Monday, June 26, 2017

Fear The Walking Dead, Season Three, Episode Five: Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame

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As predicted, with the problem at the damn handled, it's time for a road trip. When Strand first saw Daniel, in order to convince him to let him out of the jail, Strand lied and claimed that he knew where Ofelia was.  Well this week, that lie has consequences.  I know that Daniel proved to Strand that he could be a very scary man but it doesn't make sense to me that Strand didn't admit to lying before they even got on the road together.  It doesn't make sense that he didn't even admit that he was no longer with Madison and her family.  Why wouldn't he tell the truth?  Strand tries to delay the journey by waiting out a small herd of zombies instead of driving through them but Daniel is quick to declare that he has no time for delays.

The moment they arrive at the hotel, it's clear that something has gone desperately wrong. All of the lights are out and there's no one guarding the gate. Strand is quick to point out that this isn't right but this just encourages Daniel to move forward in the belief that if Ofelia is indeed in the hotel, then she needs his help right now. Strand doesn't actually come clean about what happened at the hotel until they are inside the lobby, after it becomes clear to him that Daniel intends to search it.  An irate Daniel rings the front desk bell which brings out the zombies and then takes off leaving Victor stranded.  I don't doubt for one moment that Strand will find a way out of his predicament and that this isn't the last time these two men will be in conflict with each other. 

It's also worth noting that this further splits up the cast.  We still don't know where Ofelia is for certain and now Strand and Daniel are traveling separately. Why is it so damn hard to get this cast to one location together?

At the ranch, Madison leaves with Troy and his men to find the people who shot down the helicopter. Madison is doing this because she wants justice for Travis and to prove her worth to the community.  This little trip will also come with the bonus of getting to undermine Troy.  From the moment they arrived on the ranch, Madison has been busy playing mind games with Troy.  Troy's so far out of his depth and completely unprepared with how to deal with a woman like Madison, who completely has his number.  Having dealt with Nick's addiction, as well as working as school guidance counselor for years, Madison is uniquely prepared to psychologically torment Troy. 

Madison, Troy and the other volunteers come across a prison bus and this is the first opportunity Madison has to prove to the others that she can carry her own weight.  Having been trapped on the ranch since the start of the apocalypse, Troy and his men have no idea what someone like Madison would have had to survive to make it this far.  Madison acquits herself well and begins earning the respect of the men.  This should have caught Troy's attention but he's too busy wanting to know how long it took the team to take out the walkers. 

It's not long before they come across the remains a skirmish and decide to backtrack to see if they find their men.  When they do, they discover the men dead and half burned in a heap. There's only one survivor and he's tied to a chair and a crow is eating his brain while he spouts gibberish. It's gruesome and fucking awesome all at the same time. Naturally Troy, Madison and the men decide that they need to leave immediately but before they can do so, they are confronted by Qaletqa Walker and his people.  Outnumbered, outgunned and surrounded, Troy is quick to give the order for everyone to lower their weapons.  Qaletqa demands that Troy's people hand over their guns, supplies and even shoes, before walking back to the ranch to tell them to get off the stolen land.  Madison is clearly a new person to Qaletqa and so he informs her that she picked the wrong side in this war. Madison, not being one to back down, points out that it's personal because they killed one of hers. 

Troy leads everyone back to the ranch at a quick pace but with no water, or shoes the march is hard. Madison suggests that they stop for a rest because some of the men are struggling but Troy is determined to march forward in order to get back to the ranch before Qalteqa and his people can. Madison points out that a good leader knows when to stop and this of course pisses off Troy because he believes that Madison has stepped over the line.  Madison asks the men how many want to stop and when all of them support her, Troy is given no choice but to order that they should all be prepared to move at first light because he's the only one who knows the way back to the ranch. 

