Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of Fear the Walking Dead! Proceed with caution, survivors. For reals, if you haven’t yet watched the latest episode, “Date of Death”, we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.
By no means am I a parent, but I have to imagine that “Date of Death” will be traumatic to most every parent who watches it, regardless of how old one’s children might be. Because it depicts, in excruciating detail, something that’s even worse than the death of a chil –their spiritual death.
Picking up where we last left Travis and Chris a couple of weeks ago, this week’s episode see the latter grow increasingly disgusted with his son. And with good reason. For after shooting the farmer on whose land they were trespassing with Chris’ newfound “friends,” Chris exhibits zero remorse. Instead, he tells Travis, in between gulps of beer, that “There is no more good.” As if we didn’t have reason enough to hate them, his bro-dude buddies, hellbent on road tripping back to the States, decide to leave their injured friend James behind despite Travis’ insistence that he could recover. Travis winds up grabbing a gun and locks himself in the barn with James. Then Chris convinces him he’s on his side, only to betray him so his pals can hold a gun to Travis’ head while they shoot James dead. What’s more horrifying than the murder, however, is watching Travis’ expression when he realizes his son is beyond help, that he’s so far gone he too may as well die for all the pain he’s now capable of causing others. I’ve been a little hard on Cliff Curtis’ work on this show, but I understand the challenges he’s faced, because Fear the Walking Dead‘s other grownup characters are so much better defined and given more layers of personality than Travis. But, like Andrew Lincoln on FTWD‘s parent show, Curtis improves as his character’s world becomes more hellish, as madness becomes an increasingly viable option.
As for Madison, she experiences a kind of epiphany this week when Travis finally shows up at the Rosarito Beach Hotel, along with dozens of other refugees seeking shelter. A recurring visual motif of both Walking Dead TV shows is used once more here, as a wall of desperate survivors forms outside the resort’s gate, scarcely distinguishable from the infected they’re fleeing. Madison lets in Travis (and eventually forty-three others), and he explains how he failed his wife and son. It triggers her own fear that she’s driven Alicia away with her worry over Nick. So she takes another step in treating her daughter like an adult, and tells her that her father was not killed in an auto accident, but took his own life. She adds that her preoccupation with Nick stems from her concern that he could follow his father’s path.
It’s enough to make both Madison and Alicia more sympathetic; and their growing bond, thankfully, makes them more than mere figures of pity. Instead, Travis is the one I’m worried about. He looks so forlorn when Madison leaves him on that balcony that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he jumped right off of it. But he’ll be needed next week. In the final scene of “Date of Death,” Chris’ pals show up at the hotel without him. They look distraught, yet I sincerely hope Travis winds up beating the shit out of them. Regardless of the reason they give for his son’s absence.
— For longtime fans of this universe, the best–and possibly only–good thing about Chris is that he shows how much worse The Walking Dead‘s Carl Grimes could have turned out. And how much worse his relationship with his dad could be.
— Kudos to writer Brian Buckner for the structure of this week’s episode, which weaves flashbacks into its narrative more smoothly and effectively than any episode I’ve yet seen on this show.
— Those who watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. know that actor Lorenzo James Henrie showed up on its season premiere last week. So even if Chris reappears I wouldn’t expect to see much more of him.
— “I love you all. But enough’s enough.”
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).