Monday, October 5, 2015

Preparedness Review of Fear The Walking Dead Episode 106: The Good Man

Spoiler Alert!!

Soldier (to his Daniel):  I don't want to shoot you old man!
Salazar:  You should save your ammunition! 

Synopsis:  The military begins executing its withdrawal, and the group plans to rescue their family members from the military compound. Travis stops Salazar from killing their captive soldier, and releases him later when no one is watching.  Dr. Exnar arranges for a final evacuation of the medical personnel, and Liza extracts a promise from her to pick up Travis and Chris.  The group leaves without telling their neighbors of the looming danger, and Salazar releases the walkers in the arena as a distraction to get into the military compound.   Nick and Strand escape, and are wandering the corridors avoiding walkers.  The military is overrun, and the air evacuation is canceled.   Liza catches up to her family, and they all escape.  Nick and Alicia are forced to surrender their SUV to three military members deserting their posts, but the group makes it out unscathed, except for Liza, who conceals a bite under her shirt.  They withdraw to Strand's house,  where he has made preparations for an emergency.  Travis shoots Liza, stopping her from coming back, then collapses into the surf.   

The Good Man  opens with an aerial shot of Los Angeles, now abandoned to the walkers and completely dark except for fires raging out of control, taking down whole blocks at a time.   An eerie silence has descended.   Meanwhile, the Clarks and Manawas are busy getting ready to depart, packing emergency supplies and preparing their vehicles to drive out of the subdivision.  The military has already pulled  out, leaving the gate unguarded. As they leave, Madison remarks that there is no time to warn the neighbors, and frankly, none of them lifted a finger for them when the military took Nick and Griselda.  Then again, they didn't lift a finger to help one of their neighbors when she was being eaten on her front lawn. Madison's has a disturbing amount of self-rationalization for her actions.  Daniel wants to kill Cpl. Adams, the soldier the tortured and interrogated, but Travis stops him, saying he will watch him. While no one is looking, Travis lets him go. The group opens the gate and leaves the community.  They do not shut the gate back.  Wow.  Talk about bad blood between neighbors.

Dr. Exnar ... or Mengele.
Meanwhile, Dr. Exener is preparing to transplant the medical staff and patients to Edwards Air Force Base by arranging a helicopter airlift.   Liza bargains with her to get her son, Chris, on the chopper, along with Travis.  Maddie, Nick, Alicia, and the Salazars will be left behind.  Daniel Salazar approaches the perimeter at that point, leading the herd of walkers from the arena to the soldiers as a distraction to allow the group to slip inside and find their loved ones.   The military opens fire, with soldiers panic-firing on full auto in a bid to hold back the flood and get the choppers into the compound.  The choppers hover nearby, then return to base.  Exnar explains to Liza she needs to get out, and begins euthanizing her patients while the medical staff abandons the base in vehicles.  Liza instead goes looking for Nick, who has escaped with Strand and is now wandering about the compound, leaving the other detainees locked inside their cages.  They find the soldier who Strand bribed earlier, being eaten alive by a walker.  Strand gets back his earrings, while explaining that the soldier was his ride out of the facility.

Ofelia and Liza take out a walker.
Travis, Kim, Daniel, and Ofelia infiltrate the compound, while Chris and Alicia guard the vehicles A trio of National Guard soldiers accost the pair while they are having a discussion in which Alicia tells an idealistic Chris that they can't save everyone.    It's an interesting exchange, since his mom, Liza, has already made that decision regarding Alicia.  The soldiers take the SUV while trying to coerce Alicia to come along.  Chris hits the lead soldier and is knock out for his efforts

For once, Strand is less than unflappable.
While exploring the compound, they find out from other detainees that Nick escaped with another man, and Travis insists they open the cells and give the people a fighting chance.    Nick and Strand are cornered in a locked in area of the hospital and about to be overrun by walkers right in front of the rescue party when Liza finds them and uses her ID badge to open the door.  They go to the medical ward, where Exnar is sitting with the bolt gun.  Liza tries to get her to come along while the others gather medical supplies off the shelves.  They leave her there, and she prepares the gun one last time -- to use on herself.

Really?  You shoot Ofelia?
The group retreats through the kitchen and fight off another group of walkers, as the soldiers have now lost control of the base and the fences are down.    Liza breaks the news to the Salazars that Griselda died, and they walk by the ash pile where the bodies of the fallen have been cremated. They reach the cars and find Alicia and Chris essentially unharmed, but with the SUV gone.   Adams reappears, armed with a pistol, and confronts Salazar for torturing him.  He shoots and wounds Ofelia when she tries to interfere, but Travis tackles him and beats him senseless before he can do more damage.  This is the first time Travis has gone "full Rick" and his hands are bloodied and shaking as he contemplates what his act of mercy could have become.

Madison knows something is wrong.
The survivors exfiltrate and use the L.A. river basin to escape the cities, as the highways are clogged with abandoned vehicles and the streets are clogged with walkers.  They arrive at Strand's beach side house, which has a generator and emergency supplies -- and a luxury yacht anchored off the coast.  Liza tends to Ofelia's wound, which is minor but requires regular attention, and she instructs Daniel on how to care for it. Ironically, it is in the same location that her father injured on Adams.   Nick and Madison has a conversation in which Nick relates that he has been lost and out of control for years, and it seems as though the world is catching up with him.  All the supports, all the things people rely on for society to function, are gone.  It's a brave new world, one fraught with peril but also opportunity.

