Pillar of Salt saw a vast majority of the goodwill earned the previous two episodes wash away. The writers continue to have the characters act in moronic fashion in order to advance the story. There’s no harsh weather condition, onslaught of walkers or evil ganglord as dangerous as the main cast’s ability to constantly put themselves in harm’s way.
Let’s just go to the biggest offender — Madison. This is a character we should be rooting for, but she constantly makes the most boneheaded moves. On that front, Pillar of Salt might have been her signature episode. And that doesn’t account for the previous episode where she noisily shattered glasses prompting a walker riot.
Life at the hotel was getting downright cozy. The generator was back up allowing Strand to add a little ice in his drinks. Alicia was learning the essential life skill in the new walker world of surfing and Madison was getting comfortable being in charge.
Since this show can’t have nice things, Eileen — the ‘crazy’ mom came knocking on Elena’s door. Somehow getting the petite Latina woman confused with the tall black man, she stabs Strand. Since Strand and Madison just survived a bar full of walkers there’s little suspense here.
This was really just an excuse to send Madison and Elena out for supplies. Coincidentally, they went to a gang-controlled supply warehouse run Marco. Marco wants to know the location of Alejandro’s camp to eliminate the middle man in his trade game. One of Alejandro’s trusted lieutenants, Francisco, decided to skip out with his family to get her proper medical care only to get caught by the gang.
Francisco and his family’s plight isn’t the issue though. They’re just a convenient way to clumsily get the band back together. Madison has Elena translate Francisco’s interrogation and ridiculously overreacts at the mention of a guy with stringy hair. Clearly that’s Nick because every other guy has access to shampoo. In one full swoop, Madison endangers Elena and Strand.
Since that wasn’t enough, immediately upon arriving back at the hotel she turns the exterior lights on as a beacon for Nick. Thankfully, Alicia rightfully chews her out and questions why Madison is so obsessed with saving Nick. The best case scenario for the season finale is Madison having to choose which of her children to save in a Telltale Game kind of moment. Only problem is I doubt the writers would be willing to lose Nick so early in the series.
Nick, meanwhile is causing his own trouble. After leaving Madison and company because they ruin everything they come in contact with, Nick is doing the same with Alejandro’s camp. With more of the community leaving, Nick is suddenly woke and realizing Alejandro isn’t the amazing leader he believed. Nick should have whiplash from this abrupt about face. Last week, he was bucking for an unofficial promotion in Alejandro’s group and now he’s having second thoughts? He’ll have to worry about them later as Marco’s men have already found the camp.
Turns out Ofelia didn’t get the Sophia treatment. She was just being the smartest person on the show by taking the truck and leaving the others behind. Considering how they’ve managed to stumble from one disaster to the next it’s hard to blame Ofelia. Through flashbacks, we’re shown her getting engaged and having a heart to heart with her mother about love. With a new focus, Ofelia drives towards the U.S. and potentially her not dead ex-fiancé.
The show continues to frustratingly play by its own rules. Ofelia previously never even mentioned this old flame and out of the blue she has a new purpose. But it seems like it’ll be another three episodes before that subplot continues at this rate.
The most intriguing aspect of this episode was Travis seeing the hotel light in the distance — and seemingly heading towards it alone. Did Chris finally completely snap forcing Travis to kill him or simply abandon him?
Next week’s Travis-focused episode looks like it should get things back on track. Or maybe the series just needs to spend more time with its suddenly interesting co-main character?
Rating: 5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Richard Foreman/AMC