REVIEW: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD – S1 EP5 “Cobalt”

Cliff Curtis as Travis and Kim Dickens as Madison - Fear The Walking Dead _ Season 1, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC
Cliff Curtis as Travis and Kim Dickens as Madison – Fear The Walking Dead _ Season 1, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC

REVIEW: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD – S1 EP5 “Cobalt”

In last week’s review, I focused on the role fear played in the episode as well as the effect that fear of the unknown had on the characters. Fear of the unknown is most devastating when the unknown is inside of us or in those that we think we know the best. In tonight’s episode, titled “Cobalt”, that theme is expanded upon – its effects extending beyond the principal players to encompass the secondary characters.

“Cobalt” begins with Madison and Travis’ neighbor, Doug being grilled by a fellow quarantined inmate. Already a quivering mess, Doug breaks down even further and is of no use to himself or anyone else. Also locked up in quarantine is Nick, who was taken by the military along with Doug at the conclusion of last week’s episode. Meanwhile as Liza helps Dr. Exner care for the sick at the military facility, her decision to join the relief effort is causing trouble back at home. Chris begins to feel the tension surrounding his mom’s mysterious decision to leave without an explanation and his reaction places further strain on Madison and Travis.

In “Cobalt”, the safe zone begins to feel less and less like a haven. What began as a welcome scene for the military begins to deteriorate as the residents of the safe zone feel as though it is more of an occupation. Their quest for answers go unheeded until the Salazars take matters into their own hands. The cracks begin to show in the ranks of the military as well. Outside of the safe zone, LA is slowly becoming a war zone and after being embedded with the military, Travis is faced with the horrors that await the soldiers on a daily basis.

The episode brings up interesting ethical questions especially surrounding what individuals will do to justify actions they believe are necessary and right. The military and government have reasons for their actions and the Salazars feel justified to do what they are doing. Which side is right? That depends on your perspective. There are those on one side that believe in the system (even if it’s broken) vs those that have no faith in it at all. It’s this burgeoning conflict that beats within the heart of the conflict in Fear the Walking Dead. Morality trumps survival for some and their actions and what they believe in may determine their chances of survival. But even if they survive, at what cost?

Once again Rubén Blades delivers a powerful but restrained performance. His Daniel is a man who has seen much before relocating to America, and his determination to get answers not only causes friction between Travis and Madison but also sets up a final scene that will have viewers on edge until next week’s season ending episode of Fear the Walking Dead hits the airwaves.