Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of Fear the Walking Dead! Proceed with caution, survivors. For reals, if you haven’t yet watched tonight’s episode, “We All Fall Down,” we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.
For a show in which the future often appears nonexistent, many of The Walking Dead‘s strongest storylines have looked forward, examining the question “What if?” The answer usually takes the form of an antagonist for Rick and his people, showing a path they could take if they allow themselves to succumb to their baser instincts in a post-apocalyptic world. This week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead takes its cue from its predecessor, giving Travis and Madison a look at the decisions they could someday be forced to make as they struggle for their children’s survival.
Here, the group — still chased by the larger vessel they inadvertently summoned in last week’s season premiere — drops anchor on Catalina Island. Looking for help, they stumble upon a family led by a survivalist father who’s waiting out the inevitable, determined to destroy his family on his own terms rather than let them get torn apart by the undead. Travis is understandably horrified to meet a man who so thoroughly embraces mortality and isolation. While Madison learns his wife, diagnosed with cancer, turned their lights on and summoned them in an attempt to save her two young children rather than let them “bide their time.”
As is the case with most new families we’ve met in this world, this one explodes in no time at all, with their youngest daughter prematurely taking a suicide pill her father has prepared for her, then turning and killing her mother. Before our heroes can save her brother, however, their oldest sibling, trained by their father as a survivalist who values keeping his family together above all else, makes off with him, shooting his undead mother and stranding them on an island attracting more zombies each day.
The Walking Dead took several episodes to establish the length of time it takes for the deceased to turn. “We All Fall Down” shows how Fear the Walking Dead has its own answer for the scenario, since mother and daughter turn almost instantly. I don’t mind that the series gives a shorter “lag time” for the newly dead to walk, in a world where the virus hasn’t been around all that long. (The quicker pace can only help this show.) Provided, that is, it maintains consistency. And I’m looking forward to seeing how the rapid turnaround plays out within the small confines of a boat.
But just where is that boat heading? The mystery surrounding Strand’s objectives deepens this week, with the captain, unbeknownst to his crew, arranging a rendezvous for all of them. Might Chris’s new pick-axe skills come in handy when that dawn meeting is held? Will that machine gun Salazar has found be fired at sunrise? Fear the Walking Dead‘s storytelling might be slower than that of its big brother, but like any good sailing vessel, it remains, for the time being, steady.
— The opening image of beached zombies rising from the tide while silhouetted against the sun is a new one for this world. Hopefully it will also prove an ominous metaphor for this entire season.
— While it remains set on the California coast, Fear the Walking Dead has already given us a much better sense of the scope of the apocalypse in America than The Walking Dead. This week we learn the military has used napalm in Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, that San Diego has been burned down, and that Utah and the Petrified Forest are gone.
— So just how is Strand able to talk on a cell phone?
— So help me God if I never hear another child singing “Ring around the Rosie” it will be too soon…
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).