Synopsis for 1×01: Los Angeles is not yet ready for the extremely slow-paced zombie apocalypse.
I want to know your opinions on Fear The Walking Dead, dear readers, because my opinion in this moment is a hearty shoulder shrug. As the series opens, we’re introduced to Nick, the junkie son, as he walks through a church in a scene reminiscent of 28 Days Later. Calling for the mysterious Gloria, he finds dead bodies in her wake as she ultimately gnaws on another junkie. It’s our first walker of the season – perhaps even patient zero in LA, it’s unclear. He’s so startled that he runs from the house and gets hit by a passing vehicle.
That’s how Nick ends up restrained in the hospital, with his makeshift family come to rally around him. His pit bull of a mother, Madison, chases off the cops while his sister looks on bored. Travis – the stepfather? boyfriend? – has a nice rapport with him and even stays to watch him throughout the day. Though he’s not without his own hang-ups, Travis’ actual son and ex-something don’t seem to want to spend any time with him.
At the school where she and Travis both work, Madison takes a knife off a kid who knows what’s up. He’s on top of the news reports and knows what’s coming. We meet Alicia’s boyfriend, though by the end it’s obvious he hasn’t made it to the credits.
Later that night after swapping places, Travis decides to visit the place that Nick shoots up alone. He finds a junkie screaming about how he doesn’t want to be killed and a whole mess of blood. When he brings it up to Madison, she brushes it off as a drug den and they head back to school again.
Nick asks again and again for someone to untie him at the hospital and it finally happens when a hospital nurse gives him one hand to use the bedpan on his own. He immediately goes about freeing himself, dropping the bedpan in the process. At the same time, his roommate codes and people rush in to try to revive him. The doctor specifically says if they don’t get him back in 60 seconds, they need to take him downstairs. What do the doctors know?! They know something! In the chaos, Nick escapes with his roommate’s clothes and goes in search of his drug dealer.
Okay, so maybe they don’t brush off the drug den – Maddie and Travis go there themselves and Maddie insists on touching everything and seeing everything before going to one of Nick’s friends, Calvin. He offers to do some calling around for them. When they discuss finding Nick later, they come upon an emergency on an off-ramp. There are gunshots and they quickly detour away from the scene.
In what might be the most interesting bit of the episode, we see leaked news footage of the accident scene that Maddie and Travis avoided last night. It’s in line with the after school special “don’t do drugs kids” vibes, but viewers know what’s up. This is what I want from Fear The Walking Dead, seeing how people react through the news, social media, word of mouth. With few students at school and the recent strange events, the district declares it a half day and everyone rushes to leave.
Meanwhile, it’s revealed that oh-so-helpful Calvin is actually Nick’s drug dealer. He’s upset that Nick’s parents came to him asking questions, but he still tries to take care of Nick. Cal takes him out by some train tracks, telling Nick to sit tight and, “It’s safe here.” Those are the famous last words, as he pulls a gun out of the trunk. Nick notices and there’s a struggle that ultimately ends in Calvin’s shooting.
The real shocker here is that he calls Travis, who brings his mom, to help him deal with it. He panics momentarily with his mom there, but confesses almost immediately. When they go looking for Cal’s body, it’s not there and viewers know it’s about to go down. As they’re leaving, they see a bloodied Calvin behind the truck, shambling towards them. When Maddie and Travis get out to check on him, he attacks them and Nick hits him with the truck. They watch as Cal gets up and Nick hits him again. Even after that, he didn’t manage to get the brain, and Cal looks at them and Maddie asks what the hell is going on?
There are only five more episodes to this first season of Fear The Walking Dead and to be honest, I’m a little bit underwhelmed. The after school special vibes, coupled with the time spent on bratty teenagers, took some of the shine out of the show for me. Hopefully with the introduction of more characters beyond this single family, I’ll find someone interesting to connect with. If the previews are anything to go by, things go to hell in a handbasket relatively quickly. What did you think of the premiere? Let us know in the comments!