A Woman Under the Influence
Only a season and a half in, and Fear the Walking Dead already brings in an adorable little girl character to replace Tina Yothers. There’s also lots of supply gathering (like, so much supply gathering, I’m serious) and the greatest bar fight this side of Roadhouse! All this and, like, two other things happen in…
Fear the Walking Dead, Season 2, Episode 9 – “Los Muertos”
While Nick orients himself to yet another spiritual sanctuary (in Alejandro and Luciana’s fortress of cake hoarding), the rest of the family (in the larger group of survivors) is on the search to find him. After discovering that the Abigail has gone missing from her parking spot (Strand swears he parked that damn yacht in Green 36!), the gang retreats to an old hotel where (according to the rules of every book, movie, TV show, and Eagles album), horror ensues.
Alicia and Ofelia scout out the hotel, looking for supplies, only to find that the hospitality industry in Mexico still practices segregation; part of the hotel is quartered off for the living, the other part for the not-so-alive set. While gathering up as many towels and tiny soaps as they can carry, the women discuss the future, which it turns out, Ofelia has lost all faith in.
Since the (supposed) death of her father, Salazar, two episodes ago, and the confirmed death of her mother (like 39 episodes ago?) Ofelia has not only lost hope but actively, angrily abandoned it. Orphaned and alienated, her attitude now falls somewhere cozily between “the world is doomed, doooooomed, I say!” and “fuck this apocalypse and the four horsemen it rode in on.” Alicia, increasingly the voice of optimism among the survivors (unless it comes to Nick who they’re “never gonna see again!!!”) disagrees and heads off to wash those World War III blues outta her hair. When she returns from her shower, however, Ofelia is missing (I assume the show will spare no expense in tracking her down as she tries to flee from its clunky plotting and undefined narrative!) and walkers are falling past the windows, drawn to something or someone foolishly making a lot of noise somewhere nearby…
Which brings us to Maddy and Strand. While Team A&O are off rounding up Keurig cups and little mints, the group’s resident adults hit the hotel bar and decide to drown their own Armageddon depression in some top shelf liquor. Finally, some character development I can relate to!
After bonding over slurry confessions (Strand admits that he’s pretty goddamn charming if you really want to know the truth, while Maddy -a bit more of a morose drunk – confesses that her ex-husband not only died in a car crash but that he killed himself by driving into oncoming traffic rather than have to go home and listen to Nick sit around quoting Coheed & Cambria lyrics), the two of them next…well, they get a little fucking rowdy.
Strand channels his inner Jerry Lee Lewis and goes whole lotta shakin’ on the lounge’s painfully out of tune upright piano. Maddy, just mad as hell about the whole losing her son, losing her boyfriend, end of the world thing, does what angry drunk folk have done since the dawn of time: she starts breaking stuff. Bottles, namely. Loudly loud shattering glass bottles. Alicia’s attempts to warn them from the upper floors fall on piano-filled ears till it’s nearly too late. While Maddy and Strand (who are, honestly, becoming one of my favorite TV duos) make for horrible drunks, they make for the best bar brawlers since that episode of Cheers where Woody Harrelson kills a zombie with a banjo. Wait…that may be a scene from Zombieland. Well, in either case, Maddy gets the Zombie Kill of the Week award for clocking an undead aggressor with a fifth of Jack Daniels and a whole lotta moxie. Just like how her Deadwood character used to slaughter monsters.
Nick, meanwhile, gets an eyeful of how the infected are treated in his new home. In a shocking ceremony of surrender, a bitten man is wished well, kissed goodbye, then given to the zombie hoard to become a part of the wall of walkers that ultimately protects their happy homestead.
When the man’s daughter is abandoned and not given so much as a “sorry your dad was slow as fuck and got bit and just died horrifically in front of you, little girl” hug…Nick takes time out of his busy schedule of moping and not bathing to give the kid a semblance of human compassion and comfort. And later, on yet another damn supply run (!), he thinks enough to steal a snack cake for her (or wait…was that Zombieland too?), Nick apparently being a Jewish mom who believes all of life’s miseries can be warded off with enough cream filling and coconut. He is, unfortunately, caught for his crimes against nutrition and blackmails his way out of it by threatening some kind of withholding of the drugs he sells and then…I’m not real sure, I’ll be honest, at this point I went to see if I had any Little Debbies in my kitchen. Scored a Zebra Cake. It was…like, just okay. Anyway, Nick, after being spared the loss of his thieving hand, is still forced to endure the religious-y ramblings of Alejandro, who tells Nick to mind his Ps & Qs while sneakily revealing that he, Alejandro, has a big goddamn walker bite scar on his shoulder…yet he lives.
The episode ends with Maddy and company still fighting for their lives against the encroaching pack of hotel dead while Nick is seemingly drawn into the fervor of cult-like dead worship at the compound. There is no doubt that Maddy will eventually make her way back to her beloved firstborn. The question is how much of Nick will be left when she gets there.
The Best Bits
The Kim Factor
Kim Dickens finally gets a chance to do more than run and fret! One of television’s grittiest and most grounded actresses (Deadwood, LOST, Sons of Anarchy), she has been woefully misused so far in the run of FTWD. In this week’s installment, though, she is finally given the opportunity to be vulnerable, unhinged, and tough as hell, pummeling zombies and taking names. Here’s raising a big, bad bottle of Patron to the notion of her having this much material to work with, and to kick the ass of, every single week.
It’s Raining Dead Men
Let’s just take a moment to acknowledge how stunningly frightening the sight of walkers falling from roofs and balconies, then getting the fuck back up and staggering off, truly was. This sequence, brief but impactful, was one of the scariest of either WD series so far.
He is Risen…She is Risen…Like Everybody and His Brother is Risen!
The show continues to explore themes of ceremony and ritual as the religious underpinnings of the dead walking the earth are explored in a much more studied and theologically-minded manner than that of its parent show. Where the Walking Dead is primarily concerned with the relationship of one survivor to another and the struggle to maintain one’s humanity in an increasingly inhumane world, Fear is more invested in the havoc this world wreaks on the survivors’ relationship to their spirituality and to their concept of God.
Season Two has so far preoccupied itself more with exploring a natural inclination in some to seek meaning in even the most corrosive of chaos and to embrace a call to light in even the darkest of circumstances. Characters like Madison and Strand, pragmatists and cynics, fight their way through this world with guns and knives while the impressionable (Nick), the devoted (Luciana), and the true believers (Alejandro) see the end of the old world as a new beginning. As I wrote last week, this whole Children of the Resurrection bent is not only a compelling use of the genre, it successfully helps to further distinguish the spin-off from the original, something that is still sorely needed in more of Fear’s DNA.
The Horror, the Horror
I can’t help but be unsettled by the nagging feeling that next week is gonna be a Travis & Chris-centric affair, and that would be truly scary!