This week’s episode of “Fear the Walking Dead” was the one that fans of “The Walking Dead” have impatiently been awaiting all along.
The veil of uncertainty and hopeless optimism was forcibly lifted from our cast and now they’ve got to deal with the harsh truth that their lives as they know it have been forever lost.
As the episode came to a close even more so than the premiere, this was the first time I was really excited about the potential of the series going forward.
And in another first, in its admittedly short run, all the characters finally reacted to events in a realistic manner. There weren’t any eye-rolling moments when someone tried to have a conversation with a walker; just people reacting logically or at least understandably.
With his wife forcibly taken from him, Daniel went hardcore Jack Bauer using Ofelia’s sorta boyfriend to finally get some clear answers about the military occupation. At this point it’s pretty hard not to like Daniel.
This is a guy who’s seen enough evil to know how to handle himself in any situation and isn’t afraid of doing what needs to be done. His actions might not always be the best decision, especially concerning his family, but Daniel isn’t going to sit around waiting on answers either.
Madison is initially horrified at Daniel’s information gathering techniques — razors slowly peeling skin can do that to a person — but she quickly comes around after realizing it may be the only way to reunite with her son Nick.
Nick scenes usually get bogged down with the endless reminders that he’s a heroin addict. We got that this week, naturally, but while under military quarantine, Nick met Strand (Colman Domingo, “Selma“), who may give Daniel competition as the most fascinating character.
Strand’s sized up the situation and realizes the virus and walkers are essentially pushing the reset button on humanity. The foam latte crowd? They won’t survive, but Strand is ready. He’s befriended/established a business relationship with a few of the guards and somehow acquired a key to freedom.
When the soldiers go to remove Nick since his fever is escalating, Strand barters to keep Nick figuring a heroin addict could come in handy. Interesting logic, but Nick is now interacting with a character who doesn’t treat him like some sick puppy and that’s a marked improvement.
Alicia and Chris don’t have much to do and decide to do a reasonable frustrated teen response and trash a fancy house in the neighborhood. The tension between the two from earlier wasn’t addressed, but clearly they’ll need each other from here on out so this was a nice bonding moment for them.
Elsewhere at the makeshift military hospital, Liza is getting her long-awaited chance to be a nurse sadly it’s at the end of society as she knows it.
Dr. Exner proves to not be the shadowy government puppet we assumed as she tells Liza the truth regarding the virus right down to sharing the victims come back to life when they die. Unfortunately that tidbit has to immediately get put to use as Griselda died after going into septic shock. Chalk up another first. Travis’ group has the vital piece of information about the walkers much sooner than Rick and his group. It’ll be interesting to see how they use it.
Travis finally had his come to Jesus moment with the new walker order. After a thinly veiled threat to Lt. Moyers that he was going to have problems with the entire community if their missing family members weren’t returned, Moyers allows Travis to ride with him to the hospital.
But first, Moyers shows Travis a walker and wants him to kill it so Travis fully understands what’s going on. Travis, still hopelessly clinging to some naive optimism, can’t pull the trigger when he sees the donuts clerk’s name badge. Travis is gonna need a lot more time to adjust. Satisfied that he’s sufficiently shown Travis up, Moyers sends his convoy to respond to a small situation — a walker outbreak at a formerly secure location.
It’s here that Travis finally starts to get they’re in a real problem as half the soldiers don’t make it back — Moyers among them. Finally returning to Madison’s, Travis finds Daniel has wrapped his interrogation with the most relevant information — the soldiers are planning to leave and wiping out the populace in the morning. Daniel’s torture session doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?
This debut season has had some up and down moments, but “Cobalt” was a standout episode and the one most likely to get viewers hooked and bring back those who gave up on it too soon.
Next week is the season finale where we’ll see just how much Travis has learned and how far he’s willing to go to keep his family and friends safe.