Sunday , 7 August 2022

Surf’s Up on Fear the Walking Dead

“We’re still trying to help people, aren’t we?”

Fear the WD - surf zombies

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water – what with the undead everywhere on land – well….. While some fans of The Walking Dead may have thought its companion show, Fear the Walking Dead, may have moved a little too slowly compared to what they were used to, at least until the first season’s last episode, now that the zombie apocalypse is in full swing, that’s certainly no longer the case. Last week’s episode, “Ouroboros,” had some harrowing moments and brought the plight of Flight 462 into play, and we’ll get to that later, but the previous week’s “We All Fall Down,” kicked this Dead offshoot into high gear, exploring ideas the original show hadn’t even covered.

“They aren’t infected….we are.”

Except for a short prelude, when The Walking Dead began, Rick Grimes was thrust right into the post-apocalyptic world of the dead come to life. And other than a brief respite at the CDC, there was little time and little means to learn what was happening around the country, let alone the rest of the world, and why. On Fear, we are seeing the breakdown of civilization as it is occurring, so there are still remnants of information being discovered. When Travis and the others come ashore on an island after seeing a light flash from one of the buildings, they meet up with a park ranger and his family who have managed to survive on their own amidst all the chaos ensuing on the mainland. Here, Travis, and we, the audience, learn that the military has used napalm (what a wonderful invention, mankind) to take out Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, along with the group’s initial destination, San Diego, and that the interior is no better, from California to Arizona, Utah and Colorado, essentially leaving half the country gone. The survivalist ranger, being familiar with how nature works, doesn’t see this as the world out of whack, but rather, just the opposite. As he explains to Travis, “We are the weeds Mother Nature is pulling. The world couldn’t sustain itself. This is its course correction.” “Nature always wins,” Travis replies. In the real world in which we live in now, as polar ice caps melt, temperatures rise, plastic fills our oceans, our air is polluted, our water and food is poisoned, and our plants and wildlife die off, we must wonder if we are reaching such a point ourselves. While the entire world (except for Republicans here in the U.S.) agree this is happening and care enough to try and do something, can we act in time to make a difference? Or is Mother Nature biding her time before acting herself?

“Something is off here.” Alicia: “Everything is off everywhere.”

Fear the WD - fence

While George, the ranger, seems to have everything in perspective and has welcomed Travis and his family into his home, all is not quiet on the island front. Walkers keep washing up on shore, and have to be pick-axed off so they don’t cave in the protective fence (similar to the prison fence on Walking Dead). Here, Travis’ son, Chris, is able to work out some of his demons over his father mercy killing his mom after she became infected, as well as just being useful. George’s son tells Travis that Chris is a natural at killing fence zombies, while Travis remembers his son’s chores used to be made up of mowing the lawn and taking out the trash. Different times. At the house, George’s wife, Melissa, is grilling Madison on her feelings towards children.  Nick, who shows a great affinity for the youngsters, is seen searching the bathroom and other areas for pills or something, as we are led to believe he is having a drug relapse. It’s a great misdirect, as we learn he is searching for clues to something not quite right in this happy home. It turns out his suspicions are correct when he discovers that George is planning on Jonestowning his entire family with poison. It was Melissa who flashed the light and is hoping Travis and Madison can at least save her two youngest children by taking them along with them. Sounds like a plan, but….

“Children are the very definition of dead weight.”

Fear the WD - map

Meanwhile, back on the boat, Ofelia is coming to grips with how things are now, as she explains to her dad, Daniel, “I’m starting to understand this world better….it helps me understand you.” Daniel, who has had to make some hard choices, is doing some investigative work of his own as he doesn’t completely trust Strand. While Strand has given the group safe passage aboard his vessel, and has provided them with food and water, his motivations can’t be counted upon as being purely altruistic. As we soon see, he is in touch with someone in Mexico, which we learn further in the next episode is his intended destination. Does this trip include the others, and if so, what awaits them?

As we could have expected, all doesn’t end well for the family on the island. The youngest daughter, Willa, overdoses on the pills that Nick inadvertently revealed to her, she dies, and in a nod to the Romero classic, Night of the Living Dead, she offs her mom, though with a bite instead of a trowel. While Travis and his family escape with the other child, George elects to remain to meet his fate. It turns out Strand is not a big fan of kids, especially in a zombie apocalypse, but as they hash this out, the ranger’s eldest son, Seth, makes the argument moot, as he takes his little brother back at gunpoint, and kills their now reanimated mother on the pier while the others watch in horror from the boat. Perhaps those two will stand a chance. Perhaps.

“In case of an emergency landing, please assume the bracing position, use the life vest under your seat, and avoid being bitten by those already dead.”

Fear the WD - Alicia on beach

In the next episode, “Ouroboros,” the group is forced once again to debate whether to allow anyone else on board their boat, or as Strand clearly states, ‘his’ boat. The web series, Flight 462, which we also saw air within each episode of The Walking Dead over the past season, has seen a zombie outbreak occur on their plane, which results in it crashing into the ocean. Alex, played by Michelle Ang, had seemed to be aware of more than the other passengers, and was quick to act when things heated up on the plane. Now, as one of a handful of survivors floating on a raft, she already possesses the ability to kill those necessary, whether they’ve turned yet or not. As Daniel chaperones Nick, Alicia and Chris, as they rummage through suitcases and other supplies from the wreckage strewn about the beach, Alex, along with her now one other lone surviving passenger, Jake, meet up with them in time to face a horde of zombies that quickly surround them. It’s up to Nick, who had stumbled into a zombie/crab pit, who saves the day, when, covered in zombie blood (as we’ve seen on TWD), slices his way through the horde unscathed. They all manage to hack their way though the walkers and escape, including Alicia, who racks up her first zombie kills. It was Chris, though, searching through the plane’s fuselage earlier, who committed his first ‘mercy kill’ of someone yet to turn, ending the suffering of a passenger whose spine had seen better days. Now, maybe he can better understand what his father went through in dealing with his mother.

When the group brings Alex and the badly burned Jake aboard the ship, Strand wants no part of them, but ultimately relents and reaches a compromise by letting the two follow behind in their raft tied to the boat. That doesn’t last long as Strand eventually, and suddenly, just cuts them loose. As the group head off towards their now known destination in Mexico, though what’s exactly there is unknown, Alex and Jake are left to fend for themselves with limited supplies. While Jake seemed pretty far gone, have we seen the last of Alex, who has clearly shown some impressive survival skills of her own? We certainly hope not.

Fear the WD - Alex and Jake