Director Kari Skogland has been working in film and television since the mid-nineties, but since 2009 has been concentrating on doing quality television work on a wide variety of award-winning and fan-favorite shows. With “Not Fade Away,” she enters the expanded world of The Walking Dead with the first of two back-to-back episodes of Fear and then she’ll be showing up to direct The Walking Dead episode 6.10. Writer/actress Meaghan Oppenheimer provides a script this week that features no zombies (stop whining!), but establishes some new rules and regulations for life in the apocalypse under military occupation. The opening moments of this episode featured some of the most stylish direction we’ve seen in Fear, establishing a visual vocabulary that brought to mind Breaking Bad or Mr. Robot. This looked good. We also get a nice voiceover narrative as Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) sits on the roof of the Clark house videotaping and telling the story of the occupation. It’s been nine days and the military has put up a perimeter fence and are adamant that everyone outside the fence for at least 6 miles is dead. Like really dead, with bullets in their heads. And he’s not wrong. There’s a distinct tonal shift this week as law enforcement and the military are no longer external forces viewed from a distance through the content-filter of racial shootings and riot control. With last episode’s arrival of the National Guard, our heroes are now living under martial law and a veil of secrecy about everything, from what’s going on in the outside world to the actual chain of command on the other side of the fence. There are claims of “command” and a medical facility of some sort, but the vibe is about as untrustworthy as a vibe can vibe. It looks like we’re gearing up for a short detour into Governor Territory (although with less attention to public relations) as Lt. Moyers (Jamie McShane) is determined to keep everyone safe, even if he has to shoot them to do it. And to be honest, I’m not entirely sure he’s the bad guy. Yet, anyway. Events at the episode’s close throw that into contention, but at this point it’s still too early to judge the reasoning behind what’s going on. Given how the show has striven to show us law enforcement under duress, with the citizenry misunderstanding exactly what it is that they’re dealing with, it would be a daring move to continue this trend and establish a justification for the severity Lt. Moyers’ apparent actions. I don’t really expect that, but it would be an interesting move. Especially as his forces just move in and start taking away people who are perceived threats to the common good. By which I mean, potential zombies. Instead, it looks like we’re going all in on paranoia and “power corrupts” as by the end of the episode, even Travis (Cliff Curtis) has his faith in authority shaken. And he has been firmly up authority’s ass. This is one of the things that The Walking Dead has done so well, especially over the past two seasons, and it looks like Fear is also going to begin addressing the subject of security vs. liberty right off the bat. Of course, it’s easier to start digging into it when we’re dealing with the initial collapse of society. At this point, Travis’ desire to maintain a hold on civilized life and the hope of an eventual end to what is still being seen as a disease/plague outbreak is perfectly understandable. As an audience with foreknowledge, we know it’s a dead-end, but the characters don’t know that yet. In fact, Madison’s (Kim Dickens) paranoia could justifiably be seen as borderline PTSD by other characters — and probably is. When she cuts the fence and goes exploring, she finds pretty much what the military said she’d find: a lot of dead infected bodies. But she sees a few that seem not to have been infected. One in particular had a handgun lying on the ground next to him. Is this an out of control military action, or was that person threatening? One of the difficulties Fear the Walking Dead is going to have is finding a way to make these character developments engaging when the audience is so far ahead of where the characters are. But then, that’s really the struggle of every single zombie movie since Night of the Living Dead: the conflict between rationality and panic; between sentimentality and pragmatism. The best works of zombie fiction have found ways to explore these dynamics by investing time and developing an emotional commitment to the characters — and then throwing in helpings of zombie gore and nihilism. With only two episode left in this first season (and only being nine days into the zombie apocalypse), we have a lot of room for movement before we wrap up and see the return of The Walking Dead (on October 11). The fact that the National Guard may actually have our heroes’ best interests in mind is what helps to make the erosion of their liberties all the more horrifying. They haven’t really crossed that line yet — that we’re aware of — so it will be interesting to see if we really do have a proto-Governor or if the paranoia of the occupied will win out and undermine the safety of everyone. I think exploring that gray area between keeping people safe and keeping them prisoner is going to be fertile ground for Fear the Walking Dead, in a way that is much more immediately relevant to viewers seeing what can seem to be out of control police and military actions on the news every other day. That hail of gunfire that ended this episode is going to be an intriguing point of contention for everyone moving forward. Fear the Walking Dead 1.04 "Not Fade Away"Paul's Rating4.0Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... 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