It didn’t take long for FTWD to score its first victim out of the supporting cast. Say goodbye to Alicia’s 90’s-haired tattoo artist boyfriend. Madison is naturally freaked out that, in a time of what appears to be a pandemic, her daughter is in such close quarters with a prespiring sick man.
When Travis lifted his shirt and saw the bite there, it was a missed opportunity to have Alicia suddenly say “Wait, who have you been seeing behind my back?”
The family separates early in the episode, and I suspect things will remain that way for much of the short first season. Travis heads off to find his son from a previous marriage, who his ex-wife Liza has custody of. Liza doesn’t know where he is either, and the two set off in a pickup truck to hunt. While that’s going on, Crazy Nick is about to go into crazy shock from lack of pills, forcing Madison to sneak into the school and raid the medicine cabinet.
This was a real surprise. While inside the nearly empty school, Madison meets back up with the teen she had the brief bizarre conversation with in her last episode. Good thing. His name is Tobias, he knows EXACTLY what the future holds, and he’s been preparing for it for months. He reveals a stockpile of canned goods to Madison and mentions that he knows where an underground bomb shelter is. This rotund dweeby man could easily become the next Daryl, and I love the idea of that.
Tobias is so on the ball that when Madison encounters her first zombie — the school principal — he knows how dangerous the (former) man is, and gets her out of the way to stab him. He’s soon at the Walker’s mercy himself, however, and only Madison can save him. It takes her an unnervingly long time to gather the courage, as it would for anyone in this situation, but she comes up from behind and smashes the principal’s head in with a fire extinguisher. (Later back at home, she has visible trauma on her face from having to do this.)
While their parents are away, Alicia is supposed to be watching Crazy Nick, but she’s torn between her withdrawal-suffering brother and her very sick boyfriend. She decides to stuff some soup in a thermos and head back to his house for a quick visit.
Alicia’s willingness never to turn her back on anyone feels genuine, and it really makes me respect her, especially in the face of the terror that she knows by now is tearing LA apart. I said it last week, and it’s still true: there is not enough of her in the program. Of course, she has no idea what’s REALLY going on. It’s a good thing that every time she races over to get herself killed by helping someone, somebody else is always there to stop her. This time, it was an indirect effort from Crazy Nick.
Alicia had barely taken two steps out the door when he immediately started convulsing all over the floor while vomiting milk. Did anyone get Alien vibes from this? Does this mean Crazy Nick is a robot? A drug-addicted robot? This isn’t the first time he’s malfunctioned. It would give support to my “future” theory, but then again, the following scene with Travis seemed ripped from the current headlines.
What Travis is seeing is a crowd that’s furious because they’ve witnessed what, to their perspective, is another white cop shooting an unarmed black man incident. It could be 2015, but who am I kidding, they’re going to still be doing this fifty years from now as long as prosecution is slim to nonexistent.
Travis isn’t happy his kid is out here, but as he’s dragging his ass back to the pickup, the excrement REALLY hits the fan and the LA streets break out into a massive riot. Travis and Liza are forced to take refuge in a barbershop that’s closing for the night. The barber isn’t happy about his new temporary tenants, but realizes he has little choice.
We leave them here: Madison, Alicia and Crazy Nick huddled at home, watching in fear as a Walker attacks a neighbor across the street…..and Tobias and his half of the family in the backroom of the barbershop, waiting for the gunshots and screams to die down while the barber’s wife clutches a rosary and prays for mercy. The series is taking a break for Labor Day, so it will be a two week wait from here.
Fear The Walking Dead Episode 2 further cements the alternate direction the series wants to go. The main difference, the producers say, is that this is supposed to be a very character-based program, the kind where it doesn’t matter if you’ve seen the situations before because you care about the characters so much that you want them to live. So with that in mind, it’s time to introduce the big feature of these recaps, the technology that’s going to measure if the show is doing its intended job….the Fear The Walking Dead Careometer!
For what are intended to be the central characters to all this, Madison is scoring rather low on the Careometer so far, and Travis is registering even lower still. Crazy Nick is faring a bit better, but I suspect this is because I’ve started calling him Crazy Nick.
Alicia should really be the main character; the impression she’s made so far has her Careometer shooting high….but not as high as Tobias, who made an absolute killer impression this week — in ONE episode — with his preparedness and skill. This is the dude that’s going to keep the family alive until they have enough awareness to know not to walk up to a zombie. Of course he’s not even PART of the family, which makes him more likely to be chow — which in turn makes him even MORE appealing because we could lose him at any time.
Scoring lowest on the Careometer was….wait, who was “Chris”? Oh right, Travis’s son that Liza takes care of. We’ve barely met the guy, and I can’t even recall if he spoke a line of dialogue yet. It’s almost unfair, but maybe he can get a better Careometer rating next episode when he starts doing something…if he does something. See you in two weeks.