By Matt Berry
In this week’s FTWD, whacky dad George keeps his adorable kids and typically nagging wife isolated at the edge of civilization until such time as he decides they’re ready for a round of toxic Kool-Aid. This and other hilarity ensues on…
Fear the Walking Dead, Season 2, Episode 2, We All Fall Down
Fear finally answers the question of how good they are at resolving tense episode-ending cliffhangers, and the answer is that they are not at all good at it in any goddam way. After leaving us with the impression last week that DJ Jack’s boatful of sensitive heartthrobs was closing in fast on the poor, (mostly) defenseless Abigail, season two’s sophomore installment lets us know right away that…yeah, they’re not all that close, actually, and there’s, like, super-plenty of time to escape and find a hiding place. So, like, last week’s episode never happened. We All Fall Down whisks us into a whole new story where Maddie and crew encounter a family even more dysfunctional than they are.
Turns out, Burgess Meredith from that Twilight Zone episode is hoarding books, his sick wife, his clearing-obsessed teen son, and half the cast of Full House in a library-cum-Waco compound that keeps them safe from the Walkers but not from the moodiness and loathing that eats at the flesh of most American families. The show allows the two fams time to mingle, share beers and life philosophies, and to talk father to father, mother to mother, and kids to kids.
Continuing its focus on how the zombie outbreak is specifically effecting the typical 21st century nuclear unit, the WAFD explores the contrast in faults between going relentlessly on the run (as Maddie and Travis’ group has so far opted to do) and hunkering down, holding your land, and refusing to yield, no matter the suicidal consequences.
The episode also offers a thoughtful examination of what the new world means to its youngest and most impressionable inhabitants, and, in a move as old as the family sitcom itself, FTWD adds a Brian Bonsall to the cast on account of Tina Yothers not being as cute as she used to be.
(Word of advice to the newest, youngest member of the group: be careful around guns, kid. You or some other dick kid‘ll shoot your eye out!
Beach Blanket Bang-O
In another fantastic cold open, we’re teased with the notion that one or both of the Olsen Twins are about to become Walker Chow, only to learn by the sequence’s end that a great fence (a glorious, like, so spectacular and classy fence, paid for by Mexico most likely) protects them from the insidiousness of undocumented immigrants undeads. We’re later treated to a scene at the same fence in which Sugar Ray Chris deals with the loss of his mom (and the reality of the new world) by getting real good real quick at swinging a pickax into some Walker eye. The imagery of the Floaters rising from the surf and staggering toward land is chilling. It’s one of the most unsettlingly creepy images of either WD series.
One of the errant Walkers at the fence, by the way, is from the plane that season one’s Tobias was on in the series of shorts that ran online all last summer and during commercial breaks in this season’s Walking Dead. Hopefully, that means the plane and Tobias are somewhere close by.
Ofelia, whose contract, like John Travolta’s in the fifth season of Welcome Back Kotter, apparently forces her to appear in one scene per episode, has a nicely illuminating moment with her father this week. Her character, so far, has been a bit of a non-entity (the most memorable thing she did in season one was get shot), but I like the kind of Bell Jar direction she appears to be headed in. And she seemed genuinely closer to her mysterious father (the special forces ghost Salazar) after seeing the chaotic world through his weary eyes. The Zombiepocalypse: bringing families together since 2009.
The Andromeda Strand
I’ll be honest, I don’t really know what that subheading (^^^) means; it just sounded cool when I wrote it. Anyway, Strand is apparently up to some shady shit. Not that that’s shocking, but he is. First, he’s all insistent that the group head towards San Diego even after learning that it’s been burned to the ground. And it ain’t, I suspect, ‘cause he’s some big Anchorman fan. Then, he’s all, like, closing drawers and hiding his phone and stuff when Salazar starts asking what he’s up to. Yup, shady as hell. And, when old Salazar finds an AK-47 stashed on the boat, that’s not even the cheatiest thing going on ‘cause Strand is also having a super-secret phone with some ho when ain’t nobody around. So, this shit’s got to come to a head at some point, and old Strand is gonna have some major ‘splainin’ to do.
The Ballad of Anyssa Jones
After bonding with the Olsen Twins over coloring books and the most disturbing set of action figures since 1979’s The Black Hole unleashed an Ernest Borgnine doll on an unsuspecting public (the “Uncle Kyle” figure is my particular favorite), Nick puts his detective skills to good use this week by figuring out that something is amiss with doomsday dabbler George. He puts his “hey, you can stash your weed in there” instincts to even greater use by zeroing in on the semi-well-hidden cache of cyanide breath mints that George intends to use on his family once the option of holding down their depressing little fort is no longer realistic. George, by the way, reminds me of one of those psycho hubbies you’d see on Wife Swap who refuses to let his wife or kids go to school or eat fast food or, like, know other people. Unfortunately, little Anyssa Jones apparently has a weakness for the pills and, like so many child actresses before her, immediately downs a fistful and overdoses on her bedroom floor while a record needle bumps idly up and down in a crackling run out groove. Okay, that last part I made up, but wouldn’t that have been, like, so dramatic? In either case, Nick really needs to work on his nannying skills. I can’t wait till next week when Little Harry tries to rob a 7-11 with a water gun and a hot dog.