A Closer Look: Fear The Walking Dead – “So Close, Yet So Far”

As Fear The Walking Dead’s second episode kicked off, we no longer need any set up or groundwork for characters. The stage has been set and now all we can do is see how our heroes cope with the end and come together – or grow apart. Despite all they’ve seen, some still refuse to accept what they’ve seen. But when the chaos and illness hits close to home – on two fronts – our heroes must decide if they’ll fall apart or rise to the challenge. So let’s take a Closer Look at this week’s episode “So Close, Yet So Far”.

So Close, Yet So Far” Episode Meaning & Focus:

As my readers will know, I love analyzing an episodes title in relation to the episode itself. The writers don’t just pick names out of a hat. There’s purpose and this show is no different as we learned this episode since the phrase “So Close, Yet So Far” has two powerful thematic implications for this episode. For starters, it’s a geographical reference. In terms of location, Travis’s crew and Madison’s crew aren’t that far apart – LA City to Suburbs. That being said, the loss of cell service, backed up highways and raging riots make it seem as though they are an ocean away from each other.

The other implication of “So Close, Yet So Far” is how society is so close to “the end” and yet things still have a long way to go. Riots, looters, and the occasional “risen dead” is atrocious to our heroes and now they’re dealing with the knowledge that they might even have to kill their friends – like Madison had to with Artie the principle. Though no matter how bad things are now, there’s still much more to come. We’ve started to see the SWAT teams put people down, but as we know from The Walking Dead it’s going to get much worse. Mass shootings and napalming cities are still to come; and more importantly the ‘living’ still outnumber the ‘dead’.

Really? Did the drug store have no other masks available?

Really? Did the drug store have no other masks available?

Keeping EVERYONE In The Dark – “No One’s Talking About It”:

“What do you know? What have you seen?” – because you sure as hell haven’t heard anything! With more and more cases, there has still yet to be official statements on what’s going on. There’s talk of illness, but no one is saying what the illness is – or does. There are riots, but none of the rioters know what the true horror is. And even if people have seen or heard what’s going on – like from the Internet videos – they refuse to believe it. They turn s blind eye to the illness and see the people as still whole – which results in unintentional Protests For Walker Rights. If only there were official statements about everything that’s going on, the people would be better able to grasp what is happening around them.

Although ‘Officials’ aren’t the only ones who are to blame for keeping people in the dark as we see Madison herself unwilling to tell her own daughter what’s really happening. As we see with the police, warnings of ‘stay indoors’ come up pretty empty when you aren’t told why. In Alicia’s mind, her family is being over dramatic about her seeing her sick boyfriend. If only Alicia was told what is actually coming, she might have a chance to prepare herself for what Matt is going to become – but we’ll talk more about Alicia and Matt a little later.

The real question you might be wondering is ‘why all the secrecy’? Whether it’s the lack of Official Statement or Madison not telling her daughter, it’s all a misguided attempt to protect them. Madison won’t tell her daughter because she thinks the truth is too harsh; but it’s nowhere near as bad as the alternative. If she doesn’t tell her, Alicia will keep trying to run headfirst into danger. As for the lack of Official Statement, that is to protect the public from themselves. They fear the truth would cause chaos and riots. Well as the old saying goes ‘You meet your destiny on the path you take to avoid it’. Riots have already broken out because of the secrecy, and now any chance they had of a calm measured response is sinking into a rising tide of chaos.

Fear The Walking Dead So Close Yet So Far Walker

The Chaos Begins – Protests, Riots & Illness Spreads:

Riots break out in LA – what else is new? lol Kidding, but last nights episode did a wonderful job of referencing the riots LA has gotten in the past, but also paralleling the civil unrest the world has been experiencing as a whole. In the past year or so, there’s been a rise in distrust of the police and that is exactly what we see here as protests and riots break out in response to the police shooting an unarmed homeless man. What the people don’t know is that the man himself had become the weapon upon turning. The public doesn’t know – or care – what’s really going on, but their distrust is so high that they don’t see that the police are actually doing their job and protecting the public.

Although even though the police are doing their job now, that sense of duty and honor is going to be corrupted by fear very quickly. As the illness spreads, they are going to use greater and greater force to try to control it. Right now they’re putting down those that turned, but soon they’ll start killing anyone they fear of having been exposed. And as I brought up above, this will culminate in bombing the city. Though no matter how bad the situation is around you, nothing can compare when it hits someone you know and love.

Personal Horror – The Unthinkable Hits Home:

Madison and Travis already know what’s coming. They know that this illness doesn’t just kill you; it brings you back too! So why did Madison hesitate before killing Principle Artie? Why did she reach out to him and try to help? Simple, because as I said last week, we’re going to see people struggle with believing what’s happening. And even if they do believe, there’s a difference seeing someone turned and seeing – insert name here – turn. This wasn’t just some Madison was acquainted with, but a long time friend and coworker of hers. This was someone she’s seen almost every day for years; and she killed him. She now has to wash her friends blood off her jacket. That’s why she takes it so hard. That’s why she leaves the kart of food they were wheeling. And if things were that bad for her, imagine how bad they’re going to be for her daughter Alicia who’s boyfriend is about to turn.

