This show has been a slow burn (and that’s a good thing). The Walking Dead is a story about Rick, who fell into a coma before the apocalypse, and woke up some weeks later. He was basically a man out of time, getting a crash course in the way things are over the span of about 3 episodes. Fear The Walking Dead isn’t that story; instead, it’s about how people adapt with the changing world.
Early on in the season (I say early like it was a long time ago, CURSE YOU SHORT SEASON!) it appeared that the military was going to be the villain. Turns out, most of us were wrong. This is just a group of kids who signed up to purify water, not impose marshal law on their own backyard.
In reality, in line with the theme of both The Walking Dead and Fear, people are the biggest threat in the zombie apocalypse. In this case, Lt. Pyle (Moyers) was the company man, giving orders and having a ball. This was fun to him, this power trip. The others? Not so much. But hey, he has a gun so he can do whatever he wants, right? THIS IS ‘MURICA.
The National Guard per se isn’t the problem. The problem, and the true threat, are those that take advantage of their new situation, like Lt. Pyle. The rest of the guard was just as shook as the rest of the neighborhood, and were doing what they had to to get home. Hell, San Diego had been awake for 50 hours, but Pyle didn’t give a shit.
Fear and The Walking Dead are shows about people and how they cope with shitty situations. From Rick to Shane to the Governor to Travis to Madison to Pyle and to the Barber (holy shit), this show is more about personal sacrifices and choices than zombie porn (careful with Google PLEASE).
1. I had some questions since the Guard showed up about the infrastructure for their operation. This episode opened at the detention center (which we later learned was below the “hospital” and appeared to be a holding area for multiple Guard positions. This hospital and detention center acted as a hub for multiple Guard units and neighborhoods. There was Doug and Nick, as well as at least 50 other people we hadn’t seen before. Maybe they were implied from throughout the neighborhood (Travis said they took 11 people?), but it seemed like way more than just that one no-knock raid.
2. That Detention Center guard that took the “bribes” from the traveling salesman was just like Lt. Pyle - taking advantage of the situation. These people, much like the Governor, taking advantage and having fun, are the true threat in the new world.
What the hell is he going to do with cuff links? He will be the most fabulous Guardsman at the ball.
3. Speaking of that traveling salesman, WOW he went dark fast with Doug, didn’t he? This sweet talker is the same as Pyle and Fabulous (and even San Diego) - looking out for himself. The only difference is he is not in a position of power. This guy recognizes what he will have to do to get by, and it seems like manipulating others is his ticket to survival.
4. Speaking speaking of Doug, I had assumed he got away. I guess Pyle was telling the truth after all.
5. Mr. Barber man. HO-LEE SHIT. At first, I thought he was some sort of gangster or cartel man in the past, and had cleaned up, and that his “cousin” was from that previous life. Then, he told Madison about growing up in South America and finding all the bodies as a kid, informing his distrust for authority. Turns out, he WAS the authority back then, and came to America to get away from his dark past.
When he was telling Commander Boyfriend about the two guys on either side of the blade and how they were the same, I (just like everyone else) assumed he was the one being questioned. He sure did parlay his skills into a useful career when he got here, geez.
Again, this is a show about people and how they adapt to certain shitty situations. With the Barber, he is surviving the only way he knows how - brutality. When he was younger, his choice was to join or die. This is no excuse for what he did back then (or even now), and it is similar to the excuses given by people being tried for war crimes (I was just following orders!). Here, that is what he knew. Barber man needed information, and knew a very specific way of obtaining it. The fact that he got what he wanted doesn’t make him right (at all), but it shows how people will do whatever they think they need to do to survive. Surprisingly, I think Travis and Ophelia had the correct reactions for once.
6. Another thing: looking back, I should have known Barber man was experienced in extracting information, because before he started, Commander Boyfriend told him not to hurt him, and that he would tell him “everything he wanted.” Barber’s response? “I know.”
He knew the Commander would say anything to stop the pain - anything he thought Barber wanted to hear. That’s one of the problems with torture: You don’t get reliable information. People say what they think the captors want them to say, to make it stop.
Also: Barber Man’s wife did what she had to do to survive, and loved who she loved. Her incoherent speaking was a good way to round out that story this episode. The face of the devil she spoke of? She saw it in the mirror and in her husband. She felt like her demise was her fate given her past, and did not shy from it.
7. Commander Boyfriend told Barber man that he locked about 2,000 people inside of the local arena (on orders, of course) and was the guy who actually chained the doors shut. Barber man investigated, and it seems like there is about 2,000 uninvited guests about to crash this party.
