In this week’s episode, “Do Not Disturb,” Fear the Walking Dead built upon last week’s solid episode and continues to show that the series is best when it can isolate characters and explore them individually or in smaller groups. That was particularly evident in this week’s episode, which put Nick’s storyline on the backburner and turned its attention toward the increasingly strained relationship between Chris and Travis.
With the exception of Nick, it’s Chris who has probably evolved the most over the course of the first 15 episodes. Living with his mother and wary of his estranged father, Travis, Chris spent much of the opening season sullen and out-of-sorts, save for the brief flicker of romantic interest he entertained in Alicia (his would-be step-sister). The death of his mother, however, triggered something dark in Chris. He continued to distrust his father, but his interest in the walkers grew into the mirror opposite of Nick’s. While Nick feeds his addictive personality by embracing the zombies, Chris gets an adrenaline high from killing them.
We soon discovered, however, that Nick’s thirst for killing extended beyond the walkers. He gets off on killing the living, as well. In the front half of season two, he shot and killed a hostage because he felt like it, he stood by and watched zombies nearly kill Madison without offering to help, he threatened Alicia with a knife, and he took a young boy hostage. Travis, naturally, wanted to believe in the best of his son, but after Chris took the kid hostage by gunpoint, Travis recognized that he was a danger. Travis did what any good father might do: He separated Chris from everyone else, and he sought to try and get Chris’ head right.
In “Do Not Disturb,” Travis makes some initial headway, bonding with his son over camping trips in Chris’ youth and planning a life together in the mountains of Mexico. On this score, Travis is being overly optimistic to believe that he and Chris can hide out and wait for the end of the world to blow over. Chris, more realistic about the lasting affects of the zombie apocalypse, reluctantly agrees with Travis’ plan, but changes his mind as soon as something better comes along.
That something better is a group of guys closer to Chris’ age, three douche-bros who were hiking in the mountains of Mexico during the initial outbreak. Despite losing one friend to a zombie who they thought was a drunk, the three guys have since made the most of the situation, killing and looting and generally wielding their American privilege as a weapon. It’s precisely the kind of group Chris is attracted to: Guys who kill for the same reason they bungee jump and drink Mt. Dew: Because they are cocky, young, dumb, and they have no concern for the long-term care of their dental hygiene.
Travis, naturally, has his misgivings. He doesn’t trust the new group. He wants to keep others safe by keeping Chris separated from them. He wants to live a quiet life on a mountain with his son. Chris, however, isn’t having it. He drags Travis along with the guys until they find what they believe to be an abandoned farm house, treat it with indifference, and arrogantly plant their flag. That the owner — who buried his family on the farm — comes along wielding a shotgun and asks them to vamoose leaves them unfazed. Travis preaches nonviolence and begs the boys to spare the farm owner’s life, but it’s Chris who disregards his own father and shoots the owner dead, flashing ever-so-briefly the smug grin of a psychotic. It’s then, before the credits arrive — that Travis finally sees his son for who he is: A serial killer using the zombie apocalypse to justify his actions. Chris is Lizzie from The Walking Dead. Chris is beyond help. Chris is lost. If the zombies don’t get him first, Travis will have to kill his own son, assuming Chris doesn’t kill Travis first. There’s no other end game.
Meanwhile, Fear the Walking Dead continues to make excellent use of the hotel where Alicia, Madison, and Strand are trapped. Alicia is still stuck on an upper level. The elevators don’t work, and zombies are trapped in all the stairwells. It has all the makings of a great B-movie.
Alicia, however, meets a hotel employee, Elena, whose past in the hotel is told through flashbacks. When someone gets infected at a wedding during the initial hours of the outbreak, Elena traps everyone inside the wedding hall until authorities arrive. Unfortunately, they never do, and the few who survive from the wedding are likewise trapped in the hotel, angry with Elena for letting all their loved ones die. There are, in effect, two warring factions within the hotel: Elena and her nephew, Hector, versus the wedding party survivors.
Until the closing minutes of the episode, it is only one who has the keys to the hotel rooms and is the power to lure zombies into hotel rooms and trap them inside. Elena uses that power to save Alicia and help her move downstairs, where she is reunited with Strand and Madison, who are now also Team Elena. Executed properly, the next few episodes inside the hotel should continue to be very good: It’s a war between two groups, contained within a hotel swarming with zombies.
Meanwhile, Ofelia is still nowhere to be found, though she, too, is presumably trapped inside the hotel.
The last two episodes have been the best of Fear‘s run, as the series looks like it has finally found a few story arcs with which they are willing to stick. It’s much better now that the survivors have been separated. No one is looking for a reunion anytime soon.
— One of the wedding party survivors is played by the recognizable Brenda Strong (Desperate Housewives, Sports Night), so she’s likely to stick around for a while. Although Alicia teams up with Elena, the wedding party may ultimately be a more sympathetic group.
— The three douchebros coined a new term for zombies in this episode: The Wasted. This is based on the fact that they thought the first zombie they met was a drunk.
— I honestly have no idea where Ofelia could be, or why she’s been taken out of the story. It’s certainly been a boon to Alicia’s character, who has become the John McClain of the hotel on her solo adventure.