Liza hugs Chris tightly, and moves to the beach, where Madison confronts her.  Liza was bitten on her torso in the kitchen battle, and asks Madison to kill her before she turns.  She also tells Madison that everyone who is bitten dies from infection, that it's not treatable, and that everyone who dies will come back as a walker.  Madison can't do it, and Travis is forced to shoot his ex-wife in the head.  He collapses into the surf as Chris and the others discover what has happened.

 Preparedness Discussion

There is a lot to run through here, so let's jump right in.  First, it is amazing to me that trust among the neighbors in the secure zone has eroded to the point that Team CMS (Clark-Manawa-Salazar) are unwilling to let people know what is about to happen or even shut the gate behind them.  With the walkers out of the arena a couple of miles away, this is going to ensure the downfall of the encampment.   Whenever a crisis occurs, and people are thrust into a survival situation, the veneer of civilization frays the the true character of the person is revealed.   It is astounding that these two teachers, supposedly enlightened, educated people, would make this choice.   Perhaps Travis is a bit further down the road mentally into survival mode than first thought.   He does however, release Adams, which later comes back to bite him.

Likewise, Salazar's true character is revealed in how he plans to rescue his wife.  To him, the military is the clear enemy, and worthy of unrestricted warfare.   He releases the walkers from the arena and leads them to the doorstep without a hint of remorse for what will happen.  It is an action reminiscent of Shane's kneecapping of Otis in Season 2 of The Walking Dead.  It's hard to believe the rest of them went along with it.  Maybe they thought the military could handle the horde with its firepower, but regardless, his action indirectly led to the death of soldiers, civilians, and most importantly, Chris' mother, Liza, all to save a woman who was already dead and cremated.   It took Rick Grimes to Season 4 to become that ruthless.  Salazar is already there.  It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in Season 2 between Travis, Chris, and Daniel.  As it stands, Daniel's actions are pretty horrific, even by the standards of this fictional universe.

As a dramatic aside, while I understand military operations have their challenges, and that sometimes the military is more of a blunt instrument as opposed to a scalpel, these are American soldiers on American soil. In fact, they are National Guard members that by definition are sourced from local National Guard units, most likely, and I have real issues with how their interactions with civilians has been handled in this show.  It's appears that the producers were trying to make a statement regarding the Afghanistan-Iraq Wars but using U.S. troops to brutalize American citizens.

While Salazar views the military through the lens of a brutal civil war in Latin America and thus would be distrustful, the military does not have a history of repressing the citizenry in this country.  Further, many national Guard units are manned by veterans of multiple deployments, and are not manned by young soldiers.

I know several members of my state's National Guard, and none of them would treat U.S. citizens with the callousness displayed here.   They are used to working with civilians during emergencies like floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters, often providing needed assistance all over the state.  They are considered valued assets in our communities, and National Guard armories are centers of the community where sports events, school functions, and community dinners are held.  The way this thread has unfolded in the story is disjointed at best and nothing more than a thinly veiled political anti-war statement at worst.

Speaking of Liza, she is the one character who shines in this episode.  She knows she has a death sentence, but uses her last minutes to see to Ofelia and spend precious time to connect with her son.   I have to say the Travis-Liza-Madison triangle is handled a lot better by the characters than the Rick-Lori-Shane triangle on the original show. They act like adults, but of course Liza isn't sneaking behind Madison's back to sleep with Travis and Travis isn't muddying the waters by leading them both on.   When Travis is forced to shoot Liza, Madison is there to comfort him.  Cliff Curtis does a very good job here.

I appreciate that Team CMS (and yes, I am trademarking that term) was able to bug out quickly.  I searched for evidence that they had husbanded the long-term storage food represented by the military MREs for the trip and used their household food on a day-to-day basis but could not find any.   I hope that is the case.   As you prepare and store food, your plan should include conventional pantry food (canned goods, comfort foods, snacks) and bulk staples (rice and beans) along with long term storage food (Mountain House, MREs) to ensure you have some portable, lightweight food in case you have to leave your home for a time.  A 72-hour supply could suffice, but have some portable nutrition available. It is up to you to decide based on your personal situation.

Finally, there is the issue of Mr. Strand, a man of means who likes to be prepared for all eventualities.   His house is rigged with a standby generator and supplies, as well as a convenient yacht Team CMS can use to escape the carnage onshore.  While this might seem appealing, how many people can the yacht support, and frankly, how much food does he have?  There are now eight mouths to feed.   It was nice for the group to have a fallback position, but I have to believe it isn't secure for long.  If they are getting out to sea, they need to make it happen quickly and locate better firearms.  I wish they had grabbed better weapons from the military.   

Remember, if you are the only prepper in your family, odds are your family is going to come to you in an emergency.  You need to either be clear about what you expect the family members should bring (food, clothing, medicine) or be ready to provide for them.

Preparedness Lessons from Episode 106:
  • A crisis reveals your true nature as well as the nature of those around you.   Get to know your neighbors or your preparedness group well.  Know the weak links, and know who to watch.  If your group has reservations about a member, get rid of them, or at the very least, be ready to cut ties if they step out of line.  Communicate group expectations clearly.
  • Make sure to layer your food storage.   Have regular pantry food, bulk goods like rice and beans, and lightweight emergency food.  Ensure you have spices, oils, and things like dried milk to uses, and experiment with recipes using these ingredients beforehand.  You can't go from nuking TV dinners to crockpot meatloaf without some experimentation.
  • Think long-term regarding your preparedness, and how many people will be under your roof when the merde hits the fan.  Be honest.  Is everyone in your family going to come running to you in an emergency? 

Next week:  The Walking Dead debuts, and we're gonna see some epic carnage.  See you for Season 2 of Fear the Walking Dead next year.

No comments:

Post a Comment