‘Not Fade Away’
This show sure does seem to like strong endings, doesn’t it? Each week has seen big, game-changing cliff-hangers – from the reanimation of Calvin in the pilot to the arrival of the army last week – and ‘Not Fade Away’ was no exception. The ending here saw Nick and Griselda carted off to the ‘hospital’, as nurse Liza tagged along. It’s all set up as if a rather more sinister destination awaits, and it’s not like TWD is afraid of killing off key cast members…
At the same time, there were too many hints – Daniel’s story of his townspeople being taken and killed, Doug going AWOL only to be picked up by the army – for it to really convince me that it’s not just a red herring. And on top of that, for all the uncertainty of TWD, there are characters who have survived right from the start (not naming who to avoid spoilers!).
In any case, the success of that end scene came as much from some stellar performances throughout the episode as it did from the plotting. Kim Dickens continues to show why she’s been cropping up more and more in film (Gone Girl) and TV (Sons of Anarchy) over the past few years. While Madison seems like a woman on the edge, losing her usually firm grip on the world bit by bit, she still comes across as strong-willed, and is still a character who makes a natural fit to be at the top of the cast hierarchy. A few years down the line and it’s easy to see her taking a commanding role in some survivor camp somewhere in California.Alicia meanwhile seems to be spiralling into despair, DIY-tattooing the drawing Matt had done on her arm rather violently and recklessly. While her motivations and personality are clear and strong by now, she’s being held back tremendously by the fact that no-one seems to actually be telling her anything. At this stage in the timeline, let alone the season if we’re being meta, they’re all aware how serious this all is.
Briefly touching on the pacing front – which has essentially turned into my buzzword for the show – episode four did a decent job. The army arrival could arguably have been spun out over another episode without harming the quality of the plot, but there are clear similarities between this model and that of the parent show in its freshman year – 6 episodes, each time changing the setting.
All of which leaves us with two episodes to go. The show’s certainly in a strong state going into the home stretch, yet there’s nothing that a shock death (read: not just Nick or Griselda) wouldn’t improve.