Fear the Walking Dead: Cobalt
September 27, 2015 7:01 PM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

The National Guard's plan for the neighborhood is revealed; Travis and Madison make a difficult decision. A new black male character appears, taking bets on how long he lasts.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (34 comments total)
 
How can characters who are so stupid be so boring at the same time?
posted by codacorolla at 7:10 PM on September 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


A frustrating episode, that tried to accomplish too much, too late. Loved the introduction of Strand, really a great character right from the get go. It makes sense that he showed up when he did, but would have loved to have seen him in earlier episodes.

Best parts: Strand and the up close dealings with the military, except for the gung ho and uncaring CO. Felt like a cliche and at this point in the genre, the less cliches the better. Daniel's torturing of the soldier was a surprising and good touch. Civilization is cracking and many dark things are coming out. Nick was in the background and Strand's using of him bodes as a potentially potent dynamic.

Worst parts: Travis. He does a great job of managing to be boring and uninteresting all at once.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:14 PM on September 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


This show in a nutshell: watching Travis' slackjawed face react as cool shit happens on the radio.
posted by codacorolla at 7:17 PM on September 27, 2015 [10 favorites]


I am programmed to assume the best in people, I think, and so I'll admit that I was completely surprised to find out that in the past Mr. Salazar had not only seen some shit, he had personally perpetrated some shit as well. I guess the show's writers figured I would think that anyone that ran away from the war/revolution was an innocent person trying to keep from getting caught up in anything.
posted by komara at 7:58 PM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I guess if you're a military officer in the apocalypse, don't treat your men like crap.

Better than last episode.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:04 PM on September 27, 2015


+1 for making Blades the bad guy in the past -- that was a nice turn. +1 for Strand. "I'm an addict." "No, you're a heroin addict -- that's the gold standard, don't sell yourself short."
posted by gsh at 8:47 PM on September 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


I kept finding myself saying 'what is this shit'? As it started with Strand just randomly making speeches like the "Are you divergent too?" guy from Twelve Monkeys, as the kids are playing dress up and destroying things in somebody's old house like it's been months, when it's been what, two weeks since everything was completely normal? As the military was way too far gone for some things that have happened in a couple of weeks. But at least there were previews for The Walking Dead during the commercials.
posted by cashman at 7:46 AM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I thought this episode was much better than the previous ones; finally there are stakes.

Todd VanDerWerff, Vox: Fear the Walking Dead, season 1, episode 5: What happens when the show gets political.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:52 AM on September 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


This episode was better than anything they've done to date - Strand talking Doug to death, then turning to Nick, actually made me laugh out loud. I'm betting he saved Nick in case he needs a patsy, diversion or other form of sacrificial pawn.

The stuff with Blades, though... on the one hand, I liked the reveal that he was actually on the other side of the conflict he kept talking about in prior episodes. Finding out he was a Very Bad Man? Effective, chilling and he sells it. It also potentially offers some moral complexity to the whole thing because it means he probably does know a lot that they need in order to survive down the line, while being personally reprehensible and a potential threat if their interests diverge. The show really needed... well, something anything other than Travis' look of dull surprise or Nick's MacHighvering.

On the other hand, making the torture into this magical 'now the guy really will eagerly tell them everything' was disgusting. I'm really tired of seeing that pernicious nonsense on television, hearing it in political discourse, etc.

Todd VanDerWerff, Vox: Fear the Walking Dead, season 1, episode 5: What happens when the show gets political.

Looking at that, I really have to disagree vehemently with his take about torture:
Torture, of course, doesn't garner usable results in our world, but it almost has to in fiction, or else the detour into horrific masochism has little to no reason to exist.
Attitudes like that are the problem. Showing that the breakdown of the rule of law can lead to people doing pointless, desperate and hopeless things is a staple of zombie fiction. Most zombie stories posit that humans are the real threat once the world well and truly breaks down, and ineffective torture that is committed anyway shows that *better* than offering the lie that no, a really good torturer *can* get someone to sing.
posted by mordax at 9:14 AM on September 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


The torture scene literally made me feel ill. As someone who gleefully consumes (heh) TONS of zombie media, I still find the voluntary mutilation of another human being for any reason to be utterly abhorrent.

That poor soldier might have been a dick, but he was a little too calm for my taste for the amount of suffering he'd been put through already when discussing the Cobalt protocol. I know, shock and all that.

But still. These are national guardsmen, right? I didn't get the impression he'd seen active duty or combat conditions yet, though I might've missed it waiting for something relevant to happen.

Strand the Mercenary shows promise -- let's see if he can save Junkie Depp's bacon when everything goes to hell circa 9 a.m. at the medical compound.

