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TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead 1.3 “The Dog”
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Fear The Walking Dead Ep 103

Fear the Walking Dead
Season 1 Episode 3 “The Dog”
Directed by Adam Davidson
Written by Jack LoGiudice
Starring Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Lorenzo James Henrie, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Ruben Blades, Mercedes Mason, Patricia Reyes Spindola
AMC
Air Date: Sunday, September 13, 2015, 9pm

Fear the Walking Dead Episode 3, “The Dog,” brings us to the halfway point of this very short first season of the original AMC drama. This inaugural season is set in Los Angeles in the time leading up to the great zombie apocalypse that wiped out most of humanity, as seen in The Walking Dead. So far, our lead characters have seen firsthand those who have been infected by the zombie virus, but they don’t yet know what the ramifications are.

In the previous episode, we saw a few instances of people who were inflected by something — presumed by most to merely be the flu — but the infirmed were acting strange. Their eyes were light and glassy and they weren’t responding to anyone who tried to speak to them. More importantly, they attempted to attack and bite anyone who came near them. High school guidance counselor Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) saw this behavior at her school, when the kindly principal turned growling and vicious on her. She also witnessed this when she and her fiance Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) went to rescue her missing son, Nick, (Frank Dillane), and they had a run-in with his zombified childhood friend, Calvin. Madison and Travis know this is not just a flu, and can’t possibly comprehend the severity of the circumstances at this point, but they do realized they need to get out of town before things get worse.

While Nick, Madison, and her daughter Alicia (Alycia Debnam Carey) went back to their home, Travis headed into downtown LA to get to his own son, Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie), who lives with his ex-wife Liza Ortiz (Elizabeth Rodriguez). Chris was downtown with the crowd of people protesting the shooting by police of an unarmed homeless man. What the public didn’t realize is that the victim was actually a fledgling Walker. Not surprisingly, the protest turned into a riot, leading to looting and the destruction of the area. Miraculously, Travis, Liza, and Chris were given sanctuary by an hispanic barber, Daniel (Rubén Blades), in his shop, where he resides with his wife Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola) and their daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason). Travis now hopes to ride things out inside the shop, waiting for the violence to quell, but the hostility on the streets only seems to be escalating. The group needs to make a run for it now if they’re going to survive.

As if the virus and the violence in the streets weren’t enough, there’s Nick’s drug addiction. He’s detoxing and his only thoughts are on whether there will be enough drugs to get him through the family’s planned journey into the desert to safety — if they ever get going, that is. “I don’t need you, Mom,” Nick tells his mother after learning what she’s done with the pain pills, “I need my medicine.” Travis still isn’t back, and Madison’s children aren’t so sure that he will even return for them. They’re frustrated and want to leave already, but Madison knows her man, and has faith he will return. But first, they have to make it through the night, because there’s something going on outside with neighbor Mr. Lawson (remember he was the one we saw packing up his car to get out of town?), and their other neighbor Susan isn’t looking so good either.

Episode 3, “The Dog,” builds on the tension from the first two installments of the series, as we wait to see if Travis and his group will make it safely out of downtown, and if Madison and her children will survive the evening at home in quiet suburbia, which is getting more and more creepy with all the things going bump in the night. One of those things? The title dog, a German shepherd clawing at the back door. Do I need to explain what purpose a dog serves in a horror story? Probably not.

So, here we are in Episode 3, and finally Madison, Travis, and Nick are wising up to the situation at hand. But not stupid Alicia for some reason. She’s just playing Monopoly, vying for her favorite board game piece as if her boyfriend Matt wasn’t still at home by himself foaming at the mouth, waiting to take a bit out of the nearest person. When Alicia encounters poor old Susan in the yard, she nearly gets herself killed rather than accept Chris’s help in escaping danger. Umm, why is Alicia such a bitch? I really don’t get her behavior in this episode. I understand that all the kids are confused and don’t quite grasp why all the adults are getting sick and vicious, but please, get a clue Alicia! Don’t be a stereotypical, Emo, headphones-wearing bratty teenager during a crisis. And Madison, why is it OK for you to have your teenaged daughter be involved with her older brother’s drug addiction and care, but you don’t believe it necessary to explain your confused child the danger that you’re all facing now?

Now while Alicia is walking around with blinders on, Daniel knows all. Not only can he maneuver through a riotous crowd and handle a shotgun, but since his native language is Spanish, he intuitively already understands the “sickness,” unlike Maori Travis (Maori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand) and the foolish white people. (Ever notice that? It’s always the Spanish-speaking native who has the all the insight in these types of stories?) If we go by what we’ve seen, Daniel should know even less than Travis and Madison, who’ve already had altercations with Walkers, while Daniel has been hiding out in his shop during the riots. Yet, Daniel knows that the infected are actually dead; that they need to be shot in the head; and that their bodies should to be burned. How the hell does he know all this? Oh, and he pops out gems like “Good people are the first ones to die,” when his daughter tries to tell him that Travis and his family are good people. This is from a business owner who let strangers take refuge in his establishment while looting was going on all around him.

Speaking of the riot, during the episode, AMC had a “story sync” going on online, and one of the questions that popped up was “What scares you more? The riots or the Infected.” 55% of people who answered said “The Riot” and I’m with them. Yes, we all know what the Infected are capable of — and that scene where the infected LAPD officer is biting into the riot cop was an example of why there’s no way in hell things will get under control — and as far as we the audience knows of this universe, this plague eventually wipes out nearly everything. But, if you want to survive the apocalypse, you first need to NOT die during the violent riots. And while I’m asking questions, why hasn’t Johnny Depp Jr. changed out of his old-man Members Only clothing yet? There was amble time between pill popping and Monopoly for Nick to get cleaned up and changed into something else, whether it be his usual Crow attire or something more suitable for desert dwelling (I’m sure he’s been to Burning Man). Wasn’t he in those clothes for days while he was strung out and sleeping on the streets after leaving the hospital in that first episode? Seriously, he must really stink by now. Oh, and I just want to say that there’s zero way Travis’s pick-up truck would have NOT been trashed and set on fire during the riots (just like in a previous episode, there’s no way he’d be the ONE car that was able to get passed the traffic on the LA highway).

“The Dog” serves to unite the main cast of characters and give us a hint of how they will survive this zombie plague. By the way, up until the end of this episode, I’ve assumed that the plague wiped out everything except for what we’ve seen in The Walking Dead, but now I’m wondering if we’ll learn that that’s not the case. Perhaps just parts of the world have been affected and those are the areas that have been quarantined. Imagine? We know the East Coast from Georgia to D.C. was affected out, but maybe things are different in the west. Something to think about.

Otherwise, Fear the Walking Dead continues to crawl along as slow as possible, failing to make us fall in love with any of the main characters. Nick is a cutie with heartthrob potential, but his drug addiction and Members Only jacket are a real turnoff; we’ve already covered that brat Alicia; Madison seems to have a suicide wish (possibly from being widowed), while Travis is obviously a hero type, but possibly a little too pacifist for this live-or-death situation. Then there’s the Spanish family: Omniscient Daniel, his invincible wife, and their Americanized daughter, whose grasp of the English language has apparently made her naive. I dig Daniel, but I doubt anyone will riot if he dies. So far, I think I like Susan the best. Viva Susan!

Image Gallery

[Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC. Used with permission.]

Video

Trailer: Action: Fear the Walking Dead

Sneak Peek: Episode 103: Fear the Walking Dead: The Dog

Sneak Peek: The Clarks: Episode 103: Fear the Walking Dead: The Dog

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