Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Fear the Walking Dead, Season Three, Episode Eleven: La Serpiente

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When last we left Fear the Walking Dead, Madison had just purchased Strand's debt. The plan is is to head to the damn that Strand knows of in the hopes of setting up a long term deal to trade for water which the ranch so desperately needs. This means it's road trip time. 

On the road to Tijuana, they come across their first stoppage when a huge herd heads in their direction. If that were not enough, the road is also blocked by overturned cars.  Walker is instantly irritated but Strand throws a beeper out of the window and the zombies are supposedly distracted enough by that to change their path. We have to pause. Look, to watch this show, you kind of have to suspend reality but having Strand throw that beeper and have it actually work is beyond ridiculous. A teeny tiny beeper is somehow louder and more forceful than the engine of a truck? With the zombies out of the way, Walker slowly pushes the cars aside enough for his truck to get through. 

Their next stop is at a car lot.  Victor has to rush to close the gates to stop the zombies from following them in.  This is the second unbelievable moment of the episode.  The zombies are pressing all of their weight on a chain link fence held closed by a flimsy chain and yet somehow, it all holds together with no sign of collapse. Do better writers, it's been barely 15 minutes and you've slipped very far very quickly. Walker is impatient with Victor, as he searches for a car.  Walker's impatience turns to outright suspicion once the car is found and an entrance to the sewer is revealed. Walker does not like the idea of traveling through the sewers following Victor's lead in the least.  Victor assures Walker and Madison that this is the fastest way forward, leaving Walker no choice but to agree when Madison makes it clear that she is following Strand's lead. 

In the tunnels, Walker's impatience appears again and this time it's because he's certain that Strand is actually lost and is leading them in circles.  Strand maintains his facade in front of Walker but confides in Madison that Walker is right. It turns out that he's been looking for the symbol of an eye which will indicate which tunnels lead to the damn.  Madison is not willing to go up and convinces Strand to keep looking. Victor also confesses that Daniel is at the damn but this is not a concern for Madison because of course, Ofelia is at the ranch. 

Strand finally locates the correct tunnel and Walker says that they have to hurry because they are being pursued by zombies. They move quickly down the tunnel only to find the ending blocked by a zombie who has become inexplicably stuck in the opening. For some reason, the zombies who are in pursuit stop following when the trio reaches the end of the tunnel.  Madison, being a pragmatist, hacks away at the zombie until she manages to cut it loose from the tunnel entrance. 

Daniel is riding away with the water truck and being pursued by a group of thirsty people.  When they shoot, Daniel returns fire, killing one person in the process.  Daniel's response is frowned upon Efrain, who clearly is still in rainbow and unicorn land about how dangerous of a situation they are actually in.  Daniel and Efrain argue, with Efrain promising to see Lola about Daniel's actions. Yes, that makes Efrain a damn snitch.
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Daniel starts to close the gates when he spies movement in the bushes and so heads in that direction. Daniel fires off a shot and manages to miss Strand, who he is not pleased to see.  It's only when Daniel spots Madison and she orders Walker to lower his weapon that Daniel finally relaxes. Madison is quick to explain that Ofelia is safe on the ranch and that Walker saved Ofelia's life. Madison doesn't waste anytime letting Daniel know that the ranch is desperately in need of water.

Given that Madison has never betrayed him, Daniel decides to speak to Lola on their behalf but instructs the road trip crew to wait outside while he does so. Madison is certain that Daniel will come through for them, even if Walker remains doubtful, arguing that Daniel may have changed greatly since he and Madison last saw each other. Lola isn't agreeable to Daniel's suggestion of trading with Madison and crew. When Madison is finally granted an audience, she offers to trade for whatever it is that Lola might need but Lola isn't willing to be seen trading with Madison, when her own people are still struggling with thirst. Lola does however offer to allow them to spend the night. 

Later that night, Lola heads to Daniel's bedroom where she figures out that Ofelia is with Madison's people.  Daniel however reveals that he intends to keep his promise to Lola to support her.  In another room, Walker is not pleased to discover that he will be sharing a room with Strand. Strand tries to make light of their current situation which just enrages Walker all the more.  As far as Walker is concerned, it's Madison's fault that they don't have water right now because she broke their potential deal in order to save Strand. Walker makes it clear that there are few resources on the ranch and that if they don't find water, his people will force the ranchers off of the land. 

Madison decides to take one last stab at trying to convince Lola that trade would be good for both groups. Madison points out just how much water that they have and argues that she is trying to save her children.  Lola is not impressed by Madison's plea based in motherhood, particularly given that she's trying to save the lives of her countrymen.  Two white kids aren't worth more than an entire population of people of colour.  Lola however does toss Madison a bone and offers her a place at the damn for herself, the kids and Ofelia, for as long as she rules the damn.  Madison sees this for the compromise that it is but makes it clear that rulers cannot rule by compromise alone because it ends up leaving everyone unhappy. 

