I don’t think I understand the critical reception to this show. Spoiler alert, at one point during this episode someone kills a zombie? And one of the recaps I looked at used the word “finally” during their description of that scene. If you’re all “FINALLY!” about a zombie killing during the second episode of this program, you’re doing it wrong, guys. I’m not gonna pretend there aren’t some issues here, and oh believe me I’ll get into them later, but it’s okay to take two freaking episodes for some build-up. In all honesty, if anything the show is moving too fast for me right now.
We open at the high school, as Principal Obama wanders empty hallways, his radio in his hand. More sirens fade in as we cut to Alicia walking down the center of the bloody street, for crying out loud, girl, there are sidewalks for a reason. She stops in front of a house that I assume is her boyfriend’s. The door’s wide open for some reason. She walks in, alarmed, and starts calling for Matt. Right, dude’s name is Matt. There’s a broken vase in the living room, and some flowers and furniture are knocked over.
Cut to the opening credits as she sees something on the couch. “Oh my God,” she says.
Oh hell no you didn’t.
I guess we’ll find out if they did in a minute, as Travis, Maddie and Nick peel out of the culvert at an unhealthy, we-just-killed-somebody-only-he-didn’t-die rate of speed, both of the adults on the phone– Travis to his son, and Maddie to Alicia. Alicia answers and Maddie starts barking orders. Pack up, water, etc. Alicia’s having none of it, as Matt’s really sick, and has a 103 degree fever. Never mind, we’re coming to get you. Just don’t touch him. Meanwhile, Chris is on the bus, and ignoring calls from his dad.
Matt… doesn’t look good. You knew I was joking with that killed all the black guys thing last week, right? You seriously are gonna kill this guy off?
Sure as crap, as Travis finds a bite on Matt’s shoulder.
So… can we talk about this for a second? I’m gonna make some excuses for a bit of the withholding-information-from-other-characters thing that’s going to be happening this episode, but who the heck bit the kid? And did he kill the other walker? Did he knock all the stuff over in the house? How fast did he get sick? What the heck is going on here, and do we care about the rules of the old show at all, or should I pretend that Walking Dead hasn’t been setting up a universe for 145 comics and five seasons of TV? Because this is awfully fast, and he’s gonna be awfully stoic in a second for what is supposed to be a sixteen- or seventeen-year-old kid who doesn’t know what is going on. This isn’t season five, I’m-gonna-die, leave-me-behind going on here. This is the zombie apocalypse just started and I don’t know what’s happening, and the fact that grown adults are about to do what they’re about to do rubs me wrong, much less the fact that the kid is cool with it.
Alicia (I’m still hearing Mischa) is having nothing to do with her mom telling her to stay away from Matt, as she well should be, but Matt’s way too cool with sending her away. Dude. Something just bit you, tell somebody. You should be freaking out. It would be a touching scene if it weren’t so nonsensical. He even gets pissy with her about it! Did the zombie bite off your texting arm, by the way? Because I get why you didn’t meet her at the beach but that’s not enough reason for a high school student to not bother to send a text.
Meanwhile, the adults, who have no idea that bites cause zombies, because they’ve never seen that happen before, leave Matt sick and alone in his room, which makes me sick, because I’m a parent and an educator and that’s a bullshit thing to do.
Then, in another highly realistic development, Chris’ bus stops and a dude jumps on. “The show wants to be topical!” he shouts. “Everyone follow me!” And they all do. Wait, no, that wasn’t it. “The cops shot a homeless guy! Like twenty times!” And then everyone files off the bus, because people really care about the homeless and are always quick to join street protests. Plus your average person riding a city bus is not on it for any reason and will be quick to hop off anywhere provided that a stranger yells something.
Back at home, the neighbors are having a birthday party and have a big bounce house set up in the front yard, but they’re concerned that there aren’t going to be a lot of kids there. Really? Maybe reschedule this party. Another neighbor, who doesn’t look well, is loading water into his car.
