Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fear the Walking Dead, Season Three, Episode Fourteen: El Matadero

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The writers seem to have some aversion to keeping the cast together.  Does it make the writers break out in hives when too many in the cast are at the same location? In This Land is Your Land, Alicia decided to go her own way after being forced to put down so many people and is now off having her own adventures. And now we have Troy and Nick doing their best impression of High Times in Zombieland. I cannot help but wonder how long they will be divided this time? El Matadero marks the penultimate outing for this season, so if they are going to do something, they have to do it soon. 

With the ranch gone, Madison has no choice but to hope that Lola's offer to allow them to take up residence at the damn is still good.  As with all things in a dystopian, a wrench is immediately tossed in the plans. It turns out that not everyone escaped free and clear. Ofelia bravely saved a lot of ranchers but in the process, she was bitten by a zombie. Ofelia makes Madison promise to take her to her father. 

They arrive at the trading post hours before the agreed upon time and Madison and Walker help Ofelia to hide the fact that she's not well. In order to gain entry to the Trading Post, Madison is forced to hand over half of the weapons that they have which naturally does not impress Strand. Once inside, Walker sets about making Ofelia comfortable while Strand argues with Madison about the fact that she's casually giving away the few resources that they have left. Madison believes that because they are in such a desperate situation that they must rely on kindness; whereas, Strand finds this approach ridiculous and argues that they don't know how Daniel will react when he finds his daughter dead. A frustrated Strand walks off and when Madison checks on Ofelia, Walker sides with her. As far as Walker is concerned, if it means that they die, they should bring closure to this situation. 

Alicia set up camp for the night and goes into alert mode when she hears a sound. Of course, it's Nick and Troy who have been sent to trail her by Madison. Nick delivers the Clark family line about safety in numbers but Alicia is done buying that. As far as Alicia's concerned, they had numbers at the ranch and that didn't end well. Rather than heading to the damn with Nick and Troy, Alicia advises Nick to find a way to be happy away from their mother.  As Nick and Troy head to the bizarre, Troy questions why it is that everyone seems to hate Nick and why Nick stayed on the Ranch.  This line of questioning clearly makes Nick uncomfortable because he doesn't want to admit that he used to be a junkie. Nick simply says that he stayed to take care of his family in the wake of Travis's death.  Troy of course is not buying it and instead suggests that Nick stayed because he found a kindred spirit. 

Travelling alone means that you have to look for supplies alone.  Alicia finds a bucket of potatoes and is just about to take them when a small group of zombies head in her direction.  Rather than confront them, Alicia chooses to hide.  Unfortunately for Alicia, that's when someone comes into the building where she is hiding, kills the zombies and takes her potatoes to boot. I gotta stop to say that Fear the Walking Dead gets huge points for the kiddie walker in the ball pit. As a parent, I always thought those things were nasty and germ filled. Alicia watches as the woman cuts off the fingers of the zombies and removes their teeth. Umm double gross.

Alicia isn't about to let those potatoes go and so she tracks down the car where the woman has stashed them. Before Alicia cans steal back her potatoes however, the woman appears. Alicia threatens to shoot the woman but sensing that Alicia isn't really capable of cold blooded murder, the woman continues to walk towards Alicia.  Seeing that the only way out of the situation is come up with a compromise, Alicia offers to share the potatoes. The two then do a Thelma and Louise thing and kill off a small horde of zombies headed in their direction together. 

Having been unable to convince Ofelia to come back with him, Nick is forced to deliver the news to his mother. Madison is clearly upset by Alicia's decision but thankful that at least she has Nick.  Seeing that his mother is at the end of her rope, Nick offers to stay by Ofelia's side so that she can take a break.  Before leaving, Madison reminds Nick to keep the knife close in case Ofelia turns.  Madison isn't out of the room for a New York minute before Nick finds the painkillers that Walker procured for Ofelia.  Nick opens the bottle and stares at the pills for a few moments before deciding to take them. And with that, Fear the Walking Dead has returned to junkie Nick. It will be interesting to see if they do better this time. 

