Strand must help Madison make a deal at the dam for water. But with Daniel in the mix, who knows what'll happen.
The story of Daniel Salazar after he nearly burned alive, and how far, or how low, he has gone.
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
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.
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. “It‘s 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 past – it‘ll make you sick,” Strand tells her deciding the chat is over. Smart move.
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.
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 us… the children of the resurrection,” he preaches to his masses. Nick is falling into the faith head first. Not good.
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?
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.
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
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 José Gabriel González 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?
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?
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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: “I‘m 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.
“You‘re makin‘ a 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. “Don‘t worry about me, I‘ll 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.
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!
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
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.
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 (Rubén 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. “There‘s 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 don‘t 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: “It‘s kind of pathetic how much I miss t.v”
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: “I‘m begging you. This world was never good enough for you. Let it go.”
Tom: “I don‘t want to leave you”
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.
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?
AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 5: “Captive”
Directed by Craig Zisk
Written by Carla Ching
* For a review of the previous episode, “Blood in the Streets” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Sicut Cervus” – click here
We open on someone cooking steak – it’s Connor (Mark Kelly). Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) looks around nervously, as Patsy Cline croons in the background. They have a little chat after serves up one of his apparently famous New York strips. Seems they’ve got a “selective” little community going on there. But at the moment the generator goes out. And Alicia winds up locked in the cabin. She manages to sneak a way out to see they’re docked at a huge port. A massive open space.
Well Jack finds her out there and rushes her back inside. She wants to see Travis (Cliff Curtis), so she can make sure he’s okay. I don’t know why Alicia keeps trusting Jack. I hope that’s just what she says, and not how she actually feels.
Over on the boat with our survivors, Reed (Jesse McCartney) has a brutal wound, to which Daniel (Rubén Blades) tends with some field medicine. All the while Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) gets taunted by Reed about his father. This Reed is a real dick, and has a huge pair on him to talk so boldly while a) hurt and b) in the midst of people he tried to hurt/kill. He says Connor will not be happy, lots of threats. They’re brothers after all. But of course Daniel isn’t the least bit impressed having seen men far worse and far more terrifying than this little idiot. I love Blades as an actor and this is possibly one of his best parts, to be honest. Not just that, Daniel as a character fits in well because he’s someone who’s been through very tough times and that’s informed his behaviour in this current apocalypse filled with zombies.
Now Daniel and Madison (Kim Dickens) have their plan, to use the brothers against one another. Only problem is that while Madison obviously wants to get her family back, Luis (Arturo del Puerto) has a window of time to get them across the Mexican border. Lots of tension and complications. Poor Strand (Colman Domingo) is still lying up after his swim in the ocean during the previous episode. For his part, he gives Madison half a day to take care of business.
On the other boat, Jack is assigning Alicia some work. Now I start to get the feeling she’s playing him, thankfully. There’s a sinister bit of stuff happening on that boat: “This is the world now. This one lives, that one dies.” Alicia is meant to pick a boat for annihilation. Really? That’s grim. Meanwhile, Travis wakes up in a grungy little space down below deck somewhere. And then, Alex (Michelle Ang) appears. She is certainly not happy with Travis, even if it was never his fault. Though he feels responsible because of negotiating them out onto that raft. Regardless, things aren’t looking too fun from where Travis is standing.
Back with Madison and Strand, she makes clear not to send Nick (Frank Dillane) out alone anywhere on any missions again. “He knows how to move through this world,” says Victor. While Madison doesn’t like it, Victor sees a tough and “capable” side to her son. I wouldn’t get between her and either of her children, as she makes clear to him. You just know there’s a fierceness in her waiting to come out over threat to her family. Even for Travis she would more than likely kill.
Hoping to avoid her people getting annihilated, Alicia ends up with Jack on her side. They pick a ship to put Connor on. And down in the bottom ship, Alex reminds Travis: “You knew the right thing to do. And you chose. You chose the other.” The two of them have a deep conversation, which brings up Travis having to kill his ex-wife. I love Cliff Curtis. He is possibly the most underrated character actor in the game today, endlessly talented. Here he gets to show those chops off. Great writing in this scene, as Alex and Travis go back and forth on what humanity “can become“, or what it can’t.
