Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Preparedness Review of Fear the Walking Dead Episode 103: The Dog

Spoiler Alert!!!

Travis:  You know how I feel about guns.
Daniel:  A gun don't care what you think about it.

Synopsis:  Travis, Chris, Liza and the Salazar clan are forced to flee the barber shop when the  mob attacking the police breaks into the store next door and sets it on fire.   Walkers are mixed in among the riot, infecting even more people. Mrs. Salazar injures her leg in the escape, forcing the group to seek medical attention once they make it back to Travis' beat-up pickup. Team Madison chills out at the house playing monopoly but decide to grab a gun at a neighbor's house when their walker neighbor approaches.   They leave the door open and the walker traps and eats a dog until Travis arrives and is attacked; Daniel Salazar blows off its head.   They bury the neighbor and dog, and decide to wait until morning to leave.  Daniel Salazar decided he and his family are going to separate from the group, but before anyone can leave the National Guard arrives and seals the neighborhood.
The old HMO ain't what it used to be.

The Dog begins at the barber shop, which is being rocked by the sounds of the riot.  Chris is startled by a walker standing outside the window peering inside, but their discussion about what is really going on is short-lived; the rioters break into the shop next door and set it on fire, forcing them run for their lives.  While running they witness a police officer attack another officer and rip out his throat.  The group races through the streets to Travis' truck, which is one street over from the main riot and has not yet been damaged, but Griselda Salazar is injured when a scaffold falls on her leg.   They attempt to transport her to a hospital for treatment, but the former sanctuaries for the sick are now war zones where cops armed with automatic weapons battle reanimated corpses.   Reluctantly they they head home.

Bird shot, meet face.
Meanwhile, at the house, Madison, Nick, and Alicia are playing monopoly to pass the time.   They are concerned that Travis hasn't come back, and Nick posits the theory that maybe he's not coming back.   A German Shepherd comes to the door begging to be let in, and the group obliges.   When ominous noises are heard from the street, Nick points out the need for self defense and the trio race next door to find a shotgun and ammunition.  They forget to close the door, though, and the walker staggers into the house and kills the dog.  Travis returns home at the same time, and finds the walker, his former neighbor, eating the dog.  Everyone runs into the home as Travis battles the zombie, but Alicia realizes they have forgotten the shotgun shells and heads back to the other house, where she encounters Susan, a neighbor who has turned.

Back at Madison's, Daniel quickly grabs the shotgun and puts down the walker.   They then race over to the fence to rescue Alicia from Susan's clutches.  They leave Dead Susan in her yard and retreat to the house.  Travis, clearly freaked out by the whole evening, convinces Madison to wait until morning to leave.  He then buries his neighbor and the dog, despite Daniel's advice to burn the bodies to prevent the spread of disease.   Madison extracts from Liza a promise to kill her if she ever is turned by a walker, and the Salazars retreat to a bedroom, where Daniel insists that they are not going with the rest of the group in the morning.   His daughter wants to go with them and says they are with good people.   Daniel's response is chilling: "Good people are the first to die."  He is adapting to the situation better than most others.

Dawn breaks, and the cars are loaded.  Daniel tries to teach Chris how to use the shotgun, but Travis gets upset because he is anti-gun.   Nick sneaks out to try to break into a house next door to find more drugs, but stops when a little girl in a window next door waves to him.  Madison goes out to the fence to pop Susan in the noggin with a ball peen hammer, but Travis dissuades her, saying the sickness may be able to be cured.  Daniel, seeing this, mutters that they are too weak.

Everyone but the Salazars get into the car to leave.  Nick asks for more painkillers, and Madison tells him they do not have many more because she gave some to Griselda for her leg.   Nick gets angry and says he needs that medicine.  The pull out of the driveway, but see Dead Susan's husband arrive back at the house.  Madison turns that way to warn him about Susan's condition, and he is about to be attacked when heavily armed National Guardsmen arrive and put her down.  The unit sweeps through the area and clears the infected.  Travis and Kim thinks normality is returning.  Daniel Salazar thinks that this is the beginning of something bad.

