Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Fear The Walking Dead, Season Three, Episode Twelve: Brother's Keeper

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The one certainty of The Walking Dead universe is that the moment a character becomes a moral authority they are on borrowed time.  We've seen this with Dale, Hershel, Tyreese, to some degree Travis and now of course Jake. It's clear that of all of the Ottos, that Jake was the only one who actually had a conscience. We know that Jeremiah was an avowed racist and murderer.  Then we have Troy, who is clearly a mentally ill, violent, white supremacist. Sure, it wasn't hard for Jake to actually be the best of three given the low bar that his brother and father set, but it was enough for him to be the moral one and therefore the next to die. 

Troy is that bad penny that you just cannot get rid of.  Given everything that Madison has gone through and what she has put her family through to secure the farm, it was a ridiculous decision on her part to let Troy go wondering into the desert.  Yes, Nick killed Jeremiah, leaving Troy an orphan but Troy has proven time and time again that he is a predator and a danger, which is why it's hardly a surprise when Troy, like a chicken, comes home to roost. Everything that happened to the ranch this episode is directly the fault of the Clarks who have to some degree supported Troy and covered up for his evil in order to obtain power at the ranch. 

The episode begins with Troy wondering through the desert like he's Moses. At this point, Troy's supplies have run out and he's delusional to the point that he makes a meal out of a snake. Troy makes his way back to the native reservation, proving his boast to Madison that no mater how far she took him that he could find his way home. Back in familiar territory, Troy buries the body of one of his men that Walker left tied to a chair.  Troy then sits in the same chair, gun in hand. Yes, this is the same gun Troy was given when he left the ranch and it still has one bullet left. It's clear that Troy is actively thinking about ending it all when he hears and all too familiar sound - the sound of an approaching horde. Troy being an evil bastard doesn't use his sole bullet to kill himself but instead, shoots it into the air, thereby drawing the attention of the monster herd. The dirty bastard even has the nerve to smile knowing that he has now brought down a herd on the ranch he claims to love so much. 

Things are already in rough shape at the ranch. Despite working together, the residents have been unable to find any water. It's gotten so bad that they are now forced to slaughter the cattle because they draw the dead and they can no longer afford to feed them or give them water. At least if the cattle are killed now, the community at the ranch can consume the meat.  The decision to kill the cattle hits Jake particularly hard and he remembers all too well the way things used to be. To Jake, the ranch has reached the point of no return and he's starting to think about leaving. To that end, Jake suggests to Alicia that they leave together and head to the Otto family cabin which apparently is isolated and has game which they can hunt together.  Jake also points out that there are places like the ranch close by.  Despite how desperate the situation is, Alicia isn't ready to abandon the ranch yet. 

Jake isn't the only one who is starting to see the beginning of the end for the ranch. Ofelia and Crazy Dog can also see the writing on the wall and they begin to discuss who will run the ranch if Walker doesn't return.  Of course, Nick is the name they discuss because he apparently has brought both sides together.  I'm going to pause because it has to be said, why the hell is the cast of this show constantly putting so much trust in a god damn junkie? Yeah, I know it's season three and Nick's days of withdrawal are over but it doesn't sit well with me how they've redeemed his character to the point where he is competent to freaking lead. 

While Ofelia and Crazy Dog are busy discussing a possible leader, Nick is expressing his own personal doubts. It seems that Nick is now worried that he might actually be like Troy because of course he killed Jeremiah. The only character who needs killing more than Jeremiah, is of course Troy. Nick may have a dark side because of his addictions but he's well removed from Troy. To me, his little chat with Alicia feels like attention seeking but then, I don't necessarily find Nick to be even remotely sympathetic.

Troy being perverse is not content to let the herd just descend on the ranch without Nick and his brother knowing who exactly is responsible.  Troy waits until dark and then sneaks onto the ranch to see Nick. Troy is rather cryptic when meets with Nick and talks about how he believes that he is on a mission to bring down a reckoning and that a beast is approaching. Before taking his leave of Nick, Troy tells Nick to get Jake so that they can witness this together. 

As if watching his family ranch fall apart wasn't enough, Jake has finally figured out that he is being manipulated by Alicia.  It damn well took long enough. Jake actively questions if they are in a relationship or if they are in an alliance. Jake puts his cards on the table and makes it clear that he believes that the Clarks have been playing the long game all along, with Nick getting close to Troy, Madison with Jeremiah and finally Alicia seducing him. Alicia's denials sound hollow, even as she calls Jake the last good man that she knows. Alicia is quite literally saved by the bell when Nick shows up to tell Jake about Troy's little visit.

