Fear the Walking Dead: “Date of Death” (S2, E13 review)

Even in the midst of the frantic busyness of the zombie apocalypse, Madison and Alicia know that contemplative mother-daughter time out on the pier is essential (image courtesy AMC)
Even in the midst of the frantic busyness of the zombie apocalypse, Madison and Alicia know that contemplative mother-daughter time out on the pier is essential (image courtesy AMC)

 

*SPOILERS AHEAD … AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF FOOLISH ACTIONS, GOOD AND BAD … AND FRAT BOYS WITHOUT CONSCIENCE*

 

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to  Mr. Amorality 2017! In a contest which is sure to create a talking point within the apocalyptic Twitterati – now confined to using actual birds – we’re looking for the male survivor of the zombie apocalypse who best typifies the twisted values we hold dear – survival at all costs, shoot first and then eat all the chickens (not the eggs) and kill anyone who slows you down or hinders you, even if you’ve known them since they were 6 years old!

“Parents will hate it! Unattached young men will love it! And trust us, it’s a big hit in San Diego – well what’s left of it anyway! Haha! Bit of topical black humour there folks. Now moving on …

“Having seen how our contestants, particularly Chris (Lorenzo Henrie) performed in the Killing of the Kindly Mexican Farmer Only Defending His Farm (and His Family’s Last Resting Place) section of the contest, let’s go and see how our judges will be voting. First up, Brandon Luke (Kelly Blatz), what say you?”

Brandon is gunning his enormously-oversized truck and doesn’t hear the question at first.

“United States, man!”

“Yes Brandon, we know – it’s north of here and as dead as everywhere else. Your vote please.”

“He should die, man! Totally die! In fact I’ll shoot him!”

“Interesting reaction Brandon.”

“It’s the way of things now, man. It’s the only way! Even though he’s my friend! Well you know ’til he’s dead, infirm or otherwise incapable of meeting my apocalyptic needs. So, um, you know, he’s totally my pick for the prize! … and by the way, I’m not crazy! I’m totally sane OK? And so is Chris. Really.”

The compere nods with eyes widened and turns to judge #2, Derek (Kenny Wormald) who’s less sure of himself and tends to hover behind Brandon, saying “Yeah” and “What he said dude!”

“Your vote please.”

“What he said dude! United States! *Fist pumps*”

The compere rolls his eyes so hard he looks like he’s turning – Brandon instinctively reaches for his gun and a nearby chicken drumstick.

 

Life isn't easy as a member of the ever-moving undead so precious chilled moments on the beach are always an important part of the day (image courtesy AMC)
Life isn’t easy as a member of the ever-moving undead so precious chilled moments on the beach are always an important part of the day (image courtesy AMC)

 

Compere takes a step back or two and looks at the last judge, Travis Manawa, a man haunted by parental failures and the realisation that his once big-hearted “good kid” is now a morality-free bad seed. Travis sighs and implores Chris, who’s thrilled he is almost Mr Amorality, to think again about whether he really wants the crown.

“Dad, these are my people! As Mr Amorality, I’m free to kill, maim and steal without conscience, I am finally home. Let me go Dad, let me go!”

Travis shakes his head, murmurs something about “damn you” and refuses to cast a vote in favour. Chaos erupts, Brandon shoots the comperes, guns the truck and takes off with Chris and Derek in the back, leaving the dead body of the fourth judge James McAllister (Israel Broussard) lying in the barn behind him, a bullet through his never-to-be-turned brain.

Travis, devastated by Chris’ betrayal, not once but twice, wanders off into the farm, staggering in grief and loss, determined to be so incommunicative that everyone will assume he killed everyone.

… And so ends another episode of Mr Amorality, every sociopath’s favourite apocalyptic game show!

So it is that Travis, bearded, unkempt, and possessed of vision so keen he sees Madison’s (Kim Dickens) ill-advised illuminated hotel scene from far off – see last week’s episode “Pillar of Salt” – and arrives to be reunited, sans Chris at the lovely but increasingly crowded, more on that later, Rosarito Beach Hotel.

The scenes involving Chris, Travis and the frat boy morons, who were determined to head home despite assurances it no longer existed, typified what makes Fear The Walking Dead such an impressive feat of nuanced, muscular storytelling week after week.

Eschewing the ethos of The Walking Dead, exemplified even by Rick and his band of survivors, that might always equals right – a belief system that only a few such as Dale and Hershel veered away from and then not always completely – the overwhelming philosophy in Fear the Walking Dead is the decency, humanity and community should still prevail even in these more Darwinian times.

Not everybody buys into that of course but it’s interesting to see the show consistently stake vastly different philosophical ground to its compatriot series and to wonder if the apocalypse might not bring out the best in people, a shared sense of collective responsibility to find a way forward, rather than the worst?

Chris aside, who Travis had to let go, with massive regret of course, as he chose the darker side of the equation.

 

Chris hasn't got the best track record when it comes to people - he's either trying to kill them or becoming sociopathic friends with them (image courtesy AMC)
Chris hasn’t got the best track record when it comes to people – he’s either trying to kill them or becoming sociopathic friends with them (image courtesy AMC)

 

Meanwhile back at the Rosarito Resort Hotel Madison was reaping the whirlwind of her decision to switch on the lights to attract her errant son back home.

While Nick (Frank Dillane) was a no-show, still shacked in the weird pharmacist cult over in Tijuana, Travis did turn up as mentioned, along with 43 refugees, all of whom begged to be let in.

Faced with being decent humanitarians or keeping their enormous redoubt to themselves, they initially chose to keep the gates well and truly locked. Way to kick your humanity to the curb guys.

There’s Travis preaching the gospel of loving and caring for your fellow person, especially important when the majority of them have died, reanimated and want to eat you to Chris while Madison won’t do the same back at the hotel.

She and the others relent eventually – well the others do while Madison tries to tease out of Travis what the hell happened to him and Chris – and open the doors to their sanctuary firmly closed, a policy they might to come to regret when Brandon and Derek turn up at the gates to be let in, sans the poster boy for the sociopathic apocalypse Chris right at the end of the episode.

The big scene at the hotel is Madison telling Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) that her dear daddy, the block from which Nick’s flawed chip was broken, actually killed himself. Wow, bummer of a way to make the apocalypse even worse there mum – great going! Why don’t you tell her pet rabbit was eaten by a coyote and isn’t at that nice farm in Ohio like you told her?

The saving grace of this seemingly ill-timed confession was that she had the chance to tell Alicia that she’d never been the second-best child and that she’d always been loved and only been neglected by dear old mum because she thought she could handle it. It might sound like a deleted scene from a sappy Hallmark movie-of-the-week but it actually worked rather well as an nuanced character moment, reaffirming once again that family, blood or created, is what powers this latest iteration of The Walking Dead universe.

  • We all know though that heartfelt conversations in idyllic, supposedly safe locations always presage everything going to undead hell in a handbasket and so it is that events come to a head in next week’s doublebanger finale “North” and “Wrath” where all the best laid plans of mice, men and zombies come undone …

 

Posted In TV

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: