Fear The Walking Dead: Something to Fear

Nick Clark, Madison Clark, Fear The Walking Dead -- AMC
Nick Clark, Madison Clark, Fear The Walking Dead -- AMC /

Fear The Walking Dead has, not surprisingly, shown a lot of horrific things: Nick’s first encounter with a walkeran infected, Cal turning, the apparent news blackout of anything involving the infected, the riot, the fall of the hospital, our group watching friends become infected, and watching neighbors attacking neighbors; all scary stuff, indeed. However, last Sunday’s episode, “Not Fade Away” may have shown us the scariest thing yet: Our own governments’ response to the zombie apocalypse.

Chris Manawa, Fear The Walking Dead - AMC
Chris Manawa, Fear The Walking Dead – AMC /

The episode begins with Chris describing it had been nine days since the blackout witnessed in Episode 3, “The Dog” (Making this about eleven days since Nick first saw an infected Gloria), and explaining the rumors going around the camp about the fate of anyone found outside the fences (Referred to by the Army as “The Dead Zone”), specifically, that the last of the survivors found outside were sent off to presumably safer cities further east like Bakersfield and Las Vegas. Furthermore, Chris goes on to thank the soldiers for the protection and security they have provided, albeit somewhat sarcastically, as he refers to them as “…those who know when it’s feeding time at the zoo.

Life inside the safe zone seems as normal as one might expect considering the circumstances: Travis is seen jogging around the neighborhood in the morning, the houses have regained electricity, albeit tightly controlled, Madison is stuck dealing with a lot of domestic problems such as painting her living room (To cover up Peter’s blood), the neighborhood children are seen coloring (While dressed in hazmat suits), and Nick is seen taking a relaxing dip in the pool.

Nick Clark. Fear the Walking Dead. AMC
Nick Clark. Fear the Walking Dead. AMC /

However, things are not quite as good they may initially appear. First,
Chris sees a light being shined or reflected from somewhere deep
inside “the dead zone”, where people were supposed to have been removed from at least four days earlier, Travis’ friend Doug Thompson
(Whose kids were the ones dressed in hazmat suits) is beginning to
crack, fearing things are getting worse and that he’s lying to his kids,
one of Liza’s patients is (According to her, at least), hanging on by a thread, and Nick is helping him along by stealing his morphine.

This is not the worst of it, though. Chris tries to explain to Madison what he saw out in the dead zone, and his belief that it’s some distress signal. While Madison attempts to reassure him that if someone was in trouble, they could go to the soldiers, Chris raises an important question: What if they can’t? This becomes a more pertinent question when Madison asks Travis why they have yet to get any medicine (Which they were apparently promised) and why the Army has yet to restore any phone lines, raising suspicions that the Army doesn’t WANT the phones restored.

As the episode progresses, we begin to see that Doug and Chris and Madison’s concerns are not without merit: First, Travis discovers that the Army took Doug away when they found him by the fence (Ostensibly because they were concerned he’d snap), then, Lieutenant Moyers, the officer in charge of the safe zone, quickly denies any possibility that any survivors remain outside the safe zone, and finally, Madison learns both why survivors may not be able to go to the Army for help and why the Army wouldn’t want the survivors to be able to communicate: The Army appears to be KILLING EVERYONE they find outside the safe zones!

Madison Clark, Fear The Walking Dead -- AMC
Madison Clark, Fear The Walking Dead — AMC /

Though, in spite of all of that, the scariest part may have come at the episode’s end. The Army, under the direction of the newest cast member, Dr. Exner, arrive at Madison’s house and take away both Griselda and Nick. Griselda is taken under the auspices of taking her to a surgeon (The injury she sustained to her foot in “The Dog”, has gotten progressively worse), but, we get no real explanation as to why they confiscated Nick; they just march in, hit Nick with a rifle butt, and drag him away.

Which brings us to the real question: What’s scarier in a zombie apocalypse: The Zombie Apocalypse itself, or how governments REACT to it? If what we’ve seen here is any indication, we can expect martial law, arbitrary rationing, severing of communications, intentional deception, killing of anyone not lucky enough to be in a designated safe zone when authorities arrive, and, essentially, abducting people from their homes with little to no explanation as to why and holding at gunpoint anyone who attempts to question them. What would you do, if, in the middle of this horror and chaos, you suddenly realized that the very people, and the very government, you came to rely on to save you from this nightmare, are just as much of a threat to you as the zombies?

And here is where I think Fear The Walking Dead can truly achieve its best scares, not in simply presenting its characters (And, by extension, us) with a scenario of a zombie apocalypse, but, by showing how fragile society — everything we associate with the idea of civilization — TRULY is. While we can placate ourselves by saying “There’s no such thing as zombies!”, we can’t brush off the idea of how society responds so easily, and, what Fear The Walking Dead has been doing rather well, in my opinion, is asking us: If there was a disaster, any kind of disaster of this magnitude, would our civilization still be standing afterward?

If Fear The Walking Dead teaches us anything, the answer…is NO.

If you enjoyed this, and are worried about what to do if we ever do have a zombie apocalypse, you can find answers in my book, The Rules: A Guide To Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse.

Available on paperback here: http://bit.ly/10AYwg0.
On Kindle here: http://amzn.com/B0095TG0VK
And on iTunes here: https://itun.es/i6xn4JW

Next: The Walking Dead: A Timeline of Events-From Morgan to Morgan

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