Fear the Walking Dead: So Close, Yet So Far

Fear the Walking Dead

Welcome back to the end of days in this week’s Fear the Walking Dead recap!

“So Close, Yet So Far” begins with us joining Principal Costa, whose name I only learned from closed captioning on the previouslies, on a walk-through of his empty school. In slo-mo. With garbled voices over the walkie-talkie, and distant sounds of sirens. Good luck, dude. I have even less of a good feeling about your chances.

Alicia walks down the middle of an apparently abandoned street. Oh, it’s not abandoned! A gang of skateboarders passes her. A little gang. Okay, it’s three kids and they don’t even look at her. Maybe they’re weed zombies. She stops, and we see that she’s looking at a house that’s not hears. The door is hanging open. She goes inside, because this family is the worst and I hate them. Inside, she calls for Matt, gets no answer, of course, and finds signs of a struggle: the classic broken vase of flowers, which no person in my life has ever kept in their home unless they were having a graduation party or a wake. Alicia, seeing this, doesn’t run or call for help. Why do you do me like this, Alicia? Why? She keeps calling for Matt, and finds something gasping right before the smash to the title. We don’t see what it is that’s gasping, but I think we can all guess, because the show hates me.

Next we see that 3/4 of the core Idiot Family (Nick, Madison, and Travis) are driving through the city, trying to find Alicia and forget that they were just almost eaten by Calvin. Oh, Calvin. As they’re trying to make plans to get out of town, Alicia calls to tell them Matt’s sick and his parents are gone. Despite Madison’s pleading and warnings, Alicia won’t leave him. We get our first shot of a plane in flight — if it’s not meant to be one that we’ve seen crashed at the other end of the country in The Walking Dead, I will eat my own arm once I’m infected.

Chris, Travis’s son, is on a bus ignoring his phone. The other people on the bus are rude. Lesson: people are the worst, even before they try to eat your brains.

The Idiot Family arrives at Matt’s, where Alicia is trying her hardest to get the virus because this show hates me, part two. Travis tries to talk to Matt to find out when Matt got sick. Nick goes looking for drugs in the bathroom. Travis sees that Matt has a nasty bite on his shoulder. Think of the nastiest bite you’ve ever seen on a living person, and multiply it by TV. Madison and Travis understandably pretend everything’s fine, while broadcasting that obviously everything has gone to total shit. They try to get Alicia to leave, but she is a teenager so she sits with Matt again. Matt tells her to go because he is too good for this world, and the Idiots leave Matt to his inevitable doom. I sob on my couch, because this show hates me, part three.

An ambulance with full sirens and lights passes the bus. Someone is apparently checking Twitter, and announces that the cops shot a homeless guy a million times. Everyone runs off the bus, but they don’t seem all that excited about it. I feel like this hits a little too close to reality to be comfortable with it as entertainment!

In the Idiot Neighborhood, the people across the street are setting up for a child’s birthday party. When they invite Travis, he’s all, “Sure, yeah, sounds like fun! We’re just, uh, going to run away into the desert before the world finishes ending. Don’t mind us. Nice bounce house!” The next door neighbor is packing up to leave, but he coughs and moves in slo-mo, so. Too bad, neighbor.

Nick is the only one vocally worried about the birthday people not knowing what’s going on. About everyone not knowing what’s going on. Madison lies and says she’ll warn them, then comforts Nick about killing Calvin. Nick reminds her that he’s about to go into hard-core withdrawal. I’m glad the show has remembered he hasn’t used in at least two days.

Travis is increasingly worried. He can’t get a hold of Chris or Liza, his ex-wife. Madison tells him to find them and bring them along, but first he washes Calvin’s blood off his sweet white pickup truck. Madison says they’ll wait for him to come back, but Travis shows a glimmer of brain for the first time since class. He tells her they should go without him and he’ll catch up. Madison, to her credit, doesn’t argue with more than a brief no and a kiss.

