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, “Pillar of Salt”, we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.
There’s a line in this week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead that perfectly describes one of the pitfalls this show struggling to avoid in its second season: “You Americans love to fix others problems.” It’s a danger that most any narrative entertainment produced in the U.S. faces when set in a foreign land, even one as close as Mexico. It’s a little too soon to see how things will ultimately play out, but I’m hoping Nick doesn’t emerge as the only person capable of saving the colonia from the forces that threaten it. Just as my fingers are tightly crossed that Madison doesn’t wind up as the Great White Hope of Hotel Hell.
The situation isn’t helped, however, by the fact that the sole surviving Latino from the show’s original group, Ofelia, has gone off on her own adventure, free thus far of any responsibility to the group. We catch up with the last of the Salazars in “Pillar of Salt,” and the episode finally gives actress Mercedes Mason something to do in a pair of flashback sequences. They depict Ofelia in happier times, getting a surprise marriage proposal from her late fiancé and chatting with her mother about her own marriage to her difficult dad. It’s not much, but it helps to flesh out a character who was a mere cypher throughout the first half of this season. The show’s producers also give Ofelia a badass makeover similar to the one they gave Alicia a couple of episodes ago; having her coldly, efficiently killing zombies, and siphoning gasoline by mouth. It’s a makeover that will prove necessary, however, if she continues to go it alone in the apocalypse.
Madison, meanwhile, continues to display the two sides of her personality that are perpetually at war: the worried mother and the hardened team leader. After Strand is stabbed this week, she immediately assumes command and orders his attacker locked up while she goes off to get medicine for her friend. Then she falls to pieces when she visits Nick’s dealers and discovers he may be somewhere nearby. Which only serves to freak out Alicia, who, perhaps perversely, has come to view her present situation as a chance to spend the kind of quality time with mom that she was denied as a kid. Here, neither mother nor daughter come off looking too good, but Madison can hardly be faulted for wanting to know if her son’s still alive. It’d be nice, however, if her concern didn’t make Alicia again look like a pouting child.
Back at the colonia, Nick continues to demonstrate more sense than the community’s quasi cult leader, and his new girlfriend Elena. He insists they continue to trade their medicine even after one of their own is captured by the traders, when he goes off on a quest to get his sick daughter help that the colonia can’t provide. It’s nice to see Nick move further away from junkie parasite and emo adolescent. Though, again, one wonder if it’s truly necessary to depict him as the white savior of an underprivileged Latino town as part of that journey. As if to provide some counterbalance, Travis appears in the last shot of “Pillar of Salt,” reinforcing the titular reference as he, like Lot’s wife in the Bible, looks back and sees Madison’s new home shining in the distance.
— Fear the Walking Dead‘s title sequence continues to amuse. It’s much more intense than that of The Walking Dead, even though it’s a much less intense show.
— This episode’s opening scene again calls to mind the number one question many fans still have about this universe: why don’t the survivors just cover themselves in zombie guts all the time?
— Every time our heroes go shopping for supplies I have this mad desire to hear The Clash’s “Lost in the Supermarket” play on the soundtrack.
— I feel almost as bad that Strand’s shirt was ruined as I did that Strand was stabbed. That was a really nice shirt.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).