I’m back guys! Big thanks to Christina for covering for me last week’s episode while I was away. Now that I’ve returned, it’s time to get back into the fray with “Pablo & Jessica”, the eleventh episode of Fear The Walking Dead. This chapter mostly focused on the hotel crisis with a nice dovetail into Nick’s bond with the Tijuana Colony. Unfortunately this means we didn’t get a follow up to the Travis and Chris cliffhanger, but hopefully we’ll get more on that next week.
I really appreciate how Fear The Walking Dead has used the back half of this season to break the group apart and explore separate story lines. It’s allowed the narrative to really focus on each character and take them from being paper thin to fully realized protagonists. Unfortunately this jigsaw puzzle storytelling has made the momentum of the show get a little disjointed and can rob us of some fantastic tension.
This is readily apparent when the Survivors decide to clear the hotel. Instead of this taking a significant amount of time (as it would on parent show The Walking Dead), we’re treated to a quick action sequence that lures all of the dead out to sea. On one hand it speaks to Alicia’s quick thinking and improvisation skills, on the other it really makes you question the validity of this apocalypse. If the dead were so easily vanquished, why did it take over the world? We’re less than 17 days into this affair and our LA Survivors are easily as hardcore as some of the cast from the original show. Honestly, it feels a little too easy and makes me afraid for what’s coming down the line (more sinister bad guys like the legendary border crossing Coyotes).
On the character front though, we have an amazing scene where Strand bonds with Oscar over their mutual loss. In a moment that could have come across as ham fisted, it felt like a genuine moment that created sympathy for Oscar and his undead bride, Jessica. In an interesting twist, this gave some insight into Strand as he decided to put his old life to rest despite his insistence that the resort would never be home.
I think, in the end, the disappointment comes from the uneven storytelling. While the character moments are top notch, the zombies are being dispatched far too easily. When you consider that this early into the apocalypse we should be up to our necks in peril, it feels like a let down. Fortunately, the human interaction is top notch and saving a show about zombies from…ironically….zombies.
Meanwhile Nick’s story with the Tijuana Colony continues to create new wrinkles. After a very suspicious story about Alejandro surviving a zombie bite, we finally get a more fleshed out tale about a junkie who may have been mistaken for one of the undead. While it may interesting to toy around with someone having an immunity to the zombie bite, it just feels like the “miracle” might be one step too far. With the introduction of doubt through the junkie, we’re able to have our cake and eat it too. Alejandro isn’t immune, he was just bitten by a guy high off of bath salts. Honestly, it’s the best solution in this case, otherwise Fear The Walking Dead will have a far more difficult path ahead of them.
The Learning Curve
If this is your first time reading my write-ups of Fear The Walking Dead, let me introduce you to The Learning Curve. This is a summation of each character as they learn how to navigate in the zombie apocalypse. Each week I’ll rate the cast’s chances of survival based on their actions up until this point. Since the party has been split up, we’ll cover each group as they appear on the show.
Madison Clark: 7 of 10. Oh thank god, Madison started to act like an adult again. After her drunken bout of vandalism, I was really starting to worry for our resident Mother. Fortunately though, hangover notwithstanding, Madison got back into the saddle and was able to rally her family back into action. After a pretty fantastic negotiation session with the guests of the doomed resort, Madison has gained control over a very choice piece of real estate. Unfortunately this means that all hell is going to break loose when others find this jewel in an ocean of crap.
Nick Clark: 6 of 10. Remember when I said that Nick had to start making better life choices? I think he might have. Using his junkie skills to extended the Colony’s supply of drugs, Nick started to turn it around this week. Of course, that seems to be par for the course for our wanderlust junkie. Every time we think he’s turned over a new leaf, he finds a way to revert back to form. Here’s hoping this one sticks, especially since he’s started to take interest in certain Colony Leaders…
Alicia Clark: 8 of 10. Man, Alicia keeps knocking it out of the park, right? Last week she went boss mode on a horde of zombies and this week she figures out how to clear an entire hotel of the undead with a few pots and pans. When you consider how annoying Alicia was at the start of the season, she’s grown by leaps and bounds. Her problem solving skills definitely skew the results of the Learning Curve, but that’s to be expected when you have someone who can nearly single-handedly take down hundreds of zombies.
Victor Strand: 7 of 10: Victor continues to be one of the strongest characters in the series. His survival instincts are still on point and his growing concern with his surrogate family have made him absolutely critical to the dynamic needed for this group to survive.
Ofelia Salazar: ? of 10.Where’s Ofelia? I have a lot of fear for this woman. Time will tell, but her nihilist actions have me very concerned she’s about to join papa in the unknown.