FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Review: “Grotesque”

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And we’re back! The mid-season premiere of was a very Nick-centric episode. In fact the only other main character we saw the entire episode was his mother Madison, and that was in a flashback. But the episode did bring some great suspenseful moments, allowed the character of Nick to develop a bit, and shed some light on the history of the Clark family, and how their world was shattered long before the zombie apocalypse even happened.

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I should start out by saying I’m a fan of these solo, introspective type episodes. I think it’s important for a character, (especially in a zombie-themed story where there are typically MANY characters), to get some alone stand-out time with the audience, so we can get to know him or her a little more. There hasn’t really been an episode like this to date in the series, and it’s one of the reasons this episode may be remembered as a good one long down the line.

Nick is trekking through Mexico around the Tijuana area, trying to find a safe place far away from the dead. He doesn’t REALLY plan ahead as he pretty much only takes one big jug of water, some stuff to make a fire, and even that stuff gets stolen by a frightening woman with a bat trying to protect her child. He’s forced out into the desert, as he’s avoiding main roads. The episode is mainly a tale of survival.

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These are harsh conditions. During the course of the hour, we watch Nick take on some problems that are much harder to deal with than a few walkers. He’s dehydrated. He’s starving. He’s stuck under the Mexican sun with no shade. We see Nick try to eat a cactus only to vomit it up. He’s forced to drink his own urine (and we’re forced to watch). He encounters some dangerous men on the road, who hunt zombies for sport and kill any actually living people they find along the way. Nick is even attacked by wild dogs, one getting a good chunk out of his left calf.

On top of all this, Nick is having dreams and flashbacks to his time before the apocalypse when he was in rehab. We hear him speak about his father; his real father, not Travis. Up until not it had been a mystery as to what exactly had happened with Nick and Alicia’s biological dad. We officially find out that he was killed in a head on collision and died instantly. Furthermore, Nick found this out when he was in rehab. It didn’t do him any favors in finally kicking that pesky heroin addiction. He went right back to it as soon as he was out. In a way you can’t blame him; guy lost his dad in a sudden and tragic way. I’m afraid the writers are setting Nick up to be uber-sympathetic just to kill him at the end of this season, but we shall see.

We meet some new character in a community outside Tijuana that just happens to find Nick when he had given up all hope; he literally lay in the middle of the road and waited to die. We meet bad ass (and blazing hot) Luciana, who, even though Nick appeared a lost cause, decided to take him in to be healed. We also meet Alejandro, the doctor who patched Nick’s dog-bite up. (He also looks like a knock-off Daniel–I hope we haven’t seen the last of him, but I think we have).

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In the end, Nick steps outside the medical building and takes in his new surroundings. A safe haven, for sure. He kicks a soccer ball to a group of playing children. This place is bustling. It looks like Times Square compared to Celia’s little community. He smiles–he’s survived quite a bit and landed back on two feet. But where is the rest of his family? Does he not care to ever see his mother or sister again? Why was this not a qualm for him? Also–it seems early on to be setting up so many safe haven, existing community story threads. It’s Hershel’s farm, Woodbury, and Alexandria all rolled into one, and it makes me worry where the story has to go from here without getting repetitive. However, that’s not a problem as of yet, and this was an enjoyable episode, which Frank Dillane carried really well.

TB-TV-Grade-A-

Season 2, Episode 8 (S02E08)
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9PM on AMC

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Paul produces and co-hosts SHOWoff Live
Twitter: @PaulGulyas

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