Note: The following review goes into detail about the episode. SPOILER ALERT!
I had hoped that Fear the Walking Dead would continue to ride the tail of the tail-end of the pilot. This hope met satisfaction as we got some genuinely unnerving moments in the follow-up episode, “So Close, Yet So Far.” Things picked up right after Nick, Travis and Madison’s collective encounter of a walker. While Alicia was absent during the familial moment, she had her own close contact with the dead herself. Her boyfriend, Matt, came down with a rather violent looking fever. Turns out he was bit, giving these characters more knowledge on how this virus is spread. People die and come back to life; people get bit and eventually turn. The gimmick of the characters finding out what we already know is one that doesn’t seem to be wearing off anytime soon. It’s actually exciting to see them peel back the layers and learn what’s happening to the world around them.
Things are still moving slowly, but people are catching on. Hell, people are still setting up birthday parties for their kids. That whole bit just felt weird, but very fitting in this timeline of the narrative. I had myself a good laugh when Nick scanned radio programs for any news to only get faked out by a sports broadcast. One thing to remember is that different parts of the country could have fallen faster than others. Atlanta and the entire East Coast could have fallen a whole lot quicker than Fear’s setting of Los Angeles, so there could be some temporary sustainability or other plot point to extend this prequel.
There were three plots in this episode, with Travis’s portion of the episode fairing better than the others. I’ll start with the kids (YAY!). Alicia and Nick spent this episode confined to the house. This wasn’t the most interesting segment. The two had some time together, but their moment of bonding was squandered by some poor delivery. While the acting in the pilot was far worse, I guess I’m glad it’s approaching authenticity. With the kids at home, the adults ventured out for the sake of helping their respective children. With Nick having withdrawls, Madison made her way back the now barren high school where she formerly consoled to find some drugs for him. There, she ran into Tobias, the all-too-prepared, knife-wielding student from the pilot. Fittingly, Madison’s high school escapade was a learning lesson on how to survive in this world. Lesson one: have a weapon ready, even if it’s a kitchen knife. Lesson two: stock up on food. Lesson three: aim for the head when killing the reanimated corpses popping up. There’s a chance the whole cast could end up dead by the end of this spin-off, but that Tobias has a future. Finally, the Manawa family reunited in the strongest storyline of this episode. Travis’s son, Chris, got the spotlight, proving to be the less annoying teenager on the show. He has a genuine interest in and concern of what’s going on with the crumbling society around him. I liked that the show tackled the very real issue of unarmed people being shot, a stigma that would definitely be a talking point at this moment in the impending apocalypse. The Manawas were saved from the rioting by another family in their barbershop. (That poor customer was shoved out into the thick of it … looking fresh of course.) I did wish that we got to see the incited pandemonium unfold outside of the shop, but it was eerily effective having sounds of screaming, banging and raw, unseen commotion right outside of this makeshift base.
By the end the episode, the Clarks and the Manawas are separated and damaged in some way or another. Madison had to deal with killing someone she knew. Comparisons between this show and The Walking Dead are inevitable, so here’s another. In TWD, the dead are almost unrecognizable vessels of the people they used to be. In Fear, these walkers are still very much themselves, physically. That makes it so much harder for these characters to kill. Not to mention, the law is somewhat still in play here. There’s a police force after all. So in lieu of stealing drugs, killing your boss and allowing your neighbor to get devoured, it’s morally, legally and mentally taxing to take part in these events.
“So Close, Yet So Far” tossed us right into the storm of the ever-growing zombie (yes, I said it) apocalypse. With so much horror and loss surrounding these characters, even more dire situations are being created. People are starting to understand what’s happening, especially Madison. The pilot was decent, but as I had hoped, the follow-up has improved greatly on my issues. We got some better performances—although reactions to death should and could be greater—the pacing was excellent and the process of character development is in full effect with at least some of our main players. Two weeks in and Fear the Walking Dead has me excited for the rest of its very short inaugural season.
… Did the kids in the car with the masks remind anyone else of Bowser Jr.?
Did this episode do it for you, whether that’s a bad or good thing? Tweet me @NerdDotMe. And be sure to follow us @YouNerded!
*We do not comment on anything relating to previews for the next episode and beyond.
The Night Of: “The Call of the Wild” Review
Vice Principals: “The Foundation of Learning” Review
The Night Of: “Ordinary Death” Review
Joe Hill’s ‘The Fireman’ Review
How Speedrunning Changed My Perception of Games
Vice Principals: “Circles” Review
The Night Of: “Samson and Delilah” Review
‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ Review
Vice Principals: “Run for the Money” Review
The Night Of: “The Season of the Witch” Review