Oh man, what happened? After weeks of carefully developing separate storylines for our protagonists, the writers of Fear The Walking Dead managed to scale the show’s immense scope down to a few dozen square miles in this week’s episode “Pillar of Salt”. I’d imagine this is what a fish feels like once they’re put in an aquarium. They feel like there’s all this space and then they hit a wall and realize how small the world really is, and that’s really unfortunate as I don’t think the characters have had enough time alone to justify their inevitable reunification.
I’m serious, the world of Fear The Walking Dead was really beginning to intrigue me as it became apparent that the Mexican people were fundamentally better equipped with handling the zombie apocalypse. When you consider general living conditions, religious beliefs and their ability to survive in some of the most caustic arid landscapes, it becomes clear that Mexico could easily bounce back from the end of the world and become a super power in very short order. When it’s revealed that most of the characters are actually very close to one another (within 15 miles), it just made that revelation seem less impressive. Is the rest of Mexico faring as well as this small area? I hope so. The potential storylines are rich and I would love to see how fast the country recovers in comparison to the rest of the world.
Moving on though, the best parts of “Pillar of Salt” revolved around some brief, but telling, flashbacks involving Ofelia. After weeks of wondering what exactly happened to the missing cast member, it turns out Ofelia just took off for some (as of yet) undisclosed reason. Chances are her motivations are tied to the flashbacks of Ofelia’s life before the end of the world. Just like Nick’s flashback journey, the entire episode could have easily been spent on developing Ofelia’s criminally underused character. In fact, I think that Fear The Walking Dead could easily benefit from the “Lost” approach of tying flashback stories into the main narrative. It’s really working well for this group and I think is one of the strongest additions to season two.
Granted, there’s not a lot in Ofelia’s flashbacks, but it does paint a vivid picture of someone who was willing to sacrifice their own personal happiness out of obligation to her family. With that family destroyed and barren, it seems that Ofelia is adrift, slowly finding her way back north to start a new chapter in her life. Hopefully we’ll see more of that soon, rather than a few outstanding scenes in an otherwise crowded episode.
Meanwhile the rest of the survivors go through a lot of hoops to begin driving this atypical family back together. After an undetermined time jump, we see the resort in good shape as Strand is stabbed by a grieving Eileen. In the aftermath, Madison evokes a Rick Grimesian rule similar to “Live Together, Die Alone”. In an effort to save Strand’s life, the resort turns to the supermarket full of psychos that La Colonia frequents. So of course, Madison hears that Nick has been around recently and loses her ever loving mind.
On one hand, I get it: once a mother, always a mother. You have to try and protect your child, but Madison’s nearly psychotic behavior seems pretty out of place. Her insistence to barge in and talk to the Jefe was a pretty big faux pas but she doubled down on the stupid by using the Resort’s generator at night so Nick “might find them”. All it really did was signal to anyone within distance that the Resort has power and may be safe. Good move Madison, I hope you’re ready to take on hundreds of survivors.
Of course Alicia, got to this conclusion first and tried to talk Madison off the damn ledge. Madison’s stark refusal to listen made Alicia justifiably mad as she noted that Madison was risking one child’s life to save another. A child that doesn’t want to return no less. It was a harsh slap in the face that seemed to work, but of course, the damage has been done. Both in the family and in giving away their location. Fortunately, it finally justified Alicia’s acerbic nature and why she gets so pissed off at her mother. This is a pattern and Alicia is not dealing with it any more.
Now, if that wasn’t enough, we also have La Colonia falling apart because of Alejandro’s dwindling drug supply. The supermarket psychos are planning a raid on the compound if they can figure out a way past the undead in front of the settlement. It does beg the question though: if everyone know’s the “guts” trick, why don’t they use that to sneak in?
Maybe the will, I dunno. This is what happens when too much happens too fast without enough explanation. Regardless, it looks like there’s going to be a hell of a showdown in the final two episodes of the season. With an end of episode teaser of Travis returning to the fold, it looks like all hell is about to break lose.
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: 6 of 10. Ok, so we must have hit the crazy mom portion of the story because Madison is becoming more and more unstable. On one hand it makes perfect sense as she’s a mother driven to protect her family. On the other though, she’s making really bad decisions that is risking her adoptive family and her one stalwart daughter. Madison is going into some dark territory that will more than likely get some people killed. When she’s rational, she’s on point, but her kids are clearly her weakness and that can easily be used against her.
Nick Clark: 6 of 10. While Madison is falling apart, it seems that Nick may be finally getting it together. It’s clear that Nick wants to keep La Colonia safe, but it’s also becoming clear that Alejandro is starting to fall apart and La Colonia is at risk. Couple that with the Supermarket Psycho’s hatred of Nick and we have a perfect storm of elements that will more than likely destroy this quiet community and put Nick back out on the street. While he’ll certainly survive the zombies, I think Nick may be getting close to getting his ticket punched by the angry psychos in the area.
Alicia Clark: 8 of 10. The only member of the Clark family I feel is pretty safe, Alicia has taken the lead by using her wits and common sense. Granted her survival skills were highly questionable early in the season but it’s become clear that Alicia has taken the life lessons handed to her and vowed to not make the same mistake twice, unlike her mother. Alicia is clearly capable of surviving on her own and her only risk is the loyalty she gives her mother. Will that be the end of the honor student? I doubt it, but it could land her in hot water before it’s all said and done.
Victor Strand: 5 of 10: Dammit. Just when you think someone’s safe, a grieving mother has to stab Victor in the stomach. I mean, I get it, she was despondent with grief, but really? Did you have to stab the guy who just worked out where he belongs? Oh yeah, this is Fear The Walking Dead so that’s par for the course. Stab the characters we love. Honestly, I feel that if the antibiotics work, Strand will be ok with a little luck. Of course, when you consider the fact that all hell is about to break loose, he may just be out of luck.
Ofelia Salazar: 6 of 10: After weeks of speculation, it appears that Ofelia is alive and well. This is pretty fantastic news as it appears that Daniel is (for the moment) permanently on the MIA/Dead list. With the discovery of a lost love in Ofelia’s flashbacks it’s pretty clear that the last of the Salazar clan is heading north to find her man. How will that stack up against the rest of the shenanigans currently going on? I have no idea, but it should prove to be a very interesting road.
Travis Manawa: 6 of 10. Travis saw the sign! Travis saw the sign! Wait…he’s got a full on beard now…and where’s Chris? Uh oh…things look like they went bad since we’ve last seen Travis… what does that mean?