With the status quo set up two weeks’ ago (and after the BBC decided that football is more important that good drama, forcing us to wait longer for this second episode) we start things off with Naj tagging the city (yup, its Brum again) with ‘Abby’ signs, trying as hard as he can to get his family back together by having banners, cars, buildings and as many surfaces as possible scrawled with her name and arrows for her to follow to get her back in the fold.
With the intention of reuniting with her, at the other end of the spectrum Greg is trying his hardest to get rid of Tom, stating that his casual use of violence, his demeanour and his general outlook is endangering everyone, especially the fact that he is constantly waving a shotgun around. It seems there can only be one ‘alpha-male’ in the group and Greg, who is still reeling from his wound last week, still has the firmness of will to force Tom to leave. And while this is only temporary, it shows that Greg is really the de-facto leader of the family.
With Tom cast out, his lone wolf instinct kicks in, using his weapon to hijack and take hostage another group, stealing all their food. While this seems a little harsh and a little extreme (there is still lots of food available, the infection has only been around month or so), this standoff really is more of a catalyst for things later in the episode and for a much more sinister and, frankly, quite horrific use of ‘extras’.
After the raid, the group Tom has taken hostage is again attacked by the storm troopers working for Whitaker, being hauled off into a van and driven off. Which you would think would be all blacked out and cool, but nope, the vans the storm troopers drive are white (with, I suspect, a copy of The Sun on the dashboard) and conveniently have the name of the pharmaceutical company they work for emblazoned on the front.
Seeing the attack, Tom returns back to his family, stating that he now has some idea of where Abby is, splitting the group as to a course of action. Should they rescue her or flee the city? On the insistence of Naj, the majority vote for a rescue, with only Greg staying behind, both to look after Naj and to load up the cars for a quick getaway when they return.
While the setup and current story for the family is actually quite compelling, with fractions, loyalties and secrets all piling up, the most important and, frankly, quite shocking plot lies with Abby, whose predicament is far from comfy.
Still locked away in the secret compound, the agreement to have some ‘tests’ done on her for a cure to the virus soon proves to be a very bad idea as the tests get progressively worse, ending up with her being injected with the virus in an attempt to create antibodies. Alone in the isolation cell, Abby once more succumbs to the virus and, while her predicament is bad, there are people in the base who, shockingly, have it worse.
Last week we saw that Whittaker had smuggled his family onto the base, storing them away in a bunker, spinning his wife a set of lies that here, safe away from the virus and the chaos outside, they can live happily until the worst is over. Deceiving her at every turn and making out that it’s for her own good, Whittaker leaves them for days on end and eventually, being sick of the cramped conditions, his wife ‘escapes’, finding that outside is a lot worse than she thought, and that the base they are on is more of a nightmare than the outside world.
In one of the most shocking things I have seen in a while, in her wandering around the corridors she comes across some doors which when opened reveal people, herded like cattle, pawing at the window to escape.
With the use of only a bright spotlight, the scene of the pallid faces stuck in an unknown room is the stuff of nightmares and when she too ends up like them in ‘quarantine’ and the door slowly closes on her, her fate and the fate of the rest of the guests can be only guessed at.
However, recovering from the virus, Abby, with the assistance of Whittaker’s wife, who is horrified at what she has seen, manages to make an escape, fleeing the compound in panic but , with thanks to Naj, slowly works her way home back to her adopted family.
Still, not everyone gets a reunion or happy ending as while Abby escapes, Whittaker’s wife is imprisoned for helping her (after she finds there is nobody alive outside and she has been lied to for months). We find that the hypocritical doctor, while he smuggled his wife and child to safety, his co-workers were told to ignore or give false advise to dying friends and relatives, all, it seems, for the ‘greater good’.
Reunited and happy the team leave the city with the ever-positive Naj being the bolstering influence on everyone, not wanting to give up on Abby and seeing the group together again (not to mention making a new friend with the other groups youngest member). And after a final altercation with this other group, and Tom getting a rightful and justified kicking for stealing from them, the survivors are ready to move on and try to start their lives again in the country.
Again, I found this a top-notch episode with the right balance of characters, drama and action. It seems the series is going from strength to strength with the shades of grey and ambiguity of characters really being the driving force. With no single ‘baddie’ (well, apart from the mysterious man Whittaker reports to), the idea that every character has their own motivation, ideas and morals makes the series really solid and one the most polished and well executed sci-fi dramas currently on.
Check out our review of the series opener here.