AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
7×01: “The Beacon”
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by Ian Goldberg & Andrew Chambliss
* For a recap & review of the Season 6 finale, click here.
* For a recap & review of 7×02, click here.
It’s a nuclear wasteland starting off Season 7, after those rockets went off and made the surrounding areas fallout central. That means people have to check food and water for radiation, often finding little to eat. There are shadows left imprinted on walls where people stood during the blast. There’s a layer of ashy snow sitting over everything in sight. Ponds in the area sit stagnant with dead fish in them. One lonely survivor keeps a map, marking off all the contaminated areas nearby, walking each day to look for anything useable, especially food. He conserves water and what little food he has, sleeping in a van during the night to shelter from the nuclear fallout, the zombies, and potentially other survivors with bad intentions.
The survivor comes upon a lighthouse one day and heads up inside. There’s a single zombie up there, so he kills it then has a look around, noticing nothing but old wrappers and empty cans; again, nothing useable. The survivor heads home and has to use a dead possum for dinner. He sits by a fire cooking the animal, crying. A zombie comes out of the woods and the survivor lets it come for him, before people come out of the woods and shoot the walker. They take a photograph of the zombie, then tell the survivor to come with them, but he tries to run away, slips, and cracks his head on a rock.
The man comes to later having his clothes cut off by people in contamination suits. They shower him down with lye like a prisoner in a cage. After that, they take the man to a building and head up an elevator. When they get upstairs he tries to get away, and we see he’s at the place where we last saw Strand, in that safe building. Victor stops the survivor from grabbing a sword—not just any sword, one that “dates back to the War of 1812.” No surprise to find our man not just surviving but thriving, it seems. He and Howard are living it up. They also appear to have an army behind them, and Strand’s even wearing the military getup to play the part. The survivor’s name is Will (Gus Halper), and he’s curious why Victor’s helping him, though he’s happy to eat real food again. Will used to be a Democratic senator’s aide. He was with the senator until things went bad and the senator “didn‘t make it.” He mentions people stripping the dead, but he doesn’t know who they are, since everything is all masks, no faces these days; great parallel to our current pandemic existence.
Strand and Howard have quite the place. You can paint, you can do yoga, you can listen to classic music, so long as you “have value.” Victor is perpetually seeking to be the man, ever since the world fell apart. He’s a great leader since “the Great Destruction,” offering his “denizens” shelter and the promise of a future. But it’s easy to see it’s all gone to his head, just by the way he talks. He and Howard are “laying the foundations for a new civilisation,” as if it’s a brand new idea in the wasteland, like it’s not something Victor thought he’d been doing before on a lesser level. Victor decides he won’t let Will stay. Then Will hands over a medallion, the same one Strand gave to Alicia a while back. If he can leave Strand to where he found it then he’ll be allowed to stay.
Great moment when Victor talks to Will about history being “written by the victors“—bit of a play on words with his own name—and how there’s no sense in trying to make things right with people, revealing how Strand feels about the people he once considered friends, all those people he’s fucked over since the start of the zombie apocalypse. A rotten soul, which we see more and more every passing season.
Will takes Victor and the latter’s men back to where he stayed in the van and they all have a look around. They see one of the stripped walkers, as well. But then Will mentions a “her” and this alerts Strand to the fact this was a ruse, that Will must know Alicia. Suddenly people come out firing guns, forcing Strand and his men to return fire, all of which draws zombies. Strand and Will take cover in the latter’s van while the former’s men get chomped by nuclear walkers. Victor’s figuring things out on his own and he’s going to go find Alicia himself, only concerned about ‘winning’ or whatever that means to him.Though Victor goes off on his own, returning to the tower before heading for the Franklin, he’s tracked down again by Will, who wants to have a little chat. Will heard all about Strand from Alicia. He wanted to see if Victor was “worth saving,” that’s why the ruse. We also see what Strand thinks of “leadership” in this conversation, preferring to rule out of fear than love. Will talks about Alicia being locked up during the nuclear apocalypse, how it didn’t turn her into someone awful, rather it helped her understand even more that leadership requires people coming together.
Will was kicked out of the community, yet he still deeply respects Alicia. He wanted to bring Victor back, to ingratiate himself into the community once more. Strand doesn’t think that’d work anyway. Eventually Victor makes a move and the two men wrestle until Will gets things under control again with his gun. Now Will thinks the world’s better off without Strand. He’s about to let the zombies have Victor before he sees zombies he recognises from the bunker, believing something bad’s happened. That somehow draws sympathy out of Strand.
So Will uses a bit of gas to power up the lighthouse, turning on the high-powered light at the top, giving Strand a bit of vision in the fog to try cutting down some of the zombie horde. The light cuts out, though, and that leaves Victor in the midst of the fog with walkers swarming. Will calls out to Victor but gets no answer, so he takes a lantern and heads down into the fog, only to be surrounded by the dead. Thankfully Victor’s still kicking and he slices up a bunch of walkers, getting help from one of Will’s bullets. Neither of them saw Alicia amongst the zombies; one good sign, at least.
Will and Strand get back to the ruins of the hotel and head for the bunker. Everything’s eerily quiet and there’s not a soul to be found: “It‘s a ghost town.” Whatever went down it was a long while ago, judging by the state of the plants they were keeping, now dry and dying. Will and Strand see the remnants of the old tree, and they also see a mural which looks like it depicts Alicia walking behind someone, perhaps a zombie. There’s also a note left addressed to Will, simply saying PADRE. Hmm, mysterious! Will doesn’t know what the word means, he says “it might not even exist;” another one of those supposed utopian places in the post-zombie apocalypse wasteland. Nevertheless, Will’s blaming himself for whatever’s happened to his people in the bunker. Strand thinks Will loved Alicia, too. He also can’t deny his own love for Alicia.
Strand and Will take the lighthouse’s tower light back to the former’s building fortress. This way, hopefully Alicia, wherever she is out there, and others from the bunker will see the light, then find them. Will now believes in Victor, after spending more time with him, fighting beside him. Strand, in spite of his love for Alicia and his better self, still wants to do things his own way. Because the light’s not meant to draw Alicia, it’s meant to crowd the place with zombies outside so that nobody wants to come inside. Still might draw Alicia, or Morgan, or who knows who else. Victor doesn’t care, because he’s truly losing his mind and his soul.