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FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Review: “Sicut Cervus”

FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Review: “Sicut Cervus”

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, “Sicut Cervus”, we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.

Of the half dozen episodes of Fear the Walking Dead that have aired so far this season, this week’s is liable to be the most polarizing for viewers. For several reasons, not the least of which is that it’s heavily front-loaded with its gore, action, and walkers, er, infected. (Yes, I know each show is supposed to have its own term for the undead, but somehow “infected” still doesn’t have quite the same ring as “walker.” Though I suppose one could argue it’s an even more disturbing word, since so many of us have known someone who was infected with something or other.) But what the second half of “Sicut Cervus”, which is set entirely at night, lacks in action it more than makes up for with an atmosphere of eerie stillness and dread.

As expected, things don’t go so smoothly for the crew of the Abigail when they reach the Mexican border, and they’re intercepted by a patrol ship demanding payment. Negotiations don’t go all that well, thanks to their escort Luis, and he winds up getting shot. Salazar is at his most coldblooded when he refuses the dying man’s last request to take a medal to his mother and instead tosses it overboard, leaving him for dead.

After the group reaches land, and Thomas’ estate, Salazar has even more cause for bitterness when he learns that Luis’ mom, Celia, who’s also Thomas housekeeper, has poisoned the local parishioners–in spectacularly gruesome, bleeding-out-their-eyes fashion. She’s also imprisoned some of them in the estate’s cellar (shades of The Walking Dead season 2’s Hershel). In case we didn’t hate her enough, she’s also responsible for Thomas’ death, since one of her “family” has bit him. Strand, for the first time I can recall, breaks down upon seeing his lover, and considers joining him in the afterlife.

It’s a move that Celia is all in favor of, praising him for his courage as she hands him two poisoned Catholic communion wafers. She professes to Nick that what they’re witnessing isn’t death, merely what “comes next.” But does she really believe this? Does she think she’s somehow doing God’s will? Or is she just a power-hungry lunatic who’s looking to take full control of Thomas’ property? Nick appears to give her the benefit of the doubt. Which is oddly quite a bit more than he gives his would-be girlfriend Ofelia when she asks him to join her while she prays to her late mother.

Yet Nick is far from the most confused kid in the family this week. That honor goes to Chris. While he’s proven his ability to kill, much to Travis’ chagrin, he freezes when Madison’s life is threatened by a zombie. Then he threatens to hurt Alicia if she tells her mom about his inaction. And, just to cap things off, he ends the episode by sneaking into their room and standing over them with a knife while they sleep.

Walking Dead fandom has demonstrated a sometimes low tolerance for this show’s young people, so I expect that Chris is now their least favorite character. But did he really intend to harm Madison and Alicia? I have my doubts, as I do that Nick is really so gullible as to be swayed by Celia’s sermonizing. He’s proven before that he’s smarter than he looks… Travis, however, should start watching his back. With Madison promising Thomas that she’ll watch over Strand, his role as head of this clan has never seemed so redundant.

Fear the Walking Dead 2

Undead Afterthoughts

— “What happened?” “Someone said asshole in Spanish.”

Fear the Walking Dead tries to distinguish itself from The Walking Dead in part with the weapons its protagonists wield. This week they get a baseball, a pickaxe, and an ice pick. All of them conveniently waiting for the Abigail crew when they arrive in a village full of the infected.

— “Our dead, and they are our dead, have always walked among us. The only difference is now we can see them.” Yeah, I’m definitely siding with Madison here: Celia is cuckoo. I’m going to enjoy watching her get her comeuppance.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).

Featured Image: AMC

Images: AMC

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