After enjoying the most successful cable TV premiere in history last week, AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead” returned Sunday night to debut its second episode. After a pretty slow start, many were likely thrilled to see the hit series pick up the pace of the zombie apocalypse so early.
As it turns out, when the world ends, it ends very quickly. After the shocking events of last week’s premiere episode, even the slowest-witted among the characters had to acknowledge something very serious was happening to Los Angeles. The episode kicked off with Travis (Cliff Curtis), Nick (Frank Dillane) and Madison (Kim Dickens) speeding away from the scene where they encountered their first walker.
Between that and everything that happened earlier, Travis is the first to say that maybe all the rumors going around the school aren’t fake and it’s time to get away from the city. Nick thumbs through the radio stations in the hope an official announcement will tell them what’s going on, but still the national news hasn’t caught onto the zombie outbreak. In any case, our intrepid heroes see the writing on the wall and decide to unite and go to the California desert to be safe.
The first call they make is to Madison’s daughter, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), who is at her boyfriend’s place after he stood her up for their big romantic date the night prior. When she finds him, he’s burning with fever that’s later revealed to have been brought on by a zombie bite. When Madison and Travis arrive at his place, they find Alicia taking care of him with his 103 degree temperature. Travis and Madison don’t quite know the rules of the zombie apocalypse the way the audience does, but they know enough to get away from a sick person. With her boyfriend’s help, they manage to convince Alica to leave and, in a heartbreaking moment, she agrees thinking her boyfriend's parents soon will be home to help him.
They all go back to Madison and Travis’ place where he makes the next call to his ex-wife and son. The ex, Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez), is home safe studying like mad for her nurse’s exam. Meanwhile, their son, Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie), was on a bus when it got stuck in traffic. Someone tells him police have stopped traffic to clean up a crime scene where they shot an unarmed homeless man. Chris runs to the scene and starts filming as the group of onlookers quickly morphs into an anti-police brutality protest.
Travis leaves Madison, Nick and Alicia at their house to go pick up his wife and find Chris. Meanwhile, those who saw the first episode of the series will know that, by this time, Nick is going through some pretty serious drug withdrawal. Madison is worried about allowing him to go cold turkey, but can’t seem to get a call out to their doctor -- or the police for that matter. With him pretty much dying on her sofa, she ventures to the school to lift some oxycodone from the nurse’s office. While she’s there, she encounters Tobias (Lincoln A. Castellanos), who may be the only person in both “Fear the Walking Dead” and “The Walking Dead” who knows what is going on. He’s an Internet sleuth who’s been wise to the outbreak for some time. He was there to steal canned food from the cafeteria and get the knife Madison confiscated in episode 1 because he’s literally the only smart one in the world at this point.
While Madison is helping him clean out the cafeteria, they come across the principal, Artie (Scott Lawrence), who, despite being a really nice guy in episode 1, was apparently bitten by a zombie and is now a fresh walker. He attacks Madison and Tobias. Just when it looks like the youngster is about to get bit for helping his teacher, Madison brains Artie with a fire extinguisher, killing her very first walker.
She drives Tobias home afterward, still in shock over what just happened. She brings him home and offers to let him stay until things are over.
“This doesn’t end,” he says back to her, in what is perhaps the most chilling line of the episode. With that, she goes home to take care of Nick, who is in bad shape without his drugs.
The episode ends in a pretty intense place as Travis and Liza find Chris at the protest. Unfortunately, the scene erupts into an all-out riot when the LAPD has to fire shots at a nearby walker. In a haunting display of urban unrest, the three race through the streets as people start to set fires, overturn cars and fight each other. They duck into a nearby barber shop run by future “Fear the Walking Dead” recurring characters Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades), his wife Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spindola) and their daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason). Travis comes in a little hot and invades their personal space, apparently they live inside the shop as well, but he later calms down. Together, they sit in silence as the city outside them crumbles into violence and civil unrest.
With Madison dealing with a sick son, an uncooperative daughter and the aftermath of murdering her boss, the episode ends on an image of Travis and his family with their backs to the wall unsure of what the next move will be. Unfortunately, to see how it all gets resolved, fans will have to wait until “Fear the Walking Dead” premieres episode 3 in two weeks.