Liza finally answers Travis’s call, but she might as well not have bothered. Travis keeps trying to explain to her that the world is falling apart, but he doesn’t actually tell her anything, so she keeps yelling about their custody arrangement and hangs up. Travis gets stuck in what looks like normal L.A. traffic. Meanwhile, Chris is now wandering in downtown L.A. where there are bitten cops and dead homeless guys and so many people and this show hates me so much, part four.

At the Idiot House, Alicia has an acceptance letter to Berkeley! Sorry, Alicia.

Nick is deep into withdrawal. Madison can’t get in touch with the doctor so she can’t get a prescription for anything to take the edge off. There’s no drugs in the house, either. This is far from their first round of this. Madison hears sirens and takes off, but not before demanding Alicia promise not to leave the house, which she of course does not do.

Travis is still caught in traffic. He cuts through the lot of a gas station and makes eye contact with a cop who’s filling up his trunk with water bottles. Lots and lots of water bottles.

Madison arrives at the deserted school and sets off the metal detector. She hears a noise but doesn’t investigate because for the first time in two episodes this show loves me. She steals keys out of the principal’s desk, then breaks into the security/LAPD office, and pries open a locker. A filled-with-confiscated-drugs locker.

As she’s pulling baggies out of the locker, Tobias(!) sneaks in behind her and asks for his knife back. Yay, Tobias. I missed you. (Note to AMC: if this is a mini-backdoor pilot for Tobias vs the Walking Dead SIGN ME UP YO.)

Downtown, Chris is filming the homeless man the police shot, and the people around him protest yet another police shooting. For the second time in this episode, but not the last, I wonder whether anyone at any stage of production voiced objections or noticed the uncomfortable subtext presented here. Because we know that everything happening in this scene is because of the undead horde about to overrun the living, we know that the police likely acted in a responsible manner. The show frames the very real reflected experiences of those protesting police brutality and murder are — unintentionally, I hope but am not convinced — an irrational and dangerous mob that doesn’t understand the real stakes.

At the school, Tobias gets his knife back and is singlehandedly the baddest dude in the show, because over at the house, Nick is a shivering, vomiting mess. Alicia abandons him to his bucket and decides to go to Matt’s because, I don’t know. Because she’s a teenager and no one’s done anything particularly stupid in half an hour. Nick tries to warn her that Matt will hurt or kill her. Alicia storms all the way outside, but turns back when she hears Nick fall. She finds him seizing and vomiting and cradles him so he won’t choke to death.

Travis finally arrives at Liza’s, where she is still yelling. Somehow he manages to convince Liza that things are dangerous, and steals her phone out of her purse to call Chris to make him come home. Which he does not want to do, because he is also a teenager. Chris impatiently explains to Travis that he’s doing the right thing, that wants to stay at the protest like Travis taught him, that he is every idealistic teenager who thinks they can actually make a difference.

TOBIAS! He knows what’s up. He’s explaining to Madison how the new world is going to work: hit pharmacies, armories, places with good sturdy locks. Everything she needs to not die immediately when she gets outside. He’s there to load up on food from the cafeteria, and Madison rejects his suggestion that she stock up too. If Travis dies onscreen, I will be the saddest I have ever been in my life. Please someone make the Idiot Family take Tobias with them to safety.

Please also can Alicia tie back her hair while she cleans up Nick’s vomit as she’s doing back at the house? Thank you.

Tobias keeps trying to get through to Madison, who still believes in the mythical “they” who will make everything okay. Tobias steps up his side-eye game and starts flinging them verbally somehow. I love you, Tobias. I hope you live forever, Tobias.

Madison and Tobias hear groaning. Zombie groaning. The metal detector alarm at the front door goes off. They run. They lose food. Madison yells at Tobias for going back for food. They find the principal, who is not just bitten but full zombie, with blood all over him. Madison keeps trying to reason with him and I keep trying to yell through the TV to explain how stupid she’s being.

The principal, by the way, is our third dead/doomed named black man in only two episodes. He’s also our third dead/doomed named character full stop. This prequel apple didn’t fall very far from the franchise tree.

