From Cliff Curtis

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 14: “Wrath”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 14: “Wrath”
Directed by Stefan Schwartz
Written by Kate Barnow

* For a review of the previous episode, “Date of Death” – click here
* For a review of the Season 2 finale, “North” – click here
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Here we are at the penultimate episode of Season 2! Can’t believe it’s here so quick, honestly.
Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) is off on her own still, only the truck she’s driving breaks down on the road. As she takes care of it a couple walkers sneak up on her. She manages to get out of a jam, but now she finds herself on foot, walking down across a long wall in the middle of the desert. Is she headed back into the U.S. or what is the plan? I only hope she doesn’t get eaten alive.
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Nick (Frank Dillane) and Luciana (Danay Garcia) lay in bed together, having gotten closer with each episode as of late. Except he and his buddy Reynaldo (Cuauhtli Jiménez) are sneaking around under the nose of Alejandro (Paul Calderon) trying to make sure things go smoothly for the colonia.
At the hotel, Madison (Kim Dickens) watches over her newly returned husband Travis (Cliff Curtis) sleeping. They’re not doing well since his fateful last moments with Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) before he callously left his father behind. “Hes safer with people who understand him,” Madison tries to explain. Not going to fly right now. It’s hard, no matter how shitty of a person they are, to let go of someone you love, especially a child.
At the overtaken supermarket, Nick and Reynaldo head in with the oxy. Not only that, they want to see Marco (Alejandro Edda). They offer him oxy, every week, for a promise to be left alone to their own devices. Turns out Marco doesn’t need them any longer, and that spells trouble for their little colonia. ‘Cause this Marco, he’s fucking ruthless.
Serving up a bit of breakfast, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) tries to bond a bit with Travis. She feels as if she pushed his son away because of his behaviour. Rightfully so, which he readily admits, too. “Hes sick,” Travis tells her. He knows, it’s just a damn hard thing to accept as a father. He further apologises not for protecting her when Chris went haywire on them.
Worse than anything is the fact Brandon (Kelly Blatz) and Derek (Kenny Wormald) have wound up in the hotel. And when Madison asks about how they got there, they make it sound like their friend driving, who we assume is Chris, didn’t make it. Shit. That’s going to devastate Travis if and when he finds out. Madison goes to tell Strand (Colman Domingo) about what she’s discovered. He thinks they’ve got to try and keep it from Travis, at least until they can figure out what to do from here. He worries that if Travis finds out Chris is gone for good, it may do terrible and irreparable harm. “Hes already broken, thatll kill him,” confirms Madison.

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Back at the colonia, Nick lets Luciana know about their new predicament, advising they tell Alejandro. The head honcho isn’t pleased; not about the whole thing, nor about Nick going out on his own. There’s a bit of zombie trouble first, though. A walker stumbles in, about to bite Nick, and Alejandro takes a CHOMP right in his forearm. Nick tumbles over a railing with the living corpse, and this puts it right in the hospital bed of unsuspecting patient – whose nose gets bits off – then a nurse gets her fingers eaten. All before Nick puts an end to the zombie by pushing his fingers into its eyeballs until POP! What a god damn mess, every bit. Tragic, yet an awesome scene of chaos.
Along the border fence, Ofelia finds a hole cut, and starts in through the desert on the other side. At the same time in the colonia, those bitten – excluding Alejandro – head through the bus, into the wall of undead. Now Nick is worried that soon the “shooting starts” and he knows “faith is not gonna protect us.” He wants Luciana to go, although she isn’t as willing. Until Alejandro reveals to her he isn’t immune, that he was bitten by an addict, then the story went wild. She won’t leave with Nick, no matter the lie.
The hotel turns into chaos, as well. Refugees there in the parking garage aren’t happy that Brandon and Derek are being treated first. Little do they know this is a ploy for Madison to get them out of there without Travis knowing. Only he sees this from upstairs, spying the men who were with Chris. He manages to get down there before they’re tossed out.
Out of nowhere Ofelia gets bullets fired near her feet. She takes off to find what little cover she can. A man (Dayton Callie) with a rifle stalks her down, removing her knife: “Welcome to America.”

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Travis has Brandon and Derek taken back inside. He wants to know about Chris. Things get very, very tense. They tell him how it all went on the road. When Chris volunteered to drive, he dozed off and flipped their truck. Instant death through the windshield. Or is it really how things went down? Travis starts noticing their stories don’t add up. Little slips of the tongue. So he locks everyone outside, then starts in on beating the two young men. He kicks the living shit out of them before Brandon confesses: “We killed him.” His injuries were too bad and they decided to put him down. No surprise there. And that’s all Travis needed to hear. He cranks Brandon’s arm back out of its socket. Derek tries to fight him off, but Travis lets the beast out and demolishes what’s left of them both. Even stomps Brandon’s head in leaving him dead like Chris was on the road. Savage.

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What a whopper of a penultimate episode. Can’t wait for “North” up next.

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Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 13: “Date of Death”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 13: “Date of Death”
Directed by Christoph Schrewe
Written by Brian Buckner

* For a review of the previous episode, “Pillar of Salt” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Wrath” – click here
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Swarms of bodies are at the gates of the hotel. But not walkers: people. They’re refugees trying to find safe haven. Madison (Kim Dickens), Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), Elena (Karen Bethzabe), they all stand there not knowing how to turn people away, yet having to do just that.
Then in the crowd Madison sees a face – it’s Travis (Cliff Curtis). He’s finally come back to her.
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We switch back to some time before with Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) standing over the dead man he shot. This is the moment which ultimately devastates his father. For the time being, Travis sticks around to try helping James (Israel Broussard) got shot in the process, doing a bit of stitching to the best of his ability. The humanity of Travis is still there; he digs a grave for the man who owned the farm, even makes a cross to go on top: “I dont even know your name,” he laments over the closed up grave afterwards. Later that night everyone sits by the fire and eats chicken, enjoying the farm’s commodities, except Travis. He has no time for the way his son’s acting after having murdered a man in cold blood. I genuinely don’t like Chris. He is a “savage” just like his father says.
Cut to Travis at the gates of the hotel. Alicia asks him outright where Chris is, and the look on his face certainly does nothing to assuage any fears she might have in her heart. But again, I can’t stand Chris. He deserves whatever he gets.
Madison and Travis talk about Nick (Frank Dillane) a little. Inevitably, Chris comes up. Travis tells her “I had no choice.” And so we’re back to the farm again. The chicken is gone, then the crew are ready to move out after a week; heading to San Diego. Feeling it isn’t the right choice, Travis does his own thing around the farm a while. He searches the house to try and find the owner’s name. After finding a wallet, he’s able to carve out the name in his cross: Elias Suarez. Soon they all board the truck and leave. Not long and they have to stop because James isn’t healed enough to travel. And you know what that means – Travis is at odds with the group again, as they’re ready to leave James behind to die.

