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TV Review: Fear The Walking Dead 1.2 “So Close, Yet So Far”
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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
AMC
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.

Meanwhile, Travis understandably goes off in search of his son, Chris, who is now at an impromptu protest downtown after the cops shoot a homeless man. In the confusion, we see the cops shoot what looks like Walkers, but again, the LA residents aren’t noticing the oddities. They just see the cops shooting people, which prompts a riot, and we all know what happens when LA riots. Somehow, Travis and ex-wife Liza find Chris in the crowd and take shelter at a barbershop owned by Daniel (Rubén Blades), his wife Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola), a devout Catholic, and their daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason).

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.

Video

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”

3 Comments »

  1. This is supposed to be a slow burn..I don’t get what some reviewers are complaining about.

    Comment by BlkynJ — August 31, 2015 @ 12:16 am

  2. While I agree with you on the frustrating and stupid conversation between Travis and Liza, I think this show is doing a mostly excellent job of showing how the outbreak of a plague/epidemic might unfold in a big city. People are panicking! The freeways are jammed with cars. Yeah, I know, it’s LA and the freeways are always jammed, but clearly they are showing that the chaos is beginning and some people do get it. But at this point in such a scenario I think a lot of people would still be largely clueless, or in denial about what’s happening around them. I think the mobs and looters going against the cops would be a very real thing this early in such a scenario. Remember, Robert Kirkman has said that in the world of The Walking Dead there are no zombie movies, so this is not something these people have seen like we all have. I thought this second episode did a great job of building up the fear and tension. And zombies don’t need to be decomposed and yucky to be scary! Most of the greatest zombie movies all take place when the outbreak is first beginning. Sounds like this reviewer wants a carbon copy of the The Walking Dead but but with a different cast and setting, whereas I think seeing the breakdown of society and how people handle it and survive is probably the most compelling aspect of this genre.

    Comment by Hugomarink — August 31, 2015 @ 12:42 pm

  3. I agree about the stupid conversation between Travis and Liza. Sometimes communication between ex’s break down like that after divorce due feelings of resentment, hurt, betrayal, etc and it takes time for things to become civil again. It happens and those kind of feelings win over logic sometimes.

    Definitely agree about some people being oblivious about things going on around them. Just look at the neighbor across the street who was still setting up the bouncy house for her kids birthday party even though people were opting to stay home instead because of the flu. The mom was either moving forward to not ruin her kids party or she was in complete denial. Denial is my guess. And what happens later? Attacked. There are people out there who refuse to take in their surroundings, believe what’s going on in the world, understand what kind of impact events have on their lives, etc. And for those who DO have a better idea what’s going on? They’re not much better at this point. Even Madison behaved carelessly and this after seeing Calvin last episode. I understand she felt the need to find medicine for Nick but after all that Tobias told her and what she’d seen for herself, Madison should not have approached the principal as she did after seeing him the way he was. Hopefully she knows better for the next encounter! That said, it seems to me that the fresher, less decomposed zombies may be slightly faster and stronger?

    Personally, it doesn’t ruin things for me knowing that the zombie apocalypse happens in the same way that it didn’t ruin the movie knowing that the Titanic was going to sink. I find enjoyment in the spectacle of it all, in seeing “how” things come apart and that’s what Fear the Walking Dead provides here. I don’t believe the tension in this show is based on whether or not civilization will crumble. We already know that it does. Dramatic tension is more likely going to be found in the smaller struggles along the way.

    Comment by PAUL — August 31, 2015 @ 2:01 pm

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