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REVIEW: Fear the Walking Dead 1×05 “Cobalt”

 

Fear the Walking Dead had a good thing going for it last week, but now it’s dropping the ball. “Cobalt” is the penultimate episode of the series, yet it feels like something I could’ve seen as part of a pilot. Why is this show spending so much time building up this unnecessary backstory while actually skipping the part that explains how the walkers took over civilization? Yes, I know that there’s a second season of Fear the Walking Dead coming next year, but what’s the point? Are they going to further drag out the actual collapse of society, or is this just going to become a carbon-copy of its parent program? Jesus. At least there were a few good parts to tonight’s episode. (spoilers ahead!)

The military still has control over the neighborhood, and people are still very unhappy, especially after a good chunk of the citizens were taken away at the end of last episode with little explanation. Ofelia is seen chucking bottles at the fence while berating the soldiers, until her generic, uninteresting, dude-bro army boyfriend comes to calm her down. Cut to later in the episode and Ofelia and her father Daniel have the guy tied to a chair in their basement. I thought at first that they would just keep him there and ask him questions. But this show went the extra mile and gave us a graphic interrogation scene between Daniel and the soldier.

I think this interrogation was slipped in to quell the audience’s thirst for blood. I mean, we’ve only seen a handful of walker kills so far, so maybe this will shut people up? It was pretty creepy and chilling to watch this scene unfold, but it ultimately worked out due to Daniel’s intimidatingly calm demeanor.

Elsewhere, Chris and Alicia break into an abandoned home and bask in the luxury of the previous occupants’ lifestyle. At one point, Chris stumbles upon Alicia half-slipping out of her dress, and he shuffles away awkwardly. Alicia pauses when she notices him, but seemingly shrugs it off. I’m not a fan of what this scene turned into. Is the show trying to push these two together? They’re almost step-siblings. Come on, now. We’ve got zombies to worry about – we don’t need any quasi-incest going on as well.

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Speaking of Chris, remember how last episode he saw that light flickering in the distance? Whatever happened with that storyline? They completely ignore it this episode, and a part of me thinks that they’re going to skip over it in next week’s finale. What was the point? Was it simply a metaphor to demonstrate how the military is untrustworthy and failing to protect citizens all over Los Angeles? Or did the show just get lazy and write out that seed of a subplot?

Anyway, back to Daniel and co. Travis and Madison find out what Daniel is doing to the soldier, and they both have very different reactions. Madison is eager to know what Daniel found out while Travis moves to untie the soldier. It’s interesting to see how these two are constantly butting heads in this show, and this particular scene is what ultimately determined just how different their mindsets are from each other. Madison appears to be the more determined person who is willing to get her hands dirty, and Travis just wants to avoid losing his cool and damaging his grip with civilized society. This is only reinforced by another scene in the episode where Travis has the chance to shoot a walker wandering around in a restaurant but ends up refusing to do so. I can bet anything that Madison would’ve pulled that trigger with little to no hesitation.

But it looks like the interrogation worked out! After hearing the soldiers use the term “Cobalt” being used frequently in their conversations, Daniel has determined that it is an important concept, so he asks the soldier bout it. Apparently, Cobalt is referring to the evacuation of the military from the area and the cleansing of the neighborhood of its residents. That means killing the $%&# out of them. So I guess we know how next week’s finale will turn out!

Overall, the episode was pretty “meh”. It was better than the first few episodes, but not as engaging as last week. By now, I’m just happy to get it over with.

And for the love of God, I need to clear this last part up.

I don’t like this show. But it has nothing to do with the fact that there isn’t nonstop zombie action. It’s like every time me or someone else complains about Fear the Walking Dead, there’s a horde of angry fans who chime in and yell “IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT ZOMBIES!” Yeah, no shit.

I’m totally fine with zombie-less scenes and episodes, as long as there’s a point to them. I would’ve been fine with Fear the Walking Dead if it just brought something new to the table. But as of now, it’s a pointless mini-series. It’s like watching World War Z again, only on the small screen. It’s so bland and generic.

I stand by my notion that the show only exists as a way for AMC to cash in on the off-season. I would’ve been fine with JUST The Walking Dead. In this spin-off, I don’t like any of the characters (except Nick sometimes), I can barely stay awake as we struggle through tedious and poorly-acted dialogues, and I find myself wondering what the hell the point is half the time.

 

Final Grade: C +

+ Daniel’s brutal interrogation tactics were chilling and entertaining.

+ The more we learn about the military unit patrolling the city, the better the plot develops; it’s about time we saw something happening!

+ It was nice to finally understand the significance of “Cobalt”. Before the title of the show was officially released, Cobalt was being used as a codename/placeholder.

 

– I wasn’t a fan of the tension between Chris and Alicia; it’s almost like the show is implying that they’re going to develop a romantic interest in each other, which is weird considering that they’re practically step-siblings.

– We still have some very slow scenes that could be tightened up.

– I wish we had more scenes with Nick dealing with his containment.

 

Extra Thought:

– Travis hesitated before shooting the walker in the restaurant because he noticed her name-tag. Was she someone he interacted with in an earlier episode? Or did he just hesitate because he associated the name-tag with the walker’s true identity and didn’t feel comfortable killing her?

Any predictions for the season finale next week? Tell us what you think in the comments or on Twitter!

About the author

Alex Reale

From a young age, Alex knew he was destined to be a writer. He also harbored a deep infatuation with superheroes and comics. Luckily, he was able to combine these two passions through his role with A Place to Hang Your Cape, where he works as Junior Sidekick and Social Media Hero.

When he’s not writing for AP2HYC or working full-time as a content manager for a small business website, Alex is diligently at work on other creative projects including a fantasy novel collection and an independent comic series.

You can find Alex's first book, Dodger's Doorway, on Amazon!