TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead, ‘Not Fade Away’

Fear the Walking Dead Poster
Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

Everyone is adapting to the occupation of the National Guard in different ways. Madison (Kim Dickens) is distrustful and wary of the soldiers while Travis (Cliff Curtis) is alright with falling in line.

The National Guard has turned the area surrounding the Clark house into a safe haven; patrolling the surrounding area, putting up a fence, and enforcing a curfew. The blended family reacts to their new situation differently with the name of the game being lack of information. The National Guard has given next to no information about the outside world or about their own situation. They promise electricity, medicine, and phone lines but days go by with nothing.

Travis (Curtis) becomes like a mayor; working with the soldiers and talking down the more nervous community members. Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez) takes to tending the sick as best she can, eventually choosing to go, alone, with the soldiers to help the sick at an undisclosed location. Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) begins a relationship with a soldier in the vain attempt to get her mother medication. They are okay to put their head down and do what needs to be done to survive and keep going; ignorance is bliss.

“Not Fade Away” had a lot going on. It was a riveting episode and had me thinking how I would react in the same situation. Not having information is maddening. But following someone else’s game plan is mindless and easy, especially when the other option seems only to be death or imprisonment. It was a very panicky hour.

This, of course, was another awesome week of Fear the Walking Dead. Kirkman and Erikson know their characters and their reactions to this point have been reliable. Fear (the emotion) is taking over and everyone is slowly coming up on their breaking point. The hardest scene to watch was Madison hitting Nick (Frank Dillane) once she realizes he’s been stealing morphine. It’s her realization that she has no more control. She can’t do anything for her son and she can’t do anything about the state of the world. This, plus the precise cinematography, carried the episode along.

The framing of the episode was unique and probably my favorite part. “Not Fade Away” begins with a monologue by Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) revealing the new status quo. He infuses the speech with teenaged snark and hyperbole that makes their circumstances seem lighter than they are. The episode ends with Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) reading a letter she is writing to her boyfriend. She also imbues her monologue with a teenage drama, but she instead goes dark. She has recognized how dire their lives have become.

It was an interesting and emotional way to bookend the episode as well as what seems to be the central issue for the last episodes. During his own monologue, Chris (Henrie) notices a flashing from a far off building. He sees it as an oddity, an adventure. It’s not treated with much gravity. On the other hand during Alicia’s (Debnam-Carey) speech, Travis spots the flash effectively shattering his chosen ignorance.

But “Not Fade Away” was not one of my top favorites of the season. It was a setup, layover episode. “Not Fade Away” planted seeds of tension between characters, anger and distrust of the soldiers, and the need for more information. It set the cogs in motion for the last two episodes.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10