Fear the Walking Dead, Season 1, Episode 5: “Cobalt”

ftwd-ep-5-strand-and-nick

Desperate people facing desperate times . . .

We open on “The Facility”, the one where Griselda and Nick were taken. It looks like a lot of big dog pens set up to hold animals, only in this case the animals are people the military has . . . That’s never made clear. We know there are wounded there, the sick and the ill and probably the dying, but the first guy we meet, Strand, he’d a sharp-dressed guy talking a line of shit a mile wide to—Doug! The military did pick him up, and Strand is laying the line on him, that the world is over, things are gonna change, and insurance ain’t gonna help out. He plays Doug, asking to see a picture of his wife, then mind fucks him by saying she’s good looking enough that she’ll find a guy who’ll take good care of her. His is enough to flip out Doug, who is then hauled off by some pick-up squad, and that’s all Strand needs so he can talk to Nick.

RT: Strand fascinates and scares me all at the same time. I want to know his backstory, yet, I can see him as the beginnings of someone like The Governor or the members of Terminus.

CF:  I was thinking along the same lines:  “This guy could be The Governor, West Coast Style.”  I would not be surprised to find out he’s in the music industry, because he knows how to smooth out a situation and manipulate everyone.

RT: I read recently that Strand is rich, although they didn’t say how, so you might be onto something with the music. Although, I think he might also be a dodgy card player since he mentioned Las Vegas and lifted the key. Apparently AMC wanted to show someone of wealth on FTWD, which should be interesting because we can finally get a chance to see just how long it takes for the entitled to realise money can’t buy them out of this situation.

Back in Walled-Off Acres, Ofelia is throwing bottles at the main gate demanding to know where her mother was taken. Lt. Moyers is ready to smoke her ass, but her new boyfriend, Adams, says he’ll handle the situation, that she just wants her mom. He speaks with her, and agrees to take he back home, while a lot of the other guys in BDUs don’t like how things are falling down; one guy decides he’s had enough and starts to walk.

Shawn Hatosy as Corporal Andrew Adams and Mercedes Mason as Ofelia - Fear The Walking Dead _ Season 1, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC

“I’m just gonna help you settle down.  You got a place where we can talk?”

Meanwhile Travis is trying to talk to Madison over coffee, saying he’ll speak with Moyers. At that point Chris shows up and wants to know what’s going on, wants to know where his mom was taken. When Madison tries to keep the peace Chris pops off to her, and Travis grabs him and pulls him aside for a little man-to-man, asking him to calm down. He then asks Chris to apologize to Madison, and his son pretty much tells him to get screwed and blows town.

Liza is doing her rounds at the medical facility, and Exner starts going on about how she’s losing people, how a lot of her nurses were evaced to other “locations.” Liza asks about Griselda and finds out she’s still alive, but they had to take her foot. Dr. Exner won’t answer other questions, however: it’s all about work from then on.

RT: I LOVED how the medical facility scenes were done. Just enough information to keep viewers interested and just enough conspiracy theory paranoia to make sure fans didn’t trust Dr. Exner. oh, and Elizabeth Rodriguez (who plays Liza) seemed more comfortable in her role. I have read a lot of interviews where Rodriguez has said she is squeamish about blood and gore, and I think it showed in the previous episodes. Not at all in this one though 🙂

CF:  Elizabeth played it with the right note of “I’m helping to get things done, but I realize things are fucked” attitude.  You could see her starting to worry that they weren’t coming back from the brink.

Elizabeth Rodriguez as Liza and Sandrine Holt as Dr. Bethany Exner - Fear The Walking Dead _ Season 1, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC

“You’re doing great, Liza:  just don’t go in the basement, ‘kay?”

Madison finds Suzie’s letter and heads over to her house looking for Alicia. She hears something coming from somewhere in the house, and she goes into the basement with a knife in hand to investigate. There are several jump scares as the flashlight goes on and off, and finally she finds a room in the back where Daniel and Ofelia have Adams tied up. Daniel rather coldly tells Madison this is how they’ll get the others back, and you gotta admit it’s a pretty ballsy move to nab a soldier and hold them captive: it also makes one wonder why he’s not being searched for.

Adams tells them all that the people are coming back, but ain’t no one buying that shit. Upstairs the conversation turns to the old “we’ll trade him for them” action, but the moment Ofelia is out of the room Daniel goes dark and tells Madison the dude has info, they’ll get that—soon.

RT: There were moments in the torture scenes where I really, truly hated Daniel. And, yet, when he broke down to Madison, I hated myself for liking him again. Well played AMC, well played…

CF:  Once more Rubin is the man, and we start off with a likable character who we suddenly find out is a total shit, and then he gets you feeling bad for his torturing ass.  I’m looking back at the last four episodes before this and seeing how low keyed everyone has played things, just like normal people would be before things went to hell.

