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Fear The Walking Dead Introduced Its Most Terrifying Villain Yet

ftwd-cobalt

AMC

How good is Fear The Walking Dead? It’s so good that last week there were no zombies all episode long, and it was the best episode yet. This show is straight up delivering on its promise to show what happens to a family when the world falls apart, and has differentiated itself from its big, bad daddy in just four episodes.

That said? Last week we left off with several characters being taken in by the military—who definitely don’t have everyone’s best interests at heart. And with only one episode left before the end of the season, things are about to get real bad, real quick. Here are all the biggest moments from “Cobalt.”

Bring On The Bad Guy(s)

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In the first scene, we see where the military is holding people, including Doug and a terrifying stranger named Strand (Colman Domingo), who gives a long speech starting with the phrase, “I can’t stomach it, preying on people so weak,” and ends by driving Doug so crazy he’s taken out of the compound. Strand tells the guards he doesn’t know what came over the sobbing mess, and then pauses, and turns. “So, then, who the hell are you?” he asks, looking over at Nick (Frank Dillane).

…And we have a new kind of villain in the universe of FTWD, a man who has seen the precipice, stared into the brink, and decided he’s going to push people over before he falls himself. Putting aside that Domingo’s deep, rumbling voice draws you in only to spit you out, it’s—in one scene—a villain worthy of the best seen on either show, including The Governor (David Morrissey).

That said, the Nick he’s going up against is not the blubbering mess we saw at the beginning of the show. If anything, the apocalypse has focused him. Methinks we’re in for a battle of wills.

I Feel Ya

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Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) calls on the old, “At first they came for…” speech from World War II, which is both alarming and appropriate, as the rest of the compound closes their doors and turns away from the clear fact that something is wrong—the national guard took 11 people, after all. Cpl. Andrew Adams (Shawn Hatosy) tries to calm her down, but it might be too little, too late.

Meanwhile, Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) freaks out, refusing to acknowledge Madison (Kim Dickens) and is unable to wrap his head around his mom just up and leaving with the military. Except as it turns out, at least on the surface the hospital is just a hospital. Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez) is working on healing people, and it isn’t the abattoir we could have guessed it would be from last episode.

In fact, the show keeps playing against our expectations from Walking Dead, which takes place in a world already gone to s–t. There, of course the military would be grinding people up into burgers and eating them. Here, they really are trying to hold everything together.

But it still gets me, every damn time.

Hostage Situation

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Okay, so remember how we said everyone is holding it together? Yeah, not so much. Daniel (Rubén Blades) and Ofelia are actually holding Andrew hostage in order to find out where their family is being held… And Madison finds out what they’re doing. She’s not convinced that what Daniel thinks is going to happen—total elimination of the population—is the truth…but there’s clearly a part of her that’s not totally convinced in the other direction, either.

It’s the thought of Nick, though, that starts to win her over to the torture. “You don’t want him hurt?” Daniel asks her. “Or you don’t want to know?”

Men With Guns

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Travis, showing a bit of backbone for a change, convinces the military to let him go to the hospital to see his family. Travis is surprised at the sudden change of heart, which is when the military leader says something telling.

“No, I said you couldn’t do that,” he tells Travis. “I can do whatever I want, I have guns.”

…And there you have why the military is going to fail. Guns are a limited resource, and they’re not reliable. The arrogance of the military is what’s going to lead to their downfall.

That arrogance is on full display, too. They make an “unscheduled” stop when they see a zombie on the road. They challenge Travis to shoot her, and he wavers. Given his refusal to use guns before, this is clearly hard for Travis… And it’s even harder when she looks right in the scope. He sees her nametag—Kimberly—and can’t do it.

“That’s what I thought,” the leader says, and shoots her anyway.

Travis is gutted (not literally) by the whole exchange, though clearly not ready to give up his humanity yet.

What We’re Becoming

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Liza is forced to leave one dying man to take care of another one covered in bite marks. Travis watches as the squad invades a building overrun by zombies, bodies falling from the window. And Daniel peels Andrew’s skin off his arm to find out what Cobalt is.

And meanwhile, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) gets dressed in fancy clothes and develops a romance or whatever with Chris.

So we’re seeing how some people are learning about the world, some are already breaking…And others are pretending nothing has changed.

Strand, though, has clearly taken a liking to Nick. He trades his cufflinks to a military man to save Nick’s life when they try to take him away—after observing his withdrawal pains.

There’s a feeling throughout this episode, a feeling that things are starting to crumble even more rapidly before… That we’re moving from a society to an anarchy. And this is underlined by what happens with Alicia and Chris, who proceed to trash a house…because they can.

The Long Walk Home

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The survivors of the military’s “rescue” mission run back to the truck where Travis was hiding out, and explain that their new mission is to get out of dodge. They’ll drop off Travis, and he can walk home.

Shockingly, he does manage to walk home safely, only to find Ofelia crying outside, and Madison resigned to the torture of Andrew. Travis rushes in to free Andrew, but he’s already told them what Cobalt is: it’s a command to evacuate the military from the L.A. base. And it includes procedures for the “humane termination” of the non-military population.

Oh, and it’s happening at 9 a.m. the next morning.

The Game Has Changed

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Strand finally explains to Nick why he saved his life—or as close as this enigmatic stranger will get to explaining himself. “You saved me,” Nick says.

“No, I obligated you,” Strand replies. “The game is changed. We return to the old rules. And the people who won the last round…are about to become the buffet.”

He knows the military are about to clear out, and wants Nick to become his right hand man. Why Nick, other than his ability to be manipulated, is not totally clear. Yet. But Strand has a plan, and chances are he’s going to execute it…pun intended.

No Country For Old Men

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Paralleling Travis’ scene with the gun, Liza has to put Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola) down when she dies. “They all come back. We all come back,” Exner (Sandrine Holt) explains, pulling out a cattle gun. And unlike Travis, Liza only barely hesitates, grabbing the gun from Exner to do it herself. Like we said, some people are adapting better than others.

Oh, and at the same time, Daniel discovers just how the national guard might be “humanely” disposing of the rest of the population: he discovers a chained up building/installation, full of the undead.

Yeah, looks like we’ll be making up for that zombie free episode next week.

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