Again, another episode that makes me want to watch the awesome-looking new season of The Walking Dead more and more as the weeks go on, mainly because the ten second ads they are are more exciting than 45-minutes of this dung heap. Granted, this episode makes the show appear to be a little better, yet still the script (mainly the motivations of particular characters and their choice dialogues) and the logic of the character choices and plotting feel quite a bit "off" when compared to any season (even the lesser ones) of The Walking Dead.
Exhibit A: The Questionably-Motivated, Dickhead Military Leader
Do we really need another Hollywood example of the United States military being run by complete fucking morons? Does every leader, in this case a man who gained his position by clearly being a man of some form of military strategy and leadership, really have to be the ONLY man who takes on his position like a killjoy while the men underneath his rank act out as the voices of reason and trepidation?
And what the fuck was going on with that "tactical insertion" into the building with Travis sitting back inside the Humvee? Immediately you hear the sounds of soldiers getting mauled and destroyed by slow, lumbering zombies. What was the purpose of that raid? What leader, especially in the post 9-11 military, would be clueless enough to blindly go inside a building, guns-a-blazin', without any sense of plan, form, or intel to let them know otherwise of the dangers they are walking in to?
I'm sure there are answers to ALL OF THIS, and I may be overthinking it, but watching a leader who blindly acts like he has all his shit together yet is still so transparent as to his actual thoughts of the quarantined towns folk (with Travis still completely on board with EVERYTHING the military is doing yet can't see bullshit when it's shoved into his nose by the horns of a devil in camo fatigues) just makes my face twist in confusion.
Exhibit B: Every Girl's Crazy 'bout a Sharp-Dressed Black Salesman
Who the fuck was that guy in the cage with drug boy and Mr. Weak Fat Neighbor? Why did it look like he was selling out the fat guy to be taken away? I thought he was working for the military as some form of CIA liaison, but no - he's just a smooth-talking guy who likes to insult people before they are dragged away and obviously killed.
The man's confidence felt fake, fabricated, and way too calm given his captive, you-have-to-shit-and-piss-in-front-of-everyone confidence.
Exhibit C: The Lead Actors Are Still the Most Hateable Characters on the Show
Travis is completely fucking weak, acting like the kind of guy who has all the answers to everything in the world yet when faced with tough questions, doesn't have an actual immediate answer to anything. Again, this isn't necessarily a problem with the actor's performance, but it's a questionable standpoint to get audiences on board with caring even a hint of shit about people we're going to supposedly be sticking with for multiple seasons of a show.
Madison, on the other hand, comes across as the kind of person who acts all high and mighty wit her morals and, just as with Travis, has no answers to the alternatives to torturing a man to get back the son she already showed she doesn't really give that much a shit about in earlier episodes. If you don't know what I mean by that, just look back at the example I made in previous reviews on how she risked her life to get drugs to help her son, but then willingly gives over HALF of her stock to a complete stranger. I know that's not inherently wrong, but in a time of need - as a parent - I would assume you'd take full-care of your blood before letting THEM to shit out in the storm. Again, this isn't an issue of the actress's performance, but it's just a knock on the writers trying to create people to relate to. Don't get me wrong though, because Kim Dickens isn't quiet knocking her performance out of the park with her one-expression face and what appears to be her inability to show any real emotion.
"But people are like this in real life, you know." Yeah, but that doesn't make them people I want to pay attention to and write a fucking hateful review week-after-week in response to. I'm just saying that there are plenty more character traits that would make a character appear realistic, and not make choices or have particular character tropes that satisfy the script only when necessary. Speaking of which...
Exhibit D: Foreign Man Has an Answer to Everything
Daniel Salazar, one of the characters who spoke actual logic from day one yet had this otherworldly sense of awareness about the predicament the world was in, is written as the kind of character who, instead of giving you a straight answer, has to respond to every query with a story about his childhood in Mexico. Somehow, everything he's gone through in his life, totally relates to the events of a zombie apocalypse. "People who leave on trucks never come back", he might say, and then proceed to tell a story about something similar that happened to him as a boy. And then he'd go back to cutting through a layer of skin on a captive soldier's arm.
I also love how Travis just bursts in to the room and goes immediately to untie the soldier without any question as to anything that is going on. The man could have tried to kill a member of his family for all he knows, and he was just going to let him free without questioning anybody first. ANYBODY. You'd at least say, "What the fuck?" and maybe wait for a fart of a response before letting a potential murderer free.
Final Exhibit E: Teenagers Are Worse Than Zombie Dead People
Zombies may bumble into your house and eat your cat and your grandmother, but they'll mostly keep your shit intact. If you decide to make it back home one day, you'd probably be able to smash their skull and clean up their mess with some Scrubbing Bubbles and Febreeze. What you can't make up for are two asshole teenagers that, for no logical reasoning whatsoever, decide to start destroying their neighbor's house like anarchic rejects from the movie The Warriors.
Were we supposed to smile along with them as they shattered dishes, soiled a stranger's clothing, and destroyed picture frames of people who either A) Were taken away and could one day come back home, or B) Are dead and you're sadistically disrespecting their memory? I found that scene to be the most out-of-place thing in the five-episode run of show so far.
Also, Travis's son Chris needs to be punched right in the dick. That little bastard talks back to his dad with more than just teenage angst - he speaks to him with vengeance. Now, I could understand some of that given that his dad is the despicable character of Travis, but he willfully disrespects his father with such a passion as to make him the clear first choice should a sacrifice be needed to feed a horde of zombies in order to open up an escape route.
Look, I know I may seem like I'm generally being less-than-forgiving of this show, and you're right. I'm not forgiving of a show that needs forgiving of its shortcomings. Fear the Walking Dead has been a disappointment of character development, plotting, script and dialogue, and logical decision making. Characters all over this show act out of spite for the real world with their decision making, veiling themselves from the questions that saved the lives of people in history's past. It's as though second-tier writers and producers were hired to run this show, while the real creative minds kept their feet firmly planted in The Walking Dead - a show that had a one-eyed man named "The Governor" who kept fish tanks full of zombie heads in his room as entertainment and STILL felt more logical and realistic than most of anything I've seen from this undigested spin-off.
Still, in the end, this episode was a slight improvement upon the first couple episodes.