This Fear the Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
Fear The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 6
I have to say, the best part of “Sicut Cervus” wasn’t the zombie altar boys—something we certainly haven’t seen yet in the TWD universe. And it wasn’t the melee outside the Mexican church, in which our group takes on a zombie horde—something we haven’t had much of this season. No, the best part of this episode was actually the family drama. Specifically the friction caused as lines are drawn down the middle of Travis and Madison’s blended family. But more on this bit of unexpected family drama in a bit.
All this season, Strand has been hell-bent on getting to Mexico. We are first led to believe it’s because he has a fortified, self-sustaining estate. But in reality, it’s true love that’s driving him forward. Love is hard to beat when it comes to motivation, and I appreciate that Strand has someone waiting for him. But I have a hard time accepting the depth of his relationship with Tom (Dougray Scott) once they’re finally reunited.
Yes, it’s tragic that Tom has been bitten, which means he’s not long for this world. And yes, it’s difficult to watch someone you love slowly waste away. So it’s a shame that Strand’s relationship with Tom is told to us in stretches of expository dialogue, rather than shown to us more. Perhaps if Tom had been introduced to us sooner (and not in a series of flashbacks), Strand’s heartbreak would have been more immediate and palpable.
This isn’t to say that Colman Domingo isn’t a fine actor, because he’s very good at conveying Strand’s distress. I just wish I cared more about his impending loss. Now that Tom is dead, I do wonder what will become of Strand and the bigger group. Will they be forced to leave the estate? Or will they be overrun by the zombies in the cellar? (I’m thinking both things will happen in short order.)
Now, back to that aforementioned family drama. Up until tonight, I liked the direction the show was taking Chris, keeping him troubled even as they made him more useful and self-aware of his own zombie-killing abilities. But the writers have also made sure we understand Chris is still a pretty doubt-filled kid.
In last week’s “Captive,” Chris overcompensates for his fearfulness by killing their captor, Reed, claiming he was about to turn. As we learned, this wasn’t true, which raises a bunch of red flags for everyone but Travis. The writers capitalize on these doubts by turning Chris into a major, major creep. Not only does he stand idly by as Madison is nearly killed by a zombie, he also threatens Alicia for wanting to rat him out for this. And if that weren’t enough, he decides to make good on his threat by actually going after her with a knife as she sleeps. How do Madison and Alicia react to this? By screaming for him to get out, of course. Oddly enough, he readily complies by fleeing into the night. This doesn’t redeem him—it just makes him even creepier. The only person he has in his corner is his father, which makes sense.
But Travis comes off as a bit deluded in this episode, refusing to believe Madison’s concerns that his son might be dangerous. That being said, I did appreciate the tension this creates between he and Madison as they argue about what it means to be a blended family. This sort of scenario is rife with friction under the best of circumstances; in the zombie apocalypse, negotiating this rocky domestic terrain becomes even trickier and more dire. Everyone in the group needs to have total faith in one another—they can’t afford any infighting when they’re battling for survival against zombies, pirates, and assorted survivalists. But that’s exactly what happens here: Madison and Travis bicker over semantics and possessive pronouns (ours versus mine or yours).
And while we’re on the subject of family, Nick finds some unexpected maternal comfort in Celia, much to Madison’s chagrin. They get along immediately, Nick and Celia, and it’s nice to have some lighthearted dialogue in an otherwise emotionally overwrought episode. Madison is quick to step in, though, making it clear whose son Nick is. This is understandable, but it doesn’t help make Madison a more likable character. I have no problem with her being abrasive—and indeed this is sold to us as a positive trait, but sometimes a bit of diplomacy helps.
Some closing thoughts:
– Daniel sure has a knack for locating locked-up hordes of zombies, doesn’t he? My bigger issue is we’ve already seen this hoarding of undead friends and family before on The Walking Dead, with (spoiler alert) Hershel and his barn. And we know that didn’t end very well.
– At one point, as Strand helps a weakened Thomas to the bed, I thought for sure he was going to be bitten. This would not be a bad thing, as Fear The Walking Dead has a big cast, and it’s time to start shedding people if we’re to understand the high stakes involved.
– What exactly is Ofelia’s role on this show? Is she meant to be a red shirt walking? I’m not saying I want to see her killed—I just want to see her character be more useful to the bigger group.