FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Review: “Pablo & Jessica”

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I’ve noticed something different about these back half episodes of ’s second season, and it’s made the show feel a little more lively, a little more like the plot is moving at a faster quip: the cutting. With the characters scattered in Mexico, we are jumping back and forth between storylines quite a bit. Whereas scenes and episodes would sometimes feel confined and seem to drag in the first half of this season (let’s see what’s happening below deck on the Abigail… okay, now let’s see what’s happening ABOVE deck on the Abigail!) with these latest episodes the second you might start to get bored of a scene, you’re somewhere else.

It worked best in last week’s episode, cutting between all three parts of the fractured original group. It lost something this week as we did not see Travis and Chris at all and only stuck to the resort and Nick’s storyline. These two storylines had their moments but mostly felt like a filler episode.

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In the resort, we begin back where we left Madison and Strand two episodes ago: drunk and surrounded by zombies. We watch them battle their way out of that one, and we catch up to where we saw Alicia get saved by her mother. She’s introduced to Elena, the owner of the hotel who we saw locked the entire wedding party in the ball room and left them for dead. The other survivors of the wedding are elsewhere in the hotel, and Madison quickly decides she needs to convince the two factions to work together to make this a safe place to live. Unsurprisingly, the mother of the bride still holds grudges against Elena (it was pretty awful what she did).

However, with a little prodding, Madison gets everyone on board. It’s all very reminiscent of The Prison storyline in its sister series The Walking Dead. A big structure they need to fortify and make into a home they can settle down in. One that will assuredly turn out to be too big to defend against invaders. And if the safe haven in the first half of this season was equivalent to Hershel’s farm, then Fear the Walking Dead is cycling through old The Walking Dead tropes pretty quickly. Alicia’s plan to lead all the walkers out of the hotel is strikingly similar to Rick’s plan to rid the quarry near Alexandria of walkers in the most recent season of The Walking Dead. Except for the fact that Alicia’s plan actually works. The scene is satisfying enough, leading the walkers out by the dozen onto a pier and into the water, where the current washes them out to sea. It just never felt like anyone was in REAL danger or anything was seriously at stake.

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Nick, to me, has been one of the most interesting characters of the series, and he is probably the ONLY character of the original cast that could carry storylines all by himself. Though little has truly happened in the past few episodes with him, it was kind of cool to see him this episode cutting Oxy with the pharmacist Alejandro in order to dupe the gang that sells them water and other goods. The montage of him grinding up the pills and forming new less potent ones was very Breaking Bad-esque. And come to think of it, Nick and Jesse Pinkman may have been best buddies in another life.

In an exciting turn, Nick and Luciana finally initiate a romantic relationship; she kisses him. What she sees in him, I’m not sure. But I like Luciana a lot as a character, and for whatever reason, I’m rooting for the two to get together. This most likely means that she is doomed now. But for the time being, we can enjoy a little romance on a show that has had little to none of it whatsoever.

And in an especially nice moment, Strand speaks with a grieving widower outside the hotel honeymoon suite about loss, and Colman Domingo finally gets to flex his acting chops in an understated emotional way. Perhaps the highlight of the episode.

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Ofelia is still missing (she probably took the truck, perhaps to go find her father) and last we saw Chris, he had just murdered a human being in front of his dad. I’m eager to get back to that plot, as I think it’s the most interesting of the season thus far (and the one we’ve incidentally seen the least of). High hopes for next week!

TB-TV-Grade-B
Season 2, Episode 11 (S02E11)
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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