- SPOILERS AHEAD … AND SOME REASSURING AND CHILLING IDEAS ON WHAT CONSTITUTES STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS
We are kings and queens of the fight-or-flight response, and for good reason; back in ye olde prehistoric days, hanging around for a fight you couldn’t win or staying in the path of some threat or another, could spell the end of your time here on earth.
Not exactly an evolutionary winning moment right?
Sadly that’s still the case for many people but for most of us, it’s an academic issue with the worst we face some kind of embarrassment and a stinging sense that maybe we could have handled things a whole lot better.
For the good, and not so good, folks of the zombie apocalypse, namely the one unfolding in Fear the Walking Dead, weakness vs. strength, and what exactly constitutes the latter, is a matter of life and death.
“Weak”, which is a fairly literal sense of episode-naming if ever there was one, explores what “strength” means for a number of people with Naomi/Laura/June (NLJ played by Jenna Elfman) and Morgan (Lennie James) holding fast to the idea that being strong means looking after and standing by other people, whether you love and care for them or not.
For Al (Maggie Grace), who lost and found and lost her SWAT again, and the briefest of newcomers ever Quinn (Charles Harrelson), who found himself swayed by NLJ’s gospel of apocalyptic kindness and caring until the Mysterious Dirty Woman With Attitude and a Zombie Pet turned him into her latest project of twisted liberation from feeling weak and unempowered, the answers were altogether different.
Well, at least at first.
While NLJ and Morgan began as converts to the kumbayah cycle of life and connectivity, risking their continued wellbeing on reconnecting with the people they lost in the storm – can we just take a moment to reflect on the fact that pretty much all this separation is needlessly self-inflicted? Thank you – and stayed that way throughout, many others questioned whether being connected to other people was a liability or a blessing.
Take Quinn We Barely Knew Ye.
While NLJ and Al were off trying to Find People, Quinn slipped in, stole the SWAT van (which technically was fuel-free and going nowhere; clearly Quinn was a walking talking carrier of diesel aplenty) and took it for a joyride until a bus full-o’zombies – like Barrel o’ Monkeys but way more deadly and not as much fun – got in the way.
His aim was solely to look after good old Numero Uno and it seemed to be working since despite NLJ’s intervention – which also cost her her life while Al slept off a raging near-fatal fever (yay for antibiotics on the bus, and handy narrative contrivances what ho!) – he got the van and a ticket to ride in armour-plated glory wherever he wanted to go.
That, he thought, was strength and to an extent it was true; but as soon as he encountered Mysterious Dirty Woman With Attitude and a Zombie Pet, he realised, very briefly, that looking out for yourself only works if you have eyes in the back of your head.
Which it turns out, Quinn, who had just accepted NLJ’s sweet-talking offer to become a literal Groupie – it has a whole other meaning in the apocalypse, including a lamentable dearth of concerts and line of coke – did not have; goodbye alive Quinn, hello Zombie Quinn, latest acquisition of Mysterious Dirty Woman With Attitude and a Zombie Pet.
Group philosophy 1, Lone Wolf Survival 0.
Of course, Mysterious Dirty Woman With Attitude and a Zombie Pet has well and truly picked her side, and sure it’s working for her now but I suspect it’s not a winner in the longterm, although with the scant screen time she’s had so far, it’s anybody’s guess how it will all play out.
As for Wendell (Daryl Mitchell), Sarah (Mo Collins), who is fast becoming my favourite wisecracking character – the rapport between her and Wendell is a true delight and a welcome change to the intensity of so much else on the show – and formerly recluse beer maker Jim (Aaron Stanford), they’re pretty group dynamics agnostic.
Right now, it’s working for them since they have a possible ticket to ride back to Alexandria … or elsewhere in Texas … or Alexandria … or wherever the hell it is that Morgan, Man Most Likely to be Racked by Existential Indecision at a Critical Juncture, decides is where he finally wants to stop.
Oh, who are we kidding? Like he’s capable of making that kind of decision.
The truth is, these four are together right now simply it suits them with Morgan determined to Find People, which he duly does when NLJ and Al, now with added Augmentin, come zooming up just in the nick of time.
Victor (Colman Domingo), Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), Luciana (Danay García), Charlie (Alexa Nisenson) and John (Garret Dillahunt) are still M.I.A. – apparently everyone has completely forgotten where each other lived; damn that narrative amnesia! – so we’re barely on our way back to Communityville but the case has been made fairly decisively and conclusively that Group GOOD Solo BAD.
OK, not that decisively since we’re not sure how the others have done, and The Walking Dead has proven time and again that really you’re likely better off alone; well, away from Rick anyway – but the main thesis, that there is strength in numbers and weakness without, was proven a few times in this smartly-written episode, adding some meaningful philosophical musing to a show still thankfully enamoured with the idea that it is possible to have action – zombie killing! – and thinking in the one episode and have each perfectly complement the other.
- Next week on Fear the Walking Dead in “Blackjack” …