I could see Chris and Alicia going and boning in a neighbor's house pretty easily; they're teenagers, regardless of their would-be family dynamic. That said, let's hope they scavenge some condoms first. We don't need another "Lori giving birth like an all-you-can-eat buffet" scene on a less competent AMC show.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:20 PM on September 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


watching Travis' slackjawed face react as cool shit happens on the radio

Seriously, the situation is so bad that the military is about to exterminate the locals and run for the hills, but the only carnage we see is bored teenagers vandalizing the neighbors' house. I guess we did get to see one zombie named Kimberly, but she didn't even see any action.

And then the ridiculously gratuitous torture!? For what? Because the military whisked people away for help, but in a manner suggesting imprisonment or even execution to the locals. This is the same shit that bugs me about TWD- they ramp up to some crazy violent climax of warring factions by lazily having characters be total dicks to each other from the beginning. It's always situations that could be super easily avoided by a couple extra sentences of explanation or even just common courtesy. In TWD, they get a pass for losing their humanity since societal collapse has already come and gone, but after seeing FTWD, apparently the TWD universe was already full of uncommunicative idiots and compassionless dicks from the beginning.
posted by p3t3 at 6:13 PM on September 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


Strand dresses and talks exactly like what I imagine when someone says, "Let's write a fan fic about Alan Johnson from Peep Show in the Walking Dead universe."

This immediately makes him the best thing on this show.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:23 PM on September 28, 2015 [8 favorites]


As I mentioned in the last thread: I actually know Colman Domingo (aka "Strand"). We worked together in 2003, on a play that was (and there is no other way to put this) completely fucking insane. During that play, Colman played (among other parts):

* Thomas Jefferson
* A Ph.D level professor being auctioned off on QVC
* Oprah Winfrey (I think?)

He also was pivotal in spontaneously scoring a gospel arrangement for Nelly's "Hot in Herre" for the cast to sing during the show's opening.

Theater buffs may also recognize him as Mr. Venus from Passing Strange.

In conclusion - I personally have evidence that the actor playing Strand is possibly even more badass than Strand the character is.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:15 AM on September 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


In conclusion - I personally have evidence that the actor playing Strand is possibly even more badass than Strand the character is.

Thanks for sharing that. Only downside: now I want to see that play instead of more FtWD.
posted by mordax at 9:43 AM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, you can see a filmed performance of Passing Strange. So you can see more of his Mr. Venus stuff (and he plays two other parts in that as well).

The completely-fucking-insane thing, unfortunately, was not filmed as it was an off-off-Broadway thing in the basement of a space on Bleecker Street. But two reviews do exist - neither of which mentions Colman, so feh.

(He did also have a recurring sketch on the "Big Gay Sketch Show" were he did an impression of Maya Angelou doing a dramatic reading of Craigslist personal ads.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:51 AM on September 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thank you. I will have to do that. :)
posted by mordax at 9:55 AM on September 29, 2015


(It's a terrible shame about the rest, but comes as no surprise.)
posted by mordax at 9:55 AM on September 29, 2015


And to bring this all back to the topic - this will also prove that they need to give Strand a lot to do because Colman could sell it like whoa.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:57 AM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm ready for a Strand lead series about, well, anything really. He could work in a paint store, watching him work is great.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:31 AM on September 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


cashman: the military was way too far gone for some things that have happened in a couple of weeks

Did you miss the bit where some of the young military dudes have been up for 50 hours? Mix in the hoo-rah military bravado ("What happened to your face?" "Nothing, sir. Momentary lapse of patriotism.") and the fact that soldiers have been lost to zombies (who, of course, we don't see or even think about until this episode, due to the way the show is shot and scripted), I'm sold on the fact the military is over-taxed by this surprise event on home soil. I'm sure there were plenty of deserters (as seen with "I got a new mission-- operation get my ass back to San Diego" after the gung ho and uncaring CO "got held up" in the library), and when infrastructure goes down with the rest of civilization, chaos ensues pretty fast. In that chaos, time flies and homes for returning to normal are pretty far gone when the dead walk the earth.


I think Blades past is suitably nuanced, for someone who survived a military dictatorship. He was taken, and survived by becoming one of the Bad Men, he didn't opt to be a torturer for the new regime. Do what you gotta do to survive. I was actually surprised to see Adams at all - I assumed he was a plot device (Ofelia tries to use her womanly charms to get medicine for her mother). Well, now he got to be used twice.


