock up for what he knows is the end of society and after literally fighting to the death for his journey he takes… nothing. Nothing. Oh except his stupid little dinner knife. What the hell? He’s supposed to be our smart character, the one preparing, the one who gets it. Act like you’ve been there dude.
But you know what, I think that’s all I didn’t like.
Now let’s look at what I DID like.
The slow build. This was the number one complaint I heard about the first episode, and I will say the same thing now that I said then, this is to their credit. There are certain things that would happen in society that deserve being discussed in the context of a show about society falling. In this episode we get a lot of good bits. We see certain people stocking up and getting ready to leave, these people are the “aware”, they’ve probably had a run in or two and know what’s happening. We also see the “deniers”, people who see what’s happening but want to blame it on something else. We see this in the scene with the protesters and the police shooting. This isn’t a scene that’s commenting on our current issues with the police, it’s just looking at another way people would break down and respond to something they don’t understand. Finally we have the “oblivious” like the neighbor who is trying to still have a birthday party for her crying daughter despite no one coming due to a “bug that’s going around.”
All of these factions of society are being represented in the show and I think that’s really cool.
The camera work also was great in this show. We see Alicia walking around a street that should have people on it but it’s totally empty and alone. We see glimpses of the riots and the result of people’s fear and struggle to take control, but we see it through metal doors as half the family hides in a barbershop. These are viewpoints that we’d probably have if we were in a similar situation, alone and scared, at least immediately. We watch Travis unable to comfort his family, or the family at the barbershop they’ve taken refuge in, because this is truly an unknown situation to them all, including Travis. Shit is getting really bad and we feel the tense, slow breakdown of society with the imagery that’s all around us in the episode.
Anyway that’s my take on it. I’m still really into this show. It could easily go off the rails at any moment and it still doesn’t have the power that the original show’s 1st season had, but who cares? This is really one of the first times we see a zombie show tackle the beginning of the epidemic. Most of the ones we all love and adore start after because it’s much easier to make it interesting when the world is already gone to shit. The reality is, watching it turn is painful and slow and it’s supposed to be. The show is critiquing our failures as a society to prepare for such an event. We’re critiquing our inability to work together, like in the police shooting/ protest scene. We are given the feeling that it’s not really an individual’s fault, but all of our faults, for denying or being oblivious or being selfish, and that’s a pretty interesting setup to me. We shall see if they can maintain it.