Good morning, Susan!
There were a lot of things packed into this week's episode of Fear the Walking Dead. The first season is officially half over! Oh no! But so much happened that it would not be possible for me to give you a complete breakdown of the episode. I don't do recaps per se, but it was possible this week to see a lot of what is ahead.
Travis and Madison are completely different people, and they are the focal point of a good part of this episode. Travis is the humanities-driven humanitarian and Madison is the enabler of her drug addicted son and the one of two known badasses so far. The other is Ruben Blades.
In the dynamic of their relationship, Madison is the one who has to make the compromises in order to keep everything running. You saw her do that when she guided Tobias past the principal in the pilot--she kept him out of trouble and skirted school rules by doing so. She is a greater good kind of person, and Travis is unable to see what she sees already--the "infected" have to be put down.
Her son Nick, who is coming off of a heroin addiction, is actually going to be of use--he's good with burglary tools, but lousy when it comes to actually being a burglar. As a forager, he'll come in hand eventually. Her daughter Alicia has a tendency to freak out, and that's not a quality that will do her any good in the weeks and months ahead.
We saw more of the dynamic with Travis' son Chris and his ex-wife Lisa, and there is genuine tension because how could you blend your previous family with your new family now that everyone is an adult living in a world about to go to hell? Well, add in El Salvador's own Salazar family and you have nine people in a house.
Then you have the Salazars, and father Daniel's talk about El Salvador. He and his wife survived the brutality of the contra war in Central America--another cultural and historical reference that is going to be explored in the future, I would imagine, otherwise, why bring it up? The familiarity that Daniel has with guns and with how to kill indicates that he is going to be a major asset in the future, a man who is more prepared for how the world is going to be than almost anyone else. He is no stranger to brutality and you can see it in his contempt for the weak. He is the teacher that Travis needs right now; anyone else notice the dog-eared copy of Jack London's book on the dash of his pick-up truck?
If you want to learn more about the civil war in El Salvador, you can look at this and it will help with the context of Daniel's concerns about seeing the military arrive. His statement that it is too late will ring true once the next three episodes play out.
There were two great references, among many, many others, that popped up this week. First, no one is saving water! They just expect it to be there when they turn on the tap! Second, the military have made their presence known and they are inventorying the people and the homes. This is the U.S. Army's Human Terrain System in action. This was a controversial program that married the academic discipline of sociology with military intelligence gathering. It left populations vulnerable to exploitation and had serious ethical lapses when applied against an insurgency in action. And, it was a complete and utter failure, eating up untold millions of dollars.
What you see when it goes into action is subtle. You will see the troops marking the dwellings with Hurricane Katrina-like codes--dead body inside, an x for do not enter, and things like that. A small woman in body armor with a clipboard writes down basic information about the people living in Madison's house--this will be databased and maintained by the Army as they "secure" this neighborhood. What's being done is an outgrowth of America's military strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I'm shocked that they're actually doing this on television because it's going to be an amazing piece of storytelling if they go where I think they're going with it. The military is going to run things now, and that means danger for anyone trying to survive. If you remember yourWalking Dead, the Governor was none too keen on having anyone from the military know anything about Woodbury. This is a direct callback to that.
Everything is turning to crap before their eyes and so there is a fascination with the "infected," as the walkers are called. They look surprising lifelike right after they turn but then the rot of death begins to overtake them quickly. That not only means that they are deceptively human but also that they are going to be hard to kill.
The airplane piece of this is going to be explored--there was a shot of the plane itself! Or something close to that. It waggled its wings as it was inbound to LAX--what could that mean? And there's bound to be some resentment brewing against Travis because he wanted everyone to wait until morning to leave the neighborhood. They could have been in the desert but now they're trapped in Madison's house with armed patrols in the neighborhood. They are under the control of the military and we'll see how that could be a really, really bad thing when the first herd of "infected" arrives.
This was a great game-changer of an episode. We have an inkling of who's going to die and what's going to be the group dynamic ahead. Someone has applied a lot of sociology to these episodes and it is really paying off. Basic services are collapsing and hundreds of bullets are being poured into a handful of walkers--what happens when the supply and logistics chain for the military breaks down and there are no more mounted .50 cals on vehicles? Every single military unit is only as good as the supplies it has on hand. When that collapses, so will the legitimacy and utility of the units themselves. Seeing as how there are only a handful of regular army units in California, these are probably California National Guard units--public affairs and the like. The military angle is probably the part of the story that will surprise people the most because it doesn't take much for a unit to end up on its ass.
I thought that the winking out of the lights in Los Angeles was the scariest thing of all. We know that there are "infected" people out there, we know that the military is taking away bodybags, but it is the real collapse of civilization that is just around the corner. Store some water! Start scavenging for weapons and food! Oh, isn't it fun to yell at the television?