If, like us, you were slightly concerned by the pace of the first two episodes of Fear The Walking Dead, then “The Dog” should finally assuages your doubts. Despite a lengthy scene set around a Monopoly board, the show nails the sense of escalating fear and paranoia in LA.
You can see it in Daniel Salazar (an excellent, restrained Rubén Blades) teaching young Chris how to shoot, and in the continuation of last week's riot scenes. There's a palpable tension that reaches its high point in the wonderfully bleak scene where Travis and a neighbour put their trash out, say nothing, but share a loaded glance. Will there be any more bin collections? All of this is falling away and they know it, they're just not able to accept it yet.
Zombie fans were also rewarded this week. There were some excellent attack scenes and one very effective shotgun kill. There was even a glimmer of morbid humour as Zombie Susan struggled through the gap in the fence to try and get at a purely baffled Travis. There's still an undeniable sense of déjà vu to these scenes, but the show is doing the best it can with them.
Character-wise, Travis is still about the only really likeable member of the family, and it really does feel like the show is setting him up for one of two fates. He's either going to go full Rick Grimes, or die. Madison is growing on me though, mainly thanks to Kim Dickens portrayal, and Nick is interestingly sneaky. At the moment Alicia and Chris may as well not exist.
Still, this was a big step in the right direction. It's an especially dour and dismal show, Fear The Walking Dead, but it's finding powerful individual moments in its slow Armageddon.
Most laughably incorrect line of the week
Travis: “The cavalry's arrived. It's gonna get better now."
Horror cliché checklist
What's that noise? Is it a zombie? No, it's a scary dog! Still, that's slightly better than a scary cat – the ultimate horror trope.
The best defence?
There's a very pointed moment towards the end when poor Patrick is nearly killed by Zombie Susan because Travis talked Madison out of killing her. It plays into a theme that both Fear and its big brother share – that the characters must be prepared to fight and kill if they want to survive.
Fear The Walking Dead airs on AMC in the US on Sundays, and on AMC (exclusive to BT) in the UK from Monday 31 August.
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