The second episode of ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ is titled ‘So Close, Yet So Far’, but it might as well have been called ‘Now That’s More Like It’. After a rather unimpressive pilot episode, this second entry has the kind of energy and emotion everyone expected to see last week.
As Episode 2 gets underway, daughter Alicia heads to her boyfriend Matt’s home, only to find the door open. Stepping inside, she sees a lot of furniture knocked over and finally finds Matt, although the pre-title teaser doesn’t show him yet. Is he already a Walker?
Meanwhile, Madison, Travis and Nick have high-tailed it in their truck away from the scene of drug dealer Cal’s dead body. Travis says that it’s a good idea for the family to leave Los Angeles and find refuge out in the desert. First, however, they’ll need to go pick up Alicia.
When they get to Matt’s house, they find Alicia tending to the boy. He has flu-like symptoms, but hasn’t yet turned into a Walker. However, we see that he has a big bite taken out of his left shoulder. Alicia wants to stay and take care of Matt, but Matt convinces her to leave him there. When everyone returns to the Clark home, Nick reminds his mother that he’s about to go into major withdrawal from not having any drugs in his system. Travis decides that he needs to go find his son, Chris, and his ex-wife, Liza, so they can join the rest of them on the trek out of the city.
Travis learns that Chris isn’t at home, and Liza isn’t sure where he’s at because he hasn’t been answering his phone. Throughout the episode, we see Chris travelling on a city bus and then coming across a protest against the L.A.P.D., who are accused of killing unarmed civilians. (They’ve been gunning down Walkers, but – of course – no one has any knowledge yet of what is happening to the infected.) Encouraged by the protesters to do so, Chris films the confrontation with his video camera.
While Travis heads off to meet Liza, Madison goes to the high school to see if she can find some drugs at the campus police lock-up to help Nick through his withdrawal. When she gets there, the building is empty (at least it appears to be), but she soon runs into acne-faced Tobias, the young student who warned her about the plague spreading through Los Angeles. Tobias has come to load up on supplies from the cafeteria, and also asks Madison if he can have his knife back (which wasn’t a fancy hunting knife or anything, so one would think Tobias would have procured another one by now).
On the way out of the school, Madison and Tobias run into the principal, Artie, who has already been turned. Tobias recognizes this immediately, but Madison hasn’t figured it out yet and gets attacked by Artie. Before he can bite her, Tobias jumps in and gets into a scuffle with the principal. The two go barreling down a flight of stairs. Now it’s Madison’s turn to help, so she grabs a fire extinguisher and bashes her boss’ head in with it, allowing them to escape. Madison drives Tobias to his house and drops him off – probably never to be seen again, though I’m guessing he’ll be one of those characters (like Morgan on the original series) that fans will continue to ask about until the show-runners eventually bring him back.
Thanks to the protest being televised, Travis and Liza figure out where Chris is at and go to get him. The protest has now turned into a riot and is spreading, so there’s no way for Travis to drive out of the area. He convinces a local barber shop owner, Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades), and his family to give them refuge in his shop. While there, he calls Madison back home and tells her to start heading out to the desert without him. He’ll find a way to catch up to her.
The episode wraps up with Madison giving Nick some Oxycontin (which seems like a bad idea, since the worst of his withdrawal appears to have passed) and with her stopping Alicia from running outside to help their next-door neighbor when she’s attacked by a Walker.
Looking back at this episode, in retrospect, there’s really not a whole lot more happening than what occurred in the pilot. The big difference, however, is that this week the pacing and direction (which is a bit odd, since the director here – Adam Davidson – also helmed the first episode) are more on par with what the original series is like. Even characters I couldn’t have cared less about in the pilot, like Alicia, are suddenly a lot more interesting this week.
We don’t find out much about the Salazar family in this episode, but hopefully the plan is to make them major characters in the cast as well. (I sense that Daniel may serve to be the “Dale” or “Hershel” of this show, which would be interesting, but also not bode well for the long-term chances of his character surviving.)
Programming Note: Due to the Labor Day holiday, AMC is not airing a new episode of ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ next weekend. It will return on Sunday, September 13th.