This post contains spoilers from Fear the Walking Dead on May 1, 2016. You’ve been warned.
This is not a recap of the episode, but a discussion of the successes and failures in storytelling from popular media. Hopefully we can all learn and grow together as writers.
Fear the Walking Dead has steadily been turning itself around, or so it seems, replacing inaction with action. Once again, last night’s episode upped the game by putting the cast in motion rather than forcing them to stand still. Again, we are faced with the best episode of the series so far. I hope to say this every week for the next three weeks.
Today I want to focus on some of the character arcs and how the choices characters make can drive a plot. Last night’s episode was very good mostly because characters behaved as their previous characterization dictates. That’s a key element in believable storytelling. This episode had some great moments which could be character altering for several survivors. Last week Chris faced a similar experience with the man begging to be killed on the plane. This week we bring danger and trauma to everyone on board the Abigail.
We finally learn about Strand, who truly is a shady guy and always has been. I’m happy to say Strand’s past was revealed in flashbacks and not just him telling the story. (Show not tell!) We learn he used to buy junk debts, he’s a con artist, and a thief. We also see him get caught up with the true owner of the Abigail, named Thomas Abigail, and they fall in love. It’s the classic tale of wealthy man meets shady guy in a bar and makes him his henchman. Strand is racing to Mexico not only for a safety, but to be with his man, who also is in charge. That information puts a lot into perspective.
Of course, Strand is all about “survival of the me” when it comes right down to it. Jumping ship when the pirates show up was fitting, proving his bark is worse than his bite. He’s a rogue, not a fighter. The real reason the rest of our survivors are alive is because Strand really isn’t a killer, he’s a henchman; a scout.
Madison makes a big character move when she attacks one of the pirates. I’m still unsure that she has what it takes to survive long-term, but that moment is a big turning point. I only think she will survive because I believe the point of Fear the Walking Dead is to have a woman as the focal character where The Walking Dead has Rick.
Madison, however; isn’t a leader. Travis isn’t a leader, either. They’re “parents.” They try to parent the cast the way they parent their kids.I would like to see Madison make more changes in the direction of being a good leader. She certainly doesn’t add up to Michonne, Carol, Maggie, or Sasha at this point – all of which could be leaders. Carol made big changes. Can Madison do the same?
This episode again showed why the teens drive the story. Alicia’s error with speaking to the pirates finally comes into play. Yes, it was a stupid mistake but now we have true conflict. Alicia continues to make her mistakes, trusting the younger pirate, and even giving him a hug. Come on, Alisha, your boyfriend may be dead but don’t’ go jumping at the first pretty face you see. Actually, do jump because otherwise there won’t be a story.
Their conversation is important. A new name is thrown into the game; Conner. From the young pirate (I think he is Jack?) we learn that Conner is in charge, but he listens to Jack’s council. Everyone is waiting for Conner to decide what happens, and maybe Alisha and her family will be allowed to join Conner’s group. Why does this seem familiar? Oh, right, it sounds a lot like Negan and his Saviors. This group feels like a mirror of that group, only younger and in their raw beginnings.
Unlike Negan, we get to meet Conner this episode.
In order to play the hero, Travis reveals his skills as a mechanic, which he hopes will save his family. Good ol’ Travis, finally doing something stupid to help the story along. In the end, Conner takes Alisha and Travis hostage. Excellent. Now we have a rescue missions to either solidify them as a team or tear them apart.
Lastly, I want to talk about Nick on his secret mission to the shore. First off, how much time does he spend in his room that no one noticed he was missing? Were they all just pretending they didn’t know where he was? I couldn’t tell. Also, where is this non-firebombed town? Perhaps we should be scrounging for supplies?
Despite these questions, last week I said that Nick is becoming my favorite character, and that continues as he progresses from drugged out teen to zombie apocalypse survivor. Maybe it’s because of his past that he isn’t as afraid of the walkers as everyone else. Having survived the withdrawal of his addiction might put things in a different perspective. Plus, he is still an addict, just because he’s not currently using doesn’t mean he’s magically cured. The drive of teenage immortality and whatever drove him to drugs in the first place could be in play.
Nick isn’t Carol or Daryl at this point, but I would say he has a lot of characteristics similar to Glenn. He’s more reckless than Glenn, but he has the same confidence to be able to go into an infested area. He’s also smart like Glenn in being observant to zombie behavior. Glenn was able to rescue Rick in the beginning not because he wasn’t afraid, but because he has observed the walkers and understands how they respond to the world. Nick is quickly gaining this same type of information.
Nick also has the same attitude toward the walkers in this early stage that we often see in the current cast of The Walking Dead. He has the nonchalance to their presence in the world., accepting when they appear without being terrified. There will be walkers and we can get past them. He is still learning but I would like to continue to see him grow in this direction.
Nick picks up Thomas Abigail’s henchman Luis, and they save the day, as much as it can be saved. The real question is if Luis is truly a savior or if he will only bring more conflict in the days to come.
Will Strand finally decide the other survivors are worth saving, now that they’ve saved him?
Will Alicia continue to follow her teenage hormones and get everyone into more trouble?
Will a zombie baby chew it’s way out of the pirate mom’s tummy?
Hopefully we find out with only three episodes remaining of the season!