Reed is still taunting. At the same time, Chris is getting tougher, on the outside and the inside; at first, and up until recently, I found him slightly annoying in certain ways. Now he’s evolving. Signs of some developing writing. So now he’s confronted with Reed bringing up his mother, all sorts of things. The tension in this scene mounts to an impossible degree. Nick shows up to close the door, but Chris reveals he’s disappointed in himself for freezing up, allowing those people on the boat. I really love Nick, too. Dillane plays him well and he is written well; he is a junkie redeeming himself in the post-zombie apocalypse. Wonderful character development.
At the bottom of the boat Alicia tells Travis about the boat coming back. But he has faith in Madison. That’s another aspect of the whole story I love, the strong bond between Madison and Travis. They are a great couple. So now Travis is left alone on the ship after Alicia and Jack plan to get going.
Madison finally calls over to Connor. That situation is getting intense, quick. The hostage situation has become heated: one hour clock. A trade off is set. Then from nowhere, a gunshot. It’s Chris – he did something preemptive. And now the hostage situation gets even wilder, as Reed is dead. He tells Madison he did it because “that‘s what happens now” and that Reed was turning. In a jam now, though.
Ofelia: “It‘s what we do now: spill blood, clean it up, spill it again.”
Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) almost gets a bite when Reed comes back to life, his brain still not gone. Luckily her father pins the new walker up against the wall. A very surreal moment happens afterwards, as Daniel has the Reed zombie hooded and tied up, and he hears a voice tell him to take the gun; a flashback to tough days in war?
In other news, Alicia did play Jack. I knew it. More to come.
And Nick is arguing with his mother. Essentially, she worries he’s found his new addiction. He questions why she won’t let him go do the trade off: “Because you want to,” she replies. Quite telling.
The deal is underway. When Madison goes to do the drop, she unleashes Reed to his brother, which begins a big mess. Travis even whips out a heavy duty headbutt; all right, dude! Zombie madness lets loose, as one bite leads way to the next, and so on. This is a great action sequence. Also, Alicia gets back to Madison and Travis. So glad she made it out safe, and left that Jack(ass) behind.
Thrilling episode, all around. Next up is interestingly titled “Sicut Cervus”, which ought to be another solid chapter in this fun Season 2. Stay tuned with me, fellow fans!
AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 3: “Ouroboros
Directed by Stefan Schwartz
Written by Alan Page
* For a review of the previous episode, “We All Fall Down” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Blood in the Streets” – click here
Moving along in Fear the Walking Dead‘s second season, the group are trying to figure out where to go next, how to proceed. But it isn’t so easy.
We start out on a group of people whose boat has gone under. They’re in rough shape, including one man with a bite that takes an oar to the head and goes overboard, as well as a badly burned young man. The paranoia of people turning is already evident. Another man has to be killed after he tries to eagerly kill the young man before the burns do and he becomes a walker. The others left on a small rubber dingy are left to figure out what to do for themselves. Finally, the kid says “It‘s okay” and gives his consent, leaving the other two to do all that’s left to be done. Creepy opener.
Strand (Colman Domingo) is on the phone, seeming desperate. Still on his way to meet whoever’s on the other end. Such a mysterious dude. I’m still curious as to who he is, really. Meanwhile, Madison (Kim Dickens) and Travis (Cliff Curtis) lay in bed trying, if only for a moment, to forget about what life is now. Only there’s engine trouble. Daniel (Rubén Blades), Madison, Travis and Strand try and talk out how to try fixing it. Someone needs to get down in the water and fix it, though. Travis valiantly offers, to Madison’s chagrin. This is a super intense, subtly eerie few moments.
Topside, they start to clear things out. Big job. A guy’s arm got sucked up the intake and jammed the filters, the whole thing up. Strand is edgy, which doesn’t go over well with Travis. But they go along to get along. For now, everyone is stuck on the water until the box is up and running again. In other areas of the boat, Daniel finds his daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) in rough shape, too. Her wound is a bit infected. He doesn’t want to rely on Madison, or anyone else, so for now they keep it to themselves.
