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So Close, Yet So Far

Andrea Steward, Writer

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For those of you who may not have heard, “Fear the Walking Dead” is the spin-off to the very popular (and successful) series, “The Walking Dead.” This spin-off follows new characters as they face the beginning of the end of the world. Last Sunday’s episode opens where the last episode left off.  Madison, Travis, and Madison’s son Nick leave the scene of Calvin’s death and rush off to find Alicia. The zombie outbreak is quickly making itself known. The Los Angeles family that the series focuses on is anxious to get out of town to “the desert” where they assume that they will be safer. The episode then splits into two parts, one following Travis and the other following Madison, Alicia and Nick.

As the episode progresses, it is apparent that the city of Los Angeles is in the beginnings of riot mode as police brutality breaks out. Travis sets out to find his son and his ex-wife, both of whom refuse to give him the time of day. When he finally arrives at their house, his son Chris isn’t home and his ex, Liza, hasn’t heard a thing about the craziness enveloping the city. It is then discovered that Chris is downtown filming the start of a riot in which angry citizens have encircled police who have just shot down a homeless man (a zombie). The crowd only intensifies in protest when the police are forced to shoot down another zombie, which presents itself as a young punk-rocker. Travis and Liza finally round up Chris and one thing leads to another and they end up temporarily safe with a family inside a barber shop away from the madness and violence.

Switching gears, The Clark family eventually finds Alicia in the company of her intensely sick boyfriend Matt. She is finally convinced to leave him, after a lot of convincing from the other characters. The viewer can tell that Matt is obviously going to become a zombie, just like Calvin in last week’s episode and also like the school principal in this episode. After grabbing Alicia from her almost-undead boyfriend, Madison begins the burden of caring for Nick, who is beginning to go through withdrawals. Madison leaves Alicia to watch over him and goes to the school where she works, to loot the pharmacy. Tobias sees her there when he is looting the school’s cafeteria. He tells her that pharmacies are usually hit first when looting occurs, followed by gun-shops and so on and so on. They stock up on canned goods and drugs and begin to make their way out of the building. After some creepy sounds and an encounter with the newly undead principal, Madison and Tobias leave the school.

The rest of the episode was pretty exciting and jam-packed with action. The riots outside the barber shop are in full swing and Nick has a seizure which causes Alicia to help him, stopping her from going back to probably now-zombie Matt. The main characters are spread across a city shrouded in chaos. I’m very interested to see where all the characters will go from this point as L.A. falls further into hysteria.

“Fear the Walking Dead” is very much the same kind of show as “The Walking Dead,” although it never feels quite as exciting. I don’t like the abundance of characters at the beginning of this series; In “The Walking Dead,” the viewer had time to see Rick in his isolation which made us form a bond with him. Rick’s loneliness might not have lasted long, but it helped introduce us to the long journey in a striking, and relatively easy to follow, way.

The truth is, “Fear the Walking Dead” will need to distinguish itself in landscape as much, and more, than it already tries to through the new cast. The landscape of “The Walking Dead” has become boring and too familiar to the people who follow it. Los Angeles is already too much like Atlanta, or will be when the zombies ultimately overtake the city, to set the shows apart. If the Clark family reaches the desert, which I personally doubt, then the harsh heat and barren landscape will provide a stark change to the lush green forests that viewers usually see in TWD. If they don’t reach the desert, however, then the viewer has no choice but to accept that this is just a cheap copy-cat of its pre-cursor. It is too early to tell where the series will lead but many viewers will be intensely watching it unfold.

 

 

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