Fear The Walking Dead So Close Yet So Far Riot

As we feared last week, Matt’s a goner and this week confirmed it. With a bite mark so high up on his body, there’s no way he’ll survive. He’s going to turn and soon; and it’s going to kill Alicia. As if it wasn’t bad enough that she doesn’t know what’s going on out there, she now has no idea what’s happening with the man she loves. Matt’s only been here for one episode before and he’s already shown himself to be a great guy. He got even more admirable in this episode as he told Alicia to leave him. It isn’t revealed – or maybe I missed – how he got bit, but we can tell that he knows what happened. He has an idea of what’s possibly coming for him; and no matter how scared he is he doesn’t want Alicia to be at risk. When Matt does turn – and subsequently gets put down – hopefully Alicia isn’t there to see it. Then again, with all we know about the police, there’s a chance ‘Calling 911’ for him as they originally discussed might sign his early death warrant.

Quick Bites – Easter Eggs, References & Other Notables:

  • One peculiar moment in the episode is when there is focus on an airplane soaring overhead. Whether a fun coincidence or an actual reference, this reminds us of Fear The Walking Dead’s spinoff special. Yes, that’s right, there will be another one-time spin off Walking Dead special in which we will see passengers get tired of these muthaf#cking zombies on this muthaf#cking plane. The special will then end with one survivor who will then make his or her way to join the cast of Fear The Walking Dead in Season 2. Please let it be Samuel L Jackson. PLEASE LET IT BE SAMUEL L JACKSON!!!!!!!
  • As an addendum to the Riots & Secrecy topics above, we already know the police know what’s happening. Although whereas some are living to “protect and serve” until the bitter end, others are already showing signs of abusing their knowledge and power. I’m of course talking about the cop we saw loading up his car with water before anyone else does. In all fairness this is a slight thing that anyone privy to such atrocious information would try to do for themselves and their family. But we should keep this in mind as in the coming episodes we’ll see some law enforcement go to even greater means of ‘self preservation’.
  • I joked about it last week and I’ll joke about it again: Nick picked a HELL of a time to go through withdrawal. The Walking Dead showed us pregnancy is a nightmare in the apocalypse; and Fear The Walking Dead is showing us that withdrawal is a nightmare in the apocalypse.
  • Is it just me or is anyone else starting to see Chris as the ‘Carl’ of this series. Sure he might turn into a badass 3 seasons later; but for now he will potentially cause most of the groups problems.
  • As if there weren’t already enough parallels between Travis and Rick, he has to add in the “If I’m longer, go on without me, I’ll catch up”. Last week set up the Rick/Travis parallel with his ex wife, and now we have a similar one with his current one as Travis is separated from his other family and has to fight to get back to them.
  • Is it just me or does anyone else feel like the shop family is hiding something?
  • The apocalypse is just beginning and they’re already finding ways to make do with whatever medication they can find.
  • We now learn why the school was evacuated as we see a caution outline in the nurses office. Someone died while infected at the school.
  • In case you ever wonder why power and cell service is gone in the apocalypse, Tobias explains. You see the grids aren’t self sustaining, but rather need people to monitor and work with them. As the end spreads, there is no one left to work the grids
  • While loading up the cans, you might have missed that the first two were actually Chocolate Pudding – a joke/reference to the time in The Walking Dead where Carl ate a whole pint of it.
  • Pro Tip: If you see someone you know stumbling around in the zombie apocalypse with blood down their back, maybe you shouldn’t start screaming their name… #DamnItMadison
Fear The Walking Dead So Close Yet So Far Artie

What’s behind Door #1? Bad decisions!

  • A very interesting thing happened when Tobias tried to stab Artie in the skull – the knife bounced off. How? Why? Well remember that any walkers you find here are going to be fresh. They’re not 3 years decayed like most of the ones we see in The Walking Dead now so they’re skulls aren’t as decomposed. In order to break through you need much more force – meaning bullets are the best method at the moment for displacing large groups.
  • Another thing of importance to note is how this episode showed the various ways people cope with the end: thinking it out (Travis), hiding things (Madison) and prayer (the wife of the shop family).
  • In a related story, THE DESERT?!?!?! That is your big zombie survival plan? Just once, I’d like to se a zombie show/movie show a man pack up and quickly head to a deserted tropical island, dust his hands off and say “Well that was easy”. #ShortestShowEver #LetsMakeThisHappen #IBetterGetCreditsForThis

The show is taking a break next week, but will return the following with what looks like our first foray into multiple Walker scenarios. Can Travis and his group make it out of the city? Will Madison and her kids survive the night with their dead or undead mystery intruder? Find out in two weeks! So stay tuned!

*Again, I’d like to thank everyone at The Walking Dead Addiction Facebook Group for discussing the show with me last night. I especially want to give a shootout to Chris for pointing out the thicker skulls and enhanced difficulties of these new world walkers. As well as James who pointed out the Chocolate Pudding reference.

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