It’s a Beautiful Day in the Heavily Militarized Neighborhood (Fear the Walking Dead Episode 4)

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I’ve Got Your Teen Angst Right Here

When will writers learn that NO ONE likes pretentious teenagers?

Episode 4 of Fear the Walking Dead, entitled “Not Fade Away,” opens with Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” blaring and everyone in the newly militarized ‘hood is just trying to get by. By which we mean dealing with power outages, military patrols, rations, and a curfew. Just another day post-zombie virus. Nobody is bringing brains to the block party…yet.

Let’s get this out of the way at the top: right now, Chris is annoying. He’s sort of Carl 2.0, which isn’t adding a lot to the show. We need less “Wah! My parents are divorced and my dad sucks,” and more resourcefulness from Chris.

There’s hope, though, because Chris is still the catalyst for a lot of the action in this episode. Chris is still playing Wes Bentley in American Beauty from the top of Madison’s roof, but that means he’s the first one to see the distress signal coming from a burned out house in the hills. With any luck, by the time we get to season 2 Chris will have toned down his less likable qualities and turned his trusty camcorder to actually gathering evidence on what the military is really up to. (Spoiler: it’s nothing good.)

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Message in a Window

So about that distress signal Chris spots.

Everyone has been assured by the military that everything outside of the fence is dead and gone, but if that wasn’t clearly a lie (to us if not yet to the characters) before, it sure is now. How many survivors are out there, and come season two, are they going to want to get into the neighborhood via that handy-dandy opening that Madison cut in the fence? Chris gets Scullied by his dad, but Madison is much more of a Mulder. The truth is out there (just not this week).

Yes, it seems for the moment the show is going to be content with building the tension of what lies beyond and just dealing with what actually is in the neighborhood. Travis brings up Chris’s video of the burned out house to Moyers attention, but the good Lieutenant tacitly ignores it. Is it smart for Moyers to be so dismissive of someone who is so eager to wear his “Hero” t-shirt?

Still, maybe it’s smart on Moyers’s part. He has to know the situation is too big for his soldiers to handle, and they don’t have the manpower to combat the Walkers. Also, Moyers legitimately believes that they’ve cleared the quarantine area.

Then again, complacency is never the death of anyone when it comes to zombies, right? Either way, no good will come of this. Either the trust in the military is going to erode completely, with Travis most likely at the center of it, or zombies are going to find their way in because that’s what they do. So enjoy that game of welcome mat golf, Moyers.

And by the way, let’s hope whoever is sending out that SOS is a badass in the Michonne/ Daryl Dixon mold.

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To Protect and Serve (Our Own Interests)

For some reason the neighborhood people are not comforted by Lt. Moyers telling them that they’re totes safe, but if they try to exit the fence they’ll be shot. Who doesn’t enjoy being threatened (jokily) by soldiers, and getting no answers save, “hey, you get to ride out the pandemic trapped in your neighborhood, isn’t that great?” As we learned last season in OG Walking Dead, people living behind glass fences are less likely to survive when things go wrong, while the people on the outside are (for the most part) more ruthless and able to take care of themselves.

What’s worth keeping an eye on is how long it takes before the people stop trusting “the man,” (as we TV viewers know instinctually never to do). Remember, in the pilot episode Travis saw a cop loading up on water and other supplies well before word was out that it was “the end of the world as we know it,” so an episode with a full on mutiny probably isn’t far off, maybe even coming in the season finale in a couple weeks.

After his little dustup with Moyers, Doug could end up being the spark that’s needed, particularly since Travis got cut in on that story. Of course Moyers says he’s being cared for, but how long before Travis finds out that might not be the case?

But please tell me Travis isn’t going to be the one to organize the neighbors and demand answers. Travis is frustrating because he is still trying to apply reason to a world that is spinning out of control. His slowness to adapt to the new reality makes him a liability. He’s not going to be an effective leader for the Neighborhood Zombie Watch until he learns to be pragmatic. Again, this could also be a good way to include Chris (I know, I can’t believe I’m suggesting this either): his camera footage could be what unites the neighbors together against the soldiers.

Of course, that’s already happening. Maddie sneaks out of the quarantine fence, and when she returns tells Daniel all about the bodies she saw, some of which weren’t sick at all. Daniel tells her a heartwarming tale of the military massacres of his childhood. He warns Madison that men do evil things not out of evil but out of fear. Senior wisdom, yo. It’s almost as if the soldiers FEAR the Walking Dead (womp womp).