Preparedness Discussion

There is a lot to consider in this episode.   The consequences of the family's lack of a crisis plan and bug out preparations are playing out in real time now because they are forced to bug in at two locations for the night, neither of which are very defensible.  This is especially true of the barber shop, where rioters outside are mixed in with newly turned walkers who are attacking and killing people in the general confusion.  The need for both of these items was covered in the last episode's review, but I will add the link to the following story, The Bug Out, which is a fictional tale of a family that lets its preparedness lapse and pays a price.  By the time the family is ready to leave, the military has arrived and no one can leave.   No one tells them not to go on camera, but the fact that troops are sweeping house to house and taking a census of where everyone  lives is telling.  This is population control on a neighborhood level.

Civil unrest, at least in America, usually isn't long-lived.   The riot only goes on so long before the police, armed forces, or motivated citizens acting as a militia step in  to put a stop to people burning stuff down.   If you are in a riot zone, there is a good chance you might get swept up in the dragnet if you don't get out in time.

Next, we need to deal with Travis' aversion to firearms.  He doesn't want to believe that it is necessary to use them for self-defense.  His final line in the episode about things getting better now that the National Guard has arrived indicates that he is willing to outsource his own security.  Madison is not so sure.  She has already killed her walker boss.

Daniel, on the other hand, is quite willing to take matters into his own hands, and uses the shotgun to good effect.  He then attempts to teach Chris how to use the weapon to keep the rest of the family safe.

Whether you are in favor of guns are not, there are almost as many guns as people in the U.S. and knowing at the very least how to safely handle a firearm is something you can consider.   A gun is a tool; it can be used to take a life or save a life.  Ensure that you know how to handle them safely, because the life you save may be your own.

Got any drugs?
There is a conflict building between Daniel Salazar and Travis Manawa.   Daniel, an El Salvadoran immigrant who is of an age which suggests he may have seen the worst of the civil war in that country, has survived social upheavals before, and he knows what it takes to survive.  Travis is mired in his normality bias despite staring the walking dead in the face.   This is akin to the Rick-Shane battles of the first and second seasons of The Walking Dead.  It will be interesting to to see how this dynamic play out between two men without a shared common history.  One is an idealistic teacher, the other is a scrappy survivor.

Finally, there is Nick.   Like most addicts, his concern, once the immediate danger has receded, is for his next fix.   Addiction is a powerful motivator, and he is going to become an issue as the series progresses.   He has no intention of getting clean - he has transferred his addiction from heroin to prescription pills.  If you have an addict in your family or are addicted to something yourself, you need to think long and hard about how this is going to impact you in a disaster situation.   Wean yourself from alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs now.  There are resources available in your community to assist you, and you will not only become healthier, you will have more money to prep!

Preparedness Lessons for Episode 103:
  • Know when to bug out.  If you decide to bug in, make sure your location is defensible.
  • Be adaptable.  Know that you may have to change long held attitudes to ensure survival, but be sure you have a set of core principles to serve as an emotional and spiritual anchor.
  • Get trained in firearm safety.
  • Do some self-reflection to determine if you are dependent on a substance or other item in your life, and work to wean yourself from it.   FYI - Starbucks and Dairy Queen will not be open when it hits the fan.
Next Week: We're from the government and we're here to help.  Or kill you. You ARE THE LUCKY ONES!


  1. I appreciate your reviews of this series so far. Travis really, really annoys me - as do most people who "don't like guns." This is because they are great tools to protect your loved ones. As one show I watched (with swords instead of guns) said - "Sadly, your sword exhibits only fear. When you counter, it's because you fear being killed. When you attack, you fear killing. And when you protect someone, you fear you could let them die. At this point, the only thing your sword speaks is senseless fright, and that's not good. What you don't need in battle is fear. Nothing will come of it. When you counter, you don't let them cut you. When you protect someone, you don't let them die. And when you attack, you kill." The other thing that annoys me about him is he thinks that because the military is there, everything's going to be okay. Well, in the end, the military is made up of people...and one thing I've learned about people - if they have no relationship connecting them to you, they won't mind shooting you in the leg and leaving you for walker bait - just like Shane did to Otis.

    1. We see it again and again in crisis situations. First responders do their jobs for about 72-96 hours but if it goes on for much longer, they are going to start thinking about taking care of their families. I am shocked, given that the entire of downtown L.A. is apparently overrun with walkers, that much of the National Guard just didn't show up because they were already dead.