That night as Madison sleeps, Troy sneaks up on her and puts a knife to her throat. Madison takes a deep breathe and simply tells Troy that he knows better. Troy pauses for a moment but he withdraws.  Madison then makes eye contact with one of the men sleeping a little bit a way. Troy doesn't realise that he was seen and this will also weaken his power over the men because what he did was petty and on top of that he retreated. 

Back at the ranch, Alicia meets up with Jake. They end up having sex, as teenagers do.  The mom inside me was screaming, please tell me that Jake wore a condom.  There really hasn't been much conversation about birth control or protection from sexually transmitted diseases in this universe and that needs to change.  Pregnancy in an apocalypse can easily lead to the death of the mother and it's not like an abortion would be easily accessible. Before Alicia leaves, Jake offers Alicia a book but she refuses it saying that there's no point to art and poetry in this new world. 

The episode opened with a fire. Martha, one half of the hold couple we saw dancing last week is dead and has turned into a zombie. Upon seeing her, Martha's husband uses his gun to commit suicide while simultaneously bringing an an end to Martha's brief return as a zombie. When the couple fall to the ground, they knock over a lantern which starts a fire.

The next day, Nick is cleaning up what remains of the house when Jeremiah makes an appearance. Nick is quick to point out the differences between himself and Troy, even as Jeremiah questions if Nick even knows who he is.  They spar back and forth and while this is supposed to be compelling, it's decidedly not. Jeremiah finds an antique weapon and goes on about how the gun is a work of art.

That night, Nick surprised Luciana with a picnic in the shell of the house, telling her that there are so many possibilities there. The next morning, Nick finds a dear John letter from Luciana. Yeah, who didn't see that one coming? Jeremiah returns and places the gun on the ground close to Nick, pats his shoulder and leaves. 

It's season three and I still don't get the point of Nick.  He went from wanting to get away from the ranch as soon as possible to deciding that it would be a good place to make his home.  We weren't even given a reason for his 360 degree turn. I do however appreciate him asking if the reason that Luciana should leave the farm is because of her race, what with Otto going on about how people who are alike needing to stick together. It's not a huge assumption to believe that race would have something to do with that statement given that these survivalist groups don't have a history of being friendly to any marginalised group. It's also worth pointing out that while not an original cast member, Luciana leaving the ranch is yet more separation of these characters and yet another storyline to potentially follow. 

I really like the game that Madison is playing with Troy.  It highlights the difference between her and Rick. Rick would have bullied Troy into submission, whereas; Madison is taking a far more devious path to control. This comes down to a difference in gender and of course personality.  Now that it's clear that Madison will eventually become the center of this show, I'm interested to see where her character arch leads and the ways in which she will change, particularly because when it comes to gender, this universe leaves a lot to be desired. 

Strand has always been a person who's out for himself and he's paid the price for that now.  We've also been told that Strand is smart and yet his interactions with Daniel seem to prove the exact opposite. It makes no sense for Strand to take Daniel back to the hotel since Strand was forced out and he knows damn well that Ofelia is not there.  Strand didn't even bother to correct Daniel's assumptions about Madison. The only upside to this is that Daniel didn't kill Strand outright, leaving room for these two to tangle once again.

My biggest issue with this series is it's refusal to bring these characters together. Where the hell is Ofelia? I thought that we would find her at the border and then we didn't. I thought that we would find her with the people who shot down the helicopter and then we didn't. It's like the writers are playing some drawn out where's waldo game with her and it's reached the point of annoying already. Bring Ofelia out of the plot box, reunite her with her father and get things moving already. 

Finally, I very much approve of Indigenous people telling the ranchers to get off their land.  It's ironic given the fact that the only reason the ranchers were able to colonise the land in the first place was the power of the U.S. government and the U.S. military, two institutions which they didn't support. Now, without the power and backing of the United States, the ranchers are actually vulnerable.  My only real fear with this storyline is given this universe's history when it comes to race that it will descend into some racist game of cowboys vs Indians.  If they are going to introduce the idea of indigenous people fighting to regain their land, they better do it right.