GEEK OUT! FEAR THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 1 REVIEW

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Spoilers lie in wait. You have been warned.

Following the ongoing success of The Walking Dead, AMC and creator Robert Kirkman brought us the prequel companion series Fear the Walking Dead, having decided to give us the chance to experience the infection from the beginning. Concluding its first season this past Sunday, the show gave us an interesting look at the slow fall of civilization that led up to the impending zombie apocalypse we see Rick and gang battling. But for a season that (according to most fans) started out slowly, it ended with quite the bang and one of the largest walker hordes shown to date.

The first three episodes take place over about three days. We see the world begin to break down when people don’t understand what they are seeing and why. With talk of a mysterious and vague illness making the infected “aggressive” taking hold in five other states already, confusion sets in and people believe their friends and neighbors are simply sick and need help. Police violence against the infected turns into a full-blown riot with Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) trapped in the middle filming the whole thing. As the riot escalates, Travis (Cliff Curtis) and his ex-wife Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez) have found Chris and together dodge into a barbershop where they meet the Salazar family. The rioters outside cause the group to flee and head to Travis’ house to meet up with Madison (Kim Dickens), Alicia (Alicia Denham-Carey) and Nick (Frank Dillane).

Jump ahead nine days and the entire neighborhood is designated a safe zone under the authority of the National Guard. Following a just-in-the-nick of time save for the neighbor from his infected wife, we now see everyone united under one roof and are finally able to look at the characters for a little more than just their faulty decision making skills. It’s not until the members of the community start to question what is going on outside the fences and the military’s actions that things begin to go south. Nick and one of the Salazars are hauled off by the military in the middle of the night for hospitalization – which is more like a removal of all risks to the community – and the newly arrived Dr. Exner convinces Liza to go with the military team to help others at the base.

With the sudden disruption to their otherwise peaceful life, our new survivors finally began to realize there is more going on than they had come to believe. Mr. Salazar (Ruben Blades), desperate to find his wife, kidnaps a soldier peels off skin layer by painful layer looking for information. Meanwhile, Travis is riding along with a military convoy allegedly going to find Nick when they get called to help some pinned down troops. Of course everything goes sideways and the few returning soldiers decide to abandon post and go in search of their families, dropping him off near the Safe Zone on their way.

Things really begin to pick up once the group watched as all troops loot and abandon the community as part of operation “Cobalt” to fend for themselves with no warning whatsoever. To save Nick and Mrs. Salazar, the group heads to the military compound leading a huge horde of infected from a nearby stadium right to it’s gates. With the (yet to be referred to as) walkers loose, it is all-out chaos with the entire group running into the midst of it.

While this infiltration is being mobilized, Nick is almost escorted away from his holding cell by troops for having a fever until a stranger named Strand (Colman Domingo) bribes the guard to leave him. When the infected attack the compound, Nick and Strand hear gunfire in the distance, and knowing this is their only chance, Strand unlocks the gate with a key he bought off the guard and the duo make their escape towards freedom.

As Nick and Strand are fighting their way through the compound from the inside out, Travis and the gang are fighting their way in. The crew heads to find Nick just in time for Liza to show up with an access card to rescue him and Strand from a walker horde. After a fight full of close calls in a narrow kitchen, the crew break free from the compound and head to Strand’s home in the hills. Strand’s motive and sideways comments of being “prepared for this” is suspicious, but it’s here we find out his master plan is a ship named ‘Abigail’ waiting in the bay.

The season ends with Liza telling Madison she has been bitten, but it is Travis who ends up doing the mercy kill. All through the series we have been given the impression that Travis is a man of peace, until this final episode when his struggles to adapt in this new world are explored in multiple situations all the way to a breaking point and ending in his own use of a gun to kill his own ex-wife.

While not exactly the action packed zombie thriller we have come to know so well, many fans agree the parallels we are able to draw between real life and the show while eerie, make it highly entertaining. Seen in just about every zombie film of the past decade, we can vividly project our fears of onto these mindless creatures – whether it’s overpopulation, global pandemics, or running out of resources. The UN has reported that population will increase to 9.7 billion by 2050, and we may not have the energy resources to keep up with the demand. If humanity doesn’t take some sort of action in common sense situations, we could most certainly end up in a zombie-filled world ourselves.

The buzz of this high-octane finale will surely bring in more viewers for the season two premiere as they continue the downward spiral into the apocalypse. For now, we are left with Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462 and a new season of The Walking Dead premiering October 11 on AMC, DTV and Hulu.

(Maria Ramos)

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