As you all well may know, the pilot episode of Fear the Walking Dead left me underwhelmed. Coming into this week, I am much more hopeful now that characters had been established and some story lines are taking form. The title of episode two is aptly named, “So Close,Yet So Far.”
The show opens up with Principal Artie walking the halls of an empty school, a quiet but effective opening that says the “virus” is spreading. We then flash to the jilted Alicia, as you may remember last week Chris was supposed to meet her at the beach and never showed. Now she is making her way to his house. When Alicia arrives the front door is ajar, obviously an open invite to come on in; as she makes her way through the house there are signs of an obvious struggle with furniture strewn about, she rounds a corner and becomes very upset, or at least the horrified look on her face suggests so, cut to opening credits. This is not a bad start.
After the opening credits, we pick up where we left off last week with Travis, Madison and Nick frantically driving away from the zombie-fied Calvin scene trying to reach the police to no avail, I wonder where they could be? Stay tuned. A decision is made to get all family members together including Liza and Chris (Travis’s ex and son). The plan is to head to the desert to safety and to help Nick detox; meanwhile, Madison’s phone rings and it’s a frantic Alicia. It is time to head to Chris’s house. Now a quick flash to Chris (Travis’s son) on a bus as he decides to ignore the important “let’s avoid the virus by moving to the desert” phone call from his dad. Travis, Madison and Nick arrive at Chris’ house to find Alicia cuddling him. Travis has Alicia go get a glass of water as he examines Chris discovering a bite to the shoulder. We get a quick “I love you” exchange from Alicia and Chris – Chris knows his fate – and a “sorry about your luck, but we’ll call an ambulance” goodbye from everyone else. Nick is going through the medicine cabinet looking for a fix. Dude, it’s time to get out of dodge.
Back to the bus, which has to stop due to a police barricade, Chris joins an angry mob that is upset because the police shot a homeless man several times (remember this is a prequel, the “kill shot” is an unknown at this point). Coincidentally, Chris just happens to have a hand held video camera with him — I mean who doesn’t carry one of those around. Meanwhile, Travis and the family arrive back at home to start packing until Travis decides he is going to get Liza and Chris after “windexing” the blood off of his truck. While Nick goes through withdrawal with only Alicia to babysit him through his symptoms, Madison heads out to get medicine from the school nurse’s office — because they are always loaded up with narcotics, right.
Travis makes his way to Liza’s to explain to her what is going on and off the go to find Chris. They know where he is because they called him and the riot just happened to be on TV to conveniently let them know his exact location. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Alicia is pissed at Nick and decides to leave. As she walks out the door yelling at him, she hears a thud and runs back inside to a convulsing, puking Nick. Madison makes it to school and who does she meet up with? Our old friend Tobias who happens to be there to raid the pantry. Tobias asks Madison if he can have his knife back, which turns out to be a good move. Tobias goes on to explain more about “the virus” to Madison and that “when civilization ends, it ends fast.” Some familiar grunts and growls are heard over the PA system as Madison and Tobias are leaving and, as they round the corner, they find Principal Arty shambling away, Madison calls to him despite Tobias’s warnings and good ole Arty turns to face them — and he is hungry. Tobias saves Madison with the knife as he and Arty tumble down the steps. Madison arrives just in time to bash Arty’s head in with a fire extinguisher. Cue the obligatory slow motion walk to the car.
Travis and Liza find Chris and drag him away kicking and screaming while the crowd watches a girl get shot several times by the cops, a HAZMAT team examining remains and a Riot Police Squad marching onto the scene. This causes the crowd to disperse in a panic. At this time we flash to Madison dropping Tobias off at home and offering for him to come with her and the family to the desert. He refuses as he states he will be OK. Back to Travis and the ex-family, the escape the riot by holding up in a barber shop. The barber is not a big fan of Travis and company but his wife and daughter convinced him to allow them to stay until things calm down.
Madison gets home and rations some oxy to Nick and says they will ween him off in the desert, Nick tells her about Alicia trying to leave but he stopped her, perhaps with the apparent seizure that may have been staged. Travis calls home and tells Madison to head out and he will meet her in desert when things quiet a bit, she obviously refuses and as gun shots ring outside the shop as Travis drops the call.
The end sequence flashes to a slow pan of dead zombie Arty laying in the hall then to Madison’s home as they hear screaming. Madison and Alicia look out the window to see the family across the street being attacked by the neighbor who now has the quickness of a 28 Days Later zombie, cut to a shot of the barber’s wife praying. As she blows out the last candle, the closing credits roll.
While the first watch leave me disappointed with this episode of Fear the Walking Dead, I feel a bit more optimistic upon a second viewing. This certainly is not The Walking Dead but neither was The Walking Dead in its first few episodes. So, I am still giving this a chance. If I compare Fear the Walking Dead to the current The Walking Dead seasons, the title of this second episode is aptly named “So close, yet so far.”
3 out of 5 on the Thug meter