Troy is having lunch and he is clearly not comfortable being around all of these brown people. Nick is clearly high when he joins Troy, ordering drinks for the both of them.  Troy says that he doesn't drink but Nick is determined for them both to get shit faced. The waitress is tolerant, even as she pushes Nick's groping hands away, as he asks her where he can find uppers. Nick is given a contact and then he orders Troy to take his medicine (read: a pill and a shot of tequila). 

Nick and Troy are both high out of their gourde when they make their way to the drug den.  Despite being inebriated, Troy has enough sense to suggest that what they are doing is not a good idea.  How is it that Troy became the sensible one? Nick asks the local dealer about uppers and is offered: heroine, cocaine, morphine, and amphetamines.  After everything that he's been through, it turns out that Nick doesn't think that the drugs being offered are mind blowing enough. The dealer then decides to offer Nick and Troy a brain stem - pure adrenaline. Nick questions where the stem comes from but it's clear that when the dealer answers pigs, Nick doesn't actually care.  The dealer of course gives Nick and Troy a stem each on the house which Nick is all too happy to accept. Of course the first shot is for free - that's how dealers hook junkies.  Nick is quick to eat the stem and encourages Troy to do the same. Troy hesitates but clearly not willing to be thought of as less than in Nick's eyes, he also downs the stem. 

Nick is clearly in a leadership role as he guides Troy over the fence of the trading post.  When they come across a zombie in a truck, Nick bashes the zombie's head with the truck door in order to get blood.  Nick covers himself in blood and then smears some on Troy, before running into a small herd, as a stunned Troy looks on. Seeing Nick not be attacked by the zombies convinces Troy to join him. At this point, Nick is so broken that he tells Troy that he cannot go back to her. Troy wraps him arms around Nick and comforts him as zombies shamble around them. 

Victor may have been happy when Madison saved his ass a few episodes ago but that doesn't mean that he won't double cross her in the name of his own survival. Victor slips through the trading post until he comes across a few of Proctor John's men.  They are quick to tell Victor that he made a mistake coming back but Victor claims that he has some information that will make Proctor John very happy.  You just know he is going to sell out the damn right?

It's time to meet up with Daniel and because she's unsure how he will react to finding Ofelia close to death, Madison advises Walker to remain behind.  Madison helps Ofelia to her feet and the two make their way to the appointed location. At this point, Ofelia is barely alive and she knows it. With tears running down her face, Ofelia asks Madison to promise that she will not be allowed to turn and that Madison will take care of it so that the task doesn't fall to Daniel. Ofelia then asks Madison to tell her father that she was looking forward to getting to know him. Madison being Madison, has to turn this moment into something about her and starts talking about how parents lie to protect their children and that somehow, the children figure out who their parents are anyway.  Madison assures Ofelia that she knows who her father is. Ofelia then dies in Madison's arms. 

Shortly after Madison discovers that Ofelia is dead, Daniel arrives. Madison tries to talk to him but Daniel only has eyes for his daughter after being seperated for so long. When Daniel realises that Ofelia is dead, Madison tries to reach out to him and explain that the ranch fell. An enraged Daniel pulls out his gun and points it at Madison, ordering her to leave before he kills her. Madison slowly backs away and Daniel turns the gun on Ofelia before shooting her.   

Things are a lot more calm for Alicia, who is now sharing a meal with the woman who stole her potatoes.  Alicia learns that the woman collects teeth and fingers and sells them to people who make charms that supposedly ward off zombies. Alicia is quick to turn down a zombie tooth ring and I don't blame or on that account. Alicia reveals that she's headed to a place that is isolated with water and plenty of animals to hunt. Alicia has determined that she'll either make it or die trying. The woman says that Alicia must get used to killing and that attitudes like Alicia's are why she travels alone. The woman makes it clear that there's no peace anywhere, just picked over town after picked over town.

