‘Fear the Walking Dead’ 1.03 Recap: “Good People Are the First to Die”

I’m still not quite sure where I stand on ‘Fear the Walking Dead’. While Episode 3 (titled ‘The Dog’… not exactly an endorsement, is it?) is really no worse, or better, than the second entry, the series has yet to do anything to really engage me as a viewer, and the actors’ lifeless line delivery isn’t helping matters much.

After taking a week off due to the Labor Day holiday, the series picks up where it left off, with Travis, his ex-wife Liza and his son Chris hiding out with the Salazar family in their barber shop while Madison, Nick and Alicia wait back at home for Travis to return. At the barber shop, Chris notices that the wall is getting hot, indicating the adjacent room is on fire. Everyone decides to make a break for it, and the group makes its way to Travis’ truck, but not before Daniel Salazar’s wife, Griselda, gets her foot injured when a scaffold is pushed over on top of her by the rioting crowds in the streets.

Since Griselda is in need of medical attention, they drive to the nearest hospital, but when they get there, they find an ambulance overturned and police cars and officers surrounding the building. We only see what’s happening from a distance, but it appears that the police are firing on Walkers (a term I’ll continue to use here until the characters settle on some other name to call the zombies). This makes sense, since anyone that would die in the hospital would turn into a Walker, but the episode never lets us find out more about what’s going on. In fact, the most interesting things on ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ always seem to happen in the background – be it riots in the streets, information we learn from radio broadcasts, or this hospital scene. Our characters are mere observers/learners of these incidents and not active participants, one of the biggest things I think is wrong with this series.

While Travis and the others try to make their way back to Madison’s house, Madison and her two kids play Monopoly. No, I’m not kidding. A bit later, they hear a noise and think someone’s trying to break in, but it’s just a German Shepherd scratching on the sliding glass door. I assume that this is their dog (or possibly the neighbors’ pet) since they let him in the house, because there’s no way I’d let a stray German Shepherd into my place, no matter how many zombies are chasing him. (Yeah, feel free to call the SPCA on me.) The dog has blood all over him, but it’s not his.

Madison and the kids see a Walker making its way toward their house, so they run over to their neighbors’ house. Going inside, Nick is able to find a shotgun and some shells for it. They aren’t there long before they see that the Walker has made it inside their home and hear a yelp from the dog, indicating that the Walker got to him. Then they see Travis arriving in his truck and entering the house. They run back over to warn him, but Travis is already engaged in a struggle with the Walker. Daniel takes the shotgun from Nick and shoots the Walker in the face… which, of course, just ticks it off. He then aims higher and shoots him in the head, dropping him for good. While this is going on, Alicia – who stayed behind at the neighbors’ house for a few extra minutes – now has another Walker after her. It’s their neighbor, Susan. Chris is able to save Alicia (but not before she almost breaks his nose), and Susan gets safely trapped behind a fence so our characters can spend most of the rest of the episode safely observing her and commenting on her condition.

Madison wants the family to leave right away, but Travis insists that they’ll be better off waiting until morning. She reluctantly agrees, but makes him take the dead Walker out of the house and bury it in the backyard. As for the Salazars, Daniel wants nothing to do with the family. He doesn’t want to be in their debt and thinks they’re weak. (I agree!) He makes up a story about his cousin coming to pick him up, so when Travis and the others drive away the next day (Travis, his ex and his son in his truck, while Madison and her two kids take her car), the Salazars remain behind in the house.

Travis and Madison barely pull out of the driveway when Madison sees Susan’s husband, Patrick, returning home. (He’s been on a business trip or something.) Madison tries to scream to get his attention, but when that doesn’t work, she drives after him in her car. By the time she makes it to him, however, Patrick has already been greeted by his wife with a friendly bite. Before Madison can intervene, the military arrives and locks down the situation. With armed forces now there, Travis decides that everyone should stay put as he believes things will get better now. But upon seeing the military arrive, Daniel knows that’s it’s already too late.

The scripting of this week’s episode may have made for an interesting entry, but the actors are so bland here (I’m blaming the director, Adam Davidson), it’s almost impossible for viewers to care about any of these people. Even veteran actor Rubén Blades delivers his lines in such a flat, monotone way that it makes you wonder if he thought most of his scenes were rehearsal run-throughs.

With only three episodes left in this short first season, I suppose it’s no big task to stick it out and see what happens (and, of course, provide these blog recaps), but I have to confess that the only real reason to tune in at this point is the hope that some bit of important information might be revealed which will relate to the primary ‘Walking Dead’ series. Otherwise, I have made no connection to any of these characters, and couldn’t care less which of them live or die.

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