RT: Oh, yes, good idea! (Like I need another excuse to rewatch episodes 😉 )

Travis talks to Moyers and says he wants to know when his people coming, but Moyers could give two shits about getting any of Travis’ people back. His concern is his people, who appear to be about to shit their pants at the first sign of trouble. Travis plays the “Hey, how about I bring everyone down here to raise hell” card, and at first Moyers gives Travis a look like the dude should bring it so he can blow them all away, then orders a team to take Travis to see the doctor. Moyers is beginning to act like a crazed character out ofApocalypse Now, only this apocalypse is real, and no one is calling cut.

RT: This episode is the first time I ever really started to like Travis. He just seemed more real a character when he knows a little and isn’t completely clueless. It made him more believable.

CF:  Up until now he’s ignored what’s happening, tried to pretend things are going to get better.  Now he not only knows they won’t, he’s seeing it.  Sure, Madison killed Artie, but Travis can see that whatever this is, even the military can’t shut it down and put things back together.  He needed a wake-up call, and it came hard.

Along the way Travis’s convoy stops to smoke an “infected” because a call came over the radio that there was a problem. They pull out a .50 sniper rifle and set up a shot from about four hundred yards—and in probably the biggest douche move ever, Moyers begins giving Travis shit, telling him he wants him to bag the walker, and the tension grows incredibly thick as Moyers begins to lord over Travis. it gets serious as he more or less bullies Travis into taking the shot with a weapon that you have to train to use, that isn’t something you pick up down at Wal Mart, take it out in a field, and start popping off rounds at cans. It’s a weapon you use to kill people from a half-mile away, and there’s only one reason why Moyers is acting this way: he’s being a dick because he can.

And there ain’t a thing Travis can do.

Cliff Curtis as Travis - Fear The Walking Dead _ Season 1, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC

“I wonder what Jack London would say about this?”

He decides to do this, but once he sees the walker—a former waitress wandering around in a coffee shop—he realizes he can’t take the shot. He backs away from the weapon, whereupon Moyers gives him another line of shit before from blowing her away. As they all get back into the vehicle the sounds of panicked voices and gunfire are heard over the radio—lots of gunfire.

RT: I bet Travis knew this waitress. That would have made it even harder to kill her.

CF:  I’m thinking along the same lines.  Or he still had a bit of the Herschel Greene “These are people” feelings going on.  I’ve already said it once:  he’s the Herschel of the group, and he needed something hard to snap him back into the now.

FTWD Ep 5 Zombie Girl

“Yeah, you got the power now, but give it time: my peeps gonna mess you up.”

Down in the room Daniel is wearing his undershirt and wiping off bloody straight razors while he tells Adams about a room where he was taken when he was young, where he was given a choice, though he doesn’t really mention what that choice was. What he does want is to know what Cobalt is, and he tells Adams without actually saying that he’s gonna find out what it is, and he’s got no problem cutting up Adams to get there.

Shawn Hatosy as Corporal Andrew Adams and Ruben Blades as Daniel Salazar - Fear The Walking Dead _ Season 1, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC

“Trust me, I’m good with a razor–“

Travis’ convoy gets called into to help another group being overrun at a local library: apparently a lot of people have been “holding out” around the city, but once they all start getting turned into undead meat sacks, they become a little too much for a few men to take out. The team goes in hot, and Travis hears massive the shit doing down on the radio: he hears yelling, hears gunfire, actually sees zombies falling out of windows. But the military isn’t having a good time of things: his escorts come back without Moyers—who you know was probably fragged by his own men because that’s what happens to douchebags in positions of power–and they tell Travis they’re gonna drop him off within a couple of block of his place and let him walk home while then they book the fuck out.

Things at the facility aren’t good. Liza’s doing her best to keep up, but you can tell it’s not going well. A soldier is brought in with breathing issues, contusions—and BITE MARKS! That’s all they need to hear to move him off to quarantine. The army dudes doing pick look at Nick and start to take him away ‘cause he’s got a bit of a fever, but Strand pays them off with diamond cuff links and they let Nick stay. Obviously he has a plan . . .

Alicia is out riding a bike and finds Chris sitting alone on top of a car. She wants him to talk to her about his mom, and she takes him to a house in their safe zone where some apparently wealthy people lived.

"I'm totally an angsty teen, so get on my bike and ride, you hear?"

“I’m totally an angsty teen, so get on my bike and ride, you hear?”

While Chris is playing with radio controlled toys, Alicia is playing dress up, and they both seems to be picking up a vibe from each other. Eventually they end up downstairs decked out in their finery—Chris wearing a nice jacket and tie, and Alicia totally lady armored up in a swanky dress and makeup—and they’re drinkin’ champagne right out of the bottle, and it’s then they start trashing the joint ‘cause it’s the end of the fucking world, and none of this stuff means jack shit any longer. May as well take it all out.

RT: I so expected them to get jiggy on the piano before they trashed the place…

CF:  I thought they might go there, and you could see with the way they looked at each other that it was there, but then they blew it off, like they’re kids and, hey, it’s a house that rich people owned, let’s trash the joint.  I think they are gonna set up to get romantic, but it’s all gonna be on Alicia for that move.

