Fear the Walking Dead: The Dog

Fear the Walking Dead

Welcome back! After a couple of weeks away, we’re catching up with all our not-yet-favorite Fear the Walking Dead folks in the new episode, “The Dog.”

I already feel like this episode is going in a direction none of us want and all I’ve seen is the title.

In the Barbershop of Rubén Blades, Chris is staring out the window at his first genuine untelevised riot. All seems pretty exciting, until a man who looks like he went ten rounds with a fistful of Maui Wowie turns to stare in the window at him. Travis, belatedly (though I first typed bleatedly which is also pretty apt), reminds Chris to stay away from the window. Something tells me this is a conversation they’ve had at least nine times already, like the fact that Chris goes back to looking out the window.

At home, Madison dims the lights. If she’s trying to conserve energy for later, I’ve got some bad news for her. She digs out a couple of pills for Nick, who promptly crushes them up for faster delivery. Madison also refuses to discuss the neighbors eating neighbors outside.

Back at the Barbershop of Will Rubén Blades Have A Line Again Ever, the rioting crowd has broken into the shop next door. Travis is trying to calm people down, with no concrete information, and goes off to make a phone call. Then, Rubén Blades speaks! He says, “Put that back,” when Chris casually rolls an open straight razor around on a sink. So casually. Then Rubén Blades gets in an argument with Travis, at which point Chris points out that next door is on fire, and everyone decides it’s finally time to escape. Which they do. Within a second of opening the door, the rioters are wrecking the barbershop. Out on the street, it’s total chaos: dogs and cats aren’t just living together, people are firebombing cars and ignoring the police — including the ones eating each other.

How about a game of Monopoly? It’s the perfect thing to take your mind off watching your neighbor attack people in their own front yard. Madison is glad she thought of this.

The Barbershop Sextet of Travis, Chris, Liza, Ofelia, Rubén Blades, and Griselda is running through — I’m not sure. Some kind of construction tunnel that keeps aggressive people conveniently away? Good thing it was there. But then the cops break out a water cannon, which topples a scissor lift, which crushes Griselda’s leg. (I feel bad, because my first response was to tell the Barbershop Sextet to leave her behind. She has an awesome name like Griselda and still she could be replaced by a mannequin in the story with no loss of narrative function. This is what we call a real humdinger of a missed opportunity, Fear the Walking Dead!) Travis, ignoring me, carries the woman to the relative safety of his pickup, which is somehow miraculously unharmed.

(It’s a compound fracture of her leg, by the way. How many episodes until someone regrets going back for her?)

Monopoly is coming along nicely, except when Madison is distracted by the gunshots outside. Luckily, she’s able to get back on track by ignoring the questions Alicia asks. Again.

Travis and Co. roll up to a hospital so Griselda can be treated for her compound leg fracture. But, well, there’s the small problem of an ambulance crashed on the lawn. Oh, it’s on fire, too. So is the hospital, actually. There are cops with flares directing traffic; cops with assault weapons; cops shooting people in hospital gowns shambling through the parking lot who don’t go down until someone hits them in the head. Travis asks if the Salazars have anywhere to go and gets into yet another snit-fit with Rubén Blades, which they end when they see Los Angeles go dark. No lights. No anything.

Well, except it’s still on at the Idiot House. Oh, there it goes! The flashlights come out, which ratchets up the creep factor by about a thousand. Nick and Madison argue about whether Travis will come back, and he warns her again that it’s not safe to stay in town. I wonder if maybe I got hit by a car and had my brains scrambled after a prolonged heroin binge. Have they had this conversation like sixteen times now? At least?

Alicia calls them to the window: good neighbor Mr. Dawson is on the prowl. Madison shushes her, then aims a flashlight out the window. Because of the two, someone on the other side of the street will definitely notice Alicia speaking quietly inside the house first. Nick tries to convince Madison to let Alicia in on the not-so-secret zombiepocalypse, which Madison refuses to do. Which is fine! Instead of letting her know in a way that could allay her fears, it’s probably much better that she finds out some other way. While they tell Alicia nothing, their dog comes home, covered in blood, and runs barking to the front door where Nick sees that Mr. Dawson is now shambling across the road toward them.

In a brilliant move, they sneak out the back door — the dog does not follow, which makes me wonder if it was even their dog? — and into the neighbor’s yard. And into the neighbor’s house. I’m not sure why? Nick seems very familiar with the place, and Alicia is fascinated by the pictures on the wall as if she’s never seen them. The lights flicker on and off while Nick looks behind furniture and comes up with a shotgun.

Alicia looks outside. They left their back door open, and the neighbor has shambled in and attacks the dog as they watch. Still telling Alicia nothing. Travis pulls in the driveway and everyone collectively moans in anticipation of whatever awful thing is about to happen.

