It took a few weeks, but the third episode of Fear the Walking Dead finally had the scares, destruction, confusion, and naiveté we all expected from a prequel to The Walking Dead. There was even movement with the plot, a big change from the first two weeks.

Things started right where we left episode two. Madison was home with her kids and Travis was stuck in the barbershop with Daniel Salazar and his family. Very quickly though, things escalated. After looking outside at the increasingly violent crowds, Travis’ son Chris realized the walls of the shop were starting to heat up. The block was on fire. Reluctantly, the six characters opened the door and ventured into the riot-filled night. And that was all before the credits even started.

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(Now granted, it was a little coincidental that Travis’ white truck, parked in the middle of a riot filled with flipped over and burning cars everywhere, was miraculously fine. But I’ll forgive it because it kept the show from stalling yet again.)

On the way back to Madison, Travis, his family and the Salazars drive by a hospital. They’re trying to get Daniel’s wife Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola) some care because a scaffold fell on her (creating a situation that will obviously not be good in a few episodes). As they drive by, they see that the hospital is being overrun. Military are shooting zombies walking around, ambulances are burning, and there’s just general chaos. So a dumbfounded Travis just keeps driving. Finally, we see the world crumbling and our characters have to react to it. After they pass, we see the city of Los Angeles on fire and finally, all the lights go out. This kind of visual juxtaposition and decision making are what we want from this show. Plus, I think the hospital was the same building that played Cyberdine in Terminator 2.

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Back home, after a quick, probably symbolic, game of Monopoly, Madison, Nick and Alicia hear something. It’s a German Shepherd, covered with blood for some reason. They let it into the house and as they follow it around, running and barking, they notice one of their neighbors has turned into a zombie.

Now, this is where things got a little bit stupid again. Instead of just staying quiet and in their house, Nick miraculously remembers that their neighbors have a shotgun. So he, his sister and mother - yes, all three of them- decide to go to the neighbor’s house. But, to get there they have to jump over a fence and go through the neighbor’s garden which, for some reason, is designed like a fun house maze. This surely won’t play a role in the coming minutes.

They get to the house, find the gun and watch as the zombie enters their house and kills the dog. Just then, Travis comes home. Because of course he does. Travis has no idea there’s a zombie neighbor in the house or that Madison and the family are next door. To warn him, they then proceed to run back through the maze toward the house. Instead, you know, of going through the front door since it’s quicker and they know the zombie is already in the house.

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Travis enters, sees the zombie eating the dog and immediately...starts to reason with him? Didn’t Travis see a bunch of zombies eating people on the way home? Of course, the zombie attacks Travis and when Madison can’t kill him, Daniel pops into the house and blows his head off in the grossest moment yet.

This moment, and moments later in the episode, are the best so far in the series. We finally see the confusion a rising zombie apocalypse would cause these characters. Are these people sick? How is it possible they’re walking around if they’re dead? The characters have lots of obvious, important questions. One that I have is: don’t they live in a world of zombie movies? That would explain some of this. But pop culture isn’t really a part of the world on either show. Anyway, it’s interesting and satisfying for them to talk about these things. Can these “sick” people be saved? These characters are months away from the kill first, ask questions later attitude of The Walking Dead, and I love that.

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If anything, the characters aren’t worried enough about this madness. They barely even freak out. Alicia at least screams a bit when she realizes what this probably means for her boyfriend but, other than that, everyone seems pretty cool with the fact people are dying and eating each other. I hope in the next few episodes, they get a little more freaked out.

Anyway, the episode then slows down considerably as the characters discuss this kind of stuff. Daniel’s daughter wants to leave with Travis and Madison, but Daniel and Griselda don’t want to leave. They’re waiting for a cousin who may, or may not, exist.

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Lisa talks to Madison and it’s a bit awkward. They’re not friends, as one is Travis’ current squeeze and the other is his ex-wife. However, Madison stops Lisa’s olive branch and asks her to kill her if she turns. She doesn’t think Travis can do it.

And guess what? She’s right. Morning comes and as the family gets ready to head to the desert, Madison decides she wants to kill Susan, their next door neighbor who is infected and has been standing at their fence all night. She goes out with a hammer but Travis stops her. He says killing Susan isn’t her call and that Madison doesn’t know if there’s a cure or not. Daniel watches this and notes to himself that the couple is weak. But they aren’t both weak. Travis is weak. Madison seems to know this whole situation isn’t going to get better.

Still the idea that some of these people think things will be okay, amiss such insane destruction and violence, is interesting. And it got even more interesting at the end of the episode. Susan’s husband comes home just as Madison and Travis are leaving. Madison tries to get his attention before he finds his zombie wife but it’s too late. He’s confused, goes for the hug and just before his wife can kill him, the military arrives. They kill Susan, question everyone and - seemingly - put life back in order. People are even bringing their garbage out to the road.

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“It’s going to get better now,” says naive Travis. It’s not, at least on the show, but hopefully he’s also talking about the viewers experience. This episode was a big step in the right direction.

Photos courtesy of AMC

Contact the author at germain@io9.com.

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