On a nearby shore, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) has spotted a ton of luggage washed up. Her, Nick (Frank Dillane) and Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) want to go over and get supplies. Of course that goes over like a fart in church. Until Daniel offers to go. At the same time, Daniel brings up Mexico, teasing to Madison that Strand has other things in mind than just his passengers.
Over onshore, Daniel and the younger crew search. At the boat, Travis goes under quickly to get some more work done. Everybody’s doing their part; a good sign for early zombie apocalypse group behaviour. A little note so far – love the music in this episode, really great. Very beautiful, as well as very ominous. Lots of nice piano.
Chris, as could’ve been predicted, decides to head off away from Daniel and the others. Dummy. Why do you insist on doing dangerous shit? All the while his father is doing dangerous things. Necessary danger, to get the boat moving. So out by his lonesome Chris finds remnants of a plane, inside there are zombies strapped into their seats, one still with an oxygen mask. He’s surprised to find one man still alive.
On the boat, Madison confronts Strand about what’s going on with his plans for Mexico and such. He tells her about a house with reinforced walls, proper water, et cetera, and there’s a window of time closing to get there. She wants them all to be a part of it. He doesn’t seem opposed, though their trust needs work.
Madison: “And Victor, you even look wrong at anyone in my family I will throw you overboard.”
Victor: “You‘re not a killer”
All of a sudden, Daniel realizes he can’t see Chris. The kid is busy trying to help save the man in the plane. But the guy is seriously injured. This puts Chris in a terrible position. There’s literally nothing they can do for him. Except kill him. So he does. A harsh, vicious thing to have to do, yet he got it done.
Travis is busy trying to fix the boat. Madison tells him about the situation with Strand, saying they ought to trust him and head for Mexico. He’s not sure about believing in Victor, though Madison seems to be sold on the whole idea. Either way, the married couple are having problems.
Daniel comes across a woman running on the island. Because a bunch of walkers are headed over the horizon towards them. Simultaneously, Nick slips and falls into a small pit where a zombie, stuck in a hole being eaten by crabs, nearly kills him. Then up above another walker tumbles down. “Oh shit,” screams Nick – oh shit is right.
But Daniel is the one most in trouble. While Chris and Alicia meet up with him on the beach, they still can’t find Nick. And the place is overrun. Travis gets the boat running in time. Only the walkers are outnumbering the survivors on the beach outrageously. Alicia, Daniel, they all fight hard.
Until Nick shows up, covered in walker blood looking fucking zombie Braveheart. Bad. Ass. He’s found out, after coming literally face to face with one walker and mirroring him, that the zombies can’t tell a person from them if they’re covered in guts. This whole sequence is incredible. The music kicks it up a whole other notch, continually from one scene to the next in this episode.
Except once they’re back at the boat, Strand isn’t happy about the new additions from the island – the woman and the kid from the beginning of the episode. Then Madison breaks the news of Mexico to the rest of the group. Even Travis agrees with her: “We made a decision. We have our destination.” The deal is, for now, the woman and the boy will get towed in their raft behind them. Strand won’t have it any other way. Sad, but a microcosm of how life needs to be now that the world is collapsing, quicker by the second.
Aboard the raft, the woman – Charlie (Michelle Ang) – assures the boy this is “the worst” their situation will get. Things are looking up.
Then Victor comes down and chops the raft loose of the boat, setting the woman and the boy back into the ocean. Whoa. That is a cold way to do it. And now it’s made clear to Madison who watches him: nobody fucks with Strand.
Next episode is titled “Blood in the Streets” and I’m excited. This season gets better with each chapter. Look forward to more new developments, some revelations, and more zombie action!
AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 2: “We All Fall Down”
Directed by Adam Davidson
Written by Kate Barnow
* For a review of the previous episode, “Monster” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Ouroboros” – click here
After the premiere sets us out on the ocean, Fear the Walking Dead‘s Season 2 continues on as this episode begins with a couple children on the beach. In the water nearby a zombie washes up. It spies kid meat; oh boy. All of a sudden, more zombies appear from out of the water. But luckily, there’s a fence separating them from the children now that we can see it from a better perspective. Whew. So is this a preparation? Was this fence put up specifically for this purpose? We’ll see.