Travis, Liza, and Chris find Mr. Dawson eating the dog, which I could definitely have done without. Instead of running away, Travis waits for the guy to jump him. Chris tries to pull him away. Nick, Madison and Alicia run to the rescue, but Alicia remembers the shotgun shells they left and goes back for them. In the neighbor’s house, she finds two not that surprising things: one, an open medicine bottle on the table; and two, something growling behind a door. Good thing no one told her what was going on yet!

Travis is still trying to reason with the unalive man trying to eat his face off. Madison aims the shotgun but can’t pull the trigger. Rubén Blades manages it just fine. Everyone freezes when the unalive guy with half a face keeps growling at them, then Rubén Blades shoots him again point-blank. Thank you, Rubén Blades! Un-thank you, effects department responsible for showing me a closeup of a head minus its top two-thirds!

Alicia runs through next door’s garden and is almost eaten by another zombie. She screams for help and Chris runs to help her. Naturally, she kicks him in the face a bunch as he’s trying to pull her away from the woman attacking her. Then Nick finally tells Alicia what’s happening, and she connects the dots to her poor doomed boyfriend, Matt.

Travis tries to help Chris clean up his not-broken nose and is beautiful. I try to remember how excited I was when I found out Cliff Curtis was headlining an AMC drama series. We all leave this scene disappointed.

The lights are back on! Rubén Blades lies that someone is coming to get them. Travis starts making sleepover plans, but everyone else is ready to hit the road. Has Travis already forgotten about the headless undead elephant in the room? “We’ll leave in the morning,” he says. “Trust me,” he says. “Even Alicia thinks this is a terrible idea and she didn’t know what was going on until ten minutes ago,” he says.

Time for another snit-fit! Or three. Rubén Blades and Travis argue about the proper disposal of a zombie corpse. Travis goes inside to argue with Liza about Griselda’s injury and oncoming death. Rubén Blades goes inside to argue with Ofelia about whether to accept help from strangers in the midst of an apocalypse. (He is surprisingly against it!)

You know, I did once love the idea of watching the slow rollout of the end of the world, but that kind of assumed it would be with characters I didn’t want to see die? This show is increasingly not at all that. I’m not saying I wish all these people would become zombie chow, but the attempts at emotional resonance are falling on tin ears here.

Liza has a heart-to-heart with Madison, but Madison is already having a heart-to-heart with what I hope is a glass of pure unadulterated vodka. She makes Liza promise to destroy her if she gets infected. Liza wanders off in search of something a little less depressing which I am pretty sure she is not going to find in this show.

In the morning, Travis is burying Mr. Dawson in the backyard, while in the house, Rubén Blades is teaching Chris how to use a gun, which Travis does not appreciate, because Travis seems to forget where he is and what is happening every thirty minutes or so. I’m very worried about brain injuries tonight.

Madison goes outside to do for Susan what she hopes someone will do for her, smack her through the brain with a ball peen hammer. Travis talks her out of it. Could they visit a neurologist on the way out of town? His memory issues are out of control.

Nick gets shirty about how many pills are left in Madison’s stash — apparently he also doesn’t think Griselda’s got very good chances. That’s news to Rubén Blades, who pretends everything is just fine.

Finally! The Idiot Family is leaving! Except they don’t get very far. Madison sees that their neighbor Patrick has arrived, and is about to meet his doom at the hands of what used to be his wife, Susan, and stops to warn him away. Not fast enough, unfortunately. But the military types that have been flying overhead in giant troop helicopters come storming into the yard just in time to shoot the Susan thing in the head! Poor Susan thing. Poor Patrick.

The military types have taken over the block: Humvees parked helter-skelter; corpse removal teams; soldiers clearing backyards and garages. A soldier takes the Idiot House’s census. It belongs to Madison, and they have nine occupants. Travis even remembers the last names of Rubén Blades’s family! He also uses Rubén Blades’s character’s actual name, which I refuse to do.

Madison asks the soldiers what happened to Patrick and is told he was removed to quarantine (or made dead) because he was covered in infected blood. She lies and says no one in their house was similarly exposed.

Nick is breaking into a nearby house, when he notices a young girl watching from the next house over. His inept pretending not to be breaking into a nearby house is interrupted by the wine of a jet engine. Overhead, what looks like a Southwest jet streaks across the sky, waggling its wings in what is probably not a practicing for the air show maneuver.

Rubén Blades watches the soldiers tag the house across the street with a black X, and tells Griselda, “It’s already too late.”

  • It may be almost too late for the show, too. Ratings have continued to slip, though that’s not hard to do when your debut episode pulls such incredibly high numbers. But is the continuing audience enough to make this show worth making? I haven’t seen much yet, except for Tobias, that makes me want to stick around beyond this first six. AMC has already announced that it will be back in 2016 with fifteen new episodes, but should it?
  • No new black characters this week, so no new dead named characters. How long will this streak continue?
  • About twenty minutes before watching this episode, I watched two enormous troop helicopters flying over the San Francisco Bay on my way back from a massively crowded business conference. I’m not saying everybody watch for news of the zombie plague starting here, but, you know. Watch for it.

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.