"She's not sick. She's dead," says 19 year old Nick Clark as all watch the growling Mrs.Tran, formerly a friend of his family. "Why would you say that?" asks Travis Manawa, boyfriend of Nick's mother. "Because it's the truth," Nick replies softly.
Nick caught on early. For I had predicted he will, and may be among the few to catch on early as mentioned from my previous Huffpost blog about the Fear The Walking Dead premiere. And after episode 3 titled, "The Dog," we get to gradually witness others who may come around in forthcoming episodes of Fear The Walking Dead. Which is great.
Tobias (Lincoln A. Castellanos) definitely caught on from the jump. The 16 year old from the season premiere, whom high school guidance counselor Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) had taken away his knife. By not believing the authorities, he had tried to convince her about the danger then by discovering reports of mass killings from five states. Now in episode 3, high school English teacher Travis (Cliff Curtis) while driving with his ex-wife, their teenage son, as well as the Salazar family all in his truck fleeing harm's way, overhears on the radio about governors declaring a state of emergency from eleven states. And Tobias even gets his knife back from Madison Clark/Miss C in the previous episode, then in following he says, "The desert will be safer because things will fall apart now." All in all the suspense gets amped up gradually, despite us the viewers who already know the truth. Which again, is great.
Along with the pace, both the acting and the story has been holding up thus far since the pilot. And the ensemble of characters, especially with the Salazar family introduced in episode 2, who also save Travis, his ex-wife Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez) and their teenage son Chris from a riot in the L.A. streets, all contributed to uphold the story by witnessing gradual societal destruction.
One noteworthy scene is when all hear the shop next door getting broken into, while all are safe if only for the moment, within the boarded up Salazar barbershop. Both his ex-wife and their son wonder why they can't just leave, despite Travis reassuring they are safe from looters who would not think to break into the barbershop. "What are they gonna steal, combs? The police will have sorted it in an hour, two tops," he declares. Even so, shortly after, the owner Daniel Salazar who had rescued Travis, his ex-wife Liza and their son who was filming the rioting in the previous episode, would not let such a comment about his shop made by Travis slide. Rightly so. Which deserved a calling out, as Daniel Salazar equally declares softly yet firm, "There's more than combs here you know." Now looking apologetic after his comment came understandably from under pressure, Travis replies, "I know, I was just trying to make..." To which Daniel Salazar finishes by saying, "Make your boy believe everything's gonna be fine."
Daniel Salazar, played by Ruben Blades, gives the immediate impression of a man not to be trifled with. And with such a character background, one can easily sympathize. For during the Salvadoran civil war as the death squads targeted civilians, which historically lasted over twelve years, Daniel Salazar and his beloved wife Griselda were both fortunate to have escaped El Salvador in the 1980's to move to Los Angeles. Then afterwards, he becomes a proud business owner while he and his wife raise their American born daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason).
Another noteworthy scene happens after Travis, ex-wife Liza, their son, and the Salazar's all get into Travis's truck to flee downtown L.A. They first try for a hospital for Griselda Salazar, whose foot was injured while all were running towards the truck. All hear the radio reporting of governors from eleven states declaring a state of emergency before coming to a hospital, yet upon arrival was under siege from gunfire. To next while driving onwards, all in the truck witness the night lights of the L.A. skyline dramatically flicker off to complete darkness. Which, is reminiscently similar to one of the previous Fear The Walking Dead TV trailers.
There had been some unfavorable comment responses from those who had viewed episode 3 about Travis Manawa's attitude about guns. For later after all in his truck arrived safe at the Clark's family home, Daniel Salazar is shown teaching Travis's son Chris the mechanics of the shotgun. The same weapon, Daniel used earlier after grabbing the gun from Madison to shoot her neighbor the reanimated Mr. Dawson in the head. This, after the zombie was feasting on a German Shepherd. Travis admonishes both his son and Daniel Salazar, to which Daniel says, "The more the boy knows, the safer he'll be."
Yet in a later scene, Travis is shown to have a touch of Rick Grimes from AMC's parent zombie drama series The Walking Dead. It's the scene which happens in the morning, not long after the Clark neighbor Patrick Tran is saved from his reanimated wife Susan Tran, whom a National Guardsman arrives in time to deliver the fatal head shot to the zombie. Later, Travis is asked at the Clark home by a National Guardswoman who asks, "How many occupants?" Then Travis answers, "Um, nine altogether." "Big family, names please?" she asks. To which Travis intuitively does not neglect to include the Salazar's. For whatever shortcomings he may have, ever since the pilot Travis is all about trying to hold everyone together, tight-knit. Like Rick.
There's an insightful Vox Culture web article written by Todd VanDerWerff on September 14, 2015, titled, "Fear the Walking Dead season 1, episode 3: How the show borrows from Battlestar Galactica." I've always had in mind to address the similarities. Yet Mr. VanDerWerff beat me to the quick. Be that as it may, although he addresses close-up shots, point-of-view shots and later character dynamics of both shows, my take on the similarities are somewhat different involving both the sci-fi drama and the zombie drama.
For those not familiar, Battlestar Galactica, a four season sci-fi drama (aired basically from 2003 to 2009) is a fascinating story beginning with 50 billion humans inhabiting twelve distinct worlds, known in the beginning as the Twelve Colonies of Kobol. Then comes the Cylons, cybernetic machines created by man, some later to evolve to humanoid, nicknamed "skin jobs," to wreak near genocide upon the twelve worlds. So much so, that by the three part series finale titled, "Daybreak," humanity is reduced to basically 38,000. That's .000076 percent surviving from the original population, a mere whisper of humanity. Battlestar Galactica is similar to both The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead, in that the respect for humanity is only revered when threatened upon being lost, forever. Then also, there's themes of betrayal amongst humanity while threatened by an apocalypse that exists in the drama series mentioned, though in Fear The Walking Dead, perhaps not yet.
Notwithstanding having amassed over seven million U.S. viewers of episode 3, though less than the ten plus million viewers of the pilot, yet still impressive, Fear The Walking Dead will continue to make a stake. Even so, please let's have some African American characters stay the course. The death of Calvin (Keith Powers), drug dealer and friend of Nick Clark, near end of the pilot, aided the story. The discovery of Matt (Maestro Harrell) getting bit, boyfriend of Alicia Clark, also aided the story, showing the gradual tragic loss of humanity. And yet to discover high school Principal Art Costa (Scott Lawrence) being reanimated, was a stretch.
More episodes are obviously expected. While characters are reinvented as well as forthcoming others introduced, all to uphold engaging storylines, like AMC's other drama The Walking Dead. Long live Fear The Walking Dead.