If Grotesque is any indication, the summer hiatus did little to fix what ails Fear the Walking Dead.
The episode was a character spotlight on Nick, generally regarded as one of the three intelligent cast members. Naturally, Grotesque continued to put Nick in scenarios where he and others behaved like idiots.
When last we saw him, Nick decided to split from the group, including his mother and sister, due to their habit of ruining everything. That’s a fair statement for a member of the Rick Grimes gang, but there’s hardly a precedent for this crew.
Departing the compound, Nick opts to take a spiritual hike to Tijuana. With a backpack of supplies and exactly one jug of water, Nick sets across the desert. Not for a journey of self discovery, but to take an extended road trip. Nick clearly seems to enjoy the feel of walker blood as he continues coating himself in the stuff.
Along the way, Nick barely escapes a trio of gun-wielding adrenaline junkies who apparently just drive around to shoot walkers. For some reason, the trio becomes brainless as they attack a mini walker herd and politely wait for the walkers to overtake them, killing two of them. At least the third guy was smart enough to walk away. Nick wasn’t as smart as he walked among the herd seemingly hoping his star power would protect him from the hailstorm of bullets.
Nick’s brain lapses continued. He had some pretty awful moments in that regard. Two of the worst instances came because Nick didn’t grasp the concept of staying woke even while asleep. In the first, he found a shelter that wasn’t so abandoned and got ran off by a bat-wielding mother. Bye bye supplies. The second was probably worse though as he slept out in the desert against a car. If he’d only…slept in the car chances are pretty good he wouldn’t have encountered a pair of bite happy dogs. At least now Nick’s walker cosplay has an even higher degree of authenticity.
When the mini walker herd approached the dogs, they decided to attack the walkers and became supper for their trouble. Nick smiling at the dogs’ fate was kinda cruel, but him eating some of the dog meat was fittingly grotesque. And poor Nick has to resort to drinking his own urine to quench his thirst. Did I say poor Nick? I meant stupid Nick.
It’s hard to find much room for sympathy with a character that willingly placed themselves in this position. Sure, Madison was a bit overprotective, but that hardly seemed to warrant leaving her and Alicia for the sake of wandering aimlessly.
Throughout the episode, a stream of flashbacks look at Nick’s stint in rehab with fellow addict Gloria (Lexi Johnson). These didn’t particularly help flesh Nick out as a character — the writers continue to make being an addict his defining trait. The only significant insight provided was Madison coming to visit one day to tell him his father died in a head-on collision. Also, Gloria was the girl Nick was getting high with in the church that became a walker in the first episode.
Eventually, Nick meets Luciana (Danay Garcia) and two of her allies. They’re part of a larger community with a doctor Alejandro (Paul Calderon), vendors and a makeshift. Let’s see how Nick manages to screw this up.
Grotesque was a frustrating return to form for the worst of FTWD even with the focus on one of its best characters. This is a show that would markedly improve with the characters behaving in a smarter, more realistic manner. Until then, it’s going to regularly be an inconsistent experience from week to week.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Richard Foreman Jr/AMC