Fear the Walking Dead loses two cast members in underwhelming fashion
It’s proving harder to get all that invested in the characters in Fear the Walking Dead. Each week they make questionable decisions, but at least things are getting interesting.
All along this season’s biggest asset was exploring a setting Walking Dead fans hadn’t seen done better before. With Madison, Travis and company on a boat they were facing unique challenges and moral dilemmas. True, their decisions were putting them in precarious situations, but the ocean backdrop made for a promising situation.
Sicut Cervus finds the group back on land again potentially for good this time. The episode felt a little too similar to the main arc of the sister show’s second season. There, Rick and company dealt with an increasingly psychotic loose cannon willing to sacrifice his allies; found sanctuary at an enclosed location — the farm in their case — and a hidden chamber of captured walkers. Echoing all those story beats felt like an unnecessary rerun when Fear The Walking Dead had a unique aspect.
Another issue this episode was the lack of characters truly willing to make the tough call. In a pinch as usual, viewers can rely on Nick, Strand and Salazar to do what must be done. Even then, the writers have worked hard this season to create vulnerabilities in the show’s best characters. Weakening them wouldn’t be such an issue if the other characters would step up and become interesting, but they remain largely useless.
The episode kicks off with Strand taking the Abigail past a coast guard border patrol. In the fray, Luis gets shot. And while the others were content to sit back, Salazar calmly took his knife and killed the two guards before they could become walkers. Luis’ death felt meaningless since he only got some token character development. To his credit at least Luis was enough of a blank slate that he hadn’t become a frustrating character like most of the Abigail inhabitants.
Shortly after docking, the crew encounters a horde of walkers. This horde were patrons at a local church whose communion wine and wafers were poisoned by Thomas’ caretaker Celia (Marlene Forte). Apparently she’d grown tired of hearing the church bells. That or she figured she’d take them out before they got her.
Strand leads the gang to the Abigail compound. He tells Celia her son is dead, but she’s surprisingly chipper about the news. Strand gets his own bad news. Thomas was bitten in the church incident and is slowly dying. This was a lousy payoff to that subplot. Thomas and Luis were just plot devices to bring the crew to the compound, but their deaths could have been meaningful had they not been killed off so quickly.
During the fray two important events occurred. Salazar began getting flashbacks of his military stint when he presumably killed a young boy on the battlefield. The second was Chris watched Madison get overwhelmed with walkers and didn’t move. Alicia had to save her mother and thankfully she called him out on it. And also told Madison so it wasn’t some prolonged secret. The gang clearly needs to stage a We Need to Talk About Kevin style intervention for Travis.
Like any father should, Travis is defending his son, but in this case, he looks like a moron for ignoring the obvious. Chris is getting progressively more unhinged and is eventually going to get someone Travis cares about killed. On a lesser note, Nick is somewhat rattled from killing a walker child. Sophia was one thing as there was an actual attachment there, but for some random flesh biter? Let’s not lose too much sleep Nick.
Madison continues to annoyingly handle Nick like he’s a toddler she constantly needs to smother. I get her character is supposed to be overcompensating for her ‘role’ in Nick’s addiction, but she really has to recognize the end of the world has been good for him. As is, she just seems to be driving him to Celia, who takes an immediate liking to him especially given Nick’s remorse over Luis’ death.
Salazar smartly questioned the need to turn over his weapons while the others blindly went along with it. His apprehension proved somewhat justified as he stumbled onto a child feeding small animals to his mother — a walker — who was in a cell with a horde of walkers. Like Herschel, Celia is keeping the family together despite their turn to flesh craving maniacs.
Ofelia brings Nick out to the woods so she can talk to her mother and express her concern for her father. The main purpose of this segment seemed to make Nick remember his first encounter with a walker was in a church. Beyond that…? Maybe setting a potential bond between Nick and Ofelia? Fear the Walking Dead definitely doesn’t need to try and make that a thing.
Celia never thought Strand was any good for Thomas, but has come around now he’s going to take a poisoned wafer and die with Thomas. Funny how death always changes people’s opinions. But as he considers it, Strand won’t give up on himself that easily. He shoots Thomas in the head, which has a major impact in the rest of the house.
Chris was on full scary creeper mode entering Alicia’s room where she and Madison were sleeping. They slept through his greeting and he reached for the knife on the side of the bed when the gunshot woke Madison and Alicia. Waking up to your crazy surrogate stepson with a knife in his hand has to go down as one of the worst wake up calls ever.
Instead of going after Chris, Madison just tells him to go as if that’s the best way to handle the situation. Chris is going to be a problem and the main question at this point is how many people he’s going to take with him.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Chris is crazy, but he’s at least unpredictable. The flashback to the farm storyline seems ill-advised given the better at sea premise, but the show definitely has momentum heading to the mid-season break.