OUROBOROS – 6.5/10.
The Walking Dead has evolved into a huge franchise made up of comics, TV shows, web series, computer games, board games and novels. At the core of every single piece of that franchise sits one underlying theme; just how far would you be willing to go to survive? When looking back at the early seasons of TWD it is interesting to note just how quickly Shane adapted to the new world. Sure he went a little alpha male crazy, but by season 5 Rick was behaving in almost the exact same way. Nice guys finish last in the zombie apocalypse as demonstrated by Dale, Tyrese, Bob and a slew of other pleasant but dead characters. The characters in FTWD are only a few days into the apocalypse, but some of them are starting to adapt a lot quicker than others.
This week’s episode tied into the web series that ran in between seasons 1 & 2 of FTWD, Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462. Comprised of 16 short webisodes, the story followed the outbreak of the zombie virus on a commercial airliner and ended with the plane going down. The story picks up with the main character, Alex fighting her way on to a life raft in the middle of the ocean. She brings her wounded companion, Jake with her. One of the other survivors tries to kill Jake before he can turn, but it ends up being Alex who has the stronger will to survive. She kills the other survivor to protect Jake, but it appears to be merely a temporary respite as the final passenger implores her to put her friend out of his misery.
Back on the Abigail tensions are running higher than ever, cracks are starting to appear in Travis and Madison’s relationship and it couldn’t be happening at a worse time. The Salazars are also having trouble as Ofelia’s gunshot wound appears to have become infected and without any medicine to treat it that is essentially a death sentence. Daniel understands the rules of the new world all too well so he convinces his daughter to keep the infection a secret from the rest of the group, especially Strand. They soon run into yet more troubles when the Abigail’s engine gives out. Travis dives under the boat and discovers that one of Alex’ zombified companions from the life raft has become entangled in the filtration system.
The group spots the wreckage of Flight 462 on the nearby beach and while Travis fixes the engine, Daniel leads Nick, Chris and Alicia onto the beach to search for supplies. Before he leaves, Daniel tells Madison about Strand’s plans to head down to Mexico. Madison immediately confronts him about this and Strand claims that he has a safe place there where they can take shelter. Despite Strand’s general untrustworthy vibe, Madison really doesn’t have any option other to go along with him just as Travis has no real option other than to go along with her. Back on the beach Daniel searches for medicine and the ever savvy Nick soon cottons on to his real intentions. However, Daniel is so caught up in his own troubles that he doesn’t notice Chris wandering off.
Chris stumbles upon what’s left of Flight 462, he finds a few zombies trapped inside but is surprised to also discover a survivor. He frees the man from his seat revealing his spine to be very much broken, the man begs for Chris to end his suffering which he does. Despite his anger at Travis for shooting his mother, Chris is starting to realise that this is how the world works now. Just like Carl on TWD, killing is rapidly become a part of this young man’s life but that isn’t to say that he isn’t heavily affected by taking his first human life. Back on the beach Nick stumbles across a walker trapped in a sandpit being slowly devoured by some unconvincing CGI crabs. Naturally Nick ends up falling in to the pit and having to fight for his life as more zombies drop on top of him.
Elsewhere, Daniel searches frantically for Chris but instead he finds Alex who is fleeing from the undead passengers of Flight 462, apparently all of them. Alicia and Chris join them on the beach and together they attempt to fight off the horde with surprising ninja like skills. It took Team Grimes a while to get that good at killing zombies; these guys seem to have mastered it in days. During the fracas Nick emerges from the undead masses covered in zombie guts. This of course makes him temporarily invisible to the walkers, a trick that the ever wily Nick will no doubt use to his advantage at a later date. With the group now complete they fight their way to the speedboat, pausing to pick up Jake and the life raft before returning to the now fully repaired Abigail.
Of course Strand has no intention of letting Alex and the heavily wounded Jake on to the boat. After protests from the rest of the group Strand compromises and agrees to tow the life raft behind the boat. But he soon seems to think better of this and cuts the line while Madison watches on in disgust, leaving Alex and Jake to their destiny on the open sea. I have often been harsh on FTWD, some may even say a bit too harsh, but that is only because it carries TWD brand and I have expected more of it. This episode delivered in spades and may well have been the best offering from the show to date. While Strand’s actions may seem reprehensible they also make perfect sense to those of us who understand the rules of this world.
The episode was also filled with people making frustratingly bad decisions, but the main show is just as guilty of this. In fact the horror genre in general is almost entirely fuelled by people making horrible decisions. If everyone made rational and intelligent choices nothing of consequence would ever happen so maybe I should stop whinging about this… although I am not going to. Madison continues to demonstrate Lori-like tendencies and it will be interesting to see how she reacts to Strand’s actions although lest we forget, it’s his goddamned boat. It feels like FTWD is starting to find its stride but there is still a risk of it falling into a repetitious cycle; TWD is at its weakest when it does this and the spin-off has yet to earn the good will to be forgiven for the same crime.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Like Strand, Daniel has a keen sense of self-preservation. He was actually willing to abandon Nick on the beach, is this something that will be brought up at a later date?
- Flight 462 worked very well as a web series and it was great to see Alex again. I doubt we will see them again in FTWD but another web series seems likely.
- Still no sign of Alicia’s friend ‘Jack’, but it is just too large of a thread to be left hanging. We can expect to meet him before the group arrives in Baja.
- Nick may have found medicine for Ofelia but has the infection spread too far? Ofelia does take a turn for the worse then Strand and Daniel are likely to butt heads with fatal consequences for the group.