We won’t see any more birthday parties in Los Angeles, that’s for sure. Chaos is quickly descending all over the city pretty quickly, but most of the residents still seem to be unaware of what’s happening. The second episode of Fear the Walking Dead, which is called ‘So Close, yet so Far’ puts our lead characters right in the middle of the unfolding zombie apocalypse. Our heroes aren’t sure exactly what’s happening, but they do know it is bad and are trying to get away from it. Travis, Maddie and Nick have all seen the dead rise and they have no wish of repeating the experience.
To most people, Los Angeles still seems like a pretty normal place that includes skateboarders and birthday parties. An injured quarterback is called a disaster by the host of a talk-radio show and it is ironic, not just because of the unfolding fictional zombie apocalypse, but also because L.A. doesn’t have a football team. Anyways, people are protesting on the streets against police shootings and it all feels real and normal. Alicia’s boyfriend Matt is lying on his floor suffering from a strong virus and he can barely move. Of course, she immediately takes responsibility for his care.
The sickness is still at the fringes of society and most people like Alicia are still unaware of it. When a homeless man is shot by the cops, the residents consider is just another example of police violence and launch a protests that sweeps up Chris, Travis’s son. However, the virus is spreading rather quickly. Matt was attacked, as we saw. Pete, Maddie’s neighbor is coughing ominously and moving out of town. Also, the virus has somehow infected the principal of the Paul R. Williams High School. Travis and Maddie come up with a plan of leaving town when they witness zombie-Calvin rise.
The first hurdle of their plan is corralling all the Manawas and Clarks. Alicia isn’t going to leave Matt. Chris is ignoring his father’s calls and Travis’s ex-wife Liza, is too busy in her studies. The next hurdle is the inevitable withdrawal symptoms that Nick’s going to experience when he doesn’t have access to the junk anymore. At least, his condition is better than his dealer. The episode turns out quite well as it moves ahead on the sense of dread that was instilled amongst the viewers in the premiere. Dread is the perfect word because it is going to be incredibly disquieting to show the end of the world.
The randomness of those who survive is going to be staggering as there is no narrative or story. We see complete chaos and random survival. How many people will be able to do what needs to be done and shut off their emotions to do it? There will be overwhelming survival shock because we all know where this is leading. Maddie is acquiring survival skills very quickly. She makes a quick visit to Williams High where she knows she can find something that can make Nick’s withdrawal symptoms bearable.
Apparently, smart survivalists raid the high school while others are looting the drug stores. Tobias is also stocking up and wants to know if he can get his knife back. After they have stocked up on refried beans and drugs, they run into Art who is holding on to his walkie-talkie and roaming the halls. Maddie doesn’t realize that he isn’t Art anymore and she approaches him to ask if he’s okay. That’s when he lunges at her. Tobias tries to use his little knife for killing the zombie-Art by stabbing him in the head.
However, all he accomplishes is stabbing Art’s eye and they stumble down the stairs. Maddie saves him in the nick of time with a fire extinguisher. The whole sequence involving Art is bloody and violent and it keeps in touch with the graphic tone of the sibling series of the show. The show may get some grief because of its violence, but this week’s episode appears exactly what it is; not real. Travis takes Liza so they can go find Chris, who is still at the protest. Liza is studying to become a nurse and she catches sight of the homeless man who was shot. His disfigured face shows that something really strange is going on here.
Even though she doesn’t know what it is, the realization still sends a bolt through her. The three attempt to escape the chaos, but it seems impossible. At one point, Travis says that the police won’t let people out. Are the authorities really setting up quarantines and blockades? The Manawas ask the owner of a barbershop, Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades) to allow them shelter in his shop. Daniel’s daughter, Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) and his wife, Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spindola) are also present in the shop. They stay inside while the mob gets crazy. It is an uneasy alliance as Daniel’s not pleased with strangers in his shop while Travis wants to get away from the desert.
Maddie reaches home where Nick is having seizures and Alicia is trying to go see Matt. She gives her son a tiny bit of Oxycontin and tries not to let it show to her children that she may just have killed their high school principal. Did she really just kill Art? Yes and no. It is hard to handle the complexity of the question right now. Still, when Maddie’s neighbor Pete goes across the street to attack the mother removing the birthday-party tent, she doesn’t let Alicia go out running to help her. It seems that Maddie is in tune with her survival instincts and she is going to need them with what’s about to happen.
Finally, night overtakes the city of Los Angeles and this may be the last normal night that the residents of the city are going to experience. The storyline becomes a bit more compelling in this episode as more characters are added to the plot and they are given some play.