Fear the Walking Dead Season 1 Episode 2 “So Close, Yet So Far”
Directed by Adam Davidson
Written by Marco Ramirez
Starring Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Lorenzo James Henrie, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Ruben Blades, Mercedes Mason, Patricia Reyes Spindola
Air Date: Sunday, August 30, 2015, 9pm
Last week saw the series premiere of Fear the Walking Dead, a prequel spin-off to AMC’s popular drama The Walking Dead that takes us away from the back woods of Georgia into the shining streets of Los Angeles to the early days when the zombie virus was unknowingly being spread throughout the land. The pilot introduced high school guidance counselor Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) and her live-in fiance, English teacher Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis), whose efforts to blend their two families into one harmonious unit was proving disastrous. Madison’s good-girl daughter Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam Carey) is looking for a way to rebel and her son Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) is a junkie, while Travis’s young son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) wants nothing to do with his father, who he resents for leaving his mother, Liza Ortiz (Elizabeth Rodriguez), a nursing student.
While the series opened with a few offhand mentions of a flu that’s keeping more and more students and staff at the high school out sick each day, the focus of the story was really on Madison’s family drama, but the audience already knows that there’s way more serious “drama” to come. Nick, strung out in a drug den, had witnessed his infected friend chowing down on a victim, as the bodies of several other people laid dead around them. Fleeing in horror, Nick was promptly hit by a car, which led to a brief admittance to the hospital and a confession to Travis about what he saw, but Madison thought it was just a drugged-up hallucination. By episode’s end, all hell was breaks loose with Nick with Madison and Travis experiencing their first zombie attack.
Chaos, confusion, fear, and death are coming.
In Episode 2, “So Close, Yet So Far,” it seems that most people are still oblivious to the infection that’s spreading around them. The slow, eerie build from the premiere continues as Nick’s family tries to makes sense of what they’ve witnessed so far. Their neighbors are still planning their kid’s birthday party, Travis’s son Chris is riding a crowded bus, and teenager Alicia is off to find her boyfriend, Matt, who never showed up for their planned get together. Once at Matt’s house, Alicia discovers her love is sick with a high fever and dialing 911 yields busy signals “” that should be a warning sign to her right there, but she’s determined to nurse Matt to health herself. When her family shows up in a bit of a panic and tries to get her to leave with them, young Alicia still doesn’t seem to grasp that something really terrible is happening, even after seeing a big bite mark-like gash on Matt’s shoulder.
Madison goes back to her school to get supplies and runs into her student Tobias, who knows what’s truly going on and tried to tell her this in the premiere. He warns that communications will fail, electrical grids will collapse, and that what’s happening will not end. But, as usual, Madison lives in a fantasy world, stating that “They’re gonna contain it.” Cue Zombie Principal dude, who Madison doesn’t flee from but instead walks towards, promising to get him help. Hello, remember Zombie Calvin from the first episode? You see someone like that, you run.
Episode 2 is another slow-moving installment that seeks to build tension, and it would success if we all didn’t already know what was to come. Plus, the fresh walkers here are brand new, not grotesquely decomposed like they are in The Walking Dead, so there’s less of a fright factor. I understand this is supposed to be the slow start of what turns out to be a fast-moving plague, but I find it hard to believe that the savvy people of Los Angeles would not be alarmed by now. These are people who understand catastrophe; it seems implausible that they’d brush off something as serious as this. I think just a regular flu epidemic would cause panic and prompt precaution.
Another issue here is that I wish the people who are seeing shit goes down and have come up against the undead have a little more urgency in their mannerisms when trying to warn others. For instance, when Travis calls Liza to try to find Chris to get him to safety, he lets his ex babble on about how it’s not his weekend for visitation, blah blah blah, while he just repeatedly asks where Chris is until she hangs up on him. Not that I expected him to say “Hey, the dead are attacking,” but at least say, “Hey, there’s an emergency situation, it’s not safe on the streets, we need to find Chris and get him home.” Wouldn’t that work better? Then, when Madison and Travis find Alicia, they don’t clue her in on what’s happened, but yet they expect her — a frustrated teenager on the cusp of rebellion — to just trust them when they command her to leave her sick boyfriend’s side and then later to stay home and take care of her withdrawing druggie brother. Even after she asks her mother to tell her what’s going on after they witness their zombified neighbor chasing his wife outside, Madison still doesn’t explain.
This first season of Fear the Walking Dead is only six episodes, and I can’t help but think that it would be better received as a full-season binge-watch, instead of a weekly series. This is a prequel situation, so we seemingly know what’s to come, and so far, scenarios have been predictable and somewhat frustrating. With four more episodes of the season left, things need to pick up a bit more.
Sneak Peek: Episode 102: Fear the Walking Dead: So Close, Yet So Far
Don’t miss the next episode of Fear the Walking Dead, Sunday, August 30 at 9/8c.
Fear The Walking Dead Season 01 Episode 02 1×02 Promo “So Close, Yet So Far”