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Fear The Walking Dead S1.05 "Cobalt" review

Much better. Last week's episode showed promise, but was dragged down by its turgid pacing and repetitious character beats. In “Cobalt” things actually happen and we learn more about both the plot and some of the key players.

But first, we start with the introduction of an intriguing new character: the sharp-suited Strand. Stylish, sinister and with a quite bizarre line delivery, he's absolutely fascinating. He's also clearly an arsehole – a cruel, manipulative prick who loves the sound of his own voice and is quite happy to taunt poor, broken Doug. He's memorable in exactly the way most of the characters in this show are not. Such a shame he's only being introduced now – it would have been fascinating to see how he coped in the early days of the crisis.

The rest of the episode largely concerns itself with Daniel's torture of Adams, and the reveal of what “Cobalt” actually means (in itself not much of a revelation). There's some good, meaty stuff going on here, even if Salazar's fondness for making Very Serious Speeches has become his sole mode of dialogue.

Torture on US TV is a delicate subject and a very tired trope post-24. “Cobalt” did a good job of showing how reprehensible Daniel's actions (and Madison's complicity) were – though the fact that he does successfully retrieve the information he needed rather muddies the waters.

It's an interesting change of direction as, until this point, Daniel has seemed like one of the few voices of reason in the show – even an audience proxy at times. No longer. Still, better these morally ambiguous characters than the bland cyphers we've been watching for the past few weeks.

The scenes with Travis and the soldiers were also effective. After setting the military up as the real threat in “Don't Fade Away”, we start to see some nuance. They're suffering shock and low moral as much as the civilians. Moyers continues to be a pantomime caricature, but as they patrol the ruined city with a dismayed Travis in tow, the show becomes something it hasn't often been: atmospheric and exciting. There was even a mordant sense of humour to some of the dialogue.

Oh yeah, and we got our first big death with Griselda passing away. Not an especially memorable character and a very low key death. But you suspect, with the finale next week, it won't be the last...

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Excellent direction

Kari Skogland does great work this week, especially in the scene where Travis is almost pushed into shooting Zombie Kimberly.

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Strand and deliver

Colman Domingo plays Strand with very distinctive speech patterns, drawing out certain words for what feels like an age. It's not a bad thing – it actually really adds to the character – but it's quite odd. “You saved the dayyyyyyy,” he purrs to Nick at one point.

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Hey you, what's that sound?

The scene where Chris and Alicia smash up the house is "Classic Girl" by Jane's Addiction.

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Best line

Moyers: “I can do anything I want. I've got guns. Christ man, the dead may be walking among us but it's still the United States of America.”

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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