 

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Guns are drawn and shit gets serious. Travis waits it out with James to try protecting him from the group. Chris ends up coming in and tricking his father, they hold him down and then James is murdered in mid sentence. “Your way doesn’t work,” Chris tells his father before leaving with the other two men: “Im better off without you.” He believes that who he’s becoming is right. He has actually become a sociopath. Much as I hate him, seeing Travis have to watch him drive off is heartbreaking.
At the hotel, Travis at least feels lucky to be at the hotel with Madison. He still feels guilt for what’s happened to his son. “I left him,” he tells Madison. She tries to reassure him things will be okay, but sadly too much has happened and right now Travis is profoundly wounded. His morality is all mixed up for having lost his boy.
Meanwhile, there’s all the refugees. They were let in because the people at the hotel haven’t become hardened, they still want to help others as much as they can. Alicia is checking people out in a makeshift medical tent, although her mother comes to get her – Madison reveals the truth about her father’s death not being an accident, and in fact a suicide. His note simply stated: I LOVE YOU ALL BUT ENOUGH’S ENOUGH. This, of course, rocks Alicia. The honest openness of Madison is enough to keep mother and daughter from any hurt feelings, even if it’s tough to digest. Alicia is strong, though, and together these women can get through anything. At the same time I can see there’ll likely be fallout from this decision of Madison’s because Alicia still feels upset deep down. And who wouldn’t be?

 

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They’ve got worse things to worry about right now. Because at the gates, up turn the group Travis left behind. You know he can’t be in the same place as them. Will Chris pull Travis back in and will they be let past the gates? Or will someone let them through unknowingly? Is Chris even with them??
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Can’t wait for next episode – “Wrath” – and I’m hoping for a big, angry confrontation! This was a nice episode. I’ve seen reviews already saying it was boring, nothing happened, same old stuff. This is the episode I’ve waited for, to see a rift open up between father and son. Again, that’s also paralleled in the troubles Madison has with her own kids, albeit less intense than Travis and Chris.
Either way, pumped for the next chapter in Season 2.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 11: “Pablo & Jessica”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 11: “Pablo & Jessica”
Directed by Uta Briesewitz
Written by Kate Erickson

* For a review of the previous episode, “Do Not Disturb” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Pillar of Salt” – click here
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Victor (Colman Domingo) and Madison (Kim Dickens) are trapped in the hotel bar. Surrounded by a wall of walkers. They do their best to start taking out zombies, one by one, when Madison can hear Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) calling out from somewhere. Bad ass mom starts taking charge, as she and Victor cover themselves in dead blood to mask their scent. Slowly, they push through the throngs of living dead to get out of the bar. The pair climb up to a balcony, at least away from the walkers a moment. Certain areas of the building are just – pardon the pun – dead quiet. Not a soul around. Strand believes maybe, if it came down to it, Alicia would leave: “To survive.” And for a second Madison almost believes that.
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They keep hydrated, stay vigilant, as outside the zombies ramble around. From a way off they hear living people banging on a door. It’s Alicia and Elena. Reunited again. Strand’s not exactly happy to see strangers, though.
Back in the protected Mexican villa, Nick (Frank Dillane) is adjusting to some kind of new life. He’s trying to make up for his recent mess, offering his services to Alejandro (Paul Calderon). He wants to use his junkie experience to make things right. Out comes that old side of Nick he left behind him. Alejandro watches on as Nick shows off a little drug magic to “2020” by Suuns. Nice, fun little sequence to add in amongst the horror of it all.
Madison doesn’t want to leave Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) behind, not without knowing for sure where she’s gone. Strand and Alicia don’t think it’s worth it, as Ofelia didn’t think they’d make it anyways. She probably left on her own. At the same time, Elena lets the group know about some supplies still kicking around the hotel. Victor and Madison go to try talking with a man named Oscar (Andres Londono), although that’s not exactly easy at first. After dropping their weapons, Madison takes charge: “Im tired of runnin‘, Victor.”
She tries to convince Oscar and his people they need each other. First, they need to clear out all the zombies. Only they don’t want Elena to stay because of what she did. Kinda understandable. But then again, I might’ve locked people inside that room too if I were here. You can’t be sure. Barbaric? Sort of. Smart? You betcha. Either way, Oscar’s willing to give up some keys for the hotel. That’s a start. As for Strand, he isn’t convinced with Madison believing they can make a home out of the hotel.
The story of Alejandro’s bite comes out, as he was “beaten by the living” he was simultaneously “bitten by the dead.” Luciana (Danay Garcia) brought him away from it all, to their villa. And death never came for him somehow. All because Alejandro tried saving a poor junkie that was mistaken for a walker. Ah, emotional intrigue between these two. I like their chemistry as characters together. A new relationship and connection for this season to feed off.
Then words comes to the villa: they’ve found Pablo dead, Luciana’s brother.