Tobias, living up to his reputation as the best thing on this show, stabs the principal in the chest with his knife. So, best, but maybe not brightest yet. They fall down the stairs and Tobias is almost bitten and Madison takes her sweet damn time coming to his rescue and I vow to my living room that if anything happens to Tobias I will BURN THIS CITY TO THE GROUND. Madison finally manages to destroy the principal by clubbing him with a fire extinguisher just below the camera’s POV. My city thanks you, Madison, but why on earth did you leave all the food in the school? Tobias is going to need that!

Travis and Liza make it downtown to look for Chris. Downtown is crawling with people, some protesting, some about to riot, some in uniform, some in full Hazmat suits, some shambling hordes. This show hates me so much I’ve lost count. Chris tries to argue that he’s only doing what Travis taught him. Liza gets a look at the body, and quietly freaks out. In the background, we see our first legit walker shambling toward a cop. Riot police show up. Like, four total riot police. Those must be expensive prop uniforms. Someone starts shooting. Everyone starts running.

Hey, there’s Rubén Blades cutting hair! When the chaos spills into his street, he locks up his shop, but not before Travis and Co. talk their way in. Rubén Blades relents, but only because his wife tells him to. Once they’re locked inside, Travis starts trying to boss everyone around and trespassing all over the building. Travis is so good in class but such a terrible communicator in everything other aspect of life. It’s amazing.

Madison drops Tobias off at home and at the last second invites him to stay with her family until “it” is over. Tobias is too smart to think any of what’s happening is temporary. He’s also too smart to get stuck with the Idiot Family, because he is a beautiful angel who will live forever and I refuse to hear otherwise.

Madison sees some creepy little girls drive by with monster mouths drawn on their face masks.

In the barber shop, I’m struggling to understand why I should care about any of these characters. We haven’t been told anyone’s name. Rubén Blades and his family barely speak. Travis and his family are incredibly annoying. Why won’t anyone speak plainly? Travis starts to, cuts himself off, I pass out from irritation.

Madison finally gets home. No one shares anything about their day. She hides her bloodied sleeve. Nick hears pills rattling and perks up like a golden retriever, before narcing on Alicia trying to leave earlier. Madison goes into the bathroom to hide the rest of the pills she hasn’t fed to Nick and to wash the blood out of her jacket. She cries for point-two seconds, then Travis calls.

Madison and Travis try to keep talking about plans to go to the desert, but there’s an explosion, they get cut off. There are cops on bullhorns outside the barber shop. Alicia’s waiting for Madison to come out of the bathroom. When asks what happened, she doesn’t get an answer.

We see this episode’s Dead Black Man, Principal Costa, again, because why not. At the house, the power is out. We see scenes of the neighbor’s abandoned car (guess that cough was exactly what it looked like), an actual riot, Madison trying to get back in touch with Travis, the birthday family cleaning up in their yard because they are the actual real Idiot Family, and a walker shambling down the road toward them. Madison still won’t frigging answer Alicia, who is watching out the front window as certain death crashes the birthday party and starts eating the mom. Madison won’t let Alicia out of the house to help, because duh, but she also still won’t answer, because this show hates all of us and Alicia, too.

In the barber shop, Rubén Blades’ wife prays that someone will finally tell us what their names are, and everyone else is sad and pensive. The barber shop lady blows out candles and plunges us all into the dark.

Hopefully there are still some not-undead-yet people left when the show returns in two weeks!

  • I praised the world-building last episode, but it completely falls apart for me in this one. I can understand why the showrunners wanted to use a scene like the one they put Chris in the middle of — it provides instant emotional stakes, it establishes Chris and Travis as progressive idealists, etc. But it’s a little too much realism in the midst of purely fantasy violence and horror for this recapper.
  • The same goes for the streak of dead named black characters: three in two episodes, presuming Matt wasn’t a fake-out! I think even Saturday Night Live would consider this too obvious.
  • Where do we cast our votes to make Tobias the real star of the show?

Photo Courtesy of AMC

About Lisa Shininger

Lisa Shininger spends way too much time thinking about fictional characters but, somehow, it's never enough. She co-hosts Bossy Britches, and yells about pop culture at lisashininger.com and on Twitter @ohseafarer.