Today America reveres its military, and when it comes to protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, American citizens trust the men and women in uniform to protect these precious commodities. However, when Jade Helm came about, people started to question what the government had to hide, and they couldn’t help but ask, are we about to experience martial law and a full government takeover? Well, in the apocalyptic world, that's exactly what happens in this Sunday’s Fear the Walking Dead.
As stated in last week’s review, Episode 3 ends with the U.S. Military invading the quiet suburb where Madison and Travis live with Madison’s two children, Alicia, and now, Nick. Upon their arrival, Travis tells Madison, “The cavalry has arrived. It’s going to get better now.” Little did he know those words would come back to haunt him.
In Episode 4, Travis starts out as a strong supporter of the military takeover, and he goes around the neighborhood pretending all is okay. In fact, at the beginning of the show, everything almost appears normal as Nick lays sunbathing on a floating device in a pool and Travis, with earphones on, enjoys his daily run. All is not what it seems, however, because debris fills the surface of the pool water surrounding Nick. Also, as Travis rounds a corner during his run, a fence appears and shows viewers that now this quiet suburb has been cut off from the rest of the world. Not to mention, armed military members walk around the secured area with big guns bullying people, and in many cases, use violence to enforce full cooperation by the people.
Additionally, Chris’ documentation of events helps viewers become witness to the unraveling of events under a full-out martial law environment. As his father jogs around within the safety of the fence that separates the living from the dead, Chris provides viewers with a look at what’s happening outside the fence. As the camera moves, we see a burned L.A. with no life. On the inside, there’s life, but the military markings warning people to stay away from the areas where the infected resided has an underlying tone that says life's fleeting.
Chris tells his would-be viewers (us), “It’s safe inside the fence. Outside, everything’s dead. Everyone’s gone. This is day nine. Nine days since the lights went out and the fence went up, and our little green friends moved in."
Chris also refers to “our little green friends” as “our saviors” in a sarcastic way, which indicates he finds the military members anything but. He also refers to them as the keepers of animals, and that these animals need to be fed at the zoo. This statement foretells the nature versus nurture element about to take place, and usually in a zoo, the caretakers do what they must to control the animals, even if that means using forms of manipulation. Although this control and manipulation can work for so long, eventually the nature of animals resurfaces and they become deadly. This analogy could be referring to the Walking Dead and their takeover, or it could be alluding to what’s about to happen with the citizens’ reaction to military control. It could also mean both.
Chris says, “It turns out there’s nothing worth taking that nature won’t take back. It all belongs to Her again—the dogs and the dead.”
The Nurturers Versus Nature
Within the gates of suburbia L.A., the conflict of nurture and nature play out in the characters. Travis, Madison, and Liza are all a part of the nurture category while Nick, Ofelia, Daniel Salazar, and the military are all a part of the nature category.
Travis, who remains annoyingly trusting and optimistic, continues to believe in the good of people despite the signs that say otherwise. First, he argues with his son Chris (who sees flashing lights coming from a home outside the fence and tries to tell his dad about it) that there’s nothing outside the fence because the military searched the city and would have found anyone alive. Travis also tries to keep the peace with Madison and his ex-wife Liza who has turned Madison’s house into “a refugee camp.” Additionally, the military uses him to talk down Doug, a family man who loses his cool about what’s taking place and doesn’t feel he can give his family the peace of mind he feels they need.
“Everything is going to be okay,” Travis tells Doug in his nurturing voice. “That’s what you say. That’s all that you have to say."
Madison, although not as trusting as Travis, remains the nurturer for her kids. She tries to keep Alicia’s mind off of things by having her paint the area where Daniel blew their neighbor’s head in with a rifle, and she spends a lot of time mothering Nick who remains peeved with her for giving his drugs to Griselda. She tries to make things better by seeking him out in the dirty swimming pool to give him a pill and remaining loving and calm despite Nick’s sarcasm about the pill incident.
In addition to Travis and Madison, Liza goes around the suburb helping all the sick residents. She tells many of them she’s a nurse practitioner to get them to trust her, so she can treat their problems. In fact, her treatment helps Nick feed his drug addiction, which will be explained in a moment. Like Travis, Liza, although she’s a bit hesitant at first, sides with Dr. Exner, the government doctor on the scene, to identify the people who are sick in the suburb. She also agrees to go to “the facility” where the government are taking people to help where she can. Little does she know that her desire to help brings about the demise of the people.
