*SPOILERS AHEAD … AND AN ANGRY THREATENING BULLY, GUY MOST LIKELY TO DIE NEXT … AND THE CRUMBLING SHARDS OF HUMANITY*
Hello do-what-you-must apocalypse, goodbye lingering vestiges of civilisation!
OK it wasn’t quite that dramatic but not by much.
In an episode where Madison (Kim Dickens) had to go all Rambo/Die Hard/Terminator to get Travis (Cliff Curtis) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) back in the Abigail’s tense fold, and Alicia had to kiss goodbye to Jack (Daniel Zovatto) who finally did the right thing, leaving him behind to a gathering zombie storm, and Travis had to admit he didn’t like what he was becoming or capable of becoming to Alex (Michelle Ang) who was more than a little bitter about being left behind on an inflatable boat on the high seas, a few more splinters, nay great huge planks of civilisation fell away from our survivors.
And none of them, well almost none of them, really enjoyed the experience.
Nick (Frank Dillane), for his part,was almost chafing at the bit to get back out in the big bad new walker world, begging his mum Madison, who’d just gone all protective mother hen on Strand (Colman Domingo) and warned him off her son, to take her place.
Admitting he likes it out there, almost feels comfortable in a world with no rules or expectations – that makes sense given his time on the streets as a drug addict but also the very things that drove him to that life such as an inherent restlessness and need to get away from suffocating … um, parents? – he wants to go save the day.
But Madison, who is flying by the seat of her pants, wants to go get her man and her daughter and who can blame her? She’s realised, like everyone else bar Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) who is not handling the apolcaypse at all well and is the Person Most Likely to Die Next (PMLTDN) from the group, that she either steps up, addresses this cold, cruel world on its own terms or she buckles under.
You get the impression that Madison is, nor has she ever been, the buckling under type and even though she was probably content with her old life, is ready by necessity to tackle the new one.
So Madison is now with the new, take-no-prisoners order, rolling with the punches when Chris, poor fragile PMLTDN Chris wigs out and goes and kills their hostage, good old impaled on a stake Reed (Jesse McCartney) who happens to be the sneering, bully brother of Connor (Mark Kelly) who in turn is holding Alicia and Travis hostage on his dry docked boat.
With the exchange of prisoners looming, Daniel (Rubén Blades) decides to throw a sack over snarling Zombie Reed’s head – but oddly no gag over his mouth which let’s be hear is not exactly uttering cohesive human-like sentences – and go all Weekend at Bernie’s on Connor’s nice and trusting ass (yup the pirate is a nice guy; go figure) and pretend Reed is still alive and kicking and capable of being a creepy vicious brat.
As they’re prepping Reed for the handover – at this point he’s good old dead Reed, not Zombie Reed; weirdly no one seemed too worried he might turn – Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) remarks to Nick that handling dead bodies and cleaning up blood seems to be the new normal, that she’s getting used to this.
One more person kissing civilisation goodbye; not exactly rapturously, more with regretful resignation but kissing it goodbye anyway.
Nick, of course never really felt too connected to it anyway so he’s totally fine, as noted, with things going to hell in an undead, wild west basket.
And it appears so is Alicia.
Yes good old Alicia, who realised Jack actually liked her, like going-steady-will-you-go-to-prom-with-me liked her, but couldn’t bring herself to trust him even though he demonstrated that he was a good guy,s ticking his neck out on more than one occasion to help her get away.
After locking pregnant Vanessa (Veronica Diaz-Carranza) away in the cage Travis had been occupying and having existential conversations with Alex – both of them realising that the apocalypse had not exactly brought out all of their better qualities – she made a dash for the top of the boat, lingered for a bit almost wishing she could trust Jack who genuinely couldn’t believe she was leaving him, and slid down the incline into the water where Madison and Travis scooped her up before one of those pesky swimming zombies could get her.
And thus another person, who in this case sagely admitted that the new world is probably what the old one was all along, just with more superficial niceties and iPhones, kicked civilisation a little further away.
“Captive” was a singularly well-realised episode, drawing out some of the recurrent themes of The Walking Dead franchise – humanity vs survival, civilisation vs anarchy, existential musings on the inherent nature of people – are we basically good or are we bad? – in a gripping narrative that combined its signature slow burn style with some genuinely full-on action.
But mostly Fear the Walking Dead did what it has done so brilliantly well since the start – chart the slow decline and fall of civilisation, decision by agonisingly awful decision, revealing that while people would rather choose the better angels of their nature every time – or in Strand’s case because he loves a man who would – that sometimes circumstances simply don’t allow that.
Some people cope with this well or because they need to such as Madison, Alicia, Nick, Daniel and Strand, and some do not, such as PMLTDN Nick and to a lesser extent Travis who knows what needs to be done, and will do it but isn’t too happy at the prospect.
Watching everything fall apart from the very start of the apocalypse has given the writers a unique chance to chart the way people handle the end of all things and so far, while it’s certainly not a pretty picture, it’s most definitely an intriguing one.
- And so on our characters go, shedding what made them civilised humans and becoming people who will do what they need to survive, even if they’re not too thrilled about it, in next week’s episode “Sicut Cervus” …