Maddie and Alicia become Mexico’s answer to Rick and Daryl, Nick finds romance in them there hills, and Ofelia gets the hell out of dodge in…
Fear the Walking Dead, Season 2, Episode 11: Pablo & Jessica
This week’s FTWD examines the dynamic of duos, and we get to see various characters pairing and partnering to different ends as the hotel group makes an effort to clear the inn of the dead and Nick’s emotional journey in Jamestown continues to unfold. In the end, the couples are there for each other in significant ways proving that (in the Walking Dead universe at least) you can still forge meaningful bonds even as the world is burning down around you.
The episode’s main focus is on the twosome of Madison and Alicia. Before the mother and child reunion takes place, however, we finally see the continuation and conclusion of the bar fight that broke out two episodes ago between Maddy and Strand and a roomful of bitey Infected. The Luke and Han of the show make quick mincemeat of their attackers and quickly barricade themselves in a safe space. It is here that they catch up with Alicia, now running with Elena and her nephew in tow.
Reunited, mom and daughter hash out the argument about their relationship that was still brewing when they were separated. Like a lot of families with an addict, the Clarkes revolved around Nick and his problems (not to mention a depressive husband/father). Alicia, left to fend for herself emotionally and in practicalities, wants Maddy to admit that the person Alicia’s become (and who she is evolving into in this zombiepocalypse) is all of her own doing with little thanks to her Nick-centric ma.
Once square with each another, they prove to be a formidable team. Concocting a plan to clear the hotel of Infected and to work out a truce with the surviving hotel guests and their food supply, Alicia demonstrates that she is just as survival savvy as that dumb old Nick. She suggests marching the walkers off the edge of a nearby bridge and letting the riptide that lies below sweep them away. So begins the process of herding the roamers through the hotel (through the use of a Spotify blaring cell phone with the apparently longest battery life of any device ever made) and leading them right over the edge and into the sea. And then Maddy and Alicia high five then turn to the camera and begin to laugh just as the screen freeze frames and 80’s electric guitar rock plays over the closing credits.
Nick is paired up this week with both Alejandro and Luciana. In the dynamic of the former, Nick ingratiates himself to the would be Miracle Man by offering his expert services as a scumbag drug dealer who fucks over his customers. Alejandro is pleased at least enough with this offering to open up to Nick, telling him how the bite on his shoulder happened on the occasion of the good Pharmacist trying to save another young addict from the onset of a gang of hungry Zombies (Alejandro actually uses the word “sombra” to describe the dead, and actor Paul Calderon does his best to make it read as “zombre”; another fun audience tease along the lines of last week’s “best place to live” chat between Travis and the Psycho Boy). So it’s possible, it seems, that the bite out of the messiah may not have been taken by a cold blooded creature after all.
The more significant coupling occurs between Nick and Luciana. After the two of them bond over that time honored tradition of playing soccer with indigent children, Luciana learns that her lost brother (the titular Pablo) has been found but not all in one place. Nick offers a caring shoulder, one thing leads to another, and the two of them end up spending the night together. The moment is a foxy touch of sex appeal for a show that has severely lacked in that element since the start. Nick and Luciana have a nicely dark chemistry and a seemingly genuine emotional connection, so I’m curious to see what their newfound togetherness may lead to.
The other, albeit far more brief, connection occurs between Strand and the Corpse Bride, murdered at her own wedding by her asshole undead dad and subsequently left to wander, locked up by her groom, in the hotel’s Honeymoon Suite. Strand had intimated earlier in the episode to Maddy that once the hotel was made safe, he would be leaving. When Maddy says the hotel can be a home, Strand tells her his home burned.
After an encounter with the groom in which he learns the whereabouts of the still roaming bride, Strand offers to put her, Jessica, (the other half of the titular couple) out of her post mortem misery. It seems an altruistic gesture, and on some level is, but it is, of course, mostly for Strand himself.
Unmoored since losing his own love a mere moment ago in the story’s timeline, Strand uses the opportunity to relieve himself of at least some of the emotion roiling beneath his surface demeanor. It may be a long while before Strand is able to call anywhere home. He’s learned in the worst way, as we all do, that as sure as we are to still find good people to love and care about, even as the dead rise up and consume the world, we are just as likely to eventually have to let those loved ones go.
The Best Bits
Through The Looking Glass
I enjoyed the parallels this week to the original Walking Dead mythology. The clearing of the hotel echoed the clearing of the Prison by Rick’s group in WD season three, and the herding of the Infected like lemings over the bridge was a more dramatic (and successful!) spin on the quarry plan enacted outside Alexandria.
Freedom’s Just Another Word for NOthin’ Left to Lose
Maddy is a much more compelling character without Travis or Nick around. I know the intention of taking those characters away from her is to strengthen her resolve and let them figure out who they are in her absence, but the result is more that, without having to appease the always Dale-like and disagreeable optimist Travis or fretting every second over Nick, Maddy is actually interesting and not confined to the context of girlfriend sand worrying mother.
That Bridge Scene Was Pretty Good
^ That headline pretty much says it all. It was pretty good.
Ofelia, Ofelia…Where For Art Thou, Ofelia?