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At the hotel, Alicia, Strand, everybody pitches in to clear the hallways and rooms. Madison leads everybody in doing what needs to get done. Alicia says it’ll “take weeks” for them to get everything cleared, every floor, each building. Mother and daughter get a bit of time together, Madison apologises for her perceived failures as a mom. I really enjoy Fear the Walking Dead because of the amount of smart, tough female characters so far. These two, of course, being some of the best.
Nick now has his own trailer in the villa, a place of his own. Semblance of a normal life. He doesn’t necessarily want it. Alejandro insists. First thing Nick does? Touch the ceiling. Not because he’s too tall. Because it’s a room, four walls. For the first time in a long time.
The hotel clearing takes on new form, as Alicia’s come up with a plan to use the high riptides in order to get rid of some walkers. Alicia and Hector start luring them outside. Inside, Strand and Elena open up doors, Madison gets zombies piling through the halls. They draw hordes of the undead out the doors and onto the pier. Madison is the one to take the long walk alone, locked on the pier with the zombies, pushing further and further. The others plan to get her on a small boat at the end. Madison jumps off and the zombies, like lemmings, go toppling after her into the water. Luckily, Hector and Alicia are there to scoop her up.
Later, everybody celebrates with a nice dinner together, candle light, wine. Strand goes off and winds up talking with the former groom, the one who lost his bride. “I wont let you touch her,” he tells Victor. She’s not lost, but she certainly isn’t herself anymore. Eventually you just have to let go. That goes for Victor, as well.
Oh, and the bride’s name was Jessica – hence the Pablo (Luciana’s brother) and Jessica of the episode’s title.

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Again, I enjoyed this episode. A few inconsistencies, though nothing major for me. People complain about the cell phone? There’s no guarantee that was Alicia’s cell. She could have easily found it in the hotel, so chill, nitpickers.
Most of all I enjoyed Madison and Alicia this week. They are a great mother-daughter combo: smart, fierce, determined, flawed. Awesome stuff. Excited for “Pillar of Salt” because I can’t wait to see a few of these threads develop further, and maybe we’ll see more of Chris and Travis, too. They’re at a crossroads, which I’m dying to see resolve, or explode.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 10: “Do Not Disturb”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 10: “Do Not Disturb”
Directed by Michael McDonough
Written by Lauren Signorino

* For a review of the previous episode, “Los Muertos” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Pablo & Jessica” – click here
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This episode starts with a wedding reception. Might look familiar, as it’s likely the one that happened right before the zombie apocalypse broke out. Everyone is happy, having a good time. Or at least most people are, anyway. Such is life. The world went on turning while the infection came on strong. And some guests start to get wary of sticking around too long, no matter if it’s a wedding. When the bride’s father collapses mid dance with his daughter, the phone lines go dead, nothing’s looking too good for any of the guests. Dear ole dad comes back to life from the dead, and then one of the women from the hotel locks everybody inside the reception hall to let things take effect. Nasty, creepy opener.
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We’re finally back with Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) and his son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie). They’re not exactly bonding, as you can tell Travis has trouble relating to his boy. Nevertheless, he lets Chris head off on his own to check out a nearby building. Voices and walkers send him into survival mode. Several men inside are shocked to see Chris, who takes off with his father quickly, not waiting to find out what the men were up to, or what they were like. With a new-to-them car they’ve stolen, Travis takes his son “away,” he says, wherever they can manage. He lets Chris take the wheel to learn to drive.  They have a normal moment for once.
After their car runs out of gas, Travis and Chris start a fire, camping along the highway. They start to figure out what’s next. At least Travis tries to make it seem positive. “It might not be perfect, but itll be ours,” he tells his son. “And then what?” Chris replies hopelessly. Soon, a truck comes by; the men who Chris ran into earlier. They don’t seem dangerous, although they do feel sketchy. For the time being they all relax.
Back with Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) in the hotel, she watches zombies stumble through the hall. Waiting for her time, counting how many of them there are nearby. When she feels ready Alicia walks out into the dark hallway, undead lurking not far. Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) is nowhere to be found. So Alicia goes it alone, down an elevator shaft. Narrowly missing being eaten. The hotel employee from the wedding helps her up, then questions Alicia frantically: “Where is he?”
Where is who?

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Chris and Travis get to chatting with the trio. Lots of tragic stuff, as they recount to the men about how California’s basically been decimated. They roast Spam over the fire, talk about killing the “wasted” – what their group calls the zombies. But Travis doesn’t like having his boy around people like them, eager to trade tales about murder and mayhem in this new world. More and more, the father-son duo bump horns.
The hotel employee, Elena, let zombies into the halls. To contain the problem, so she says. She’s searching for a man named Hector. Only Alicia wants to get to her mother, Madison (Kim Dickens), who’s trapped with Strand (Colman Domingo) in the bar. Trouble is this woman seems pretty dead set on keeping Alicia right where she is, and until Hector comes back she isn’t totally thrilled about going anywhere else.
Father and son can’t get on the same page. Travis wants to keep his son non-violent, he doesn’t want him swept away in the carnage of their new existence. “I want to take care of you,” he tells Chris. But the kid doesn’t care. He wants to be with who he sees as strong people. However, Travis finds them too dangerous. And they are, you can just tell.
Alicia and Elena take their chances together. They lure walkers into a room then trap them inside. What I dig in this episode is how Alicia is becoming a big time bad ass. She’s stabbing walkers, dangling from hotel room balconies, she’s just owning it. This is how things are now, and she doesn’t hesitate anymore. Well, Elena and Alicia get downstairs, first to the reception hall. Elena’s no slouch, either. She “contained” that problem and she will continue to contain them all until she’s dead or there are no more problems left to worry about (like that’ll ever happen). “Ive seen worse. Weve done worse,” Alicia assures her.

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Meanwhile, Travis is still highly unsure about being with these new men they’ve met. Chris is right at home laughing and talking with them. His father’s uneasy. “The end times made us gods,” one of them says to Travis. They’re somehow pleased with the evening effect of the apocalypse. Seriously? Fucking idiots. Coming across a farm, Travis suggests they stay there, but Chris thinks they need to be with a group.
Things at the hotel get tense. Other survivors have a hold on Hector and they want Elena out, along with Alicia if she’s on her side. But the sly women make their way out of the situation, down into the bowels of the hotel. There, they find Strand and Madison hiding behind a locked door; reunited and it feels so good!
At the same time, Travis realises someone owns that farm and he’s still around. He has a shotgun, too. Now the men they’ve met want to take the farm. Travis can’t let that slide, even if his son isn’t too bothered. And then Chris shoots the guy, killing him. He and his father have officially been separated, this act made sure of that. There’s no telling what happens next for them.

