Life as it was known on Fear the Walking Dead has irrevocably changed, even if so much of “Not Fade Away” is about the foolish task of maintaining a normal life in the face of collapse. “Not Fade Away” (which, for Angel fans, is a hell of a title to live up to), makes another important distinction from The Walking Dead for the series — the episode isn’t interested in showing the threat of walkers like “The Dog” was.
Instead, it’s focusing on the danger of a society trying to hold itself together with used duct tape, a few faulty staples, and sheer will. The military has instituted a locked-down safe zone, in which Travis and Madison’s family resides. There’s a curfew, cars aren’t allowed to be driven, and no one can walk outside the perimeter fence that has been built.
It’s all intended to keep the people safe, the soldiers explain, as they deliver rations but offer little in the way of answers. They’re trying to keep the peace, but at the same time they’re dealing with a community that doesn’t want to be blindly corralled to its death. The phones still don’t work, they still have to boil water, and they have no idea what the outside world looks like other than the scant details of other safe zones the soldiers let slip.
The insular nature of this new community allows a host of emotions to kick in — fear (obviously or the name wouldn’t be much good now would it), paranoia, anger — as the little stretch of suburbia goes stir crazy. And more than anything, there’s the ever-present worry about what the next day holds, if this is all just a temporary adjustment or a new normal for everyone to accept.
The cracks of this type of society begin to show during “Not Fade Away,” as Chris, documenting the military occupation with all the overindulgent voiceover you’d expect from a teenager, realizes all may not be as it seems. While sitting atop his roof and scanning the area, he spots a few flashes in the window of a building settled squarely in the zone meant to be devoid of life. At first it seems like just a reflection, something shiny catching the light at the right angle. But then it continues. Chris begins to recognize a pattern, and it dawns on him: Someone’s out there.
Nine days into the occupation, however, it’s difficult for him to convince anyone of what he saw, particularly Travis, who, above everyone else on the show, has shown an at-times-annoying steadfast belief that things are going to work out. Since the military rolled into town Travis has been acting like an emissary between the community and their new guard, hoping they are in fact the salvation he so champions.
Chris forces his father to look at the footage of the flashing, and whether he understands what those flashes mean, he doesn’t want to accept what it might mean. He wants to take their protectors at their word — why cause more strife when society is teetering on the edge of collapse?
So he blows Chris off, while Madison also deals with problems concerning her own son. Nick has taken to lounging in the pool, and he isn’t taking his medicine. She wants to wean him off his addiction slowly so that he doesn’t relapse, but he isn’t interested in following her directive. He promises he’ll be fine, and for now, she plays along, hoping to keep the peace in her own family just as Travis wants to keep the peace with their community.
And how does he go about doing that? Well, he attends an announcement by Lt. Moyers, the new sheriff in town. He’s the closest thing to, if not a villain just yet then at least an antagonistic force the show has seen. He’s trying to keep the peace, sure, but he does so by making offhand jokes about having to shoot the civilians if they disobey his rules. For someone suggesting the tide of the battle has changed, he sure doesn’t seem willing to let those in his care have any firsthand evidence supporting or disputing what he says.
NEXT: Has Travis’ naivete been a ruse this whole time?