Back to Strand (Colman Domingo) and the others. Madison (Kim Dickens) isn’t impressed with Nick (Frank Dillane) jumping right into the ocean. However, the logbook he found on the downed boat gives them a better idea of what’s going on. So Madison and Travis (Cliff Curtis) bring it to everyone’s attention. Daniel (Rubén Blades) and the rest of them try to figure out their next way forward. Strand suggests they hide.
Travis and Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) still aren’t on the same page. The son isn’t so sure of his father anymore, simply because he’s now seen his mother die. The hopelessness is already there. But everyone else tries their best to forge on. Later at night, the group sees a light flashing on a nearby shore. A signal?
While the others go ashore, Daniel keeps a watchful eye on Strand. He isn’t fully sold on the guy yet, and I don’t blame him. Meanwhile, Travis and Madison go to where they saw the flashing light. Everything is dark, quiet. A kid runs outside and then Travis finds a family in one of the houses. They introduce themselves, the father of the family does the same. For now things feel all right.
George (David Warshofsky) invites them in. He and Travis actually have a beer together. They bond over books and reading. Travis talks about the bombing of Los Angeles, and George explains the same’s been happening all over, even up into Canada, as well as further down south; the border is shut, everything sealed. Things are looking damn bleak. Upstairs, Madison and George’s wife Melissa (Catherine Dent) bond, too. They chat of more pleasant things trying to act like things are normal, if only for the time being. The family seems like they’re definitely survivalists; George has a bunch of maps, a radio, all types of things, the son carries a rifle. So maybe these people will be of help, if only for a while.
Travis: “Can‘t imagine havin‘ time for it now.”
George: “You‘ve got nothin‘ but time, man.”
Daniel and his daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) also talk. She’s worried, obviously, about where they’ll go next, or if they’ll stay, whatever happens. Her father does what he can to be positive, though, it seems she’s all but given up. Likewise, Nick is a bit of light in the midst of things, whereas Chris is all gloom and doom. Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) ends up talking to one of the kids about “Ring A Ring O’ Roses”, which is a perfect parallel to the current situation. Creepier still is one of the younger kids of the survivalist family whose knowledge of things is firm, yet child-like, and that really affects Nick when witnessing this personally – from “power pills” to an action figure doll, it is an unsettling sequence.
On the boat, Strand and Daniel chat a little. The latter is incredibly suspicious. Strand is a smooth talker and as always manages to deflect. Back inside, George and Travis debate the zombie virus, what it is, why it’s happening. Travis is Māori, which George guesses, and he talks a bit about his own family in relation to their people’s practices. A new friendship is budding, as it appears George is more than willing to extend his books and his land to Travis and his group. But this is only the beginning of the outbreak. We’re not yet to the point where it’s completely dog-eat-dog. Right now there are still soft souls willing to extend themselves to others.
Nick: “Hey you wanna know what the most underrated perk of the apocalypse is?”
Nick: “No planes. No noise pollution, no smog. Just stars.”
Alicia: “Yup. Well, we definitely stopped the climate crisis. Awesome.”
Except, like Nick says, something is off about this little survivalist home George has going on. He has these beautiful notions about family and about life. However, there is an odd, strange aspect to what’s going on.
In the morning, Travis heads out with George’s older son Seth (Jake Austin Walker). They’re down taking care of walkers on the steel fences. Tons of them are lining the sand at its foot, many having already been cleared. Seth takes one out, then offers Chris the chance. It’s a cathartic experience for him. We also get a better look into the survivalist nature of George’s family. They’ve lived like this “for a while“, admittedly from Seth. When Travis finds his son there’s an obvious aggressive tension still thick over their relationship. No telling how long it’ll go on. Travis has a problem with how things are now, how his boy has to live in this post-apocalypse world, and no matter how much George tries that’s not something that’s instantly going to change for Travis. Not quite yet, not fully anyways.
Out on a walk, Alicia makes a mark of a spiral continuing into itself, as if an ominous overall statement on the eternal existence of human beings, coming back even beyond the dead. At the same time, Nick searches around the house, going through the medicine cabinet, everywhere else, before finally coming upon those pills – the ones George will most certainly be using on his family when the time comes. Little yellow and green pills, very poison-looking, cyanide maybe. This is worrisome. Something bad might happen if Travis’ people come in the way of George and his endgame. Furthermore, Strand sees the radar clear up, and wants to get sailing again.