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What a great episode. I often say that, but this one really put the screws to us, emotionally and viscerally. A couple nice zombie kills, plus lots of intrigue. The drama between Travis and Chris is what interested me most, and of course the unstoppable Alicia.
Next episode is “Pablo & Jessica” and I can only imagine what we’ll have in store for us.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 9: “Los Muertos”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 9: “Los Muertos”
Directed by Deborah Chow
Written by Alan Page

* For a review of the previous episode, “Grotesque” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Do Not Disturb” – click here
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After checking in with Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) last episode back from the break – where is his mother Madison (Kim Dickens), his sister Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey)? What about the others?
Well, Nick’s enjoying a bit of peace and quiet in the Mexican commune where he’s found shelter. Although not everybody there’s having a great time. There are still those who are ill, those injured, and so on. For the most part it’s a paradise compared to where he’s been since the zombie apocalypse began.
Except for when it isn’t. Everyone has their own way of dealing with things. Mexicans are no different than the rest of us. Let’s just say the first 5 minutes opening this episode are intense. Looks like south of the border human sacrifice has come back.
This is my favourite Fear the Walking Dead opener yet, out of both seasons. Chilling to the bone. I love it.
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We catch up with Madison and Co. She and her daughter ride in the back of a truck, scoping out the horizon with Strand (Colman Domingo) and Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason). The mother is the only one dead set on continuing to search for her son. She knows he’s a survivor. And indeed he is, help or no help. He’s doing her proud, though. Helping out in the village where he’s been taken in, not sitting by idly while others work. A good man.
When Strand and their small group go back to the coast his boat is gone. The military’s taken it. Totally different situation for them at this point. “Its me and you now, whether you like it or not,” Alicia tells her mother when Madison worries Nick won’t find them without the boat. They do the smart thing now and leave a message in the sand, just in case.
Then they head off to scope out a hotel by the beach. Shelter is a must. After watching the place awhile they head on inside. Not expecting to find anything other than a roof over their heads. In the building there is a barricade against the door; a last stand was taken, no doubt.
Will they find humans? Walkers? Both? Strand, with his big ole balls, starts ringing a service bell. Not a sound, other than the ringing. Safe for now.
In the village, Luciana (Danay Garcia) does a lot of the boss work. She keeps an eye on Nick, enlisting him for a bit of help. She knows what he’s capable of after seeing him on the road, caked in blood, walking amongst the dead. I wonder what she has in store for him. Out in the sacrifice pit she starts killing zombies, laying out rules: “You stay absolutely quiet.” They cover themselves in blood then get going.
Strand and the crew find a wedding inside, left with the cake barely cut into. They share a bit of personal information, as Ofelia talks about a near marriage. “The pastitll make you sick,” Strand tells her deciding the chat is over. Smart move.

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When Nick asks about the morning ritual, Luciana talks about faith. There’s lots of superstition in the way she, as well as many of the Mexicans, understand the apocalypse. She and many of the others, such as the doctor Alejandro (Paul Calderon), believe that once everything passes, the world is washed clean. Yeah, okay. I wouldn’t hold my breath. After some time they come across a gang; guys you do not want to fuck with, whatsoever. The man running it all? Marco Rodriguez (Alejandro Edda). Seems that Luciana has a deal going with the gang, a trade-type setup. They’ve got a supermarket full of everything, stocked on the shelves, and Luciana wheels herself a cart to get supplies.
At the hotel, Madison and the others start searching. She wants to keep things careful, although Alicia and Ofelia are off to starting searching on their own. Strand and Madison do a bit of hanging at the bar. “You need a drink, I need a drink,” he quips. They pour themselves some martinis, take a load off for a few minutes. Upstairs, Alicia and Ofelia look through the corridors, checking to see if there’s anything of use to them. Not all the rooms are clear, as the sound of zombies is evident behind several doors. They do find empty ones; relatively. One of the creepiest walkers yet is in a bathroom, though he poses no threat. However, he does start a conversation between Alicia and Ofelia, about the tiresome nature of surviving amongst a new and awful world.
When Nick leaves the supermarket, he’s caught taking an authorised treat in his pocket. They want to cut off his hand. But the tricky ex-junkie makes a deal, saying they won’t bring any more drugs. And that’s no good for Marco, whose family would be directly affected. A close call, nearly getting Nick’s throat cut. What a deal maker. He gets his tasty treat, too. Luciana isn’t too happy he did that because now the gang is following them, hoping to figure out where their little commune is located.

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The drinking makes Strand get closer to Madison. She tells him about what happened to her husband; impaired driving I assume, Madison doesn’t say it in so many words. She told the kids he fell asleep at the wheel. “To false hope,” she and Strand toast while she drinks and tosses glasses at the wall. Smart move. More so when Strand bangs on the piano a bit. They make lots of noise and nearby there are zombies, dying to get close to some human meat.
Alicia gets out of the shower and sees walkers taking swan dives off the balconies. They hit the ground, then get up walking again. Shit. All the noise downstairs has been drawing walkers through the halls, down from stories up. Real smooth move. Sort of ironic, after Madison was talking about trying to protect her kids.
Remember that treat Nick stole? It wasn’t even for him. It was for the little girl whose father got eaten alive in the opener. Wow. A good man becomes more good by the minute. This puts Nick in a room with Alejandro. They chat, Alejandro talks about their current situation. He doesn’t want to offer comfort. Only faith. Strange that he can’t see that it’s all the same thing. He believes that the dead will leave. Nick catches a glimpse of the man’s shoulder: a big bite once taken out of it is now a healed wound. Very, very intriguing. He’s like a sort of Jesus figure amongst the zombie apocalypse. The one who has risen after the dreaded, infecting bite: “This world is for usthe children of the resurrection,” he preaches to his masses. Nick is falling into the faith head first. Not good.