On the side of nature, Nick cares about nobody but himself and his next fix. He lies to his mother about trying to get better, and he sneaks into Hector’s home, a sick man Liza tries to help keep comfortable with morphine dripping through an IV. After Liza and Hector’s wife leave the house, Nick sneaks in and takes the morphine drip needle from Hector and inserts it into his foot. Unfortunately, this action simply proves the depravity of Nick's nature
Ofelia’s nature, on the other hand, raises a few eyebrows this episode. Previously, Ofelia appears the good girl. She wears conservative clothes, and although she questions her father about things, she follows his lead. In this episode, however, she changes from the good girl to the seductress. She dons a tank top that shows off her body and she flirts with a young man in the military. At first, it appears she truly likes the officer, but after a scene where she makes out with him and allows things to go a little further, we learn she has an ulterior motive and that includes getting her mother the help she needs. Thus, she uses her body and looks as a tool against man’s nature to get what she wants.
Also, in the previous episode, Daniel Salazar proved true his Latino nature with his machismo. There was some indication this machismo could be a weakness, but this week, that interpretation changes. Daniel is from El Salvador, a country known for government abuse, and he knows immediately things aren’t right when the military takes charge. Because of his knowledge and calm strength, he becomes both the prophet and the warrior, meaning he predicts what will happen with military control, and he’s prepared to do whatever he can to protect his family. In fact, when Dr. Exner says they will take his wife to “this facility,” he insists on going with her even though he knows he probably won’t return; so, he confronts Madison after she returns from her excursion outside the fence, and after getting her to admit things aren’t what they seem, he tells her the story of how the government came and took people in his village, similar to what’s happening here.
Because his father was an important figure, a member of the military told him the people would return because they always did; and return they did, Daniel says. As a boy, he saw all of them return dead floating in the river. In response to what he saw, Daniel’s father told him not to have hatred in his heart, and that man does these things not because of the people or evil, but because of fear.
Also when Daniel says, “At that moment, I realized my father was a fool for believing there was a difference,” he shows his warrior spirit, a spirit that's calm, controlled and knowing.
After this story, Daniel tells Madison what will take place and that she must be prepared because the military will come take people. He tells her because they now share something in common. He knows she saw something outside the fence. Like him, she saw innocent men and women, non-walkers, dead on the street, and that means those people who said they were there to protect, lied. Daniel also knows Madison has changed as a result, so he asks her to watch over Ofelia if he didn’t return. He also told her to watch Nick. Daniel’s warning helps Madison realize there’s no more room for nurture in this new world.
Back to Jade Helm
The fear of a government takeover is very real in FTWD, and the military in this episode reflects how nature wins in the end. Instead of helping the people, the government officials keep them in the dark and pretend to have their best interest at heart. They use people’s trust in them and the false pretense of safety to garner control, and with no one to tell them otherwise, they get away with it. For instance, the man in charge tells the people his soldiers will shoot anyone who goes outside the gate’s perimeter, yet he does so to play golf. He also uses Travis’ goodness to ensure people follow the rules and don’t cause problems. If Travis fails to do so, he threatens violence. He has not patience for problems or fear.
In addition, the government uses Dr. Exner, an attractive woman, to make the people believe she’s going to help them, but that’s not the case. In fact, in the end, the military ransacks Madison’s home and take Nick and Griselda. They actually take Nick by force and knock Daniel down as he attempts to go with his wife after being told he could go with her. With that knock, Daniel's premonition comes true: the government isn't there to help, but rather to take absolute control.
By the end of the show, those who nurtured realize the errors of their ways, and with only two episodes left, and like Rick Grimes and his group in TWD, they will have to change with nature, or they won’t survive the apocalypse.
The Final Review
Episode 4 held a lot more action this week; however, with only two episodes left, it’s hard to tell how fast the pace will pick up. What works well this week though is that battle between nature versus nurture and the way Chris draws viewers in as witnesses to that battle. One great event viewers get to witness is Madison’s transformation to nature when she goes beyond the fence and finally gives Nick a well-deserved beating. She actually becomes a more likeable character after that scene.
On the other hand, Travis becomes less likeable. Although his intentions are good, his inability to question things leaves him weak. There’s no room for weakness in the apocalypse, and if he doesn’t change soon, he’s not going to last. Also, Daniel’s development as a prophet and warrior, and Ofelia’s transformation make things interesting. They’re definitely more likely to survive life with the Walking Dead, and it will be interesting to see how their roles develop.
Because of this character development, and the nightmare of what could happen if the U.S. ever faced a government takeover by military force, which became a real fear for conspiracy theorists after Jade Helm, the show managed to redeem itself this week. LIVE! gives FTWD Episode 4 an A-.