Warning: This recap for the “Not Fade Away” episode of Fear the Walking Dead contains storyline and character spoilers.
Once again, it’s the words of Daniel Salazar that sum up the biggest events in an installment of Fear the Walking Dead. But sadly, this time, Daniel wasn’t able to take his own advice in time, before his most beloved family member was taken from him.
Travis is going for a run through the neighborhood, Madison is planning to paint the living room again (to cover up the stains of the slain man who used to be neighbor Pete), and Chris is on Maddie’s roof with his videocam, narrating his take on what’s happening in apocalyptic L.A.: In the nine days since the lights went out and a fence went up to contain people within a safe zone, “our little green friends moved in.”
Chris is referring to the National Guard, who are fully staffing the safe zone, but are not sharing a lot of details about what’s going on outside this zone. And that has left Chris quite suspicious of the military presence, though his dad, Travis, is still seeing the government employees as saviors.
“Travis says we’re the lucky ones,” Chris says. “[He’d] throw those dudes a parade if they’d let him.”
Meanwhile, as chaos continues to rule around him, Nick is calmly riding a blow-up lounger in a nearby pool. Even when Maddie comes out and offers him an Oxycontin to help continue his DIY detox, he remains calm — too calm? — and refuses the drug, telling her the injured Griselda needs it more.
“If you need it, don’t be a hero,” she tells her son.
“No chance of that,” Nick says.
Moyers — to be said the way Jerry said “Newman!” on Seinfeld, and for similar reasons — is the National Guard leader, the one responsible for keeping order in the safe zone, for dispensing (or not dispensing) info to the residents, the one who, in but one example of what quickly makes him The Character We’re Going to Hate, makes a joke about how everyone should “count [their] blessings, be nice… so I don’t have to shoot you.”
Moyers has also noticed that Travis would like to throw him a parade, or at least rather blindly support his efforts, so he asks Trav to talk to his neighbor, Doug Thompson. Doug, who’s melting down in fear of what’s going on, isn’t emotionally supporting his own wife and kids, and, more importantly to Moyers, is refusing to submit to the mandatory health screenings the Guard is administering. Travis convinces Doug to make an effort, but there’s unrest growing elsewhere.
Like with Maddie, who lets Travis know she’s ticked off that her house is a refugee camp, her daughter’s room is an ICU for strangers, and that she has to clean, cook, and keep an eye on Nick, but that his ex-wife, who’s living in her house, isn’t helping. Liza’s off using her nursing school skills to help people, he says, but a fight ensues.
Chris is still on the roof with his videocam, when he spots flashes of light coming from a house on a hill outside the safe zone. The Guard had told the residents everyone outside the zone was contained inside another zone (or, dead, of course, if they were among the infected), so when Chris uses a mirror to flash signals and get flashes in return, he tells Travis, who ignores him.
One of Liza’s patients is a man named Hector Ramirez, who’s suffering from congenital heart disease. Liza’s rigged up a morphine drip to help him manage it, but someone else is benefitting from her medicine, too. Nick and his calmness, and his refusal of the Oxycontin his mom offered? It’s all because he’s waiting until Liza and Mrs. Ramirez turn their backs, allowing him to slip in, redirect Hector’s morphine drip needle to the area between his toes, while he lies under Hector’s bed and gets high. And while Hector labors to breathe.
Alicia, still struggling to make sense of what’s going on, wanders to Susan and Patrick’s house, where she finds Susan had framed and hung in her bedroom a crayon drawing Alicia had made for her as a little kid. She also reads a heartbreaking note Susan left for Patrick, which reminds Alicia of her own lost love, Matt. So she uses a hat pin and a bottle of ink to turn the heart Matt drew on her arm into a more permanent tattoo.
And Travis and Madison are taking time out for some quickie make-up sex in her car — their Brady Bunch-ian residence doesn’t exactly leave them any privacy elsewhere — but Madison skips post-quickie cuddling to fight, again, with Travis. He wonders why she’s “hovering” around all day, hawking Nick and Alicia. “If we’re exchanging parenting tips, you might want to pay more attention to Chris,” she says. Chris told her about the light flashes he saw, and she thinks Travis should take his son seriously and ask his pal Moyers to check it out. “They promised medicine, doctors, electricity, information… where is it?” she asks. “Don’t you wonder why they can’t get a landline? Maybe they don’t want the phones to work.”
Travis tells her she’s being paranoid. Someone should tell him he’s being clueless if this is his idea of making up.
