Good people are the first ones to die.
Those ominous words serve as a stark warning that adaptability and decisive actions are the key to survival in the new walker-infested world order.
This week we were treated to the best episode of Fear the Walking Dead since the stage-setting premiere. In a lot of ways, The Dog recalled the outstanding Walking Dead Telltale video games where there is no best answer or happy outcome — simply one that allows the characters to survive another day.
There was a terrific dichotomy in this week’s episode. Travis was still holed up in the barber shop alongside his ex-wife, Liza, their son, Chris, and the shop owner, Daniel, his wife, Griselda, and daughter, Ofelia, as a riot breaks out. Meanwhile, Madison and her children, Nick and Alicia, are killing time waiting on his return by playing Monopoly.
The riot quickly escalates forcing Travis and company to flee the shop and head to his truck. Kudos to the writers for not keeping Travis’ crew trapped in the barber shop for multiple episodes.
Director Adam Davidson makes takes excellent advantage of the setting as Travis and company try to navigate the chaos of the riot in evading police and rioters as well as the random walker casually attacking people. Griselda injures her foot and we may as well put an expiration date on her after they travel to a hospital, which is already overrun by walkers.
With the thrill of landing on Park Place dwindling, Madison and the kids hear a noise outside and are surprised to see a dog scraping the patio door. The dog immediately reacts to a walker outside and starts barking, prompting Madison, Nick and Alicia to venture into the labyrinth doubling as their backyard to get a shotgun from one of their neighbors. It seemed slightly dumb not to bring the dog along since it proved a useful walker warning system.
Despite seeing a walker strolling along in the streets, Madison and the kids leave the patio door wide open and are somehow shocked when it walks in just as Travis arrives.
Not to be outdone with stupid decisions, Travis tries to have a conversation with his neighbor even though he sees him eating the dog. Fortunately, Daniel has brains to spare and uses the shotgun to kill the walker with two shots to the head.
Annoyingly, Madison won’t follow his lead and take out her infected neighbor Susan. Madison may be starting to smarten up though as she tells Eliza to kill her if she becomes infected and heads to the backyard to kill Susan before Travis stops her. Travis’ good heart is going to get him killed sooner than later, but his hopeful nature is a nice contrast to the cynical and beaten down characters in The Walking Dead.
Madison clearly has the worst neighborhood watch as no one else in the neighborhood seems even vaguely aware of anything occurring or is even slightly concerned about gunshots and that weird walker murmuring.
Daniel suggests burning a dead walker to further prevent infection and teaches Chris how to use the shotgun proving he’s got the lead in terms of best long-term prospects assuming Griselda’s inevitable death doesn’t send him spiraling.
Before Travis’ caravan heads out, Madison spots Susan’s husband returning from a business trip and she rushes off to warn him just as the military arrives and kills Susan. While Travis is much more optimistic now that the cavalry has arrived, Daniel fears it’s already too late.
This was a jam-packed episode that finally caught all the characters up on the threat of the walker menace. We’re getting a better sense of who has what it takes to survive and next week looks to be very interesting. The military has arrived, but we already know their efforts to restore order will be in vain, but will it be too late for all of the characters?
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
The action was great and the stakes are increasing as the walkers begin expanding their numbers. Dumb character moments aside, this was a riveting and engaging episode. Watching a society crumble has never been this fascinating.