Monday, May 23, 2016

Fear the Walking Dead, Season Two, Episode Seven: Shiva

Yes, we're already at the midseason finale and what better way to end it than with fire.  Everything is absolutely falling apart as our little crew of survivors begins to break under the pressure of living in a zombie apocalypse, though it all came to a head a lot sooner than I expected. This is the first lesson the survivors have learned about investing in a safe haven.

Salzar, is haunted by all of the murders that the has committed in his life.  His problems begin when he dreams that Ofelia has turned.  In a desperate bid to get his daughter off the compound, Salazaar injures one of Celia's men, causing her to order that he be locked up because he has become a danger to himself and others.  This is actually the first and only sensible decision that Celia makes for the entire episode.  While he is in lock down, Salazar start to hallucinate and he sees his wife. Griselda talks to Daniel about the fact that while she was alive, she served as his confessor and yet he didn't take the time to bury her.  Daniel flashes back and forth between Griselda reminding him of his obligations and memories of the first man he killed.  It's clear that all of that blood weighs heavily on his conscience but Griselda makes a point of saying that he is also a victim.  The first time Daniel killed, it was his father who put the gun in his hand.

Things are going well for Chris either.  Having been caught red handed standing near the sleeping Madison and Alicia with a knife, he decides to take off.  Travis tracks his son, only to find Chris holding a gun to the head of child.  Travis does his best to talk Chris down.  Chris throws down his weapon and heads outside, only to be tackled by his father. Chris actually uses a knife to attack his father and Travis quickly gets the upper hand.  Travis is wracked by guilt over what has become of his son. Chris makes it clear that he cannot head back to the compound because of how people look at him. Yeah, people tend to give you the side eye when you kill without cause and then threaten the people who are supposed to be your family with violence.  Of all of the pain on Fear the Walking Dead, Chris's irritates me the most.  Yes, he lost his mother but at this point, people are starting to lose those they love without heading to the dark place that Chris has.

For quite some time, I have had problems with Nick's character. He's far too competent for someone who just got clean.  In this episode, it seems that Nick has dealt with his problems with addiction by substituting worship of Celia.  In Sicut Cervus, Nick had his first meeting with Celia and he admitted that he was sick of the killing.  Celia offers comfort by saying that the dead aren't really monsters and are just changed from the way that they know them.  Celia firmly believes that taking out a walker is murder.  Yeah, it's all shades of Herschel and feels extremely recycled. Madison is all too aware of the unhealthy influence which Celia has over Nick but she is powerless to stop it.

Celia is a true cult leader and people clearly agree with her position on the walkers.  This is why she cannot let go of the fact that instead of killing himself to join Thomas, Strand instead gave Thomas mercy.  For Celia, this is an act of betrayal and murder and she orders Strand off the property. Surprisingly, it's Madison who steps up to the plate to defend Victor, calling him her friend.  Celia offers a compromise and allows Strand to stay long enough bury his lover. While Madison has not always approved of Strand's methods, it seems that everything they have been through together has built a bond. This however does not mean that the pragmatic Strand is down with being described as a friend.

It's Nick who further diffuses the situation by covering himself in zombie blood and tracking down Celia's walker son Luis. Celia is grateful to have her zombie son back and decides to allow Nick's family to stay with the understanding that he will be responsible for the things that they do. Madison is upset that once again Nick went out wearing zombie blood, but Nick is confidant that his actions will not cause him to die. It very much seems like Nick has developed a false sense of superiority. Has walking around covered in Walker blood gotten to his mind?

Madison approaches Strand about her fears regarding Nick and he not only is adamant that Nick is lost but that he isn't Nick's father.  With nowhere left to turn, Madison has the showdown with Celia that was telegraphed the moment that she caught Celia feeding Nick in the kitchen.  The two women head down to the area where the zombies are being housed. Celia talks about Luis, and how any mother would do anything to protect her child.  Madison agrees and promptly locks Celia in with the zombies.  Well, it looks like some of Strand's pragmatism has rubbed off on Madison.

Feeling invincible, Nick decides to seek out Travis. Once again he is covered in zombie blood.  Nick is adamant that Travis needs to come back with him because Madison needs him.  Travis however refuses to return saying that Chris needs him and isn't safe to come back to the compound.  Travis instructs Nick to tell Madison that he couldn't find him, so that Madison won't know that he chose his son over her.  It's interesting that Travis and Madison both made hard decisions for the sake of their children.

By the time that Nick returns to the compound, Salazar has set it on fire, acting on his delusions about Griselda.  Ofelia and Madison attempt to like for Daniel but cannot find him. Strand, who had been kicked out by Celia, starts up the pickup truck and encourages everyone to get in so that they can flee. The compound is quickly being overrun by the zombies which Celia had been housing. Ofelia doesn't want to leave without her father but she's given no choice.  Madison doesn't want to leave without Travis and she pauses when she sees Nick walking towards her.  Nick does as Travis requested and claims that he couldn't find him.  A desperate Madison tries to get Nick to get on the truck but Nick walks towards the zombies.

So our merry band of survivors are separated. The one I am most upset by of course is Salazar. We don't know if he is dead or not but given how the fire was raging, things don't look good for him. I'm actually a little surprised by his early breakdown given the things he has seen and done in his lifetime. If Salazar is dead, we've lost 1/4 of the characters of colour remaining on Fear the Walking Dead. Given that this universe hasn't necessarily been kind to its characters of colour, this does not bode well for Salazar.

Thankfully, Strand is still alive.  Once it was revealed that Strand is gay, I have to admit that I pretty much thought of him as dead man walking.  I'm still not pleased that they introduced Thomas just to kill him but it is nice to have a gay man of colour so prominent on the show. It very much looks like due to circumstances that Madison and Strand are going to have to partner up to get through this. I actually believe they would make awesome co-leaders and a nice change of pace for this universe.

At this point, I cannot say that I am overly impressed with Fear the Walking Dead. This plot with the compound and the keeping of zombies is simply recycled from The Walking Dead. Celia in particular is a cheap version of Hershel.  By making her a zealot, they removed anything fascinating about her character. For this show to work, it really needs to give us something different, and setting it on the water rather than land is not enough. I find that my interest is waning with each episode.