Madison’s busy trying to figure out if Melissa intended to signal somebody with the light in her house, which George called accidental. It was indeed intended as a signal. She knows there’s no hope there in their little compound, with the fences, the vegetables. “We‘re just biding our time,” says Melissa: “Biding our time ‘till it‘s over.” Things are worse than expected, she’s ill, and most of all she wants the little kids to get off their island. Now there’s a situation set off, as Madison tries convincing Travis to save the kids from George and that desolate landscape.
And Daniel, he’s busy, as well. he tries hard to find some evidence of who Strand is really, what he’s up to. He finds a secret compartment with some weaponry, documents, other interesting maps, so on – one of which involves Mexico. Simultaneously, Strand calls someone on his phone, seemingly setting a meeting at sundown. Who’s on the other end of that call? And what does that mean for the other survivors?
The worst of all, Nick believes George is planning on “Jonestown–ing” his family. He found the pills, he knows they’re not some uppers or downers. So where to go from here? Well, they start by trying to get the kids out of there. But George interrupts things, he isn’t happy either. Upstairs, little Willa has already taken her pill. And this begins a terrifying moment, as Melissa finds her daughter, dead, zombified, and it all gets really ugly then. Melissa dies, they get the boy out of there, and George is left behind to deal with the fallout. A nasty, unnerving scene. On board his boat Strand doesn’t like having another passenger. Crazier confrontation ensues when Seth boards with a rifle trying to take his brother back. They reluctantly give the boy over. Spooky moment on the wharf, as Seth and the kid are confronted by their undead mother shuffling towards them.
Everyone watches from the boat, as Seth has to kill his mother. A grim parting, as the survivors head out on the ocean, no more and no less than when they’d arrived. Onward to darker horizons.
Next episode is titled “Ouroboros” and I’m excited – this was a great one. I can only hope the season builds on this disturbing chapter.
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.
AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 1, Episode 6: “The Good Man”
Directed by Stefan Schwartz
Written by Dave Erickson & Robert Kirkman
* For a review of the Season 2 premiere, “Monster” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “Cobalt” – click here
Madison (Kim Dickens) and Travis (Cliff Curtis), along with Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), are getting ready to leave so they can try and retrieve the lost family members – while Nick is alive, unfortunately Griselda has already died and been shot in the head to prevent her zombifying.
Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) and her father Daniel (Rubén Blades) are at odds because of what happened years ago in their home country, El Salvador; Daniel lied to her about it all, placing himself as victim when in fact he tortured people. This causes a rift at a terribly important time, when they need to be on the same page especially once they find out what happened to Griselda.
At the big lab, Dr. Bethany Exner (Sandrine Holt) is preparing to haul ass out of Los Angeles along with everyone essential to the operation. Liza Ortiz (Elizabeth Rodriguez) is concerned about her son, but also tries to negotiate as best she can to have Travis also go along. Tentatively, this seems like a deal. However, you can be sure Travis will not go without Madison. I can already feel the tension mounting.
Back at the house, as everyone prepares to roll out, Andrew Adams (Shawn Hatosy) – still in the group’s custody – pleads with Travis to be taken along with them, as there’ll be maneuvering needing to be done once inside the facility where the family members are being kept.
The lively Daniel concocts a plan to make a diversion: he lets out the zombies contained inside the arena from the end of the previous episode. While the National Guardsmen are battling hordes of the undead, far as the eye can see, Daniel is pissed with Travis for trying to do the right thing and bringing Adams along.
Caged up still, Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) talks with his new friend Nick Clark (Franke Dillane). Then, all of a sudden, out go the lights. Things are starting to break down. Bullets fly out in the background, the noise of people shouting, scrambling, everything gets louder.
I’m really enjoying the brief bond between Strand and Nick, there’s something real sly and greasy about Strand yet I feel like he might be an important character in the second season. Whatever happens, I do think he’s going to be of use in terms of the show’s plot. Already he starts to give Nick advice, telling him that helping others could actually hurt them; tragic to have to say so, yet in the new post-apocalyptic landscape certainly a true statement.
