Finally! Zombies to hold us over until more zombies arrive! I mean, I guess you could always watch Night of the Living Dead during the summer or something, but that probably doesn’t happen in most households. It’s okay. We can still be friends. As long as you don’t love Survival of the Dead. Then we might have a problem.
Remember how the first episode of The Walking Dead kicked off with about 10 minutes of Rick being a sheriff and getting shot, then waking up from a coma to find the world had gone to hell? Take that 10 minutes of nothing, stretch it out over 65 minutes, and you have the first episode of Fear The Walking Dead. I’m not saying it was a total waste of time, but I am saying that it looks like we’re going to have to be patient if we want any action. We did get a bit of payoff at the end, so perhaps that’s a sign of better things to come.
This entire episode hinges on whether or not you connect with the family. I did not. I liked Madison pretty well, but I can’t tell if I actually liked her character or if I just really liked her on Deadwood. Probably the latter. Travis was fine, if a bit bland. Alicia is the perfect, boring, too-good-for-this-place-I-need-to-get-out daughter, while Nick fills the role of the family screw-up, who manages to have the best abs of any heroin addict I have ever seen. Nick gets a lot of face time in this episode and is asked to carry some pretty dramatic scenes, but he just can’t quite pull it off. Every time he started talking about his life, my eyes glazed over.
And then there is Tobias, who is clearly a 30 year old high school student. He’s the first one who knows that something is amiss. He says “zombies” without actually saying it. And what does he do? Why, he shows up at high school – a high school with a metal detector at the entrance – with a paring knife. A paring knife. What was the plan there? The best case scenario is exactly what happened: a concerned teacher pulls you aside, confiscates the knife and releases you into the school. So now you’re knifeless in the school while a zombie threat shambles ever closer. The worst case scenario is that the knife is confiscated and you are either arrested or released into the world, sans knife. Now you’re out in the open with no weapons and a zombie horde on the horizon. It’s a lose-lose situation. If he knew zombies were coming, he would have grabbed a baseball bat, crowbar, machete and a bunch of canned food and run for the hills (or whatever). Get out of L.A. Don’t walk into school with a tiny knife. The only person that benefits from that is the zombie, who will laugh his terrible laugh as your knife doesn’t come closer to penetrating the skull.
Let’s talk zombie outbreak for a second. I figure the entire first episode covers a minimum of two days. During that time, we know that the zombies are among us. We know a couple zombies escaped from the church. We also know – both from The Walking Dead and from Calvin at the end of this episode – that everyone is infected. If you die, you come back as a zombie.
Now that we’ve got that established…
The population of Los Angeles currently sits a little below 4 million people. On an average day, roughly 170 people die. That’s 340 over two days (not factoring in the fact that zombies would cause more deaths than that). Congratulations! You now have 340 zombies that no one knows about. Once the apocalypse starts, it will roll over a big city like a tidal wave. The fact that we know there are at least a few zombies on the loose means it’s not confined to just one part of the city. I have a hard time believing that there are just a couple random attacks, only one of which has been filmed so far. Large portions of the city would likely already be thrown into chaos. (According to a simulation run on Zombietown USA, Los Angeles would be more or less overrun within 48 hours.)
For the record, the reason Rick was able to wake up alive is because the population of Cynthiana, KY is only a little over 6,000. The fewer people in a town, the fewer zombies there are. Come to Kentucky. Survive the zombie apocalypse. But not too many of you. I don’t need you blowing up my spot.
But I assume L.A. will soon be overrun, so we can all be thankful for that.
– Loved the blood on the piano in the opening scene. Seemed like something Neko Case would write a beautiful song on.
– The “I just threw up in my mouth a little,” joke has run its course. The delivery here was particularly painful.
– “If there’s a problem, we would know about it. The authorities would tell us.” We all know that authorities would give the zombie outbreak an unfamiliar disease name (like, say, SARS) and cover it up as quickly as possible.
– I admire Travis’ bravery in going into a dark heroin den by himself, but I condemn his stupidity. He took no weapons. He yelled, “Is anyone there,” after he already saw blood. Tense scene, but driven by the bad decisions of a character. (I don’t really admire his bravery.)
– “[Jack] London tries to teach us how not to die.” It’s like someone slapping you in the face. “Survival. Get it?! Cuz zombies?! And literature?! It’s smart. We’re smart.”
– There is not a chance in hell that a nurse would ever untie a patient’s restraint. “Well, he said he had to pee really bad and I felt bad for him. It’s not like I thought he could actually free his other hand in the process. How would I know that?”