Miss Fear the Walking Dead this week? You didn’t miss much. There’s one episode left and despite that, the show remained as glacially paced as ever. Basically, each storyline inched forward a bit to a place where, in the finale, maybe things will finally happen. Or maybe they won’t.
Here’s the gist of episode five, titled “Cobalt.” Travis tagged along with some soldiers and forgot about the atrocity he saw last week. Madison sat at a coffee table. Nick met a mysterious salesman (who was the best part of the episode, by the way). Alicia and Chris played dress-up, then smash siblings. And Ofelia brought her soldier boyfriend home to Daniel for him to torture for information on their plans. You know, typical LA stuff.
Through that torture, Daniel found out that all the soldiers are planning on leaving the next morning and giving “humane terminations” to everyone they’ve captured. Since Madison’s son Nick is still there (and, they think, Daniel’s wife Griselda, but she met the business end of a Anton Chigurh gun), this is a bad thing. What’s worse though is this idea in general.
If you think about it, much of what the soldiers are doing is kind of working. Things are relatively safe in the fences. People are living their lives. The way the show has presented this situation over the last two episodes, you get the sense that things could actually be good if the soldiers would simply keep everyone in the loop. But they don’t, solely because it makes for good paranoia.
We found out in this episode the soldiers have plenty they’re not sharing. They’ve killed a lot of zombies and, in fact, know quite a bit about them, too. Dr. Exner knows everyone turns—not just those who are bitten—and that trauma to the head kills them. They also know there are thousands upon thousands out there. This is a big, big issue, not something that’s going to be easily fixed. And yet they choose to keep everyone in the dark about it.
So if are the soldiers rounding up sick people and keeping them isolated, why not explain the reasons to the people? “Hey, I know I just busted into your house and kidnapped your son, but we just want to make sure he’s not going to die and turn into a zombie, because that’s how this global outbreak—yes, it’s a bigger problem than you expected—works. We’ll have him back soon.”
The only reason for keeping everyone in the dark is because they’re scared the truth will drive them crazy. That may be true on some other Walking Dead spinoff somewhere, but very little we’ve seen in these five episodes leads me to believe these characters would react badly to the news. I think they’d embrace it and adapt. However, the show that I’m watching isn’t really aware of that. It’s almost like the characters are existing independent of the larger plot.
The whole turn of events makes very little sense to me. Sure it makes for good drama, but after the strong focus on the military actions in the previous episode, to basically say “They’re all leaving tomorrow” in this episode feels very sudden. You made a decision that this is the route you wanted this show to go in. Stick with it. Almost immediately abandoning the idea is just another example of how, I feel, Fear the Walking Dead has no idea what it wants to be.