Dr. Exner is trying to have her patients and staff extracted, but the infected have began to lay siege to the building. The entire operation all but literally crumbles right in front of Exner, poor Liza along for the ride realizes she may have to leave behind her family. Even worse, Exner is left with a room full of patients who won’t be leaving the facility alive, or so it appears.
At the car, waiting for the rest of the group, Chris and Alicia are harassed by some National Guardsmen who want their vehicle. When one of them makes lewd, suggestive comments at Alicia, Chris steps in to defend her and gets knocked out. Good on him, though, protecting his step-sister.
There is a ton of excellent tension and atmosphere in general happening in this whole sequence. As the entire facility starts to go down in figurative flames, the horror and action pick up. Liza witnesses a National Guardsman get a savage bite in the neck, blood gushing from the wound, then kill himself by running into the rear blades on the tail of a helicopter; GNARLY!
My favourite bits here come when Nick and Strand make their way through the halls of the hospital facility – which is actually a local college – they see a bit of nasty zombie gut munching. But we can already tell what sort of character Strand is, how conniving in a good way he’s already proving to be, just in the way his head is totally on straight in terms of their current situation. Even in the casual way he acts from moment to moment, even in danger, it shows him as to be incredibly slick, and wildly fun.
For those who’ve been complaining about the lack of horror/zombie presence, this episode kicks things up a notch. When the group all ends up together – Travis and Madison, Daniel, Ofelia, Liza, then Nick and Strand – the horror action comes alive with skull cracks, forehead shots, hammer smashes, and more! You can already tell there’s going to be more of this next season, once the epidemic truly gets underway and things become more and more desolate zombie-wise with every passing day, each week. The grim, macabre second half of this finale gives us a preview of the horror we’ll surely be able to expect when Fear the Walking Dead returns next year.
I think I was most chilled when Dr. Exner is found alone with all the patients, hydraulic cattle gun by her side, all of the remaining ill with holes in their heads. Just the way she’s sitting there, finishing her ‘work’, the blank and disaffected look in her eyes, the lack of any humanity remaining in her face… it is scary stuff. At first, I thought she was mostly a real bitch, but seeing her take up the gun while all the others leave, I honestly feel bad for her. It’s tragic to have to see a doctor, someone who swore an oath to try and sustain the lives of her patients, ultimately resign herself to – what appears to be – suicide.
Outside, the group witnesses a huge stack of ashes and dust, consisting of the dead from the makeshift hospital facility. Big heaps, two piles, sit in the parking lot with a bulldozer next to them. Almost as intensely frightening as the previous scene with Dr. Exner.
But UH OH – Andrew Adams crops up again, gun drawn and pointing it at Daniel. Only he doesn’t shoot Daniel; he blasts Ofelia with one shot. Reeling from that? When Travis pins Adams to the ground and beats him into bloody chunks of pulp, you’ll be jaw agape. I was, anyways. It wasn’t shock, merely the fact I was amazed at Travis, his character – there’s a switch which happened in him from the guy who was optimistic, trusting the military and the government to set things right and work it out, to the man now who is embracing the crossover to humankind becoming more primitive, more animalistic, something everyone will need to learn to do in the coming weeks, months, years. Just to see Travis so quickly turn himself into a beast, it was really something, and totally necessary.
Strand takes everyone back to his grand home to decompress. He’s upstairs packing when Nick asks where he’ll be going; no direct answer, only that he’s going to stay in constant motion. He tells Nick nobody can stay there, though. Then he shows Nick an ocean liner out on the sea, where they’re headed: Abigail.
Liza takes a stroll down to the beach by the water, Madison following along behind her. Turns out, Liza is infected with a terrible scratch on her stomach. She wants Madison to do the job and get it over with, as Travis shows up right in time. I mean, what an emotional moment! Terribly tragic moment to see Travis, with the women he loves and the woman he once loved, and having to watch one of them literally go away; forever.
