There were a few takeaways from tonight’s episode, “Not Fade Away,” that will likely be important going forward. The most important being while the characters have been at times infuriatingly frustrating early on, there may just yet be some hope for them after all.
It’s Day 9 since the military arrived and Travis’ super extended family plus the Salazars are all trying to fit in under this new safe zone world order. Chris is recording from a rooftop when he spots someone signaling back at him from beyond the quarantine zone.
Chris spots someone signaling with a light past the quarantine zone, but Travis — happy to play the role of clueless optimist — can’t be bothered to watch the recording.
Travis is clearly the anti-Rick Grimes. He’s not assertive, way too trusting and doesn’t want to cause any trouble. To an extent, this makes him an interesting contrast, but too often it’s done at the expense of making him come across like an idiot.
He’s the one character I most want to finally just get it to some degree. Travis doesn’t have to turn into a throat-chomping, ruthless killer/leader overnight, but his head in the clouds demeanor makes him the show’s second most annoying character.
Travis’ ex-wife, Liza, is checking in on people and somehow found some morphine lying around to help a neighbor. Fortunately it was the neighbor on the other side so Nick can swing over and leech off the morphine drip. Nick’s addiction subplot was never all that interesting to begin with and now it’s become progressively more irritating each week.
Ofelia is proving equally resourceful, flirting with a soldier just to use him so she can get medicine for her mom. Using sex/sex appeal for resources is a strategy characters in “The Walking Dead” rarely use even though it makes sense so it was nice to see someone thinking on a different level here.
Travis is asked to check in on Doug, a neighbor, who’s flipping out about everything. Travis reassures him everything is OK and that’s what he needs to tell his family perhaps providing some insight on Travis’ own delusions that life will eventually return to normal.
The real story of the episode though was the emergence of Madison as the show’s best character and one most likely to succeed or stay alive for numerous seasons.
When the episode starts, she’s annoyed with the military’s restrictions on the power. Travis tries to rationalize everything even after the commanding officer Lt. Moyers (Jamie McShane) jokes for everyone to be nice so he doesn’t have to shoot them. The writers went a bit overboard making sure Moyers gets the “villain” treatment as he’s hardly the calm, reassuring face that you’d expect would be addressing people in a tense situation.
While hiding, Madison notices some of the victims weren’t infected, but were shot anyway. This episode would have been just fine with Madison on her own through the dead zone as we would finally see a character start to catch up on what longtime Walking Dead fans already know.
Madison tells Daniel what she saw and he warns her to be leery of the military recalling a chilling incident from his childhood. He also advises Madison to keep an eye on her son. Proving the smartest person on the show, Madison actually listens and spots Nick rifling around for drugs and proceeds to slap and beat him down. I’m gonna need a couple of GIFs of that scene as it’s been the most satisfying moment in the series thus far.
Liza’s medical training catches the attention of Dr. Exner (Sandrine Holt, “Terminator: Genisys“), a military doctor who’s in charge of deciding which patients should be transported to an off-site medical base for proper care.
Among those being transported is Daniel’s wife, Griselda, but when the military arrive to take her, Daniel is told he’s not allowed to go with her. But they are taking someone else — Nick.
The soldiers turn their guns on Madison, Travis and Daniel as they try to argue and in the chaos, Exner convinces Liza to go with her to help the others. Liza agrees, but her leaving Chris behind wasn’t believable for a second.
Madison angrily tells Travis that Liza caused all this and Travis retreats to the rooftop where he finally sees the light — just as gunshots light up the house.
Rating: 8 out of 10
This was an episode that was going nowhere outside of Madison’s scenes, but the final scene was strong with a great cliffhanger potentially hinting that Travis and Madison both realize the military aren’t the saviors they originally believed.