After an inconsistent first four episodes of Fear the Walking Dead, this week’s penultimate episode, “Cobalt,” gained solid forward momentum as it headed toward the season finale. It appears as though next week’s episode will finally put the zombies back into the zombie series.
On the other hand, Fear the Walking Dead also seems to have completely changed course. It was pitched as a series about the initial days of the zombie outbreak, but after three episodes, Fear the Walking Dead jumped past the initial chaos and confusion and right into a storyline we might expect from The Walking Dead, with humans being pitted against other humans instead of humans being pitted against zombies.
Granted, it’s made Fear the Walking Dead into a better series, but the show is quickly losing what made it different from the mothership.
That quibble aside, “Cobalt” (which was the original working title of the series) got the ball moving toward what hopes to be a very exciting finale. Here are the questions we most want to have answered next Sunday night. Pay special attention to the final question, because it may offer hints toward a twist in the finale.
1. What is “Cobalt?”
As Andrew explained, Cobalt refers to a mission in which the military will evacuate from the Los Angeles base. The mission includes “the humane termination of…” Who the military is terminating is somewhat unclear, but it seems fairly likely that they’re meant to exterminate everyone — all the citizens, including those in the medical compound, in the safe zones, and anyone who is left. The military has decided that the infection cannot be contained, and they’ve decided to cut their losses, and kill everyone.
We don’t know what’s going on in the rest of the world right now outside of Los Angeles, or whether it’s better contained in other cities, but if this is the strategy nationwide, it would certainly explain why most of the nation’s population had been eradicated by the time Rick woke up from his coma in The Walking Dead.
2. What’s in the arena Daniel spotted at the end?
Basically, the worst thing you can do during a zombie apocalypse is round up thousands of people and put them into one place, because if one person gets infected, everyone can get infected. The military put thousands of people into the arena, likely per FEMA guidelines, and when madness broke out, the military shut them inside. Andrew helped put the locks on the door. If the the people inside weren’t infected before that, they all sure as hell are now.
3. What’s the end game in the finale for Travis, Daniel, Madison, et. al?
I suspect Daniel has a plan, and I suspect that Daniel’s plan includes using an entire arena full of zombies as a distraction against the military while they attempt to escape the city.
4. Will Salazar kill Andrew in the finale?
Maybe. Probably. Unless Ofelia talks him out of it and lets Andrew join them in escaping. What Salazar doesn’t want is a guardsman ratting him out to the other guardsmen and bringing heat on him as he’s attempting to escape. I do hope he survives, though, because Shawn Hatosy would be a welcome addition to the regular cast of Fear.
5. Who was the awesome guy who hates insurance?
The actor’s name is Colman Domingo. The character’s name is Strain. He hates insurance and yuppies, and he’s made the strongest first impression of any character so far. If he becomes the fourth black character to die in next week’s finale, there will be riots.
6. What does Strain want from Nick?
He wants someone with with a particular set of talents, and so far as I can tell from what we know about Nick, his talents are limited to finding drugs. Nick is resourceful, and he does know the meaning of necessity, so he’s probably a much bigger help to Strain than Whiny McBeardface, who Strain scared off in the episode’s introduction. Or maybe Strain is more insidious than we think and he just needs a guy to throw at the wolves if he gets cornered (see also: Shane vs. Otis in season two of The Walking Dead).
7. What is up with Chris and Alicia?
What is up is that Madison and Travis aren’t married yet, so it’s not technically incest. It’s probably not technically incest between step-siblings, either. Just creepy. In other words, what is up between Chris and Alicia is creepy, but hey! When the end of civilization is nigh, you just grab the person closest to you, I guess.
Otherwise, this subplot is useless.
8. What was Griselda Salazar rambling about before she died?
It sounded like she was talking to God, and that she thought God was punishing her for what she did during the war in El Salvador. She apparently did some vile things to save her and her husband’s life. It’s possible she even slept with soldiers in order to manage her and her husband’s escape to America. It was also a bookend to Daniel’s “it was necessary” speech earlier in the episode.
9. Will Travis ever grow a pair?
You would think that a guy like Travis would want to protect his family at any costs, but that does not apparently include killing zombies or questioning authority. Hopefully, the Cobalt revelation finally woke him up. Right now, he does not know the meaning of necessity, and he’s going to need to learn it real quick if they’re going to make it out of Los Angeles alive. Travis has not only been useless, his weakness has actually been self-destructive.
10. What happened to Lt. Moyers?
This may present an interesting twist in the finale. Moyers was the asshole of a commanding officer who beat up the one soldier for threatening desertion. He’s also the guy who tried to make Travis shoot a zombie. The soldiers’ morale was down. They knew Cobalt was coming. It didn’t appear they were happy about sending people to the medical compound to die.
The soldiers took Travis to an area that had been “evacuated,” told Travis to stay in the car no matter what, and when they came back, Lt. Moyers wasn’t with them. Is it possible that the entire scenario was set up so that they could frag their commanding officer? And if so, is it also possible that some or many in the military aren’t happy about Cobalt? Could Travis, Madison et. al gain some sympathizers within the military as they plan their escape?
I believe the fragging will play into the finale. This scene shows that there are real people in the military, and that it’s not just a faceless organization. These real people who killed their commanding officer may have sympathy for the civilians of Los Angeles who they don’t want to exterminate. The military may be the wild card in the finale. If one soldier is willing to disregard orders to send Ofelia to the medical compound, then there are probably scores more who feel like him. I don’t think they’re going to be able to go through with the extermination.
Fans of the Daleks in Doctor Who may recognize this as compassion, which Daleks consider to be the greatest weakness in humans. Here, the Daleks may be right. Compassion may very well hasten the zombie apocalypse.