The moment when the shot rings out is unbelievably sad. So weighty. Juxtaposed with a shot of Chris and Alicia smiling, eating popsicles together and laughing, there’s a wave of emotion that hits with great impact. Such a quiet moment when the shot blasts into the air, then the aftermath unfolds with a quiet song underneath, and I honestly can’t think of a better, more emotional way to finish the season. Particularly, again, having to see Travis sort of turn around from the person he was at the start of the season to become a man who will be able to last through the hard times ahead is a very interesting, intriguing point for Season 1.
To be honest, I won’t apologize – I loved this first season. Others found it uneven, or flat-out did not enjoy the whole thing. Not sure why, maybe it wasn’t what they wanted in terms of zombies, but I came into this assuming it would be a prequel and we’d see the before, then move into the full-on zombie epidemic. So perhaps the marketing of the show wasn’t clear enough? I don’t know. I thought the family dynamics happening in this season were excellent, getting bits and pieces of a bunch of different stories. Not only that, I’m finding already in the first season the contrast people who people were before the infection started and after has already begun to feel really exciting and interesting. Like I’ve already mentioned, the metamorphosis of Travis specifically throughout Season 1 has brought out a quality of all people, in him a microcosm – how we’ll all eventually devolve and revert to primitive human behaviour after the apocalypse, whether willingly or pushed over the edge such as Travis was after seeing Adams shoot Ofelia.
So come back for the new season of The Walking Dead which I’ll be reviewing, as well as other series’ on television like American Horror Story if that’s your cup of tea. Otherwise, I’ll see you back here again next year for another season of Fear the Walking Dead!
AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 1, Episode 5: “Cobalt”
Directed by Kari Skogland (Fifty Dead Men Walking, The Stone Angel, Vikings)
Written by David Wiener
* For a review of the next episode, “The Good Man” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “Not Fade Away” – click here
This episode begins with Doug Thompson (John Stewart) in a National Guard holding cell of sorts. Maybe even worse than dealing with the so-called patriotic troops, he’s stuck in there with Strand (Colman Domingo), whose mouth never seems to start running. Though, Strand absolutely appears to have his head on at least most of the way straight. Oh, and Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) is huddled in the corner, surely awaiting more of the junkie withdrawals.
Strand proves useful later in the episode – apparently he deals with the guards, trading for things. He gives up what look like some diamond cufflinks or something, all in order to keep them from taking Nick away to the basement; they see his fever is up. But Strand knows Nick is coming down, only detoxing, and this guy might prove to be a strong ally for the young man. Or will he? Could Strand simply be doing a kindness, or is it a way to make sure he’s got his own ally, under his thumb, once things get crazier? We’ll find out soon enough, I’m sure.
Back in the old neighbourhood, Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason) appears as if she’s riling everyone up. Her mother, Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola) is off with the National Guard somewhere, with doctors, but she has no idea what’s going on. Luckily as the troops move in on Ofelia, Andrew Adams (Shawn Hatosy) her boyfriend steps in to sort things out.
At the Clark house, Madison (Kim Dickens) and Travis (Cliff Curtis) are having a ton of trouble. Chris Manawa (Lorenzo James Henrie) isn’t exactly happy with his dad, making things even worse; he’s concerned about his mother, Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez).
Chris meets up with Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and they dress up in one of the deserted houses, trashing the place. Some real chaos; is this what their generation will become now?
Meanwhile, Liza is off helping Dr. Exner (Sandrine Holt) whose sympathy for the situations of others doesn’t really run very deep. Liza wants to know how Griselda and Nick are, she wants to call her son Chris, but Exner whisks her around to help all the patients.
Madison goes looking for Alicia, finding the note she’d left for Russell. She ends up finding Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades) and his daughter Ofelia: they’ve taken Adams hostage, tied him up, duct taped his mouth. The father-daughter duo have decided to use Adams as leverage, as a trade, to try and get back their loved ones; Griselda, Nick. But Daniel wants to know all the information the National Guards know, so therefore he plans to extract any and all information from Adams.
I love how the character of Daniel has seen this sort of military response before. He’s aware of what the government and the military can do. So this is a bit of an interesting angle, which fuels the paranoia he continues to display.
