A Closer Look: Fear The Walking Dead – “Not Fade Away”

We’re now 2/3rd of the way through Season 1 of Fear The Walking Dead and we’ve hit that landslide moment. It’s 9 or so days later and the illusion of sanctuary is quickly fading – as it always does in the apocalypse. So what are our heroes in for? What new problems have arisen and is it better or worse than where they were initially? We’ll find out here as we take a Closer Look at “Not Fade Away” and not only explain what is meant by that awkwardly phrased episode title, but also analyze some of the more power – yet unspoken – moments of this episode. So let’s jump right in!

“Not Fade Away” –Multiple Episode Meanings:

At first glance, you might think this title could have been phrased a little better. The title is merely an object without a subject or verb. Why didn’t they call it “Never Fade Away” – at least that would have been a command! Well the purpose in calling this episode “Not Fade Away” is to force you to figure out what does “not fade away” – and the answer is sadly memories.

I'm betting that smell will "not fade away" either

I’m betting that smell will “not fade away” either

We of course see Alicia missing “Aunt Susan” and her boyfriend Matt. She remembers how they were and can’t just let go of the idea of what they became. It’s a nightmare she wished would fade away but doesn’t. Additionally, we find Madison who is not only taking on multiple roles, but also is stressing about painting of all things. This might not make sense at first glance, but remember what Madison has been through. She’s seen her friends murdered before her – and even had to kill one herself. She is trying to literally cover up the memories and distract herself; but sadly the realization of what’s happening – and the literal stains of blood on the wall – will simply “not fade away”.

Old Habits Die Hard – Learning Too Little Too Late:

Although memories weren’t the only things that won’t fade away in this episode as we find ‘old habits die hard’. On one end we have Nick who has not only left behind the painkillers and went straight to the hard stuff – siphoning meds from ill patients. That is beyond a new low and if sharing needless in the present day is bad, sharing them in the apocalypse is a new level of idiotic. Although Nick learns his lesson the hard way as he too is shipped off to the medical area for ‘treatment’.

Travis experiences a similar pitfall with ‘old habits dying hard’ as we find him in just as much denial as he was last episode. Additionally, like his former self he is trying to please too many people. He ignores his sons findings and doesn’t really look at what’s happening until its too late. By time he starts to come through, more neighbors have already been shipped off and now even Nick and Griselda. Nick was so busy believing what he wanted to believe and keeping everyone (military and neighbors) happy, he realized too late what was really happening around him.

Trust & Distrust – The Army, Liza, Madison & Daniel:

Another major aspect of this episode was introducing in full the idea of “Trust”. In the apocalypse, whom you can and cannot trust is very important, and that idea got a lot of focus in this episode. In episodes past we saw how there was no ‘Official’ word on anything and now we see firsthand how even with the military present, our heroes don’t know much more. The veil of secrecy remains and behind it many unspeakable acts are occurring because of fear. The military doesn’t trust the people and the people don’t trust the military; and patience is in short supply.

Fear The Walking Dead Not Fade Away 2

The squad leader summed this sentiment up perfectly when he told the crowd to behave so he doesn’t have to shoot them. A very grim joke to be sure, but we the audience know there to be quite a bit of truth to it. They aren’t taking chances with anyone and if someone poses so much as an ‘inconvenience’ they will be dealt with. In the beginning, Travis thought he could trust them over his son, but in the end finds out that it should have been the other way around. In fact, as Travis first brings the subject up to the leader, you can actually hear the ‘bulls*it’ in his voice about how ‘that’s impossible’ and how they went ‘door to door’ looking for survivors. The army is purging the city and the worst is yet to come – bombing the city, similar to Atlanta.

Though it wasn’t just institutionalized trust and distrust at work here. The army knows the civilians don’t trust them. This is why the new doctor asked Liza to “pretend” to be a doctor a little longer. They are using Liza to aid in their relocation efforts and Liza is too blind to see that. Madison on the other hand sees the deception a mile away and knows that Liza can no longer be trusted as she has sided more with the military than the poor people around her. Liza could very well surprise us and still have the best interests at heart, but as of the moment Madison sees her as a traitor at worst and an idiot at best. But while trust was being severed all around them, a new bond of trust has developed with one of the most unlikely of people.

For the past two episodes, Daniel has been making it very clear that he doesn’t want help from anyone and that he trusts his ‘blood’ family more than those around him. Though this episode we found Madison and Daniel developing a particularly strong bond. This makes sense as each are the stronger parent of their respective households and aren’t afraid to make the hard choices to keep their family safe. Seeing Daniel open up and trust Madison with his daughter’s fate was a very touching moment and signals the start of these families truly operating as one ‘family of situation’. Additionally, with Nick and Griselda being taken and Liza seemingly abandoning her family, Daniel’s family, Travis’s family and Madison’s family all have a common drive now.

Mercedes Mason as Ofelia and Ruben Blades as Daniel Salazar - Fear The Walking Dead _ Season 1, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC

Mercedes Mason as Ofelia and Ruben Blades as Daniel Salazar – Fear The Walking Dead _ Season 1, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC

Quick Bites – Easter Eggs, References & Other Notables:

  • The military leader gives off a very Governor vibe and interestingly enough, the last time we saw someone golfing off into the wasteland was in The Walking Dead episode “Dead Weight” where the Governor strangled Caesar Martinez who was golfing and drinking.
  • A lot of people seem to be confused about the end, so I’ll set the record straight. The military went out to explore Travis’s claim and found the refugees Chris had spotted. Sadly, what Travis saw at the end was the soldiers opening fire on the people. This idea was alluded to earlier when Madison saw the soldiers patrolling outside the wall and shooting people who weren’t even infected.
  • Thank you for slapping Nick Madison, because everyone watching wanted the exact same thing. When you have everything you need to rehabilitate yourself in he apocalypse and instead you decide to steal different medicine from a dying man, karma comes calling. As if Nick didn’t need more redemption.

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – but I apparently have to say it again: The primary concern about “The Walking Dead” Universe is NOT zombies. Many times people hate on an episode just because there aren’t enough walker gore in it. This has especially been the case with Fear The Walking Dead. This series is about people coping with the end and how other people are sometimes more dangerous than the monsters out there. If you can’t understand that after 5 Seasons of The Walking Dead and now Fear The Walking Dead, then you’re missing the best thing about these series.

This episode of Fear The Walking Dead was spectacular and set up the final push to the Season Finale. The first few episodes set up the world and “Not Fade Away” set up the main conflict. So tune in next week for the 2nd to last episode this season as our heroes fight their way out of the Safe Zone and try to rescue their loved ones.

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