After last week’s pilot episode was met nearly universally with concern, will we see an improvement in Fear the Walking Dead episode 102: ‘So Close, Yet So Far’?
In reading and watching the internet, there appeared to be no one who came out at a full on defense of the show, which given the viewing records it set, is pretty extraordinary. But let’s take a look at episode 2.[divider]Recap of Fear the Walking Dead episode 102: So Close, Yet So Far[/divider]
The opening scene is of our teenage heroine, Alicia, as she gets to her boyfriend’s house. It appears that there has been a mighty struggle and it turns out Matt is sick, but not yet zombie sick. When Mom Madison and step-parent Travis show up at Matt’s house, we discover why: Matt has been bit.
Alicia refuses to leave until Matt tells her that she needs to go. It is the kind of scene that we are supposed to think is a noble sacrifice but the truth is no one is invested in any of these characters yet, so it is hard to garner any emotional reaction.
Travis then becomes worried about his son Christopher, who isn’t answering his dad’s phone calls. When Travis shows up at his ex-wife’s house, there is talk about custody agreements before Travis convinces her to ride with him. Because they have discovered that Christopher is in an angry mob videotaping police officers who just shot a homeless man.
Team Stepfamily had decided that they need to head out to the desert, going home to collect supplies, which was only confirmed when Travis saw a cop loading up on water on his way to get Christopher. Addict son Nick knows he is going to be hurting bad when the withdrawal pains kick in, which sends Mom to the school to get the drugs that she knows are there, after the doctor wouldn’t answer the phone.
While Madison is at the school, she runs into chubby hero Tobias, who is the only character I care about at all so far in the series. Tobias wants his knife back because his house only has one small steak knife evidently. And he is there to collect food as well, because the chubby kid is always going to know how to eat.
Madison is helping him get the stuff out when they run into Zombie Principal, who ultimately meets his demise when Madison cracks him with a fire extinguisher to get him off Tobias. She then halfheartedly asks Tobias to come with her as she drops him off at his house, because although traffic around Travis is an everloving nightmare, these streets seem wide open and easy to move about evidently.
While Madison was at the school, Alicia was getting ready to leave Nick to go to Matt’s house when Nick pulls the heroic move of almost choking on his own vomit to get her to stay. (If this zombie apocalypse wasn’t happening, Alicia would be the queen bee of some sorority in the near future, teaching other how to save the members from choking on their own vomit.)
Travis and the ex-wife find Christopher and manage to drag him out of the crowd, just as the hazmat suits arrive, along with the riot police, as they shot a young woman who looks like she just got lost on her way to Lilith Fair and then became a walker.
When it all starts to fall apart, Travis manages to get inside a barber shop to hold up, where a mom, dad and adult daughter are all present. They then watch through the protection of the steel garage door that closed up the shop as things seem to get worse. On a phone call, Travis tries to get Madison to leave for the desert in-between the moments she has of giving her son drugs, having a cry fest over the blood on her jacket. (Or killing the principal. Truthfully, it isn’t really clear.)
The episode ends with Madison refusing to let Alicia leave to help the across the street neighbor who is being attacked as she tries to clean up the bouncy house that was used for a party earlier in the episode.[divider]Review of Fear the Walking Dead episode 102: So Close, Yet So Far[/divider]
Some thoughts about the show:
- We lack an obvious protagonist. The first series began in such a way that you immediately knew that you were going to live and die with Rick. (Though I would argue that is no longer the case.) But from day one, he is the one we focused on and it stayed that way until the end of the prison series. What this show has tried to do is give us the whole survivor group at once, which has made it difficult for the audience to embrace any of them or all of them.
- Slow isn’t meant to be a demeaning term but this is slow. If you think about it, the fall of civilization probably was a slow roll out. It just doesn’t make for necessarily compelling television. But I appreciate that this is the story that the writers have chosen to tell.
- Too many teenagers. Still, I do think having this many young people is a misstep. They just come across as too bratty and unless we are headed to a Red Dawn like existence, this feels like a bad move.
I’d give this episode 3.5 out of 10. It was nowhere near as awful as the premiere but it still has a long, long way to go.