It is said that knowledge is power, and for the characters on Fear the Walking Dead words have never been more true as they are learning what is happening around them and coming to terms with what must be done in the face of danger. The latest episode “The Dog” had many of the characters taking steps towards their roles in the group this week, with some going backwards from previous episodes. This week also featured the attempt of Travis to leave LA with his ex-wife and son and to return to his girlfriend’s house.
Hiding in the barbershop quickly became dangerous as rioters broke into the neighbor’s store and set it on fire. With temperatures quickly rising and the crowd outside not getting under control like he hoped, Travis took his family and the apprehensive barbershop owners through a gauntlet of LA mischief to their truck. The crew finally made it back to Madison’s house only to be greeted by a rotting neighbor feasting on their German Shepherd. Travis, who believed Nick’s story about people eating each other and being dead, quickly tried to reason with the neighbor only to be saved by Daniel wielding a newly stolen shotgun.
All of these developments had their impact on the different characters with one in particular finally learning the truth of what is going on in the area. After two episodes and change, Alicia came face to face with a walker and learned the horrifying fate of her boyfriend Matt, who was last seen dying of the sickness. This was a startling revelation for Alicia but a necessary one for her character to progress and move on from their home. Travis on the other hand devolved into someone that would rather stay inside and wait things out, as opposed to the hero that everyone thought he would be going into the series. This was further cemented when Travis stopped Madison from putting their other zombified neighbor out of misery as he wanted her to wait until the neighbor potentially got cured of the sickness. Madison really took a step forward this episode with her realization that the people that got infected are dead and should be killed. Another character that really stole the show was Daniel Salazar, who stepped up as a leader and saved Travis, while acknowledging that the good people are always the ones that die first.
“Fear the Walking Dead” has been given the slow burn approach as the action has been built up, with each episode offering a bit more than the previous. This week featured further LA rioting with the occasional bystander being attacked by a fresh walker. Near the end of the episode the military is seen going from house to house in Madison’s neighborhood checking for infected people and effectively “curing” them with a bullet to the head. These things, along with Daniel dispatching Peter the infected neighbor, would make up the majority of the action in this week’s episode.
Overall, this episode provided great character development with most characters moving forward in the dire situation they faced. A great part of the episode featured Madison asking Travis’ ex-wife Liza to take care of her, should she ever turn into an infected, because it would be too much for Travis to handle. This really highlighted Madison’s continued evolution into someone who knows what is going on in society, and has come to the realization that things are not going to get better. It was disappointing to see Travis not embrace the leader role and instead be in denial about things he believed in earlier episodes. Daniel Salazar stepped up to the leader role and showcased his abilities with a shotgun when he used it on the neighbor and taught Chris how to use it much to Travis’ disapproval. Alicia coming face to face with a walker and realizing the fate of her boyfriend was also a highlight of this emotion-filled episode, with her coming to terms at the end and her realization that they couldn’t stay in town.
The military came to town at the end of the episode and cleared out the houses of anyone infected in Madison’s neighborhood. They ended up leaving Madison in the dark when she asked if it was the blood that caused the infection, so the characters on the show still only vaguely know that the bite is one of the ways the sickness is shared. Travis, having seen the military going from house to house, proclaims that everything is going to be okay now. As fans of the show we know that this is not the case and if the character’s group wants to survive in the future, Travis needs to take on a leadership role and become stronger than he is right now. As Daniel pointed out at the conclusion of the episode, in a grim manner, the military was too late.