RT: Apparently the showrunner, Dave Erickson, is testing the waters with this one as he doesn’t want it to be “step sibling”weird or anything. So, if the viewers seem okay with it, my guess is there will be a relationship 😉

Inside the house Daniel is washing out a bloody bowl, and begins telling Madison about why he left his home in El Salvador, and that’s when it hits hard. To paraphrase another AMC anti-hero, Daniel wasn’t the guy who worried about a knock on the door: he was the dude that knocked. He was the guy who “got information,” and it’s painfully obvious that he’s fucked up Adams trying to get that information. How does Madison react to this? She wants to know if the guy told him what they want to know. Don’t worry, Maddie: you’re gonna do well in this new world. She even plays it ultra cool when Travis finally gets home and wants to know if she knew what Daniel was up to, and she gives him that, “Chill, bitch,” look.

RT: Thank God Fear is filled with female characters like Carol and not Lori! 😀

CF:  Madison knows how shitty people can get because she dealt with it every day in the old world, so quickly making the transition to kick-ass bitch isn’t as hard for her.  Lori, Andrea, Carol–they weren’t set up to cope with this stuff at the beginning, but I think Madison was because, in a way, she’d already seen this darkness.

RT: Absolutely agree.

Down in the quarantine area it’s not fun. It’s hell. It’s cages in the basement. It’s people who are likely never gonna see daylight again.

"Yeah . . . now I know why I was told to stay out of the basement."

“Yeah . . . now I know why I was told to stay out of the basement.”

Liza finds Griselda and Dr. Exner tells Liza that Griselda has septic shock, which means she’s going to die. Griselda is hallucinating, speaking in Spanish, going on about devils and her fate and things like that. She’s dying, dying, and oh, shit, dead, with Liza right next to her. Dr. Exner drops the bomb and tells Liza that Griselda is going to “turn”: she doesn’t need to be bitten to become one of the undead, everyone who dies comes back. She readies a captive bolt pistol and tells Liza the only thing that will put Griselda down for good is massive trauma to the brain. Liza takes the weapon from the doctor and puts Griselda down herself before she can “turn”.

RT: So glad they have this information now.

CF:  That was already out of the bottle so no way they were putting it back.  And a doctor would see that happening.  Now . . . will Liza be able to tell anyone about this?

RT: I am guessing the only reason Liza found out is so she can tell the others. Or at least some of the others…

A bowed Adams is telling Daniel, Madison, and Travis talking about a mass shooting at a sports arena, where they couldn’t tell the difference between the infected and, well, people, so they just locked everyone inside to let them die and turn. They want to know what Cobalt is, and Adams tells them: it’s the code name for the military evacuation of L.A., and anyone currently being held in a military facility will be “humanly terminated,” though who the hell knows what that means? That’s the plan: the military has lost the city, so they’re saying fuck it, we’re outta here, and they’re moving elsewhere to regroup. As for the civilians, I guess you could say they are . . . the walking dead? That might make a good title for a comic!

Speaking of the facility Nick is barfing it up, man, because withdrawal is a bitch. He wants to know why Strand saved him, and he lets Nick know the old ways are over. Nick is told that the soldiers are leaving, and Strand needs a guy with Nick’s talents when he makes his move. What move? He doesn’t say, but he has a key.

At the end Alicia and Chris are walking home and see the soldiers pulling out, while Daniel is out confirming the same. He’s visiting the place Adams talked about, and hears the undead inside the arena—and, man, do they want the fuck out. The camera pull back showing him standing outside what looks like L.A. Forum, but we can probably call it Chekhov’s Zombie Pit From Hell.

RT: I really loved this episode. It set everything up for a juicy cliffhanger in the finale. My prediction is that everyone will get separated; Travis and Madison, Alicia and Chris, Liza, Nick and Strand and, finally, Daniel and Ofelia. I think we will see episodes in season 2 that will concentrate on the individual groups getting back together before they all become one large group again.

CF:  I can see them setting up for a big separation as well, which would help fill the time in the first few episodes of Season 2.  And I did love this episode, too:  how you can see the payoff coming, and it’s going to be big and bad.  I don’t believe we’ve seen the real horror yet–which will be the unleashing of the Herds–but I would almost bet that’s going to be the end of the episode.  There are five thousand zombies heading your way–what do you do?

RT: IMDb is listing Daniel and Ofelia already as being in one episode in season 2, whereas they are the only ones listed. Either AMC is keeping mum about spoilers by not naming more characters as in season 2, everyone else gets eaten, or they have split up and have only filmed Daniel and Ofelia’s episode so far.

 

The Cast:

Madison Clark — Kim Dickens
Travis Manawa — Cliff Curtis
Nick Clark — Frank Dillane
Alicia Clark — Alycia Debnam-Carey

Liza Ortiz — Elizabeth Rodriguez
Christopher Manawa — Lorenzo James Henrie

Daniel Salazar— Ruben Blades
Griselda Salazar — Patricia Reyes Spindola
Ofelia Salazar — Mercedes Mason

 

Fear the Walking Dead airs in the US on AMC at 9 PM EDT.

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