EmpressCallipygos, my wife and I are jealous. Strand is easily the best part of the show now, with more nuanced Blades being a not-too-close second. They didn't mention Strand's name in the show, so my wife and I were calling him the Devil, because he seemed like the suave personification of the Devil, toying with people to make watch them break, making deals to get people in his debt (which brought to mind an episode of Millennium). And his voice ... we had to find out more about him. Count me as an instant fan.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:42 AM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I gotta say, it's been WAY fun to watch his Facebook feed for the past 7 years or so. I joined FB in, like, 2008, and he was one of the people I saw first and friended ("hey, remember me from that weird show in 2003", and he did) - and then since about 2009 or so it's been a steadily- increasing series of "holy shit I'm understudying in Chicago" to "holy shit I'm the lead in a Broadway show" to "holy shit I'm going to tour London" and "holy shit I'm in another Broadway show with Kander and Ebb" to "holy shit my one-man show got picked up" and "holy shit I'm nominated for a TONY" to "holy shit I'm in a MOVIE" to "holy shit I'm working with Spike Lee" to "holy shit I just met Steven Spielberg" to "holy shit I'm in another movie and I'm going to meet OPRAH" to "holy shit I'm a recurring character in a TV show" and then today was a variant of "holy shit I just left Atlanta where I filmed my latest movie and I'm going to Vancouver to film the next series of a TV show I'm in and I've also started working with people on writing a new play and I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS IS MY LIFE!!!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:53 AM on September 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


They didn't mention Strand's name in the show

Interesting. In the Walking Dead pilot, Morgan never had a name either.
posted by cashman at 12:19 PM on September 29, 2015


In the Walking Dead didn't the characters eventually come to the realization that they (the alive people) were the walking dead?

So, in Fear the Walking Dead the show focuses on the people, we've barely seen any of the walkers. Fear the people.

Generally, I haven't been impressed with the show. I thought it would be tighter for a 6 episode run. But, I am interested in seeing how it pans out in the end.
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 2:45 PM on September 29, 2015


Who Is Strand? (MTV, GIF-heavy)

Best episode yet: lots of Ruben Blades who is superb, very little of the dumb parents, and some military escapades where we ride with them. I actually found it more scary having to imagine the chaos inside the building, thought that was a good move in terms of storytelling.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:23 PM on September 29, 2015


I thought the arena was a cheap scene. Apparently you can just stroll over to it. And the chained and barred door may have been the most effective shot of the original pilot and maybe of the whole series but that doesn't mean you can just drop it in anywhere and get the same reaction.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:44 PM on September 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


They cheated us of seeing Moyers killed by zombies. Did they run out of effects budget?
posted by larrybob at 5:57 PM on September 30, 2015


Or was it, as this wiki entry attributes to Story Synch, fragging?
posted by larrybob at 5:58 PM on September 30, 2015


I think it was fragging and lack of budget
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:54 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


They cheated us of seeing Moyers killed by zombies. Did they run out of effects budget?

Charitably, they might have that set up for a reveal in the final episode where he made it out, or he shows up as a walker. Uncharitably: yeah, pure cheapness and inept writing.
posted by codacorolla at 8:01 PM on September 30, 2015


They cheated us of seeing Moyers killed by zombies. Did they run out of effects budget?

Charitably, they might have that set up for a reveal in the final episode where he made it out, or he shows up as a walker. Uncharitably: yeah, pure cheapness and inept writing.


I assumed it was so it'll be a surprise later when it's revealed that Moyers was fragged by his own dudes.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 1:06 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Loved Strand, got very Walkin' Dude /Randall Flagg vibes off him, I think Nick's going to regret his help eventually. Can't believe how M. manages to combine that ruthless realism with kitchen-table napping. Ruben Blades, amirite?
posted by Iteki at 4:20 AM on October 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jasmin Garsd, NPR: How A Show About Zombies Looks At Legacies Of Real Violence
[I]t's refreshing to see a Central American character who is not a maid, or a gang member, or a struggling immigrant. With people of Central American descent the fastest growing Latino group in the U.S., you'd think we'd see more varied roles, but very often, we don't. Daniel Salazar, on the other hand, is a regular guy, a quiet barber with a stable family. Somewhere underneath that silence, there's a barely concealed authoritarianism, which surfaces as he tersely orders people at his shop what to do during riots. Show writers get extra points for flawless Spanish language dialogue, something that tends to be pretty cringeworthy on American TV.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:18 AM on October 4, 2015 [1 favorite]




John Shirley has now expanded his FB comment into a RawStory commentary: The ‘Walking Dead’ spin-off promotes torture — so I’ve walked away
posted by larrybob at 5:52 PM on October 6, 2015


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