So, things are getting interesting. Oddly enough, for an ‘action’ episode there was more character development in this one than in the prior two ‘development’ episodes. Writing is hard sometimes.
The gang’s all together now, and they’ve new friends; Nick’s ex-wife Liza and his biological son with her, Christopher; plus the Salazars (father Daniel, mother Griselda, and daughter Ofelia). The military has arrived, and things might be getting better, right? Who out there things they won’t? Put your hands down, no one can see you behind the computer screen. Yes, the military showed up and seems to have a good handle on the situation, but the audience definitely knows it’s going to go south. People are concentrating into knots for safety, to work in the hospitals and staging posts to handle relief, and in squads and on the cordons that are trying to stabilize the situation.
Zombies love clumped up people. Big buildings, large crowds. Chaos, stress. It’s a brains buffet. We saw a zombie cop chewing on a munchie cop in this episode. More of that to come, certainly. Even though the soldiers were taking steps to remain uninfected, we all know they don’t know what they’re dealing with. Plus they went from MOPP 1 (don’t think I remember seeing anyone wearing gloves; they definitely weren’t in suits) to MOPP 0 pretty quick. Even the soldiers throwing zombie bodies in the truck were just in uniforms, unmasked. Even if we didn’t know how this whole thing turns out (running, screaming, apocalypse; the fun stuff), it seems pretty obvious there’s a lot of opportunity for bad outcomes.
Let’s get back to the characters. Personally, I kind of like Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades). He’s got the kind of mindset that will get a person through the rise of an apocalypse. What did he say, “It’s already too late.” And “Good people are the first ones to die.” Meanwhile, Travis hates guns, doesn’t want to kill zombies, and is afraid of the dark. Who noticed that Travis’ insistence on not letting Maddie ‘take care of’ the zombie neighbor Susan led to her husband’s death? We didn’t explicitly see zombie-Susan bite Patrick, but the military took him away. He’s clumped up in some camp or holding facility or somewhere that has controlled access. When zombies start erupting in that place, Patrick is probably as good as dead. That’s on Travis.
Meanwhile, Daniel already has his “survive this” hat on. It’s perhaps a bit undeveloped based on what we’ve seen on-screen so far, but the Wiki has a tiny bit of background about the Salazars; they’re El Salvadorian immigrants, having left to escape political unrest. To me that means, and is likely intended to imply, they’ve seen a bit of war. Rebellion, skirmishes, stuff like that. I’m not saying they were soldiers, though perhaps Daniel might have done some of that; but if that’s what was going on where they lived, they’ve seen what happens in war zones. They’ve seen things collapse, seen how ‘civilization’ crumbles so easily. They’ve seen the face of the horror that’s coming. Maybe not zombies, but bad enough that it won’t shock them.
I don’t think it’s all rosy for the Salazars though. I don’t think his wife is long for this world. I’m thinking she’ll be a plot point somewhere in the next three episodes. We already know from The Walking Dead that everyone has the zombie virus. And she’s got a foot that’ll start going necrotic. The obvious outcome for fun and profit here is she’ll die in her sleep – while everyone’s asleep – and animate. Teeth, zombie inside the closed up house, everyone trying to wake up and figure out what’s going on . . . yeah, that could be bad. I’m rooting for Daniel, so I hope that means Ofelia gets chewed on by mama. But it could be Daniel too; husband and wife and all that. He could easily be close to her when it happens. If he’s lucky, he’ll be sitting up keeping watch through the window, out of reach of the bed.
Alicia has now seen what’s going on. Maddie’s refusal to fill her daughter in is pretty stupid, and I blame the writing. They wanted the “oh my God” factor of Alicia seeing the zombie neighbors, and that meant Maddie had to refuse to share. What have we learned folks? When strange things are happening, use your words. It was the problem with Michone’s character in TWD, and nearly turned the audience against her. Now she gets to be a normal person, with lines and everything, and it’s better. TV writers love secrets, it lets them have easy drama. As long as the audience decides to not hold the obvious plot hole against them. Come on writers, try harder. You’re better than this.
The son is . . . I don’t know. A junkie is not a high-odds person to survive an apocalypse. Not only are his reactions and decisions going to be impaired, but what happens when he goes into withdrawals while they have to run or fight? What happens when, assuming we get a few weeks into the collapse, the drugs run out? He wasn’t showing any signs of actually cooperating with the whole “weaning off” program Maddie is hoping for. That spells trouble for the future. The obvious choice for a loss at some point is for Maddie to have to abandon Alicia (mother-daughter, that scene of sorrow and loss almost writes itself); but we could have something better where Maddie, after failing repeatedly to get Nick moving towards tapering off his dependence, has to abandon him because it’s die with him or flee a zombie horde. Mom can’t carry a grown son and run. Supermom could, but Supermom makes for a boring story. It’s more dramatic if Nick’s in convulsions and they have to leave him because he can’t run.
My current favorite character is Daniel, because he’s not a super prepper but isn’t burying his head in the sand or clouds either. His assumption that things will work out okay is a little silly, but that could merely be best-foot-forward optimism, and not stupidity. Travis has plummeted to the bottom of my list; the only useful quality he has at the moment is willingness to throw himself in front of the bite for his family (bio or adopted). That’s fun and all, but it’ll still get him killed. He’s the conflict character, and while necessary it’s also annoying. He’s the “we have to be civilized” guy, which we all know is the wrong call when things are falling apart.
I’m picking Griselda Salazar to convert to a zombie at some point. I expect one of the two Clark kids to not survive the end of this season and am leaning toward Nick being the one to fall. It won’t surprise me if Ofelia dies to her zombie mother, but I’m not rooting for it to happen that way. Maddie is going to make it, I feel. She would’ve been out of the city but Travis insisted they needed to stay. Maddie would’ve been right. It would’ve screwed up the last half of the season, because safety is boring for the audience, but she was right; leaving was the best move. She’s a fun character that can easily keep story lines moving forward, so she’s one of my picks to live. Plus, if other Clarks die off, she gets to be an audience vehicle for grief and “oh the horror, oh the horror” which is fun too.
At this point, my loose vision for Season two has Maddie and Alicia, Christopher and Liza (dead Travis’ wife and son), and Daniel and Ofelia stuck in the middle of zombie Los Angeles. Next episode will probably see a calm in the outbreak that then ends with a scene of “oh shit” as things go from tense to really bad. Five then shows the collapse beginning in earnest and maybe one of my ‘predicted’ deaths. And six finishes the collapse and sees the rest of the deaths, leaving the group stuck and ready for season two. When we get to season two, I figure (I hope) we get a little fun as they try to get their asses the hell out of zombie-LA. And then we’ll have the drama over “I miss the people who died, did we make the right call, should we / could we have saved them” plus the usual apocalypse drama of “we just need a safe place to stay the night, we just need some food, we’re out of medicine, please don’t shoot us we’re just refugees like you” and all that fun stuff.
Until next time, eat more brains!