With the first midseason finale for ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ under our belt, instead of breaking down the episode scene by scene, I think it’s important to take a look at the characters, and where this finale left them.
The show’s seventh episode of the season, ‘Shiva’, not only brought a quick and fiery end to the Abigail’s beautiful Mexican compound, but also split the group causing them to go in different directions. All of the characters, sans Alicia and Ofelia, seemed to have finally come to a breaking point, leading them all to make a decision that will severely affect them going forward.
He made the decision to go back on his promise to live a second life (you know, as a zombie in the wine cellar) with his partner Thomas. This decision ultimately led to his expulsion from the compound in the dark of night with little to no supplies. Luckily for Strand, a larger catastrophe loomed near which he was able to capitalize on. (Shocker, I know).
After Strand’s confrontation with Cecilia, and Nick’s adventure to get infected Louis back to his mother, Madison makes a choice that she feels she needs to in order to protect her children. She sees how attached Nick is becoming to Cecilia and I think she really panicked. Watching Nick respond to someone else besides her is not only scary, but heartbreaking for Madison. She’s enabled his drug use for so long, and had gotten so used to him in his disheveled state, that Nick being strong and becoming an independent man is not something I think she’s ready for. Especially when this other woman is continuing to empower Nick instead of put him in a bubble of mistrust.
Madison decides to go talk to Cecilia in the guise of understanding her outlook on the infected. When Cecilia takes her to the wine cellar to see them, she asks Madison, ‘What wouldn’t you do for your child?’ Madison coolly responds, ‘Nothing’ and locks Cecilia in the cellar with her son and the rest of the infected.
Really, her choice to trust Madison is what did her in. Though I can’t imagine that her Hershel-like policy on the infected would have stayed secure much longer. Whether you believe they are infected, reborn, or horrific monsters, they couldn’t care less. The people that are locked in the cellar only care if you have fresh meat on your bones. Even though her eyes slowly welled with tears, Cecilia didn’t seem scared or bothered by the fact that she was about to become like those around her. I think Cecilia was upset because she let Madison, a stranger and intruder in her eyes, get the best of her. Strong, fierce (and crazy) women don’t tend to take to being tricked very well.
While Victor was fervently digging a grave for Thomas, Daniel pleaded with him not to bury the dead in ‘that place’. Daniel, who is suffering from a breakdown of his own thanks to visions of his dead wife, is getting more and more paranoid about his surroundings. Not completely unfounded mind you, but after a disturbing dream about Ofelia, Daniel begins to craft a weapon to protect them.
However, it is the decision to use that weapon that ultimately lands him into the distillery room tied to a chair. As Daniel continues to hear and see his dead wife, Cecelia tries to persuade him to deal with his own ghosts, telling him he needs to make peace with them. When he sees his chance to get free, he takes it, and seeks out the place where he feels he can make good with his ghosts… the wine cellar.
Daniel enters with some gasoline and a lighter. When the bunch of infected look up to see him, he only sees the ghosts of his own past, with his wife right in the middle. As Daniel drops the lighter and watches the compound go up in flames, he seems at peace with his decision, but still far gone enough to not realize exactly what that meant for his own safety, and that of Ofelia.
Travis & Chris Manwa
Oh, Travis… whatever am I going to do with you? Travis, at his core, is a good man and we all know how good men fare in the world of The Walking Dead. Never before has a character been so incredibly polarizing for me, stuck somewhere between ‘too good for this world’ and ‘he needs to die for making poor decisions’.
Travis learns that Chris was spotted in over Madison and Alicia with a knife and has taken off. Without stopping to put on shoes (a VERY bad decision on Travis’s part), he takes off running through the vineyard and hills of Mexico looking for Chris. When he finally does find his son, Travis is taken aback at how far gone Chris really is. It is then that Travis makes his own life-changing decision – he needs to take care of Chris, regardless of what that means for himself.
So, when Nick (again covered in blood, but more on that in a second) finds Travis and Chris, Travis tells Nick to lie and say he never found them. Travis ultimately decides to leave his new family behind, and set off with Chris on his own.
Nick is thriving in this new world. Putting aside Daryl & Carol from the mothership show, never before has a character been more suited for the impending zombie apocalypse, than Nick Clark. His addiction and lifestyle pre-infection prepared him more for this new world than anything else could have. Now that he is physically free from the addiction of Heroin, his mind can adapt to the surroundings and help turn him into a survivor.
Four separate times, Nick has left the safety of his family and headed out into the unknown, alone. Once on the beach while scavenging, once to get Louis while he was alive, once to get Louis after he had turned, and the last to retrieve Travis and Chris. In each of those instances, he looked more at peace than any other time so far. Why? I think it’s because he finally feels useful. He has no fear of the infected, no fear of death, and seems perfectly able to understand Cecilia’s logic and point of view when it comes to the monsters living among them.
However, at the end of the episode, when he returns without Travis and seems what has become of the compound, he comes to a realization. Distraught over his family’s decision to take out the compound and leave, he turns his back on them, saying:
Nick: “She was right about us.”
Nick: “She knew what we are.”
Madison: “What are you talking about?”
Nick: “We destroy everything.”
Then, he turns and walks away from her and into a herd of incoming infected as Strand scoops her up and puts her in the truck. Strand, Madison, Alicia and Ofelia drive off, leaving Nick to wander amongst the dead and Daniel missing among the ruins of the compound.
Personally, I think this was the best episode of the series so far. I think what we are watching are the building blocks to the foundation of who they will become as the series goes on. We will begin to see more and more glimpses of the survivors and who will emerge from the ashes of this world that has moved on. Question is, with the group now very splintered, how many of them will live long enough to become this new version of themselves?
P.S. I’m not the only one who saw the parallels of this episode with the season 2 finale of The Walking Dead, and the end of Hershel’s farm, right??
‘Fear the Walking Dead’ returns to AMC on Sunday, August 28th at 9/8C with the second half of season 2.