This review contains spoilers.
2.4 Blood In The Streets
With an expanded second season, Fear The Walking Dead seems to be able to let things breathe a little more than we got in the first season. The beginning felt kind of rapid fire, things happening one after the other after the other until we end up in a burning mansion on the California coast with a mysterious guy in a suit and his $10 million dollar boat. It made for interesting television, and it kept things moving reasonably well, even if they didn’t linger enough on the things I wanted to see for reasons of time or budget.
However, the second season seems to be taking a different pace. It wasn’t all that long ago that Alicia was on the radio with the mysterious Jake (Daniel Zovatto) and making friends while giving them vital information about the Abigail and the crew on board. Well, it took an episode longer than I expected, but those chickens came home to roost this week as Jake, Connor (Mark Kelly), Reed (Jesse McCartney), and Vida (Veronica Diaz-Carranza) board the ship while pretending that Vida is having difficult with her pregnancy. Paraphrasing what Connor says to Chris later, if you have to ask if you need to shoot someone, you should probably just go ahead and shoot them (a great line from Kate Erickson).
While the crew on board has to deal with pirates—and Strand leaving with the keys, only to get his raft shot up—Nick’s on dry land searching for a mysterious associate of Strand’s at the designated meeting place. With a pirate problem in the modern day, we also get to go back and explore Strand’s mysterious past. Where he got the money for the boat, where the big house came from, and just why he’s so interested in getting to Mexico. Namely, Strand is trying to get back to his boyfriend, Thomas Abigail (Dougray Scott), and his associate Luis (Arturo Del Puerto) and Luis’s mother Celia (Marlene Forte). But first, he has to survive being stranded in the ice-cold Pacific Ocean on a sinking rubber raft.
It’s interesting to see a little bit more about the world before the fall, and it’s further interesting to see Strand actually not being mysterious. For a real-estate developer (who may or may not be crooked), it’s strange to see him have this sort of survival training. He seems entirely too prepared for someone who makes money on real estate when he’s not relaxing in a Mexican villa. Though if the Abigails are involved in something illicit, it makes a little more sense for them to be prepared for any contingency, particularly one involving automatic weapons and defensive fortifications.
One thing I can say for this episode is that Strand’s homosexuality isn’t hinted at; it’s blatantly stated, basically from the very beginning when he’s first getting Thomas Abigail drunk enough to rob him. That’s only explicitly brought up at the end of the episode, but there’s no real subtext there; it’s straight up text, and Michael Uppendahl goes to great lengths to make Strand’s interactions with Abigail as something other than a con-man looking to steal credit cards; it’s obvious seduction, and I don’t necessarily need an interracial gay kiss at the end to push the point home. I was waiting for it pretty much the entire time the two were on screen. Still, bonus points for inclusion; the original series still has trouble keeping certain minorities alive for very long, but it’s nice that the spin-off has a gay black man as the second-most capable character after Salazar.
The most interesting part of the episode isn’t Strand’s back story—which isn’t nearly as cool or mysterious as the one everyone imagined for him, I assume—but the very tense armed raid on the Abigail. No one gets killed, at least not until Nick and Luis arrive, and yet it plays out as surprisingly tense. There’s a lot of things that could happen: Salazar could get loose, Alicia could turn on Jack or talk him into turning on his crew members, the level-headed Connor could see the value in people like Travis. None of it happens, of course, but it gives the survivors another mission to accomplish in the recovery of Chris and Alicia from the pirate base of operations.
It’s going to be interesting to see Strand in action, assuming he’s a man of action and not just a well-dressed con man. Then again, Luis is a crack shot, and we know how good Salazar is under pressure, so… maybe between the two (or three) of them they’ll be able to stop the pirates and get their people back. And if not, is it really that big of a loss? Sure, Chris has become a walker slayer, but Alicia is basically just a security risk, particularly with a radio in her hand.
Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Ouroboros, here.