Fear the Walking Dead continues to be the hard contrast to The Strain, its contemporary in the apocalyptic survival horror genre in TV — a surprisingly crowded field in 2015. In this week’s The Strain, Councilwoman Feraldo exercised her government muscle to extract pennies from the One Percent, and we’re meant to cheer her on. In Fear the Walking Dead, we have to fear government muscle.
The National Guard’s base in the neighborhood is part hospice care, part slaughterhouse. They really are caring for the sick, but when there’s no hope they’re taken out like Old Yeller. Within their employ is Strand, an enigma in a tailored suit. He’s got a plan, and it involves Nick and that he has a key. There’s a locked door somewhere, and Nick will likely be the unlucky soul to unlock it.
Could that key unlock the barrier that will release a horde of zombies banging at the barrier to greater LA? Daniel — who spent the episode torturing Cpl. Adams for information on the titular “Cobalt” and learns it’s the Guard’s immediate evacuation and the “inhumane treatment” of remaining residents — stands horrified at a growling door kept from opening wide only by a lock. The Guard, chest-beating, arrogant, and proud as they were to “help” the residents, are now anxious to get the hell out and abandon whom they’ve sworn to protect.
Fear has also counted its first major casualty: Griselda. Bedridden and isolated in the National Guard base, Griselda hung on by a thread before Liza uncomfortably had to euthanize her with a bullet. Under the mentorship of the unfeeling Dr. Exner, Liza may become a monster of her own without ever getting a zombie bite.
Though Travis’ home is out three residents, it’s getting crowded in this corner of Los Angeles. Everyone is seeking a place to stretch — or in Alicia and Chris’ case, break shit. Though not even step siblings with zero blood relation, their attraction has an incestuous undertone that feels desperate in these desperate times.
How fast and how far has order fallen? Fear the Walking Dead’s myopic focus on this sole neighborhood has stopped us from seeing the larger picture, and for all we know the Pentagon is in shambles. But we don’t know, and it further drives how infuriating Fear the Walking Dead’s entire premise actually is.