The latest episode of FEAR THE WALKING DEAD sets up some interesting plot elements, but as usual it all seems like well-trodden ground, both by its parent series The Walking Dead and by this series itself. One big twist comes at the end of the episode (which I called and NOBODY believed me, by the way) in the form of a big character return. It is much needed after the show killed off Travis last week.
The episode begins with grainy VHS footage of Jeremiah Otto, the leader of this new community Madison and our group have stumbled upon, in a commercial for his series of tapes that will prepare people for the end of the world. He never imagined a zombie apocalypse or anything, but he did see that the “American experiment” was failing and that people would soon have to be on their own, would have to build a new society from the ground up. He even throws in a bucket of end of the world supplies for free if you order now! This is an interesting take on a surviving community that we haven’t seen before. They are uniquely prepared for this scenario, called TEOTWAWKI, which makes them different than say, Hershel’s farm on The Walking Dead, or Woodbury on The Walking Dead, or Alexandria, Hilltop, or The Kingdom on The Walking Dead. (Okay, so it’s not THAT different). But it does make for an interesting dynamic. Jeremiah is basically governing a people who specifically did not want to be governed.
Madison, Nick, and Alicia are finding the transition very hard. For one thing, Troy Otto is still antagonizing the entire family. I get that Madison basically took his eye out with a spoon, and he might hold a few grudges there, but it was all basically his doing. Nick especially has it out for him. But Madison implores her family to stay put and to not start any problems. They need this place. Why the kids are so eager to leave a safe zone such as this, even with the hatred of basically the entire group, and venture out into the chaos that is post-zombie apocalypse America, is beyond me. They have beds. They have food, shelter. And there are other people their age! (More on this in a moment).
At a meeting eulogizing one of the community’s fallen, Madison takes some real passive aggressive heat. One member laments to the entire group that the person who died did so because he was out there looking to help “the unprepared.” Meaning Madison and her kids. Madison stands up and begins to eulogize Travis, which she is obviously doing to score some sympathy points. Troy calls her out on this, but what is he going to do? He wants Nick gone, but Madison isn’t going to let that happen. When she goes to Jeremiah to tell him to control his son, Jeremiah says there’s really nothing he can do. He has Madison sit down and watch his tapes on TEOTWAWKI, but she ends up finding raw footage of that commercial the episode led off with. Between takes, he fights with his wife in front of his kids and calls Troy an idiot right in front of him. Troy is like, four. No wonder he turned into a sociopath. Madison is starting to sympathize with this family.
Alicia is also getting comfortable in their new surroundings. At lunch one day she starts to chat with a girl her age named Gretchen. She invites Alicia to come check out their Christian rock band. Alicia says that she’s Jewish to get out of it, but Gretchen insists they’ll just do Old Testament stuff. Roped in, Alicia is brought to a secret underground teen hangout where they smoke weed, drink some sort of clear alcohol, and keep an “alive” zombie head in a bird cage and talk to it. Alicia was not expecting this, but she starts to enjoy herself. The other kids are interested with her and want to know what the world is like on the outside. Alicia admits to killing a man, which they all seem intrigued and impressed by, though I have a feeling this confession may come back to bite her (get it?) in the end. For now she seems content to be with people her own age.
Nick even gets invited out on a wild boar hunt by none other than Troy himself. Thinking it’s a ploy to have him killed, Nick is very vigilant in the night. When they split up hunting, Nick gets the best of Troy, getting him down and pointing a gun at his head. He even fires a bullet into the ground directly next to his head. Nick gets the journal Troy kept on all his experiments and starts ripping out the pages, throwing them everywhere and Troy tackles him to the ground. They both start laughing, and suddenly they’re just a couple of young boys rough housing and busting on each other. “I think we can be friends now,” Troy says. We’ll see how long that lasts.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, Strand has officially left the beach resort and goes to find an old friend who apparently is holed up at a gigantic dam. Driving past a line of people waiting for water seemingly miles long, he cuts to the head of the line and asks to see Dante. He is put on the ground and almost killed when Dante himself shows up. This is a rich schemer friend of Strand’s from his former life. We know because he’s wearing a full suit and tie. Why you would still wear a full suit and tie in the zombie apocalypse, even if you are guarded and safe is beyond me. They are also in the heat of the North American Southwest so like… why? If you don’t have to? Okay, I’ll move on.
Strand and Dante reminisce over drinks about some old times. However, things quickly turn sour when Dante takes him high up on the dam and has some goons hold him over a ledge. He knows that Strand came to somehow swindle him, because that’s what Strand does. But Dante won’t let it happen to him. If Strand is to live, he is going to basically be an indentured servant to him and he is going to earn anything Dante gives him. They throw Strand in a cell where he sits alone. At the end of the episode somebody brings him a flask of water, which he immediately chugs. Who is that somebody?
Daniel! It’s Daniel Salazar who we last saw at the end of the season two mid-season finale. He seemingly went crazy and blew himself up, right? Everybody thought he was clearly dead BUT ME. I thought it was a weird way to kill off the best character on the show. And here he is. But he and Strand never had much love for one another. How did Daniel get there under Dante’s rule? Will he help Strand? Is he even real?! (Characters have a knack for hallucinating other characters on this show). We will find out next week.
Season 3, Episode 3 (S03E03)
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sunday at 9PM on AMC
Paul Gulyas | Contributor