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 tonight’s episode, “Ouroboros”, we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.
While some may still begrudge the fact that Fear the Walking Dead doesn’t do things that The Walking Dead does, I must admit that my favorite thing about the spinoff is when it does things its parent show can’t do. And this week’s episode, “Ouroboros,” is chock-full of such things. Starting with its opening moments, focusing on the survivors of the tie-in web series Fear The Walking Dead: Flight 462.
Those who watched the miniseries have already met Jake (Brendan Meyer) and Charlie (Michelle Ang). Unfortunately, for those who haven’t, the show doesn’t give us much a reason to care about them or their predicament, as they’re stranded on a beach fighting for their lives against their fellow passengers who were killed in the crash. What the crash does allow for, however, is a series of little moments that would be near impossible to depict on The Walking Dead. From the zombies that have clogged the yacht’s water intake to the sight of an undead passenger half buried in sand and covered in crabs to the episode’s best bit.
This occurs when Chris, who learned the art of zombie slayage last episode, boards the downed plane and kills an undead passenger, still buckled in his seat, whose emergency oxygen mask prevents him from biting anyone. Immediately after offing him, Chris is startled by the passenger sitting next to him, whom he thought to be dead/undead, asking for help. It’s a little thing, and it’s main purpose is to further Chris’ development by forcing him to ask himself if he can kill a still-living person. But the brief scare it allows us, at least in this context, is one we wouldn’t see on the parent series, because any such plane crash survivors would be long dead by now.
The other great bit this week occurs when Travis swims under the yacht to unclog its jets. As Madison watches from on deck, the quiet water below reflects her worst fears. And, as it does in Jaws, the sudden eruption of blood that follows taps into something primal and horrifying that no land-based fright film can touch.
Madison herself, as well as Travis, come one step closer this week to identifying with the show’s sole extremist survivor, Strand. (Whose name becomes more significant, and ominous, as this season progresses.) Here they convince him to tow a near-dead Jake and Charlie in their lifeboat, but only briefly, as he soon takes a machete to their tether. Rather than pure terror, Madison’s face betrays just a hint of relief. As she’s gradually accepting she too may need to think like Strand if she wants to keep her family alive in a world where death not only lurks under their very feet but can indeed fall from the sky.
— Now that everyone’s aware that the yacht is heading for Baja, the big question that remains is “Who was Strand talking to on his radio?”
— Something about the way that Madison calls Strand “Victor” has me convinced that something will eventually happen to Travis and she’ll be partnered with the crotchety captain. Oh maybe not this season, but someday. Then again, it could remain a Jean Grey-Wolverine-Cyclops triangle.
— “Do you know what the real danger is on the ocean? It’s people. Strangers. Friends.”
— Chris really needs to carry a pocket knife with him at all times. That way the next time he has to mercy kill someone he can do so by cutting their throat instead of smashing their head open like a pinata.
— “This is the worst. It will never hurt worse than right now.”
— I guess those who were worried that two additional young adults were joining the show’s cast, bringing the total to six, can breathe easy now.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).