Fear the Walking Dead, S1 Ep5 – Cobalt

The penultimate episode of Fear the Walking Dead was a mess, and not even the kind we like.

Only a handful of walkers appear, though given this episode’s conclusion, we might get the hordes of vicious zombies we deserve. But the road leading up to this climactic moment was long and sometimes really tedious.

While there were some good character moments in this episode (mostly involving the Salazars), it felt like various subplots were scattered haphazardly and not properly developed. The story felt like it was spread out too thinly, so the disorganized structure lessened the impact of the upcoming finale.

Fear the Walking Dead, S1 Ep5Almost as suddenly as they appeared, the military forces began to leave. Without us spending enough time with these characters, it’s difficult to regret their loss. Now, at least, the stakes are higher since those left behind have been deprived of the protection afforded by men with guns. It seemed like they were there to establish some sense of order and protection but when the going got rough, they were the most eager to leave the rest of the people to the wolves (er, walkers.) How much did they really know about the infection and how fast it would spread? How prepared had they really been for an operation of this magnitude? So much about their presence was unexplained and so many questions left unanswered (even after Daniel Salazar went House Bolton on one of the soldiers, with Madison’s consent and much to Ofelia’s horror.)

Speaking of Daniel Salazar, he continues to be one of the most compelling characters of the series and one I’m rooting for to survive the horrors ahead, since he has already endured a great deal of hardship in his life. This episode revealed a darker side of his past – during an oppressive regime, he was forced to join his oppressors to survive. He showed no qualms about torturing a man for information; as much as it pained him, he was willing to take drastic measures.

Fear the Walking Dead, S1 Ep5Liza had the opportunity to discover the truth about the reanimated dead while she volunteered as a nurse. She was thrown into the fray and witnessed a lot of unpleasantness. Her experience gave her a better idea of the deadly threat plaguing the world, and she also had a chance to make a decision. After witnessing Griselda’s death (after some very chilling words from the latter who confirmed that she was aware of her husband’s dark deeds), she chose to shoot her in the head to prevent her from turning. Like Madison, Liza’s proving that she has what it takes to survive.

Meanwhile, Travis had some opportunities to act more decisively but only disappointed. I was relieved to see him stand up to Moyers and demand to get Liza, Nick, and Griselda back. But when he was tasked to shoot a stray walker, he refused, a credit to his humanity. But having sympathy for a brain-eating zombie just because she used to be called Kimberly and worked at a donut shop will not help him survive what’s coming.

Fear the Walking Dead, S1 Ep5I’m surprised he’s even survived this long. Even after seeing so much of the walker threat, Travis still clings to the idea that somehow things will sort themselves out. He needs to update his mindset if he wants to make it out alive this season.

The kids didn’t do much in this episode, with Alicia and Chris trashing some anonymous rich person’s house out of boredom and some strange sense of entitlement. Fear the Walking Dead, S1 Ep5“These kids are getting the childhood we deserve,” Alicia remarks bitterly. I don’t know, but she didn’t seem to be too deprived of material things in her life. They were far from living in poverty. So I don’t get what she’s complaining about. Chris was happy to join the fun, after a not-so-subtle glance at Alicia all dolled up in someone else’s gown. Not really a scene we needed to see leading up to the season finale.

Nick makes a new friend?

Nick makes a new friend?

Nick, at least, had some interesting scenes while imprisoned in the secret military facility. He made an intriguing new acquaintance (whom I will not call a friend, considering the latter’s opportunistic motives) in Strand (Colman Domingo), who bribed the guard not to take poor old Nick away. I’m still not quite sure what to think of this new character, in spite of his cheesy speeches. It feels a bit odd to introduce yet another new character while not having fully developed the main cast. But it’s clear that Strand will have a crucial role to play in the future, and I’m quite looking forward to what he has to contribute to the story.

Where's the "Don't Dead Open Inside" sign when you need one?

Where’s the “Don’t Open, Dead Inside” sign when you need one?

The episode ended with the soldiers leaving town, and with Daniel walking up to a locked warehouse which presumably holds a whole bunch of walkers. I’m not quite sure what he’s planning to do with this information but it’s clear that a zombie stampede is about to break out, and I for one am eager to see that play out. Because even with their knowledge of the dangers they’re facing, our main characters (okay, mostly Travis) haven’t been forced to decisive action yet, and it’s high time for them to understand the magnitude of the horrors their world has been plunged into. It’s high time for them to truly Fear the Walking Dead.