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At the same time, Victor and Madison are starting to discover their walker problem at the hotel. Time to check out? Definitely time to start moving, as the zombies are encroaching on the bar. Nice time to be hammered. They are boxed in crazily. How will they manage to get out of this one?
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A solid episode to add to this back half of Season 2. I’m hoping that next episode we see more of the crew and find unity once more. Also, I worry for Nick. He is becoming sucked into a dangerous place, I think.
Next episode is titled “Do Not Disturb” and it’ll be good, I can feel it.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 8: “Grotesque”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 8: “Grotesque”
Directed by Daniel Sackheim
Written by Kate Barnow

* For a review of the previous episode, “Shiva” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Los Muertos” – click here
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They’re baaaaa-aaack!
Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) wakes amongst dead, fly-ridden bodies. A woman and her boy are there, but you know Nick – he’s doing his own thing, all the way. So much so he’s off on a dangerous path, away from his family, his few friends remaining. By far, he’s always been my favourite character, ever since that great opening to Season 1. What I’m hoping is that we get to spend a nice while with Nick, past this season. But especially right now. I want to get more into his character.
Having him on his own is perfect for that. Even if there’s nothing except death and madness lying ahead of him on the path he’s chosen. At least he figured out how to exist surrounded by walkers without them eating him alive. That’s one thing he’s got going for himself.
This opening sequence sees Nick headed towards Tijuana, all the while “How Low” by JosĂ© Gabriel GonzĂĄlez plays and the softness of the music makes me wonder: how low are we about to get, or how low can this world plagued by zombies go in its descent?
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Nick flashes back to a time with Gloria (Lexi Johnson). He’s in rehab trying to get clean. “Exploring his thoughts and feelings” and trying to get his head wrapped around how he’ll deal with his family once he gets out. He talks about his father, the lack of not being shown “how to be a man in the world” that’s so obviously lacking in his tutelage of Nick as a son. The deep pain inside him is starting to come out, so this is exactly what I was hoping for coming in.
In Mexico, Nick is still figuring out how to be a man. Only the world has changed, drastically. In this new world he doesn’t need a father figure, nor could he hope to find one. Because this world is dead, full of blood and guts and killing and worse. Nobody’s experienced it before, nobody knows how to do anything in this world. So to ‘be a man’ he needs no one other than himself. He can make his way, discovering what it is to be a man now on his own.
During the night a woman creeps up on Nick as he sleeps. She whacks him with a bat, speaking Spanish. She runs him off without his supplies; great. A headache AND no stuff anymore. Doesn’t phase him. He goes on down the road, off on his journey. Zombies and abandoned cars litter the landscape, the open plains and roadways of the Mexican hills. From one direction comes a jeep with a few armed men inside. Looks like Nick’s wandered into gangland territory. These guys are n’t the simple Mexicans out in the country, these look like militia-types packing serious weaponry. They also take enjoyment out of finishing off an old man in his car. Nothing bodes well for Nick once the men give chase, starting to fire round after round at him. Luckily he’s able to outrun them. But finds himself out in the middle of nowhere.
Smart thinking Nick tries to get some water out of a cactus. Not so smart when he eats a bit of it then pukes. At least he’s trying. This leads him to drink some of his own piss, Bear Grylls style. Surprisingly, it isn’t as a bad as the cactus. Good on you, Nick. You’re a survivor. I guess being a junkie doesn’t exactly leave you with no skills at all. Regardless he’s got a long trek ahead of him, wherever he’s headed. In the night, he flashes back once more to being with Gloria. They receive visits from their parents respectively in rehab. Madison (Kim Dickens) comes alone, without her husband. He died in a head-on collision. A bit of devastating news, even worse to be in rehab and hear it.
Nick winds up getting attacked while daydreaming in Mexico. A couple dogs nearly do him in. Just what you need: a bit of rabies! Well, he gets up on a car and escapes the animals. Right before a horde of the undead come shambling down nearby. They’re distracted long enough to eat the pair of dogs, and then they turn their attention to Nick.
When he thinks he’s finished, Nick almost silently prays to be saved. And he is delivered. Gunshots and vehicle horns sound in the distance. This gives Nick time to rip a belt off a zombie to tighten on his wound, as well as have a bit of lunch himself on one of the torn up dogs. He really has been watching Bear, hasn’t he?

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The one thing nobody can fight or trick is blood loss. Nick starts going a little wobbly after awhile. He sees a zombie that looks strikingly like Gloria – a vision only – he hears her voice, other voices, all surrounding him with the zombies. Dude is fucked up. He lurches along with the walkers, as they get closer to Tijuana.
Those armed men return and open fire on the zombies. One by one, they’re mowed down. Nick stands his ground while walkers are blown away next to him. But those men aren’t quick enough. The zombies close in and take two of them out, eating them alive. Nick walks past as the men are devoured. Down the road people watch the walkers, they see Nick collapse. A woman named Luciana doesn’t want to help him, although the men she’s with do.
Laying in the road, bleeding, Nick flashes back again.
He and Gloria lay together. They’re in the old church where the series first began in Season 1’s initial episode. Remember? They prepare to shoot up, both eager to get their fix. I’m excited to see more on this end. Are we going to see some dark secret lurking in Nick’s past?
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Without any help Nick makes it through the night lying in the road. Rain wakes him up, washing him (relatively) clean. He staggers further into town. Tough bastard, you’ve got to give it to him. In a store, he seeks out a bit of medicine to help with his nasty leg. Not sure if the junkie needs any medicine in the zombie apocalypse, post-fall, beat up leg or no. He eventually comes across Luciana and the men. He explains about the dogs, gets himself a drink of water. They take him to a legitimate doctor in their camp. He gets to work on Nick. They chat some.
And while Nick wants to be on his own, out with the “monsters” and such, the doctor shows him their settlement. It’s big, filled with kids and adults and all sorts of places within a walled compound. He sees a community.
So the world, it goes on. There are people trying to build it back up. There is hope.

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A nice episode to start up this second half of Season 2. I love Nick’s character. Now we can look forward to the rest of the gang this following episode I’m sure, to propel us forward into more wild situations, more journeys and self discoveries and death and zombies.
“Los Muertos” is next.