Having heard Walkers threat, Victor decides to get the lay of the land at the damn. Victor heads to the infirmary to help one of the men wounded after the shootout during the water delivery. It's clear that the men don't trust Victor and actively refer to him as La Serpiente but that doesn't stop them revealing just how conflicted people are about Lola's administration of the damn water. Efrain argues that the water should just be released to the people, totally ignoring the fact that the water would simply evaporate and once it's gone, there's no replacing it. 

Having re-pledged his allegiance to Lola, Daniel goes to see Walker to thank him for what he did for Ofelia.  Walker explains that Ofelia walks by his side and is a true warrior. Hearing Ofelia called a warrior comes as a great shock to Daniel, who makes it clear that he didn't raise her to be one. Daniel gets a further shock when he learns how Ofelia poisoned the ranchers at Walker behest. 

Victor and Madison share another moment of intimacy. Look, I know that Madison just saved Victor's ass, but the sudden intimacy between these two needs more explanation than the writers have bothered to dole out. They are so close they are almost like lovers at this point.  Madison makes it clear that she wants to stay on the ranch because it's the closet thing to a home that she's found. Madison most wants a safe place for her children, causing Victor to question what Madison wants for herself.  Victor confesses that his greatest desire is not to let down his friends again. It is in the midst of this conversation that wheels in Strand's brain clearly start to spin. 

When Daniel finds Strand again, Strand is surveying the damn's tankers. Daniel is instantly onto Strand and makes it clear that he will support Strand as long as what he comes up with is beneficial to the both of them. The next morning, an angry Walker is prepared to leave the damn but before doing so, informs Madison that he considers her a liar and that her people will have to leave the ranch.  Walker storms off and Madison quickly follows.  Victor pulls Madison's arm, causing her to stop her pursuit of Walker, seconds before the water tanker blows up, spraying water in the air and creating a hole in the fence, leaving them open to zombies. Lola's men scramble to contain the situation as quickly as possible.

Daniel seizes the opportunity to blame the explosion on those opposed to Lola's rule of the damn. The violence is enough for Lola to change her position about the need to defend the water. Madison is quick to jump on Lola's change of heart and agrees to provide the list of weapons that Daniel requests, in exchange for 10,000 gallons of water a week until the dry season comes to an end and to bring Ofelia to their first exchange. Madison even demands some water now as a show of faith. After checking with Daniel to assure that they can spare the truck, Madison and Lola agree that the exchange will take place in a week at the market where Madison found Strand - clearly a set up for more tension next week.

With a trade deal made, Madison and Strand leave the damn all smiles. Madison is impressed that Strand was able to pull this off and a smiling Strand says that Madison would have done the same for him.  As they drive down the road, they come across Walker. Madison stops the truck and asks Walker if he is thirsty. For the first time since he has appeared in Fear the Walking Dead, Walker actually smiles as he gets into the truck.  Madison, Walker and Strand drive happily off into the sunset together. 

We've just gotten back from the midseason break and already we're getting a filler episode? Did we really need an hour on how Madison managed to arrange a deal with Lola for water?  If that were not enough, La Serpiente had quite a few implausible moments in a sad attempt to add drama to an episode that was about as exciting as wet lettuce.  Do better writers. 

I'm intrigued by Strand suggesting that Madison center herself and decide what will make her happy. I don't think that motherhood in this universe has ever been treated that way.  In fact, motherhood has a history of becoming the soul reason to motivate a woman to make certain decisions.  Think about how Carol changed after her daughter died, or even the way Lori had no identity outside of wife and mother on The Walking Dead. Madison's kids while being her biological offspring, aren't actually children.  They are capable of being independent and have proven that on countless occasion and so there's no reason for Madison to make their desires the complete focus of her life.  I really hope that this line of thinking is something the writers follow through with. 

I'm going to again bring up the close relationship between Madison and Strand. Yes, they worked together at the hotel and even saved each other's lives but that doesn't explain how they behave with each other. It's all too sudden and to caring. Yes, Madison acknowledged Daniel when he called Strand a snake waiting for his chance to strike but her behaviour doesn't suggest that she is even a little bit wary of Strand. The writers are just tossing this in there to soften Madison, who has become a real hard ass without any kind of context as far as I am concerned. 

So we have the big set up at the market in five days. It makes no sense to me as to why of all the places available that Madison would choose the market to make the exchange.  Clearly something big is going to go down there.  It's why there was such a fixation on the supposedly happy ending. It's all a set up for what I hope will be a far more interesting episode next week.