“Mom, are you going to tell her?” Nick asks. “Tell her what?” Maddie answers.
This withholding of information, incidentally, I will justify. Maddie just learned that her son killed someone and witnessed a dead guy walking around, who tried to bite her. It is not surprising that she’s not interested in sharing that information with the neighbors, and frankly it’s also not super surprising that she’s not sharing it with her younger daughter. Nick reminds her that he’s about to go through some nasty, TV-schedule-accelerated withdrawal. Travis, meanwhile, can’t find his son and baby mama, and Maddie, rather generously, insists that he go get them. He takes the time to wash the enormous bloodstain off the front of his car first, though, which… okay, I’m good with that.
Anyway, I get this family’s panic. They just saw some crazy stuff. I’m just not certain I get everyone else’s. Commercial break.
Eliza– oh, hi, Aleida from Orange is the New Black! I didn’t recognize you last week!– is on the phone with Travis, looking harried, and having none of this “I’m coming to get you” nonsense. She’s struggling up the stairs with a bunch of textbooks. They’re speaking in Divorced People Shorthand, so she’s probably not a baby mama, and you can tell that this fight is already turning into every fight they’ve ever had. Travis gets stuck in traffic and we cut to Chris, in the middle of a mob, and we get just long enough to see a cop having an obvious bite wound attended to.
Meanwhile, Alicia– oh, are they calling her Licia? Is that what’s happening? Anyway, she drops her charging cell phone on top of her acceptance letter from Berkeley, and the show is all ha ha ha you won’t need those, and Nick’s in full withdrawal pains already. It’s been like half a day since he’s had heroin and I feel like maybe it doesn’t work that fast, but I don’t know much about heroin. Alicia points out that maybe cold turkey isn’t the best idea they’ve had all day, and they start debating where to get opiates like it’s a perfectly normal conversation. Mom gets an idea, tells Alicia to stay put, and speeds off.
Meanwhile, Travis is still fighting traffic, and notices a cop loading his car with water. This may be a sign that bad things are afoot, when the first responders are preparing to flee.
Mom pulls into school, clearly the first place you go to score opiates. She lets herself in, hears footsteps, and ignores them, grabbing some keys from Principal Obama’s desk (entertainingly, in a chance to remind me of his real name, his desk placard just says “Principal”) and letting herself into the nurse’s office. She breaks into the cabinet that the principal would have had keys to– why the hell is there a tape outline of a body on the floor?– with a crowbar, and steals a bunch of pills. High schools keep Oxycontin around, apparently, which may or may not make me glad to be in middle school.
Pimples surprises her. What the hell is he doing there? He wants his knife. This is dumb.
Commercials, and back to the riot. Very unrealistic pre-riot conversation is taking place. Nick films with a very 2009 camera.
Blah blah here’s your knife, and Alicia and Nick argue about gazpacho. Nick noisily pukes. Alicia immediately prepares to leave, and Nick loses it. He knows Matt’s not safe, which, again, this does not follow from the drug dealer unless he has seen a zombie movie before, especially since he didn’t see the bite wound and Travis didn’t tell anyone and they don’t know bites are bad anyway. Alicia makes it outside, Nick screaming at her to stay, and he either fakes a seizure or has one for real, and she runs back inside, cursing at him in an oh shit not right now sort of way. If I ignore that he doesn’t have reasons to think the things he’s thinking, it’s actually a pretty good scene, and Alicia’s tearing herself apart by staying with her brother.
Travis finds Eliza, and they shorthand-fight for another couple of minutes, but to her credit Eliza groks that he’s genuinely panicking pretty quickly and falls in line. Travis calls Chris with Eliza’s phone and he actually answers. Chris blabbers youthfully about being Part of the Movement and I start wondering how he noticed his phone ringing what with all the noise. At any rate, they’re coming to get him. Eliza figures out where he is with a glance at the TV.
