Yesterday it was reported widely—and briefly—that over 700 Muslim pilgrims were massacred when human stampedes erupted on a ritual journey to Mecca. I stress “briefly” because every few years we hear of such semi-suicidal, lemming-like massacres among the Hajj-driven faithful, yet journalists, always afraid to trespass into sociology, never offer any rational account for civilians trampling one another. The reports are conveniently brief, relieving us of the responsibility of an explanation. Usually, some clueless middle-manager is blamed, and the story ends. One Saudi official proclaimed the tragedy was a sign of “God’s will”, a rather unsatisfactory explanation of urban planning so poor that it spurred rampant manslaughter. The tragicomedy thus seems inscrutable and exotic: when overpopulation and religious delusion merge, the faithful will be smothered by their own faith, the masses crushed under their own mass.
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Fear the Walking Dead’s fourth episode, “Not Fade Away”, opens to the strains of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”. The allusion sets the mood: happy relaxation tinged with something more sinister beneath. Although Reed sings lazily of “sangria in the park”, that wistful feeling turns bitter as the song continues, especially in lines like “you made me forget myself / I thought I was someone else/ someone good.”
In the same way, life in L.A. seems relatively tranquil for Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) and his family, at least in the episode’s early scenes. We find Travis out for his morning run; Nick (Frank Dillane) lounges by the pool; Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) films the surrounding landscape from the rooftop. In fact, these scenes play as though the show has gone back in time, to before the crisis began.
At this moment, I am watching MSNBC, and across the screen flashes a banner: “Breaking News: Donald Trump Refuses to Correct Questioner Who Believes Obama is Muslim!” Though hardly startling news, Trump’s exchange with two supporters at a rally, replayed on MSNBC ad nauseam and soon appearing everywhere else, is a remarkable embarrassment in an election cycle predicated on ceremonial public humiliations. The exchange proceeded as follows:
At this point in the season, Fear the Walking Dead is built on dualities and parallels. This begins, of course, with Travis Manawa’s (Cliff Curtis) two families: his ex-wife, Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez), and son, Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie); his girlfriend Madison (Kim Dickens), and her two children, Nick (Frank Dillane) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey). This episode begins, in fact, by emphasizing that duality, the two families separated: Travis and Chris are holed up downtown with the Salazar family, and Madison and her children are riding out the blackout at home.
And there you have it. The F Society team has finally, once and for all, sprung several dogs from captivation and saved the world. Oh yeah, and the hack that has been discussed since episode one? That has finally been executed too.
We’ve seen numerous hacks in season one, usually with Elliot (Rami Malek) walking us through the technicalities as he ruins this life or that one, all in the name of the overall good. The ironic part of Mr. Robot’s finale is that we do not, in fact, see this hack carried out. Instead, we catch up with Elliot two days after the hack, as its effects are starting to truly sink in worldwide. This doesn’t mean that Elliot is basking in the glory of his success. In fact, he is just as lost as we are, as he remembers just as much about the operation as the viewer.