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, “Los Muertos”, we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.
After last week’s mid-season premiere, which focused solely on Nick, Fear the Walking Dead resumes its multi-character structure in “Los Muertos”. Shifting between the eldest Clark child and the rest of the survivors (sans Travis and Chris), the show reminds us that it’s at its best when it doesn’t dwell too long on any one of its characters. The approach worked just fine for The Walking Dead when it reached its fourth season, but by then we’d come to care about most of that show’s characters. With Fear only halfway through its second season, after a first season that was little more than a miniseries, even those who find this cast highly compelling just can’t be expected to have the same level of investment at this point.
The one exception, of course, is Strand. I’d forgotten how much I’d missed him. Not just for his own sardonic humor, but for the effect he has on those around him, how he challenges them into being better versions of themselves. Here, he talks Madison into getting shitfaced on gin, which forces her to open up, to become more vulnerable, and more darkly poetic than we’ve seen her before. She even comes to the realization that her concern for her children is intensified by the fact that she lost their father. Also, while I’m not advocating alcoholism, I wouldn’t mind seeing Kim Dickens hurl shot glasses at a barroom wall every week. Unfortunately, she might not have the chance, since the oasis our heroes find in an abandoned hotel quickly turns into a potential feeding ground for the infected. There’s no doubt this will occur from the moment they pull up on the beach outside the Mexican resort; and I suspect a lot of fans’ appreciation for this episode will depend entirely on how foolish they think Madison and co. are for putting themselves in this situation. But we’ve seen stupider risks taken on both Walking Dead shows. At least, in addition to Strand and Madison, it gives Ofelia and Alicia a chance to connect. Or rather Alicia tries to. But the sole surviving Salazar isn’t quite ready to accept the teenager, or anyone else, as family. Because right now she doesn’t even believe any of them will survive their situation.
Over at la colonia, Nick, for his part, is also looking to connect. But it isn’t easy when he learns his newfound friends are essentially a cult, led by a man who believes that, since he’s survived a zombie bite, he’s been chosen by God to lead his people once their world is washed clean by the dead. Nick’s horrified at first, when he sees how the group casts our their sick to be devoured by los muertos. But by the end of the episode, he too is singing hosannas. Despite that final scene, it’s clear he’ll wind up rebelling against this society. Otherwise his maturation, the journey he’s on, would amount to nothing. Still, any chance the show gives him to step outside himself, to think about others, is welcome. After last week I’d had enough of Nick to last me a full season, but “Los Muertos” shows there may be hope for him yet.
— “Service is subpar.”
— Alicia telling her mom that “It’s you or me now, whether you like it or not” had me, perhaps for the first time, liking her more than Madison.
— It’s telling that while Madison expresses all kinds of concern for her kids while drunk, she doesn’t mention Travis once.
— “The dead walk the earth and hotels freak you out?” “I think it’s the carpets.”
— I’m still a little fuzzy as to why Nick’s new friend doesn’t just let the traders cut his hand off when it’s obvious he means nothing to her and she explains afterwards that he’s only made things worse for them.
— Like Celia, Alejandro is a wacko zealot who’s convinced himself that the dead are part of God’s master plan. What makes him considerably more dangerous than Abigail’s late housekeeper is that he’s turned an entire town on to his beliefs.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).