But when Maria Thompson, Doug’s wife, shows up at Casa Maddie and says Doug has gone missing, Travis goes off in search of his friend. He walks throughout the safe zone and finally spots Doug’s car, abandoned in a field, doors open. Travis approaches Moyers about it, but he’s interrupting the practice golf session Moyers has set up in the safe zone, so he tells Travis they carted Doug off because he was a danger to everyone else. Travis doesn’t quietly walk away, even after an annoyed Moyers refers to him as “Mr. Mayor,” and mentions to Moyers the flashes of light Chris saw. Moyers says there’s nothing there.
“I know,” Travis says. “Forget it.”
“I already did,” says Moyers, returning his focus to his golf swing.
Maddie believes Chris is onto something, so she climbs onto her roof with a flashlight and begins trying to get someone in the house on the hill to respond. Light flashes back at her, so she gets a wire cutter, opens a hole in the fence, and sneaks outside the safe zone to see what’s really going on.
As she’ll describe to Daniel Salazar upon her return, she saw bodies — lots of bodies, all shot dead. But not all of the dead people were Infected, and that, along with the squad of soldiers she saw roaming the streets with guns, proves to her that she’s not being paranoid in her worry about the National Guard’s true intentions.
Daniel tells her a story about his childhood, how a group of men were taken, by the government, from his village. His father was assured the men would return. They did… one day while Daniel was fishing, the men floated up in the water around him. As Daniel warns Madison: “If it happens, it will happen quickly. And you must be prepared.” But even Daniel isn’t prepared for what happens next.
It Happened, Quickly
Liza’s efforts to nurse the sick have been successful, but now government doctor Bethany Exner has arrived, and she’s taking over. She praises Liza’s skills — even after letting her know she knows Liza is a nursing student, not yet a licensed nurse — and asks her to continue lending her medical assistance. They plan to move Hector Ramirez to the government medical facility, and then move on to make arrangements for Griselda, accompanied by Daniel, to get the surgery she needs.
Exner then stops to examine Nick, who’s sitting in the backyard with his jacket over his head. Exner listens to his heart and looks into his eyes, and it’s clear, despite his attempts to charm her, that Exner knows Nick isn’t drug-free.
Maddie, jarred by Daniel’s advice to “keep your son close,” goes looking for Nick, and finds him rummaging in the Ramirez house. She immediately realizes what he’s looking for. “What do you want me to say?” he asks, smirking.
She loses all composure and begins slapping him in the head, the face. “You don’t know! You have no idea! You have no idea!” she repeats, as she continues to smack him, and he cowers into a corner.
She returns to her house, just in time to see military trucks outside, and Dr. Exner and several soldiers inside, taking Griselda to the hospital. Daniel tries to tag along, but a soldier with a clipboard says he has two names to pick up, and the other one isn’t Daniel Salazar… it’s Nicholas Clark. Nick tries to run, but a soldier knocks him down with his gun. Madison protests, but she’s blocked as Nick is led out the door and into a military vehicle. Daniel tries to protest, too, but is also knocked down. Travis steps in and attempts to calm everyone down, but it’s too late.
Outside, Liza tells Dr. Exner Nick is no threat, that he doesn’t need to go. Exner tells her she should come, too, that her help is needed. Liza thinks about it, and says she can’t leave her son. But Exner persists, and Liza jumps in the truck, off to the hospital she has been told is just 15 minutes away from the safe zone. Chris is inside looking out the window, and she mouths to him that she loves him, that she’ll return.
The trucks pull away, with Griselda, Nick, Liza, and Exner. No Daniel, who’s left behind at Madison’s.
Madison is left behind, too, with her last interaction with her son a violent one. She points at Travis and tells him it’s his ex-wife’s fault, the ex-wife he brought into her house, that her son is gone.
Travis, distraught, goes outside and climbs to the roof of the house. He looks over at the house on the hill outside the safe zone, and a look of horror moves across his face. He sees light… the light of gunfire. Turns out Moyers was listening to him.
* Song playing in the opening scene: Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day.”
* Ofelia Salazar was doing some serious flirting and making out with National Guard soldier Reynolds, but does she really like him, or was she just trying to secure meds for her mama? Guess we’ll find out now that Griselda has been taken away. And if she was just using Reynolds, how’s he gonna react if she totally rebuffs him now?
OK, Dead-heads, let’s hear your reactions to “Not Fade Away”: How will Travis react now that he has seen the truth about Moyers and company, now that he aided Moyers in the killing of whoever was in the house on the hill? How will Daniel deal with his forced separation from Griselda? Will Maddie continue to blame Liza, and Travis, for the government taking Nick? Can Travis and Maddie’s relationship survive the apocalypse… or even the two episodes remaining in Season 1?
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.