Danny Boyle’s Sunshine Takes Its Sci-Fi Seriously

Sunshine. 2007. Directed by Danny Boyle. Screenplay by Alex Garland.
Starring Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, Cliff Curtis, Troy Garity, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong, & Michelle Yeoh. 20th Century Fox/DNA Films/Ingenious Film Partners/MPC.
Rated 14A. 107 minutes.
Adventure/Sci-Fi/Thriller

★★★★1/2
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Ever since first laying my eyes upon Trainspotting, I’ve more or less knelt at the altar of Danny Boyle. His films are incredible, often very emotionally compelling and with lots of interesting things happening, no matter the subject. I’m a fan of most of his films, barring a couple that weren’t my cup of tea. On the whole, he’s fantastic. Particularly I find he has two talents: working with science fiction elements (even if he’s only really done that previously with 28 Days Later…) and working with human drama. Luckily, sometimes both of these crossover into one another.
Sunshine is such a film. There’s part of this story focused on the sci-fi plot, the idea of the sun beginning to burn out and mankind trying to find some way to reignite it, lest they be relegated to a world that will perish without its heat and power. The other part is about men and women, human beings, how we see the world and how we imagine what’s outside our own. Furthermore, Boyle and writer Alex Garland look at the human relationships which ultimately the fate of mankind will rely on should we need a crew like those abord the Icarus II to go on a similar mission. In addition to the great drama and the solid science fiction, Sunshine is a visual and auditory journey which many films of its kind aren’t often able to achieve. Garland gives us the interesting writing, as Boyle works his magic with the help of cinematographer Alwin H. KĂŒchler to craft a gorgeous piece of cinema that stands up to some of the better efforts out of the genre in these past few decades.
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I’m sure a good deal of right-wing leaning moviegoers will dismiss this as leftist propaganda. However, forget those types. This is a solid science fiction story. It has echoes of other films we’ve seen before, from Event Horizon to Alien. But Sunshine is very much its own tale. Alex Garland is a solid screenwriter, having already worked with Boyle on The Beach and 28 Days Later…, so that’s at least given them chemistry. And they use it to their advantage. Garland is great at getting to the raw emotion of characters, which is evident in the other aforementioned films, as well. When Capa (Cillian Murphy) must be the only one to go through the airlock, the interim captain isn’t happy, and this brings out a load of tension for a while that plays into the idea that humans aren’t all built equipped with the capacity to handle such tension. These are the situations of human drama that make science fiction better than just a ton of wild elements. Without this basic suspense and tension brought out through the humanity of characters (they don’t even need to be human just have to have heart), sci-fi can easily fall flat. This movie is served well by the writing of Garland’s characters, their development, and the situations in which they find themselves forced along their arduous journey.
Moreover, Garland has a good writer’s mind for action. Not every writer is as good with one as the other. Although, Garland breaks that open being capable of good dialogue, interesting characters, as well as making the story feel exciting by pacing things well, and adding in the appropriate action like he does here.
A few of the sequences are spectacularly adrenaline-filled. One of my favourites is the whole airlock scene, as the interim captain ends up floating off in space and freezing, his face cracking into bits. Sad, even if he’s an asshole. Then just the entire suspense of Mace (Chris Evans) nearly freezing to death too is thick enough to cut with a knife. The first time watching, I wasn’t sure he’d make it. Nice when action scenes aren’t simply big set pieces or explosions or anything like that, but rather built on suspense and tense developments.
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Not only are the characters and the plot well written, Garland’s writing is given breath by the excellent performances. Cliff Curtis, ever a solid character actor, does such a good job as the resident psychologist, whose own obsession with the sun mirrors the villain Pinbacker (Mark Strong). Love Curtis and to see him here giving his all is one reason the supporting cast is as good as the leads. Rose Byrne and Michelle Yeoh are each excellent, as well. They add a great element to counter all the testosterone brought particularly by Evans. Speaking of him, he does well with his character, meant to be a hot-headed sort that wants to kind of push his way forward rather than sit around and talk. In that sense, Evans and Murphy’s characters are juxtaposed nicely. Murphy, as always, is a powerhouse, and he gives a quiet, thoughtful performance as the lead Robert Capa. On his back and through his perspective we encounter each twist and turn throughout Icarus II’s mission. There’s always an intriguing aspect to Murphy, both physically in his looks and in the way he acts. He can become many types, most recently wowing me in BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders. Here, he plays this young doctor, but one with a head on his shoulders, a conscience, so that Capa eventually goes through this trial where he’s put to the physical test, not just having to use his brain but also his body. Lots of great performances make this one entertaining bit of science fiction adventure.
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There’s a bittersweet devastation about the finale. Sunshine takes you to a place of serious science fiction and drama, then twists it all up into something amazing, dark, exciting. Once we come to discover Pinbacker, the fifth crew member left on the Icarus II in its waning moments, the whole eerie angle of the story comes to light (pun not intended; pun hilarious, though). The final half hour has plenty of sweaty tension once more. This carries you right to a beautiful yet slightly sad conclusion. Either way, Danny Boyle and Alex Garland created one hell of a sci-fi picture. From the 1990s onward there aren’t a huge amount of sci-fi movies that I consider amazing. Some, yes. Not a lot. In my humble opinion, Sunshine is an amazing film. It is beautiful, strange, dark at times. Never will you find the pace too slow, nor will you feel as if excitement is lacking. With so many good performances and the writing tightly woven into an emotion-filled, tense, and wild story, it’s hard not to enjoy. Throw this on next time you need a science fiction injection. I hope Boyle will go back to the genre someday, as he has great chops for it.