The next day, having had time to deal with his grief, Daniel approaches Madison. It seems that Daniel carried Ofelia's body through the desert until he found a nice place to bury her. Daniel asks about Ofelia's last words and Madison tells Daniel that his daughter said she loved him. Daniel doesn't respond but when it's clear that he expects more, Madison reveals Ofelia's true message about her disappointment about not knowing who her father really is. Daniel admits that he allowed Ofelia to see that man once and it scared her. Daniel offers Madison a place at the damn and she asks if the others can join her as well. It's clear that Daniel is reluctant but he allows it.

Troy and Nick catch up with Madison as they are preparing to leave. Nick reveals that he is going to stay behind so that he can facilitate trade when Madison returns. It's clear that Madison doesn't believe him but at this point, she's done fighting her children. Strand joins them and he looks backward at Proctor John's men, suggesting that he has already sold them out.  

Taking a page out of Nick's book, Alisha decides that travelling with the stranger might be a good idea for now. 

So Nick is back to taking drugs and of course he blames his mommy. I don't think that Nick has ever really be responsible, despite the fact that he had a sort of leadership position when he was with Luciana. Nick's worried that he's supposedly a bad person like Troy and instead of dealing with his fears, he went back to drugs. I'll be honest and say that I never found Nick to be a particularly sympathetic character and now that he has joined forces with Troy, I find him to be even less so.  My position on Nick is further not helped the way his story has been wrapped up with Troy's. Even if we argue that Nick is tired of being manipulated by Madison, there's still the issue that he chose to get into bed with Troy, whom we know to be a racist and responsible for the death of a lot of innocent people.  Nick's acceptance of Troy says a lot about the type of person that he is.

Madison's behaviour has been rather inconsistent this season. On one hand, she was willing to deal with the Ottos for the sole purpose of having a safe place for her kids to live but on the other, she accepts Alisha's decision to strike out on her own without really pushing back.  Madison also must have guessed that Nick was back on drugs. given the fact that she found the pill bag with clearly less pills than she left it but again, she didn't push back or confront him about the drugs he's clearly on. We don't even have an explanation for Madison's sudden change of behaviour. 

Ofelia died this episode and that's a real shame because it feels like Fear the Walking Dead didn't really know what to do with her character. When we first met Ofelia. she was a timid young woman but she has changed so much from that person. It feels like Ofelia was just starting to come into her own.  What bothers me most about this is that it feels like Ofelia died for Daniel's manpain. Daniel said repeatedly that Ofelia's death was the cost of his sins.  There's also the issue that Ofelia was the only reason for Daniel to attempt to be a moral person and with her now dead, he is going to get scary.  Killing women for manpain or the development of a male character is just plain sexist. 

Onto Strand. who once again was looking out for himself. It's true, a leopard doesn't change his spots.  Strand had a reasonable point to make about Madison just handing over their few valuable items when there was no guarantee that it would lead to safety.  In an apocalypse. where people have descended to a sort of Lord of the Flies existence, you simply cannot depend on people being nice or decent to survive. The fact that Strand then potentially sold Madison out however is another matter entirely. It makes me wonder if all the point of Fear the Walking Dead making Madison and Strand closer than they were when they reunited was to make Madison feel pain at Strand's betrayal? 

Alisha is seeking to escape the traumatic events of the fall of the ranch. What's interesting is that she blames her mother for that.  Perhaps if Nick told her the truth about Troy's involvement. she would have had a different reaction. I don't think that the failure of the ranch can be laid at Madison's feet beyond the fact that she should not have fought Walker about keeping Troy alive. 

Alisha seems to have found herself a new travelling companion but thus far, Fear the Walking Dead hasn't even given the woman a name.  I think that Alicia and this stranger might make interesting bedfellows ,even though I am loathe to see Alicia seperated from the rest of the cast.

Next week, Fear the Walking Dead will end for the season. At this point, I think that no matter what heroics the writers come up with, it's too late to save a season that had very little direction. Sure, it had moments like a zombie being struck with lightening and Madison almost ripping out Troy's eye but the plot just seemed to plod along for the most part without direction.