10   +   9   =  

‘The Dog’

After the improvement between episodes one and two, Fear The Walking Dead needed to maintain the level of quality attained in the second outing. And it did just that, while also keeping track of the key pacing problem that threatens to hinder the show’s success.

The episode started well, picking up immediately after the end of last week, while increasing the severity of the threat our protagonists faced. While last week’s scares felt far away – unknown goings-on in the riots, ‘something’ happening behind the hedge across the road to the Clark residence – this week there was no avoiding the reality. If seeing those cold, dead eyes peering through the shutters, or witnessing the hospital under military-style quarantine wasn’t evidence enough, then watching the neighbour, Patrick, take a shotgun blast to the face and keep coming, only put down by another round with the gun pressed to his skull, was a big wake-up call.

Although that’s not to say it erased all doubts the characters had, and this did make for a slightly disjointed middle section. With Travis and Maddy halfway between denial and acceptance that the dead are coming back to life, and still trying to keep Alicia (and also Chris) in the dark, it almost felt as if that shotgun scene was meant to come after much of this week’s developments, rather than before. Denial in this situation is a logical reaction, but their particular brand of denial – believing that Susan was still Susan – did feel a tad out of place. And as for Alicia, while avoiding telling her that her boyfriend may actually be dead was for her own psychological benefit, it backfires spectacularly if this means she has no awareness of the danger they’re in.fear-the-walking-dead-episode-3-02Meanwhile, the show continues to exploit its mid-crisis setting on a visual level, eking out effective shots of the landscape week by week. Alongside the energetic camerawork that exemplified the chaos of the riots, we also got a crucial nod to just where we’re at pacing wise – as we saw the lights go out on most of the city of Los Angeles. As apocalyptic tropes go, the electrics failing is close to the most damning sign.

However, the most obvious symbol that things are going wrong is of course when the army turn up, which is why, by their appearance at the end of the episode, one couldn’t help but feel that Daniel was considerably closer to the mark in his view that ‘it’s already too late’. Given the diverse way that military intervention has been portrayed in similar shows, the back-end of the season could really go anywhere.

So all in all, ‘The Dog’ was a solid episode. Not one without its problems, however insignificant, but also an episode featuring great visuals and plot progression in equal measure.

★★★★

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