Review: Fear the Walking Dead, Episode 3 – “The Dog”

With no new episode over Labor Day weekend, it was a long wait for the third installment of Fear the Walking Dead. The question now is, was is worth the wait?

Episode Recap

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Beginning where it left off, Travis and his family are still trapped with the Salazars in the barber shop at zombie central. Maddie is still at home waiting for his return with her kids while they enjoy some family bonding over Monopoly.

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When the riots intensify, the barber shop is invaded by thugs, and Travis and company are forced to flee into the night. After a slight mishap with some falling debris, they are on their way and headed for the suburbs once again. Tension is still high between Travis and Daniel Salazar, but there aren’t a lot of options when the world is ending.  It certainly looks like they will be spending more quality time together.

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Back in the burbs, the lights are out again and there’s an ominous scratching at the back door. Of course, that means that you answer the door to see what’s out there, right? Cue the bad decisions and zombie sightings. Just as they realize that their home has been invaded, Travis arrives back home and it becomes a race to see who can get to him first: Maddie or the newly undead.

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After briefly trying to reason with their undead neighbor, a more permanent solution is decided on by Daniel. With that taken care of, they can now hear the screams coming from next door as Alicia is being pursued by another neighbor. With a little effort, she manages to get to safety, but it’s becoming clearer that the neighborhood is not as safe as it once was.

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After a brief discussion, everyone decides to wait out the night and leave for the desert in the morning. Travis passes the time disposing of bodies, Maddie discusses end-of-life plans with Travis’ ex-wife, and the Salazars seem determined to head off on their own once the night is over. Of course, the discerning viewer knows that their best laid plans are almost certainly doomed to fail, but that’s what keeps us coming back again.

Episode Review

Let’s be honest, if you’re watching Fear the Walking Dead, you came to see the zombies. Fresh ones, old ones, fast ones, slow ones, whatever the brand, you came for the undead horror of it all. Don’t worry – as the series picks up and the outbreak spreads, you will be treated to more and more of what you want as well as some unexpected surprises the writers throw in to keep you coming back for more. Considering that there is more action in the third episode of Fear the Walking Dead, in many ways the episode seemed to move at a slower pace than the previous one. That slower pace, however, is filled with a delightful range of suspense, dread, and outright stupidity that made even slower moments entertaining.
Here’s what really stuck out for me from this episode:

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  • Is it just me, or did anyone else get the feeling that Peter Capaldi was making a cameo appearance as creepy zombie #1? No, it’s not him. Yes, I did get really excited about it for a moment.
  • If you ever wondered before this point, Fear the Walking Dead is definitely in the horror genre. We know this from the poor decision making skills of the cast. Most notable in this episode would be the decision to leave the back door open while taking a midnight tour of the neighborhood. Who does that?!?
  • Poor Travis is just trying to keep everyone he cares about alive and well, but you can’t deny the uncomfortable humor in the fact that he is now living with his ex-wife and girlfriend. Awkward!
On a more serious note, while the series is getting better as it goes on, I still find myself counting down the days until The Walking Dead premieres. What makes the original series so good and ensures that its dedicated fan base continues to grow is sadly lacking in the newer companion series. The Walking Dead excels at fleshing out characters and giving them tragically understandable motives that pull them in different directions. So far, Fear the Walking Dead has failed to flesh out any of its cast in a truly believable way and their actions seem disjointed much of the time instead of understandable.
The dialogue seems lacking in some very basic ways as well. While The Walking Dead is usually marked by a lack of dialogue (you’ve got to be quiet when the world is full of the undead), it is also fraught with meaning and interesting in its own way. Fear the Walking Dead, however, seems to be marked by pedantic speeches and juvenile angst more than anything else. If it keeps up, I’m going to have to start rooting for the zombies.
Obviously, the show is still finding its footing and so far it’s definitely entertaining. After all, it’s doing a good job of delivering exactly what it said it would: the beginning of the end.

Content Warning

Language/Crude Humor – There is some language in this episode (a**hole, s***, d***), but not as much as you would expect considering it’s the end of the world.
Violence – Rioters in the streets of Los Angeles are beating people and destroying property. Zombies are mixed in with the rioters and eating people. When debris falls, a woman is trapped and her ankle is visibly messed up. A dog is killed and eaten by a zombie. A man gets shot in the face with a shotgun. Chris is kicked in the face and his nose is busted. The neighbor, Susan, is shot in the head and killed. The military arrives and disposes of bodies.
Drug/Alcohol Use – Nick is an addict, and there is a lot of discussion about his need for drugs as he begins to go through detox. He is shown taking pills in one scene.
Sexual Content – There is no sexual content in this episode.
*All photos courtesy of amc.com

The Bottom Line

 

 

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Lari Burkhart

A life-long book addict, I spend most of my time trying to find a way to avoid reality through sci-fi and fantasy. I've been a Christian for quite some time (no numbers, please) and I'm always ready for a discussion about how fiction mirrors the Bible and its principles even when it's trying not to.

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