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The action’s heating up, as three families in AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead leave this world behind, encroaching further into the iconic ruin of the Walker-infested wasteland.

“Civilization is like a thin layer of ice upon a deep ocean of chaos and darkness.” – Werner Herzog

 The most striking moment from an episode full of suspense, melodrama, and exploding heads was a quiet one. Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) and his first family, with another family, the Salazars, in the back of his pick-up, making his way to Madison’s (Kim Dickens) house. As the worried families drive in silence, the sprawling bejewelled nighttime carpet of Los Angeles is plunged into darkness, as the power outage takes hold and spreads.

Artificial light may be the simplest possible shorthand for civilization. The ability to contain and control fire and bend it to our wills separates us from the wilderness, protecting us from wild animals much more savage than we. It is only by civilization that we are able to survive. In security, at any rate. The obvious shutdown of civilization is part of what made the third episode of Fear The Walking Dead so effective, and so frustrating, as the characters are beginning to understand the enormity of what is happening.
“The Dog” didn’t do too much to advance the plot, spending another episode on establishing character and atmosphere. It succeeded in being the most action-packed and exciting moments to date, promising good things for the remainder of the season. Plot-wise, the premise is pretty simple. Travis and his family are forced out of their barbershop safe house, with their reluctant new friends, the Salazars. They make a break for Travis’ truck, to make their way to Madison’s house, with Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola) being injured in the ensuing panic.
Meanwhile, the Clarks are having a cozy little sleepover, playing Monopoly while Nick (Frank Dillane) enjoys his Oxycotten. They hear an intruder and make a break for their neighbor’s house, where Madison knows there is a shotgun. Unfortunately, there neighbors are no longer their neighbors, and their friends are no longer their friends. They manage to grab the gun and shells before Zombie Susan (Cici Lau) comes shuffling after them in her sullied carpet slippers.

Back in the house, the intruder is busy eating a German Shepherd, keeping with the axiom that it sucks to be a dog in a horror franchise. And yet, even as those cataracted eyes fix themselves on her family, even still Madison balks, leaving Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades) to save the day. Momentarily safe, the temporary family of 9 hole up for the night, bury the dead, and prepare to leave for the desert. They head out in the morning, only to have the National Guard arrive and place them under quarantine.

The second most poignant moment in “The Dog” comes from a moment with Madison and Zombie Susan. Madison prepares to bludgeon her old friend with a ball-peen hammer to try and save the husband, Patrick, who is still missing. Travis talks Madison out of doing “something she will regret,” talking about “there might be some slight hope.”

Fear The Walking Dead recap

We agree; Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar

This reluctance to accept the rules of this new world generates the frisson that propels this series forward, but it also creates an undertow of frustration and, at times, bad television. Like when Alicia starts hollering about her boyfriend Matt, who we haven’t seen since the beginning of last episode, which was two weeks ago, to boot. It’s a conundrum, as these characters whole lives have just been shattered, but we’re coming in at the downfall. The characters reluctance to get with the program comes off as weak, whiny, unrealistic, as the adults try and shield the kids from the ugly truth of what is happening and everyone keeps trying to pretend everything will return to normal.

It won’t, as anyone who’s familiar with Robert Kirkman‘s universe already knows. But when things go down, we all would secretly hope that the status quo of microwaves, cellphones, idleness, and luxury will return. It’s a nice thought, and if it were this world it might be true. But it’s not; it’s becoming The Walking Dead.

One way or another, the teenagers, particularly Alicia, need to get over their angsty rebellious teenager schtick real fast, if they’re going to survive and not be a total annoying headache for an entire season. And the adults need to stop trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes and get down to survival.

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For previous Silver Screen Riot Fear the Walking Dead recap coverage, find archive reviews below:

Fear the Walking Dead, Episode 2 “So Close, Yet So Far”
Fear the Walking Dead, Episode 1 “Pilot”

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