It has been a random summer for television over here, with some good (Ballers), some bad (True Detective), some still yet to be decided (Sense8) and some that I’ll get around to eventually (Mr. Robot). But really, I’ve been waiting on Fear The Walking Dead since I heard it was a thing, and the pilot episode didn’t disappoint. Let’s go…
-We open with a junkie named Nick, who looks like a cross between Johnny Depp and Jack White, but wacked on heroin, waking up in a church because where else are junkies supposed to sleep? He calls out for his friend Gloria, but he finds a guy who is bleeding from the head and has a bite mark on his neck. So he’s like, alright, still high, fair enough, but then Nick stumbles upon Gloria, who is buffeting on a dead guy (at least I hope he was dead because that would SUCK), and when Gloria looks at him with blood on her mouth and zombie eyes, he bolts and runs out into the middle of the street where he gets hit by a car. Two things about this: try and watch this again, and watch Nick run. It’s hilarious, he’s like a child running downhill. Two, maybe I was laughing too hard at that, but it looked like Nick got hit from behind, which would make that driver a really shitty driver. Probably texting or some shit.
-Side note: Nick is played by Frank Dillane, whose father is Stephen Dillane, who plays Stannis in Game Of Thrones. He was also apparently in a Harry Potter movie or something, but I don’t watch that shit.
-Then we meet the protagonists of the show, Madison, who reminds of Julie Bowen (Claire from Modern Family), her daughter Alicia, who is a smartass and shoulda got dropkicked in the chest for yellin’ at her mom like that, and her fiance Travis. They get a phone call and it turns out that Nick is Madison’s son from her first marriage, and he is in the hospital, where he has had to be restrained because he was ranting about all sorts of crazy shit, which of course, we know to be true. Alicia makes a couple smartass comments to Travis about him moving in to the family, so we know what role she’ll play going forward. Travis then has to call his ex and cancel on picking up his biological son, who doesn’t want to go with him anyway, and the son is up there with Alicia on the list of “people I want eaten already”. Madison then tells Travis that he didn’t sign up for this, and he’s like, “well, I’m here, I’ll stay with him” as she leaves. What a guy.
-Madison and Alicia are driving and Madison is trying to talk to her, but Alicia won’t take her earphones off, and then she says Madison should listen to Travis and stop supporting Nick, a junkie who won’t stop being a junkie. But of course, Madison won’t do that as they get to school, so we learn that she is a teacher. She is walking through the halls with the principal, Marty, and they stop this kid, Tobias, and Madison runs his pockets to find a knife, so it’s to the office with him.
-She thinks he has the knife because he’s getting bullied, but Tobias starts going on about how they’re safer in numbers and nobody’s going to college because of news reports stating that people are killing other people and they don’t know if it’s a virus, or what it is, but Madison is convinced that he is just reading too much bullshit online, which is fair. So there, we learn that the outbreak started and mufuckas weren’t tryna hear it, which takes me back to the first season of The Walking Dead because no one really knew what the hell was going on.
-Alicia sneaks out of school and apparently she’s insanely smart, and she goes to meet her boyfriend Matt, who is black and that probably made people more mad than the idea of the zombie apocalypse. I’m sure there was some good ‘cism going on in the Twitter streets, which is why I’m avoiding all that shit.
-Anyway, Nick is at the hospital and wakes up from a nightmare, and he tells Travis what he saw and Travis bites (no pun intended). He heads to the church to see what Nick was talking about and finds a junkie freakin’ out, yelling “DON’T KILL ME” and he finds a pool of blood, possibly from the buffet Gloria was having earlier, or it could be a new one, or just straight-up junkie blood. Either way, it wasn’t pretty.
-The family is at the hospital, and Alicia feeds Nick while Travis tells Madison about what Nick said he saw, and what he saw at the church, but Madison just dismisses it as junkie talk, but which is fair, I guess, but Travis saw some ill shit as well. Meanwhile, Nick is lying to Alicia in her face and telling her he’ll get clean, and I laugh. She goes off to meet her boyfriend again, while Madison accuses Travis of trying to help Nick in lieu of seeing his own bitch-ass son who needs to be eaten anyway.
-So everyone is gone and Nick tries to get the nurse to untie a hand, and she’s like NOAP, but then his roommate, an old man, starts to die, which causes a commotion and he somehow gets out anyway, taking the old man’s stuff and peacin’ the fuck out. Watching him walk around in old-man clothes was pretty good, this Dillane kid, acting is obviously in his genes, he’s pretty solid. Definitely the best part of the episode. Meanwhile, Madison and ’em show up later and they’re like, where the hell is Nick and the nurse is like, BITCH I DON’T KNOW, HE’S GONE. I feel like Madison woulda put up more of a fight, but hey, it’s only a 90-minute episode.
-Travis takes Madison to the church of horrors because she wanted to go, then they get there and she realizes that probably wasn’t the best idea she has ever had. They then visit his friend Calvin to see if they know where he is, but he doesn’t. That’s two black people so far. Good job, AMC. You’re gettin’ there.
-Madison and Travis hear gunshots while driving on the highway, and they’re seeing police helicopters in the sky, but it’s Los Angeles, so they don’t seem to think much of it. Still, something has to be up because Travis dips off the highway with the quickness.
-They get to school the next day (Travis is also a teacher, so that’s where they met), and there are more sick students, while the police are there and Alicia is on her phone, looking at leaked footage of a man getting beaten with bats by the cops (again, something not surprising in L.A.), and then they shoot the man….who gets back up. Some people think it’s fake, but it looks pretty damn real, then he principal announces that there will be a half-day and all but evacuates the place. Madison gets Alicia and meets up with Travis, but as she is walking out, she sees Tobias on the bus and he hits her with that “BITCH I TOLD YOU” look. That shit needs to be a GIF.
-Nick then meets up with Calvin, who is his dealer (OF COURSE HE IS) and Nick is like, dude, the fuck did you give me? Calvin is like, it wasn’t that and then he says he has some more, so junkies gon’ junkie and Nick is in. Then they go to a shipping area of some sort and Nick sees that Calvin has a gun in his pocket, which may or may not have even been for him; as a heroin dealer, it’s just part of the job to have a gun on you, yeah? Anyway, in a fight, Nick somehow gets the gun and shoots Calvin, which is fuckin’ weak, although junkies do have super strength at times if Florida news has taught me anything.
-Anyway, Nick called Travis off-screen to tell him where he was at and he goes there with Madison, and Nick takes them to where he shot Calvin, but the body is gone. They’re confused, but they’re like, well, guess we’ll leave and behind them is Zombie Calvin, and Madison pulls up the white-people trope of having to investigate everything instead just running the fuck away, and almost gets bit in the process. Nick is like, fuck this and gets in Travis’ truck and runs Zombie Calvin the fuck over, and again, Zombie Calvin gets up. Finally, Nick hits Zombie Calvin and he falls a good distance….and he starts moving again and they’re like, WHAT IN THE FUCK.
As far as pilots go, Fear The Walking Dead nailed it. It set the tone for being creepy and it might even be darker than The Walking Dead, which is darker than a lot of people remember, especially the first season. I’m not putting it up there with TWD yet, though, it’s one episode. But the Nick character was good, the Madison character is good and naive, and I assume we’re going to end up seeing both sides of the family together as they try and escape when shit goes down. Between the pilot and the preview for next week when it looks shit is about to really get real, I’m in.