Lieutenant Moyers (Jamie McShane) has a little chat with Travis Manawa. He’s worried about what’s going on, obviously, after seeing the snuff job at the end of “Not Fade Away“. Eventually, after a bit of back and forth, Travis ends up getting to go downtown, to visit the doctor and find out what’s been going on. However, things seem dark, or at least to spell trouble because the soldiers are worn out, yet Lt. Moyers pushes them further and further. You can almost feel something about to happen.
On their trip, Moyers makes a stop and sets up a tactical sniper rifle. He wants Travis to take the shot on a woman down the street in what looks like a coffee shop; she is not human, it seems, rather a walking dead. After a bit of yelling, and taunting from Moyers, finally Travis picks up the rifle and sights the woman – her name tag spelling out KIMBERLY – and tries to muster up whatever’s needed to put her out. He can’t do it, though, and Moyers cockily steps in. I guess his point was that Travis willingly lives under the National Guard’s protection yet wants to criticize how they do things, while unable to pull the trigger himself when/if needed. I understand, but still – dick move. I do not like Moyers at all while I do absolutely love McShane; he does good work in almost every show you’ll see him in.
Afterwards, the National Guardsmen all pile out of their vehicle towards a building, as Travis waits in the truck, instructed not to move; no matter what happens. Then all the screams and shots and screeches ring out of the vehicle’s radio. Intense scene, very well shot. Plus, Cliff Curtis is a solid character actor who I always enjoy seeing onscreen. He gives Travis life here, and the intensity on his face in this scene shows he is solid. Real effective stuff.
Down where Daniel has the soldier Adams held up, it seems things are getting very, very bad for the military man. Daniel gets serious; there will be no talking here. He continually asks Adams – “What is Cobalt?” – and also cuts the poor man’s inner arm, slowly lopping off pieces of skin and going deeper into the wound. It’s a real torturous moment, as we witness pure torture; hard to watch, even for the hardened horror vets such as myself, seeing his gaping wounds and the blood even for a brief few seconds is a gut punch. Great horror moment.
Even better is when Daniel goes back upstairs, Ofelia having seen his handiwork, and Madison encounters him in the kitchen. An amazingly tense scene between the two, which ends as Madison proves she’s one tough woman; I think both she and Daniel realize how terrible things are beginning to get, how fast the world is spiralling out of control and into oblivion. All she has to say to Daniel is: “Did he tell us what we need to know?”
In the end, Adams gives up the goods. He tells everyone Cobalt is the code which commences evacuation of the Los Angeles area. This also includes procedures for the “humane termination of….“, you guessed it. At 9AM the next morning, things are supposed to get pretty damn rough.
Nick Clark and Strand have a conversation after the former finishes a fresh vomit. Turns out, Strand needs a man with Nick’s sort of talents – whatever that means exactly I’m not so sure; I guess being a junkie automatically lends itself to being sneaky – when he decides to get going. He has a key, and no doubt will have escape on his mind.
The National Guard is starting to pull out of the whole area – from the hospital they have setup, from the neighbourhood, from Los Angeles entirely. Things are starting to get scarier now, more and more ominous, each scene more foreboding than the last.
Poor Griselda Salazar is starting to die, she had complications after the foot she injured was removed. As Liza and Dr. Exner tend to her, she passes on. Exner breaks out the hydraulic cattle gun and advises Liza, though the time varies from person to person, everyone turns into a zombie, the living dead. Liza does what’s needed and an understanding sets in.
A chilling end to this penultimate Season 1 episode, with Daniel walking up to the doors of what looks like a big stadium almost, or a similar style complex – the doors are all bared with boards through the handles, chains and locks across their fronts. And inside the sound of hungry, angry, raving zombies. Really great finish.
No doubt the next and final episode, “The Good Man”, will show us some wild stuff! I know Kirkman and Co. will want to go out with a bang, which will set up a great second season. Though others are not so keen, I’ve been a big fan of this series since the opening episode. People expected tons of zombies, but this is a lead-up, building towards where we’ve already gotten to in The Walking Dead. For what this series is meant to be doing, it is incredible.
Last episode is directed by Stefan Schwartz whose directing credits include episodes of Luther, Spooks, House, The Walking Dead, Dexter, Low Winter Sun, The Americans, The Bridge, and more. Stay tuned, Walking Deadites! Close out the season with me next week.