Turns out Pimples is there to steal food. Maddie is completely casual about this.
Alicia scrubs the floor and Nick thanks her. “I hate you,” she says. “I know,” he says. The power goes out. Really?
Pimples is blathering about the end of the world. Blah blah blah. They hear something. Remember, both of these people are stealing from the school, and both are more aware than the general public that some crazy crap is happening. So fleeing is kind of a priority. Fleeing down the hallway with canned foods happens. And for the second time in the episode I have an oh hell no you didn’t moment.
Principal Obama has a nasty bite wound at the back of his neck. Principal Obama’s dead.
That’s now four of the five black males who have had dialogue on the show that they have killed off. I admit, I forgot about Travis’ student last episode.
That’s goddamn enough, Walking Dead. This started out as a punchline a couple of seasons ago on the other show and this shit is not funny any more. Get some damn black writers who maybe might notice this nonsense before the internet has to make fun of it and cut the shit.
Anyway, Travis’ knife actually glances off his head at one point, meaning that the patented Walking Dead Soft Skull thing hasn’t happened yet, but Maddie brains him with a fire extinguisher. Note that she’s now been attacked twice, which will make something later in the episode make more sense.
Seriously, show, screw this. It’s not funny anymore. Cut it out.
Slow motion is apparently helpful in finding missing children, as Travis tracks Chris down immediately, and– oh, of course the homeless guy they killed was black too– they haul their son away as a cop guns down another weirdly hot Goth zombie. Riot police are moving in. They run, and all hell breaks loose. Hi, Rubén Blades! He’s cutting hair, and loses a customer just as the Travises (have they ever said a last name?) find him and beg for asylum. Blades’ wife basically orders him to let them in.
The Internet tells me their names are Daniel and Griselda, and their daughter comes downstairs a few moments later and Daniel calls her Ofelia. There’s some understandably tense conversation.
Maddie drops Tobias off, then offers to let him stay with them until “this” blows over. “This doesn’t end,” Pimples says, and Jesus shut up Pimples, and simultaneously I want the actor to lose like 50 pounds and then show up on Season 6 of TWD in a few weeks. Maddie drives off. Commercials.
Griselda’s praying. I may not mention her again in this recap; assume that any time she’s on screen for the rest of the episode she’s praying. In fact, this whole barbershop sequence can be recapped as “Awkward conversation over rioting, with prayer.”
Okay, actually, note that when Eliza asks Travis what’s going on he actually tells her, and amazingly neither she nor Chris argue with him about it. Everyone’s all sort of infected with the fear at this point.
Maddie gets back. She asks if Travis called. Then she folds up her jacket to hide the blood and gives Nick some Oxy. He rats his sister out for trying to leave (really?) then says “I stopped her,” which made my wife wonder if he’d faked the seizure, which really is a good point, even if I can’t take credit for it. I mean, okay, he threw up during it, but there was vomit right there, and Nick has already demonstrated that he makes decisions fast.
Maddie goes upstairs and starts washing blood out of her (black) clothes and then has a breakdown. The phone rings. It’s Travis, who explains where he is. So people are behaving sensibly, basically. That’s good. He insists they leave without him and that he’ll catch up.
They’re both on iPhone 4s, so of course the call drops.
And at this point, Alicia seriously wants someone to tell her what the hell is going on.
Music plays. Principal Obama’s still dead. Water Neighbor’s car is sitting there, the trunk still open, bags next to it. Rioting happening. Nick’s asleep. And Alicia watches out the window as someone starts to stagger across the street toward what is left of the party.
Alicia insists on being told what’s going on. Maddie opens her mouth and someone outside starts screaming. A woman is being attacked, probably by Car Neighbor. Alicia runs to help and Mom slams the door shut, as the walker hauls the victim to the ground. Griselda prays (surprise!). Travis stares manfully into the middle distance.
Griselda blows out her candles as the episode fades to credits.