Fear the Walking Dead: “Ouroboros” (S2, E3 review)

Nick began to wonder if going on blind dates in the age of apocalypse was really such a wise move (photo by Richard Foreman/courtesy AMC)
Nick began to wonder if going on blind dates in the age of apocalypse was really such a wise move (photo by Richard Foreman/courtesy AMC)

 

*SPOILERS AHEAD … AND APOCALYPTIC SHOPPING … AND WELL-TRAVELLED WALKERS*
As the fractious passengers of the Victor Strand (Colman Domingo)-helmed, good ship Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don’t aka Abigail sailed down the Californian coast, it became patently obvious that there’s not a lot of trust going down.

Which is a problem as Madison (Kim Dickens) reminds an increasingly secretive Strand – who keeps having hush-hush conversations with some strangers off in Mexico, which it turns out is the group’s destination, whether they like it or not – since without it, they’re not going to be able to work together to survive the delightful hellhole that is the apocalypse.

Madison had been sent in to “diplomatically” draw out Victor’s plans to spirit them all away to the Baja peninsula, where he supposedly has a Goldilocks house full of water, and food and big walker-proof walls oh my, and while she gets the admission she’s after, it’s arrived at with all the finesse of a herd of demented obese walkers stumbling through a flower meadow.

So much for Daniel’s (Rubén Blades) faith that Madison had what it took to delicately get Strand to admit that he’s got something untoward and nefarious after his sleeve; all he admitted to in the end was a nice big house that he’s supposedly going to share with them all like some post-apocalyptic Santa Claus.

To which we all say, like Benjamin Barry’s aggressively-competitive card-playing family in How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days – “BULLSHIT!”

The man is clearly up to no good, and while you could argue he can do what he likes since it’s his boat and his original plan, he has chosen to bring everyone else along and needs to include them in his planning.

That isn’t happening though, and his secrecy and Madison’s frustration with it, coupled with Travis’s reluctance to simply go to Baja on Strand’s say-so, marks the increasingly deep fissures that are appearing in our sometimes clueless group of survivors.

And once this is given full vent, it stands to be a far more dangerous development that anything the bad new world of walkers and mercenary humans could ever throw at them.

In other words, split up, they could well be the architects of their own demise.

 

Here come the well-travelled zombies en masse ... (photo by Richard Foreman/courtesy AMC)
Here come the well-travelled zombies en masse … (photo by Richard Foreman/courtesy AMC)

 

Oh shit! Run away! Run away! RUN ... AWAY! (photo by Richard Foreman/courtesy AMC)
Oh shit! Run away! Run away! RUN … AWAY! (photo by Richard Foreman/courtesy AMC)

 

But for now, this was another slow boil episode – not such a bad thing when you consider that good drama doesn’t necessarily need to be loud, in-your-face and overwhelming to be effective, and the Fear the Walking Dead is not supposed to be a carbon copy of The Walking Dead, despite some fans’ expectations that it should be – where Nick (Frank Dillane), Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie), Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Daniel went off for a spot of apocalyptic shopping.

Which as you might suspect doesn’t involve brightly-lit malls, big sales and cappuccinos mod-morning but rather rifling through the luggage of a down plane on the sandy dunes of a remote beach that looks, initially at least, pleasingly free of the undead.

The plane in question is Flight 462, the subject of 16 episode webisode series which introduced us to Alex (Michelle Ang), who knows way more about the upcoming zombie apocalypse than anyone else; who is she and how’d she come across all this knowledge we ask quizzically – and Jake (Brenden Meyer), who are among the few people to survive the plane’s downing.

Making it to shore on a bright yellow raft, Alex is onshore but out of sight when Nick and the gang start rather languidly, despite Daniel’s entreaty to hurry up, poking through all the bags and suitcases that lie around them like bulky confetti.

It’s one of the few niggling minor epic fails of the episode which otherwise did a nice job of bringing in a new character, placing two characters in mortal peril (Chris, who killed a dying passenger, and Nick who fell into a zombie-infested hole as you do and discovered the blood of the undead is great camouflage) and illustrating that the one-for-all, all-for-one ethos that’s shakily propelled things till now, is fraying like crazy.

 

Alex saves Jake ... then Alex saves Daniel, Chris, Nick and Alicia ... and the Strand seems particularly disinclined to save her (photo by Richard Foreman/courtesy AMC)
Alex saves Jake … then Alex saves Daniel, Chris, Nick and Alicia … and the Strand seems particularly disinclined to save her (photo by Richard Foreman/courtesy AMC)

 

The most compelling part of the episode was Alex and her utter and complete driven determination to make sure that Jake lives.

It’s likely what drove her to shore, and what led her to make the most of meeting Nick, Daniel and the others, who she sort of saved and sort of didn’t. (In the end it was zombie-blood coated Nick who saved them all by wading through the undead plane survivors and killing enough to allow everyone else to run hell for the beach and safety; well relative safety anyway.)

Her presence gave further vent to the deep fissures between Madison, who wants to save people, and Victor who most certainly does not, and illustrated that it’s possible to do what must be done and still keep your soul in the apocalypse, even if it’s a little tarnished from killing the two other people in the raft who wanted to kill of Jake before he turned.

The fact that she was cut free by Victor, without checking with anyone else, is proof that the cracks between the survivors are getting potentially deadly and that self-interest often trumps the common good far more than we’d like.

This battle between Darwinian survival of the fittest and a benign humanism is nothing new of course in The Walking Dead universe but given how early it is in the aftermath of civilisation falling, it’s doesn’t bode well for the survival of the group aboard the Abigail, at least as one cohesive unit.

Still, it does mean some great drama awaits us and that can only be a good thing for Fear the Walking Dead,  which pleasingly slow though its narrative is, still needs a little bit of a kick-along to remain truly engaging in the mid-to-long run.

  • When you name your next episode “Blood in the Streets”, that probably means life is not going to get any easier or less fractious, life-threatening or bloody and that pretty much seems to be the case if the trailer and sneak peek video are anything to go by …

 

 

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