This post will contain spoilers of Fear the Walking Dead season 2 episode 2.
If you haven’t seen the episode please come back later.
As always, this is not an episode recap but a discussion about the successes and failures of Fear the Walking Dead and how we can improve our writing by learning from them.
Last week for the premier I was pretty disappointed. Perhaps my disappointment would have been less if The Walking Dead season finale hadn’t also been utterly disappointing. I chose to give it another episode to see what happens next. I’m happy to say the second episode was much better and they actually did something that I thought should be done, go ashore despite the risks. (I know I can’t take credit, because episodes are filmed in advance, but it still feels vindicating.)
It’s Probably Pirates
After seeing a light on an island, the gang of survivors decide to dock the Abigail. This doesn’t really make sense to me, as Strand has been against making contact with anyone, but suddenly going ashore to an inhabited island with strangers is okay. “Information” doesn’t seem like something he cares about. Partly, I think he did it to use the island to hide their boat from the mysterious ship following their trail. The radar can only pick up mass, so hiding a smaller mass against a bigger mass is a good idea.
If you think like an antagonist, however; this doesn’t work at all. After being followed for a long distance by a ship that is faster (which was pointed out last episode,) the Abigail wouldn’t just disappear off the radar. If you were a pirate wouldn’t you want to find out why the smaller ship docked on an island? There could be supplies, something everyone needs desperately, especially because all of the coast was torched.
I’ll theorize that maybe the bigger ship isn’t pirates; it could be more survivors. It could be the downed flight 462 (highly doubtful but with this show you never know.) Whether good or bad, everyone needs supplies. It’s still early in the apocalypse, there is plenty of room for overly trusting survivors.
This red flag is brought to you by the question “Why did Strand allow them to go ashore?” The answer for this episode is “because we need to get them off of the boat somehow.” Not the best answer, but at least we get off the yacht.
They’re Creepy and They’re Kooky
This episode did a good job of building the tension with the ranger station family. From the top of the show we think two little tykes are about to become walker snacks. At the very end we watch as the Abigail leaves two brothers behind, having to face down what remains of their once loving mother. All of it is tinged with the sorrow that should come with the end of the world.
My favorite moments in this episode were the subtle foreshadowing of what was coming. First the kids making a gift of shells for the walkers. Next, we have the mom flickering the light in hopes of getting help for her children because she “doesn’t see a future” for them on the island. There’s the eerie red dots on the action figure’s heads, and Henry telling Nick about “power pills” to prevent him from having to get shot. Willa singing ring around the rosy and Alicia telling her the flowers didn’t heal the victims of the plague. Oh yes, so many juicy little bits.
Foreshadowing is not always easy to pull off. You don’t want to give away too much or be obvious. Subtle hints that make the audience question motives help drive home the reality once the truth is revealed. Travis did a good job holding up the confusion of why a mother would send her children away from a seemingly safe place into unsure waters? Clearly she doesn’t think they will be going to Walker University to get a degree in brain eating.
A Defensible Position
I think the saddest thing is that the island could have a made a good base. I know that Fear the Walking Dead wants to keep the survivors moving to avoid being too similar to The Walking Dead. That’s fine. There was a lot of potential in that island. It just needed more fortification. Of course, the dead bodies washing up on shore would eventually make it uninhabitable if you can’t dispose of them.
Then again, maybe walkers make good fertilizer. Did Rick already cover this at the Prison? I can’t remember.
Like I said last week, I don’t watch The Talking Dead, but I usually catch the opening. Last night Chris Hardwick was saying how this episode proves living on an island isn’t safer. Once again, this felt like the writers trying to insult the fans and our theories, which I think is in really poor taste. Do they want us to stop watching? Because I’m sure they will be laughing really hard if the show is canceled due to poor ratings. This episode proves nothing other than why you should keep your dangerous medicines in childproof containers on a high self instead of on a dresser in a coconut shell candy dish (or whatever the heck that was.)
Bring out Your Dead
I wonder how long Travis will need before he learns that walkers are for head stomping? I think it would be hard to realize that “chores” now include pick-axing a former human in the brain. Travis needs some schooling and I have a feeling it’s not going to pretty when it happens. Until then, good for Chris in helping their hosts with the daily walker cleanup. Even if it is out of his anger and grief about his mom, it once more shows that the teens are adapting faster than the adults.
Nick is turning out to be a favorite character. He has problems, true, but he’s also pretty smart. Maybe that’s why he has problems. Besides, complex characters are far more interesting.
Despite his drug issues he does have a compassionate heart. Hopefully he grows during the series. Being a recovered addict who has helpful pharmaceutical insights gives him an important role to the survivors. I bet Madison never saw that coming. Also, I appreciated that everyone just quietly accepted that he was snooping without accusations. They know what he was looking for, no need to make a scene.
This episode was nice in that it had a beginning, middle, and an end. It left us with questions, but in a good way. Did the older brother finish what his father intended? Or does he try to live it out with his brother in a house full of ghosts and memories? Will they be another Morgan in that the family will come across them again?
The characters were well defined despite the short time we spent with them. Watching the plan to rescue Willa and Henry fall apart was heart wrenching. In The Walking Dead we come across families who made similar plans as George, ensuring their children never lived the horror of the zombie apocalypse. In this episode we got to meet one of those families, and it made for the best episode yet of Fear the Walking Dead.
Strand has been shady from the start but now it seems we’re getting closer to learning the truth. Is he a pirate? Gun smuggler? Or worse?
I’m glad Salazar is along for the ride. Until the rest of the crew gets up to survivor speed his dark past is going to be useful.
I would like to see more from Ofelia. She played a major role in getting the survivors out of the quarantine and I hope she is equally important this season.
Perhaps next week we will get to find out what happened to flight 462.
Thank you for reading and if you have any thoughts please feel free to leave a comment.