After a two-week hiatus for the Labor Day holiday, Fear The Walking Dead returned to AMC this evening. Sadly, the return was somewhat lackluster.
The third episode of the series, entitled “Dog”, was centered on the theme of attempting to hold on to any semblance of normalcy for as long as possible. Though the episode opens with scenes of the continued breakdown of society as rioters tear through downtown Los Angeles, there is little progression in the reactions of the core cast members to the loss of control.
While the episode does make an attempt to showcase the things we take for granted, such as lights, running water, and being able to shut out the outside world with music through earbuds, there is little emphasis given to these elements as it progresses. While it would have made logical sense to show these elements and then strip them away, the episode plods through the minutiae of dealing with individual walkers. As a result, it lacks the sustained tension of the first two episodes, and suffers for it. There is an overall blasé feeling from all of the actors, as if they have become more than a bit disinterested in what is going on around them. The normally standout cast fails to find a single moment in which to shine, their largely stellar performances giving way to a general malaise which makes them appear as uninterested as many members of the audience most certainly were by the midway point of the episode. This feeling of steadily chugging along stands in stark contrast to the steady ramping-up which came before, and doesn’t serve the story well.
The other thing which really cripples the episode is its failure to avoid a number of logical flaws in the plot.
In the early scenes in downtown Los Angeles, there is a good deal of screen-time devoted to the destruction being wrought by rioters. We are shown scenes of them flipping cars and firebombing them. Yet, miraculously, the vehicle which Travis (Cliff Curtis) left parked nearby the barbershop in which he and his family took shelter is somehow completely untouched in the chaos. Had it borne a few dents, a shattered headlight or tail light, or even a fresh blood splatter, this could have been forgiven. It seems completely unreasonable to see widespread destruction and then move almost immediately to an untouched escape vehicle strictly for convenience.
Though the first two episodes performed solidly in ratings and received largely positive critical response (including reviews published on this very site), don’t be surprised if ratings drop precipitously after this episode. With only three episodes left for this season, things will need to pick up quickly in order for the series to retain its audience.
This was easily the weakest episode of Fear The Walking Dead thus far. All in all, this installment seemed lazy. It showed apathy from the characters, lack of consistency in the script, and a general feeling of disinterest. After a break, the producers should have brought the series back with a bang, and instead whimpered through an episode in which nothing really happened.