Proving once again to be the most hounourable Otto, Jake has reached the point where he has has finally realised that no matter how much he loves Troy that Troy needs to be taken out before he can cause harm to anyone else.  Does that feel like foreboding to anyone else? In a case of best laid plans of mice and men, Nick and Jake see the horde for the first time and of course, Troy who is busy firing off shots into the air to ensure that the horde heads straight for the ranch. Realising how dire the situation is, Nick is quick to radio Alicia to let her know what is coming their way.

Nick's next move is to try and talk some sense into Troy, but given that Troy is so far gone, it's not even remotely possible. Troy is far too intent on cleansing the ranch to hear anything that Nick is saying. Unlike Nick, Jake has reached the point where he's decided that Troy has to go and so he lifts his weapon and prepares to kill his brother. Troy responds by setting off yet another explosion to keep the zombies moving toward the ranch. An angry Jake then jumps on his brother and starts punching the shit out of Troy. Nick is now in an untenable situation. Not wanting to see Jake kill Troy, Jake admits to murdering Jeremiah but this doesn't prove to be enough of a distraction for Jake, who has determined that Troy has to die. Out of options and determined to save Troy, Nick whacks Jake over the head which sends Jake rolling down the hill, right into the path of the zombies. Jake's tumble turns out to be like a dinner bell and he is bitten by a zombie before Nick and Troy can get to him. A nervous Nick screams at Troy, asking how long Jake has before he turns but Troy is too stunned to answer. In a bid to save Jake's life, they decide to cut off his arm, hoping that they've acted fast enough to stop the spread of the zombie virus. 

With no time to waste, Jake is bundled into the back of the truck with Troy before the three head in the direction of the ranch.  It's a useless journey for Troy, Jake and Nick because the zombies have beaten them back to the ranch. With few options left, the ranchers decide to fight for their lives and line up the RV's to act as a barricade in the hope that the zombies will simply march by them. A horde this size is not going to be stopped by a few RV's and by the force of their numbers, the horde is able to push the RV's out of the way.  It's hand to hand combat time as Alicia, Ofelia and Crazy Dog lead the ranchers in a fight for their lives.

Unable to get to the ranch, Nick is forced to listen to the screams from a distance. With the zombies swarming in, the only option is for everyone to hide in pantry. A lot of ranchers are lost along the way but a good number of them manage to make their way to the pantry with their crude weapons. This is truly a case of out of the pot and into the pan. Yes, the pantry will provide shelter but they cannot stay in there forever and now they are surrounded by a herd. 

Despite their attempts to save him, Jake succumbs to his wounds.  Troy cradles his brother's head in his lap and waits for him to come back. When Jake opens his eyes as a zombie, Troy slips a knife into his brain, ending Jake's undead life as Nick watches. Troy says, that it wasn't supposed to be this way.

One thing is certain, whatever sanity Troy had is officially gone now that he has been forced to bring an end to his brother.  My question is what are the writers going to do with it? We know that the apocalypse didn't make Troy this way and that he has always had a streak of cruelty in him.  Then there's the issue that Nick seems to feel some sort of sympathy with Troy because of the guilt he feels over Jeremiah's death. What I want to know is if Fear the Walking Dead is finally going to follow through with an evil character and show just how low someone can go without any checks and balances?  Jake was perhaps the last thing stopping Troy from becoming the ultimate in evil and yet Jake alone wasn't enough to stop Troy from sending a herd down on so many innocent people. Daniel Sharmann is absolutely compelling as Troy and hope the writers give him an interesting storyline and don't decide to find a way to redeem him. 

As I mentioned in the beginning of this, it became obvious that Jake would be the next significant character to go given his strong moral grounding.  It's become a tell in this universe, even as the writers try to sell us on the lie that anyone can die at anytime.  If anyone could die, then why are Alicia, Crazy Dog and Ofelia alive? There's no way either of those three should have survived to make it to the bunker. 

Speaking of the bunker, why the hell didn't they just hide out there in the first place instead of hiding behind the RVs?  It should have been a given that the only way to have a herd walk past was for the herd to find no food, or hear any noise to attract them. The more they struggled against the herd, the more incentive the zombies had to keep pouring into the ranch. 

The one good thing that happened in this episode is that Alicia finally got called out on her actions. Yeah, Alicia may not have admitted to herself that she was using Jake, particularly because she probably did have some feelings for him but there's no doubt at least a significant part of their relationship was about Alicia securing her own safety.  In that moment, I think Alicia realised that she's more like Madison than she is willing to admit.