This Fear the Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
Fear the Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 3
Right off the bat, if you’re not completely caught up on Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462, you need to go back and watch parts 1-16, which run about 15 minutes in their entirety. It’s the wreckage of this doomed commercial flight we see at the beginning of “Ouroboros.” The woman, Alex, was a passenger on that flight and the only person who seemed to know what the hell was going on. Seeing how she crosses paths with our main group, I was really hoping she’d be sticking around, but obviously that’s not the case. More on her in a bit.
There’s a lot more to “Ouroboros” than just Flight 462. Abigail’s engines have stalled, leaving her and her makeshift crew adrift in the Pacific Ocean. Travis, being practical and pragmatic to a fault, volunteers to dive under the hull to see what the problem is. He understands that Abigail is their key to survival. If she doesn’t run, everyone’s life is at risk. As it turns out, Abigail is constipated — her pipes are literally full of excrement. So it’s up to Travis, who we previously saw fixing a dishwasher in last year’s pilot, to try and find the blockage.
At the same time, Alicia spies Flight 462’s luggage strewn about on the shore. The kids are all for pilfering whatever supplies they can from the wreckage. Aside from Tobias raiding the school’s canned food stores in season one, this is the first bona fide supply run of the series. This will become more and more of a frequent occurrence as time progresses, the irony being the more successful the initial runs are, the less productive they’ll be in the future as everything is slowly picked clean. Even so, while a supply run makes sense, the group can’t keep finding excuses to go ashore. Doing so flies in the face of what’s supposed to be so special about this second season. NO SAFE HARBOR, proclaims FTWD‘s multichannel advertising campaign, and yet the group found safe haven last week — in the season’s second episode. It’s easy to give the show a pass, since the group finally learns valuable information about the rest of the country. But hopefully they’ll keep away from the coast for the next few episodes.
Supply run aside, I really felt that this episode belonged to Chris. Yes, Chris. In a good way. We know Chris wants to be useful to the group, whereas viewers want him to be useful to the show itself. This week, the latter is true, even though initially I found myself wondering aloud why he’d wander off alone in the dunes, despite Daniel’s sage advice to remain where he can easily see everyone. In a universe where zombies exist, you think these people would have at least a passing knowledge of horror films. But, no. Not this kid. Not Chris. (To be fair, this is true of The Walking Dead, too.) Still, Chris knows enough to grab a makeshift weapon before entering the wreckage. When confronted with actual zombies, he’s strangely confident and unafraid, a surly zombie slayer. But it turns out he needs to kill more than just the dead. And what happens next was difficult to watch, a mercy kill gone horribly wrong. One has to wonder how this will affect his young mind. At the very least, Chris has quickly become a more interesting character, right?
We get a fair amount of zombie action in this episode, courtesy of Alex. She makes contact with the main cast just as the undead crest the dunes behind her. I’m all for slower-paced character development but this is a zombie show after all. The zombie kills quickly begin to pile up as Alicia, Daniel, and Alex fight for their lives. Nick finds himself in a pretty hairy predicament as well in a pretty interesting set piece that involves a partially buried zombie and a bunch of crabs. While I appreciate the suspense the show tries to generate in this moment, it’s no surprise that Nick survives his close encounter (of the undead kind).
Which brings us to the ensuing melee on the dunes, with everyone barely holding their own until Nick shows up covered in fresh zombie guts and wielding a Thor-sized hammer. Not only does he do a fair amount of damage, he quickly learns that zombie guts work as a kind of camouflage. Yes, viewers of TWD already know these tricks of the trade, but these so-called life hacks are all new to this group of relatively fresh-faced survivors. Like Chris, Nick is fearless when he finds himself face to face with a zombie. He’s already been through a personal hell that gives him clarity in the apocalypse.
As for Strand, things come to a head when Madison confronts him about the maps Daniel found. The truth finally comes out: There’s a safe house in a town near Baja, with food stores, gardens, water filtration systems, and reinforced concrete walls (which, if you ask me, almost sounds too good to be true). And maybe none of what he’s telling Madison is true. It’s very hard to understand Strand’s motives. Even in season one, it was never entirely clear why he thought Nick would be such an asset. And it’s hard to understand now how taking on Cliff, Madison and the rest are of any benefit to him. To make things worse, not only does he bar Alex and Jake from boarding Abigail, he cuts their life raft loose, leaving the last of Flight 462’s survivors adrift in the ocean.
Overall, “Ouroboros” isn’t a bad episode, but the show needs to try harder if it wants to keep its viewers — and win over new ones.
Some closing thoughts:
Alicia remarks not knowing where Nick was for so many years, and now they’re basically together 24/7 since leaving land behind. Her comment hints at a greater loss for all those years her brother was off fighting his demons. Now they’re fighting actual demons together.
As for Nick, he seems more comfortable in the garb of others. The old man’s clothes, an Abigail polo shirt, and now a pilot’s uniform. Who is the real Nick?