 

My Drug Buddy, Nick

Nick’s busy spending the end of Western Civilization working on his tan in the pool and swearing once again he’s cured himself. Of course, Nick is a lying liar who lies (seems there’s a lot of that going around) and everyone this side of the screen knows it a little too immediately. Sorry, you got a boo boo, Nick, but honestly how long are we going to have to watch Trainspotting: Undead Lust for Life? Exploring drug addiction during a zombie apocalypse is an interesting subject for a show to tackle, but so far we’ve watched the exact same beats play out every week. We’ve seen Nick’s pretty resourceful when it comes to stealing drugs, so are the writers setting him up to use his mad junkie skills to break out of the medical facility, or take it over?

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Your Love is Like Badly Needed Medicine

Ofelia is making out with a soldier in the back of his jeep, because… hey, the world is falling apart. But Ofelia don’t put out for nothing, and wants the…erm…hookup with some meds. Soldier boy doesn’t have any meds for Ofelia, so both of them are leaving with blue balls. Obviously, soldier boy is going to play a bigger role because he is played by TV regular Shawn Hatosy, who isn’t going to sign on for a throwaway role. Could his relationship with Ofelia turn him into a mole for the neighbors within the military?

Nurse Liza in Da House

Liza is making house calls, and getting paid in soup. However, there is a new doc on the block Dr. Bethany Exner. Even though Liza isn’t a real nurse, Exner’s willing to let her wear scrubs made of lies (with a kitten print, of course) if she’ll introduce her to all the people Liza’s been treating. Obviously, Exner wants to use Liza’s knowledge of the at-risk patients in the neighborhood to gain valuable information on who should get a one-way ambulance ride to the new hospital, but it also gives her legitimacy since she sort of just materialized out of thin air. It’s good to know that just saying you’re a doctor is enough to get people not to ask questions about you.

Griselda makes the cut, and Dr. Exner assures Daniel that he can accompany his wife to the hospital. Exner also shows an interest in Nick and promises him sweet, sweet Methadone. Nick may be a junkie, but at least he has the good sense to be suspicious of the pretty lady doctor.

Also, Liza may want to practice some self-defense moves because Maddie and Alicia are gunning for her by episode’s end.

HM…Oh No!

The whole episode reaches its tipping point when the soldiers come to take Griselda and Nick to the medical facility. Any pretext of playing nice with the neighbors is swiftly extinguished when the soldiers get upset when Daniel questions their authority. Worse, Nick’s face is having a terrible day when a soldier slams him with the butt of his gun. Everyone freaks out.

You have to ask, is it smart for the soldiers to react so aggressively to Nick and Daniel? If you’re trying to keep people calm and stop them from asking too many questions, it doesn’t seem like a good idea to beat up a junkie dressed like your grandpa (and an actual grandpa). Wouldn’t it have made more dramatic sense to build suspense slowly about whatever shady things are going on at the medical center rather than rushing it (maybe too much to ask since there are only two more episodes left)? The Walking Dead universe clearly doesn’t like hospitals. Does this mean Exner is the new Dawn?

Dr. Exner asks (but really tells) Liza that she’s needed at the medical facility (of death and extermination). Liza is reluctant to leave Chris but climbs into the jeep anyway. Is Liza crafty enough to get close to Exner and get the intel she needs to save both Griselda (who I think we can all agree isn’t going to survive this season) and Nick?

Can we all agree that Liza and Nick will team up to take over the hospital?

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Burning Questions:

Are the doctors killing at-risk patients, or are they experimenting to see if they can figure out what’s causing the Zombie Flu?

No one asks the most important question: will the hospital be serving Jell-O? The good kind, not the orange-flavored kind, because, gross.

Will someone please buy Travis a clue?

Is Liza going to be the inside man at the hospital facility, or is she going to turn to the dark side?

Who do we think is in the burned out house? Are they friend or foe?

Can Madison beat up Chris next…just because?

Is Ofelia’s tryst with the soldier going to turn into a tragic love story, or is it just going to end badly?

Is someone going to educate Alicia on proper tattoo maintenance? Maybe, give her a more interesting storyline than moping in dead people’s houses?

What signature weapons do we think our main characters are going to adopt? My vote for Travis is a Nerf bat!