8. Skinbags, huh? I guess that name fits, given that the Guard doesn’t believe (correctly) that these people are still alive. I also found it interesting, being in Los Angeles, that this Guard Company only had 83(ish) confirmed skinbag kills (84 if you count Becky. Oh. My. GAWD.) I wonder if they were just omitting ones they couldn’t individually confirm per each soldier (as well as the ones that weren’t skinbags, like the one Madison found). There are over three million people in the greater Los Angeles area. Where are they??
9. Travis still isn’t ready to shoot a Skinbag. Herschel took about eight episodes to see the light - that puts Travis on pace to get his first kill in Episode two of next season. Madison is almost like a reluctant Shane compared to Travis. Hell, they didn’t even know these people were dead and she was ready to off her neighbor and had already killed her boss. Look out.
10. Going back to Lt. Pyle and his selfish ways, did you catch that quip about the marks on that soldier’s face in the Humvee? “Momentary lapse of patriotism.” That soldier had second thoughts about what they were doing, and Pyle “snapped” him out of it. First, that one soldier at the beginning wanted to go home. Then San Diego complained about he and his men being up for 50 hours. Then this guy. These kids just want to go home. Pyle was keeping them there.
11. I was kind of sad that we didn’t see Pyle die on screen (assuming he did). San Diego and the other Soldier told Travis Pyle wasn’t coming back, implying he died. Maybe they just abandoned him? That could be an interesting setup for next season if Madison and the fam run into him somewhere, pissed at the world.
To illustrate how Pyle was the only thing keeping those Guardsmen there, San Diego told Travis his new mission was “Get My Ass Back To San Diego.” As SOON as Pyle was out of the picture, he noped out. Again, they were just kids, and didn’t sign up for this shit.
12. The radio. A few reviews back, I said listen to the radio. First, the radio was making remarks about how “horrible” it was, only to be talking about the Quarterback being out a few games. Then, it escalated, and told us that 11 states had declared emergencies. Now? Travis learned first hand of the horrors by listening to Pyle and his men on the radio. In five episodes, the show has used a radio to give us some exposition. That is really cool. I think next episode will end with someone trying to use a radio to contact help. It’ll be interesting to see if they continue that next season.
13. That “hospital” Eliza was helping at was more of a triage center than a hospital. It was may more humane (upstairs at least) than I thought. They Old-Country’d everyone with bite marks. Well, they were more humane to the already dead, at least. Eliza saw them Old-Country that one soldier before he was dead. Hopefully that orderly waited for him to pass.
It also reminded me of the one Rick woke up in. I’m surprised Rick wasn’t moved before he woke up, given the amount of people needing help. In Shane’s flashback at the beginning of Season two, he saw some Army guys (dressed exactly like the guys Madison saw while hiding under the car) just start shooting everyone. He barricaded the door and thought Rick died.
After watching this episode, It’s surprising that Rick wasn’t bumped to a cot somewhere. That hospital room could have held like 15 cots! Maybe the walker uprising in Atlanta was quicker than Los Angeles.
14. Alicia and Chris, having a ball. The whole time they were wrecking shit in that house, I thought “DON’T BE LOUD THEY ARE ATTRACTED TO SOUND!” Before last episode, Alicia was still holding on to what life used to be like, until she read Susan’s suicide note and made the tattoo permanent. Chris was doing the same thing up until he threw that picture down. That scene with them in the house was those two characters coming to terms with the new world, and forming a bond between survivors. They might not have liked each other before, but now they’re all they have.
15. Cobalt. Operation BUG OUT. I wonder what that “humane” method for exterminating the people at the hospital is? Gas or drugs of some sort? We’ll see next week.
Also, as I mentioned above, there is about 2,000 skinbags about to join the party for next week, and the Guard is already leaving. Some will stay behind (or be stuck, who knows), but the majority of the force is going to be running for the hills.
One of the biggest complaints (not from me, I love this show and it’s slow burn) has been the lack of zombies. This isn’t a show about zombies - it’s a show about people and how they adapt. Zombies just happen to be the catalyst. From the preview it appears that there is going to be some skinbag action (please, BE CAREFUL WITH GOOGLE). I’m glad it took this long to get there. We got five solid episodes of getting to know the characters, and I’ll be somewhat sad when we (guaranteed) lose a few tomorrow.
16. As predicted by many, these characters figured out the true nature of the skinbags way quicker than the people in The Walking Dead. It’s the fifth episode and they already know anyone who dies, no matter the cause, turns. It took until the end of the second season for Rick to share that with his gang.
I’m sad that next week is the finale. This show is a lot better than people thought it would be.
I’m glad we don’t have to wait for The Walking Dead. It’s literally the week after next. WOO!