AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 1: “Monster”
Directed by Adam Davidson
Written by Dave Erickson
* For a review of the Season 1 finale, “The Good Man” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “We All Fall Down” – click here
Back again for another season, and out on the open sea, too!
The first episode of Fear the Walking Dead‘s Season 2 opens on Madison Clark (Kim Dickens), Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) and their families, or what’s left of them, on the beach by the water. On the boat named Abigail, Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) and Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) are regrouping. Everywhere on the shores nearby looks devastated.
And as Chris Manawa (Lorenzo James Henrie) mourns the death of his mother, zombies start to encroach on their brief reprieve. Travis and Madison fend off a bunch of the undead, as best they can. They’re a pretty kick ass team.
Luckily they all make it free of shore and off into the water by a small motorboat, as Nick gets Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades), his mother, and the rest out of harm’s way and onto Abigail.
But what next? Where does their new course take them? Safe, for now, everyone watches their city get blown to bits. An ominous, terrifying sight. Sort of like a moment we saw in The Walking Dead when Shane and Lori saw Atlanta getting bombed.
Out on the high seas, Madison and the group see a bunch of people stranded in the ocean. Strand isn’t willing to stop, though, Madison, her daughter Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), they want to help them. In the early days not everybody is willing to simply help people first thing. People are suspicious. Strand is one of those because he saw some of the darker shit the military were doing, so he understands. Madison hasn’t seen all that, not as much as someone like him.
The foreboding warnings on the radio are creepy, eerily reminiscent of the classic zombie films from George A. Romero, as officials warn there is no help – not by air, not by sea, certainly not on land. Imagine hearing that. What a punch to the gut.
Strand: “The whole world is I don‘t know right now”
Nothing is good for these people. The zombie apocalypse has begun, but the human drama is still always there. We know that from its parent series. Right now there’s Travis dealing with his son, whose feelings about his mother are obviously tumultuous. And there’s Alicia, she’s a young person which is already tough, then add on top of that the effective end of the world. So to be going through a formative period of life then have this happen? Can’t be easy. For the time being, she chats over a radio with someone playing tunes over a station, soundtrack to the collapse.
In lieu of bonding with his father, Chris finds himself fishing with Daniel. They’ve both lost someone close to them: “Neither of us got to say goodbye,” says Chris. And Travis sees them, bonding or whatever it is they’re doing. Hopefully he’s not the type to be jealous. After all, he did have to shoot his ex-wife. Zombie virus or no zombie virus; tough to get over for everyone involved. Travis asks Daniel about it later, and the older of the two reminds him that what he did for his ex-wife was the right thing: “What I wouldn‘t give to trade my failure for your mercy,” Daniel tells him.
On the radio, Alicia tells the guy she’s talking to a little too much about Strand’s yacht. Trouble? You bet.
Speaking of Strand, he’s mysterious. Everybody is watching him closely, particularly Madison and definitely Daniel. They’re grateful, at least Madison is, but Daniel has suspicions. About his intentions, his “motives” possibly.
Everyone on board attends a brief, semi-funeral for Liza. An emotional scene, as Travis eulogizes his ex-wife, and Chris says goodbye to his mother. He dumps her overboard pretty fast. Then father and son have a fight. This is quite clearly a rift they won’t soon get over.
The voice on the radio asks Alicia for help. She gives up a bit of information trying to help coordinate their locations. Only Strand is not happy with everyone else doing whatever it is they want on his “goddamn boat“, and I can’t say I blame him. Healthy scepticism. The relationship between Strand and Nick is interesting, too. I enjoyed them in the latter part of the first season. Hoping they’ll go further as friends and allies because there’s something kindred about them, beneath the exterior.
Later, they all sit to a fancily prepared meal, as if nothing ever happened. Though, the air is heavy with tension in certain places. Out on the boat’s edge Chris jumps in. Without a though, Nick goes in after him. But he just wanted to take a little swim, so then he and Nick wade around a little.
When Alicia tries to tell the guy on the radio they won’t be coming, he replies: “I got you. I‘ll see you soon.” And upstairs, a radar detector goes off on Strand’s console. And above Nick down under the surface floats a zombie. In fact, there a ton of them in the water ahead in the wreck of a boat. The altruistic side of Nick continues to emerge, and he heads off saying there’s a voice nearby. Turns out the smashed boat is a result of bullets; lots of ’em.
Strand finds someone on their trail. “Could be no one,” he says. Also could be the people who shot down the other boat. I knew Alicia never should have gotten on that radio. Guaranteed they’re involved in the fate of this other boat. Now they’re headed back for the survivors.
I enjoyed this opener to Season 2. Introduced us to what will most likely last a few episodes, trouble on the ocean. Next episode is titled “We All Fall Down” and will hopefully start in with more action and excitement to get the season rolling.