Fear The Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 7: “Shiva”

AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 7: “Shiva”
Directed by Andrew Bernstein
Written by David Wiener

* For a review of the previous episode, “Sicut Cervus” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Grotesque” – click here
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The mid-season finale is here! What will happen? Who will survive, AND WHAT WILL BE LEFT OF THEM?
We open on a flashback from the life of Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades). In the jungle, a boy comes across bodies strewn through a dirty pool of water. This is Daniel as a little boy. Someone tells him to take a gun.
Then he wakes, he and his daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) get out of bed quickly at the sound of a gunshot. She’s not well, though. Not well at all.
And then Daniel wakes from a dream within a dream. Outside there’s commotion. We’re back over with Strand (Colman Domingo) after he’s put Thomas out of his misery. Then in a fit, Celia Flores (Marlene Forte) rages at him. As well as at Madison (Kim Dickens) a bit. Everyone is slightly in shock. Nick (Frank Dillane) offers his condolences, but ultimately Ofelia doesn’t want to hear much.
At the same time, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) tries to tell Travis (Cliff Curtis) about what Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) did. Though the loving father, a bit dumb because of it, refuses to listen. So many things happening. Even worse, Celia has kicked everybody out. Every last one of them. Now, the search for a new place to settle begins.
Travis goes after his son, who leads him on a bit of chase out away from the house. An ominous opener.

 


Out and about Travis picks himself up a knife from a corpse. In the distance, his son watches and maneuvers around. Back at the house, Madison tries to get her kids in gear so that they’re not totally unprepared when the time comes to start leaving.
Travis comes across a man in his house. At first they’re at odds, but things smooth out. With his foot in bad shape Travis rests a moment. It’s nasty, too. Definitely needs to get patched up.
Most impressively, Nick brings back the zombified Luis. This buys them brownie points with Celia. He understands them, in some way. Or at least he’s able to empathize. And perhaps that’s a unique quality in any world, our real world, let alone the zombie fucking apocalypse. Celia doesn’t want the others around, though allows Nick to stay. He isn’t going to stick around without his family. She eventually agrees. Aside from Victor; he must go.
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Celia: “This is not the apocalypse. This is our beginning, Nicholas. The end of death itself. Life eternal.”

 


While Strand goes on with burying Thomas, Daniel advises not to, as the ground itself is infected. Everything there is infected, Celia, her walkers. Very seriously, Daniel says not to put him in the ground on that property. Paranoid? Who knows any more.
Madison notices Nick is different lately, especially since getting out of Los Angeles. He seems to have a fascination with the zombies. He relates Celia’s hope to be back with Luis to his own mother’s desire to have him back, when he was using. Although his view of walking amongst the dead is a bit naive, a bit too confident (scaring me at the mid-season mark), there’s part of him I understand, as a former addict and alcoholic. Part of his rebirth has now become inexplicably tied to this walking out into the undead hordes.
Daniel and Ofelia end up at odds with the guards at the house. He pulls a knife and things get serious. Simultaneously, Strand is told he can’t stay, though it doesn’t bother him much. And as Madison gets a bit emotional about it, he reassures their supposed friendship, or whatever it’s been, was only means to an end.
Travis finds there’s somebody in the man’s place where he rests: Chris is hiding in a room, with a gun, and a little kid. Whoa. This young man is losing his god damn mind.
At the house, Celia says some words while Strand buries Thomas in the ground. Then she tells him to get out. However, he wants to bury Tom fully, throwing on the dirt and all. Ofelia worries for her father. They’ve got Daniel stashed away somewhere. Turns out they’re apparently worried about his recent behaviour.
Back to Chris – he thinks Madison and Alycia believe him to be a “monster” even though his dad disagrees. The son runs off before his father runs him down. Chris even tries to stab his dad. “Look at me,” Chris pleads with Travis: “Im no good.”
Then there’s Daniel. He finds himself tied up, being monologued to death by Celia. The poor guy is a haunted man. All those years ago he was clearly forced to do awful things, as a boy. Now, as a man, those memories plague him. Eternally. But even in the face of Celia and her brand of madness, Daniel holds strong. He is one of the toughest bastards out there. He sees a woman afterwards: his wife. He really is starting to lose it.

 


When Nick, soaked in blood, finds Travis, the father and son are not going back. He says Chris needs him, and can’t be with the others. Not now. Seriously? C’mon, Travis.
Youre makina mistake,” Madison says right after the last scene. Perfect moment. Though she says it to Celia, talking about Strand, it works perfect because that’s exactly what her husband is doing, as well. As far as Celia goes, she runs a tight ship. Won’t seem to budge much. Madison pleads to understand how Celia sees the undead.
Meanwhile, Daniel falls apart. The vision of his wife, the one speaking to him earlier as Celia spoke. He sees her, flashing back to his past as a boy; the bodies, the water, all that horror. He was forced to kill his “first victim” that day: “No, my love. The first victim was you,” replies his dead wife.
Then once Celia shows Madison where the walkers are kept, as the former talks about what a mother wouldn’t do for her children, you can almost see it coming. It’s just as intense, either way. She closes the gate behind her, leaving Celia inside with the zombies. Awaiting death.
WOW! MADISON! YES! Fuck that Celia. They’re taking the place for themselves. Or is that wishful thinking?

 


Daniel goes full bad ass and gets himself out of the chair to which he was tied. His wife’s still talking to him. But still, he’s… okay, for the time being. Also, Strand is being escorted out. “Dont worry about me, Ill hail a cab,” Victor quips, as the gate closes him out and Alicia waves from the distance.
Resident bad ass Daniel heads in to where the undead are kept. He pools a load of gasoline around their cage. In between the zombies, he sees real people. Maybe some victims, people he knew. Then his wife is there, too. He lights the match and lets the place go up. He stands in the middle of it all. Is Daniel going to die in there? Well the whole place starts to go up. The work Madison did is worth nothing now. Everything is on fire. Daniel is no more, obviously. Kills me. Nick and Travis are nowhere to be found, though we know the former was planning on staying away with Chris.

 


When Nick arrives, he isn’t happy. About Travis not coming back, about their group being destructive. He turns around then walks back into the zombie masses. Strand piles the rest into his vehicle before taking off. They leave Nick in the distance, the smoke, by himself. The group is all split up.
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Great mid-season finale. I’m not going to be surprised if Daniel decided to bolt last minute and somehow made it out, there’s no definitive answer on him. Although, it’d be emotional if he were gone. Maybe Ofelia’s character, through tragedy, could grow more. Regardless, a lot of fun. Can’t wait for the show to return later in the year. Stay with me, fellow fans!

Fear The Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 6: “Sicut Cervus”

AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 6: “Sicut Cervus
Directed by Kate Dennis
Written by Brian Buckner

* For a review of the previous episode, “Captive” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Shiva” – click here
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We begin this episode in a Mexican church, as the priest speaks of the world’s troubles not as from God, because he wouldn’t do such a thing. Then out from the church everybody goes, grabbing weapons. Thomas Abigail (Dougray Scott) shows up to warn the priest not to go ahead with what they’ve got planned. But everyone starts bleeding from the eyes, collapsing, and Tom is left in the midst of it. Incredibly creepy opener to this week’s episode.
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Back out on the boat, Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) is defending his decision to shoot Reed. Turns out Madison (Kim Dickens) is worried about Travis’ (Cliff Curtis) son. Inside, Luis (Arturo del Puerto), Strand (Colman Domingo) and Madison spot some incoming trouble, people in a smaller boat. They’re interested in the nice boat. Luckily, Daniel (RubĂ©n Blades) listens in to the Spanish conversation, sussing out what’s going on. And things start to take a turn for the worse.
Gun shots. Footsteps running everywhere. All of a sudden the boat starts up, Strand is all right. Daniel heads out to start taking care of the soon to be zombified corpses. Poor Luis hasn’t fared too well either, taking a shot in the gunfight and ready to die. He doesn’t want to get it in the head. Preferring to walk the land as the undead.
But soon the survivors arrive on shore. They head into the village nearby where things are… rough. Piles of bodies everywhere. Some impressively nasty practical makeup effects work. The whole place is an outright massacre, which of course sets Victor off worried for Tom. A large group of walkers turns up around the corner, even some of the choir boys from the church earlier, and the zombie action is pumping! Everybody takes their turn swinging. But the swings in turn take their toll: Nick (Frank Dillane) is forced to kill a little girl in her pink dress with the bow in her hair.
However, even worse is Daniel’s experience. He first kills the zombie priest, then a little boy comes at him. He grabs him by the throat, immediately flashing back to a devastating time, some time long ago; the first visual glimpse of Daniel’s past we’ve seen, of what he’s only so far alluded to in brief chats about having seen awful military situations before. Can’t wait for more of this to come out. Wow. More than that, Chris almost lets a zombie eat Madison before Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) intervenes. Yikes! That’s some stepmother-stepson shit that’s dangerous.


Finally, a little hope. They reach the gated path to a load of fields approaching that palace where we saw Thomas and Strand back before the fall of humanity. For the moment, everything is safe. Well slightly, anyway. Everyone has to give up their weapons, but that’s a small price to pay. “Theres no need for them here,” says one of the staff. Daniel is a little reluctant, though relinquishes his weapons after all.
Tragedy isn’t too far. Strand finds Tom in his chair, staring out the window. A deep bite in his arm. Obviously a devastating blow for Victor. This is way too sad, knowing that it was essentially Tom driving him to get there, to survive and to carry on. Their story was so interesting and unexpected, too bad Tom is on the way out.
All the others are doing their thing to relax a little while they can. Alicia isn’t happy with Chris. He is going off the rails. Basically, he threatens her: “I dont wanna hurt anyone.” This is one creepy turn of events now. I’m really worried, and interested, where this is headed. Nick is in the kitchen with Luis’ mother Celia (Marlene Forte), eating before supper and also confessing to being “sick of it“, the murder they’re all forced to commit in the post-apocalypse landscape. All the same, Mama Madison isn’t too keen on Celia filling Nick’s head with her Mexican faith.
Madison also gets a glance at the other side of Victor Strand, in bed with his lover. This is something new for them. Even more than that Tom requests she “look after him” once he’s gone. Naturally, Strand wants to brush it off as not needing to be talked of, no death, nothing like that. Madison still recognizes the request. I hope her and Strand form a closer bond from here. They’re both tough in their own ways. Right now I’m actually worried about Daniel, as he seems to have slipped slightly from his tough exterior, softening due to the horrific experiences of his lives.


Alicia: “Its kind of pathetic how much I miss t.v
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Now that Alicia has made her fears clear to Madison, the married couple are arguing about Chris’ intentions. Travis doesn’t exactly like the talk of his son being dangerous, especially because he’s supportive of Nick, her son and his problems. There’s a big wedge stuck between Madison and Travis at the moment. They each want to side with their child, obviously. It’s just a difficult thing with which to deal, at any time. Let alone in the midst of zombies. Meanwhile with Tom on his deathbed, Victor even offers to go with him. He admits Tom is his only reason for living.


Victor: “Im begging you. This world was never good enough for you. Let it go.”
Tom: “I dont want to leave you
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At the same time, Daniel has discovered something altogether disturbing. In a cellar there are a bunch of walkers. Seems they’re mostly Celia’s family. So that’s why Luis didn’t want to be put out. They all come back, y’hear. Well Daniel and Celia have a tense, unsettling conversation about what she’s been up to, and none of it is pretty.
Upstairs, she tends to Thomas whose final minutes draw closer every minute. Strand watches on in pain. However, he’s decided to join his lover. Celia has the right remedy: communion wafers, just like the parishioners from the church she poisoned. Now they can all remain in the afterlife, still on Earth. Crazy bastards. But Strand’s not really going out like this, is he? I doubt that very much.
Thomas passes away silently with Victor by his side in bed. In a world of terror, this is a slightly more peaceful death than many have been allowed. Simultaneously, Chris gets up in the middle of the night and finds himself standing over Alicia and Madison, holding a knife. Uh oh. He’s interrupted when Strand shoots Tom in the head to prevent his reanimation, and of course decides not to Celia “Jim Jones” Flores himself.
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Developments are adding up and things are getting exciting. Looking forward to the next episode titled “Shiva” and that worries me, for anyone who knows what the term means that points to the likelihood of something terrible happening. And it’s been awhile since we’ve really lost anybody too important, right?