We’re four episodes in to the second season of Fear the Walking Dead, and it’s getting noticeable how different the learning curve is for our group of West Coast survivors. They seem to have figured out the whole “killing the reanimated dead” thing pretty quickly, even if they have been aided by finding people who are just a little TOO aware of how to prepare for the apocalypse. Heck, even shortly after learning about the camouflage trick, Nick used it again to get through unfamiliar territory. It took Rick and crew SEASONS before they remembered to smear themselves in the offal. Their judgement regarding people is spotty, but that’s too be expected. After all, we’re supposed to look at Strand’s pragmatic approach to survival as being cold and heartless, while we’re clearly meant to side with Madison and Travis, in their desire to help out as many as they can. The problem with that is that this is the world of The Walking Dead, and we’ve been shown through numerous episodes that people simply cannot be trusted.
The fourth episode is also a great time to throw in a pile of back story, which is exactly what this episode does for Strand. We get to learn a little bit more about the man with the boat. Sure, he’s no longer on the boat when we get these snippets of information, but he isn’t gone swimming forever. Maybe this was all meant to showcase part of the reasoning that Strand is the way he is now, taking a man who was shrewd and definitely willing to sacrifice others for his own gain before the apocalypse, and simply expounding on that when the world all went to hell. Maybe it was just a way to fill time in an episode that also featured what has become an all-too-familiar TWD scenario, with people being held captive by others that they trusted too much for their own good. Either way, we’re left with a little more knowledge, but a whole lot of Blood in the Streets.
Maybe Reed is really new at this whole “taking people hostage and threatening them at gunpoint thing”. Maybe he saw something shiny. Maybe he’s not as clever as he thinks he is. Or maybe Madison and Travis have a crazy “trust others” infection going on around them, and he fell under its spell. Either way, when you’ve got a group of people that you’re holding hostage, why on earth would you take your eyes off of the one member of the group who’s no longer bound? Sure, Travis had helped you get the boat restarted, but why wouldn’t you assume that the person with full limb movement would need the most attention? But hey, turns out that maybe not keeping a closer eye on Travis was an okay idea, since all he did was stash the weapons needed to take you down.
At first, in the flashback section, it seemed like Strand leaving an obvious trail for Abigail to find him was foolish. In retrospect, it was actually a pretty shrewd tactic, and one that set the stage for a greater partnership down the road. After all, we have been told that Strand is a good judge of character. So why does he end up here? The sat phone, guys. The sat phone. I get that you’re in danger of drowning, and you’re stuck clinging to a life raft that is more full of holes than most TWD plots, but maybe you shouldn’t be spending that time trying to make a call. Maybe you should be trying to figure out how to get to a safer location. After all, if Nick could swim to shore, you can’t be that terribly far away.
Hey, Madison, there’s going to come a point where you stop randomly trusting new people, right? Or at least you’ll be a little bit cautious? I mean, I get it. This whole thing is still new, and you’ve got a soft spot for anyone who looks to be in distress (compensating for losing Nick to drugs, maybe?), but you really have to figure out soon how to keep your guard up. Yes, the ploy with the pregnant woman was actually pretty smart, but still, not immediately assuming that other people want to play fair is only going to get you and yours dead. You should have at least stood a few steps behind the pregnant woman the entire time, with your eyes focused, until you could ascertain her trustworthiness.
In many ways, everything that happened in this episode is directly Alicia’s fault. After all, if she hadn’t had her little radio flirtation, the pirates would never have learned about the Abigail, or its potential location. Now, Alicia may be trying to make amends, and put right what once went wrong (maybe this is all a long convoluted Quantum Leap episode), but her throwing her lot in with Jack seems pretty suspect. Not suspect in a “I don’t trust her motivations” kind of way, since it’s clear that she’s trying to figure out a way to save her family. No, it seems suspect in a “I don’t know if you trying anything with Jack is going to do anything more than get you in over your head” kind of way. But at least he’s pretty.
1. Everyone Aboard the Abigail
Even with everything being traceable to Alicia, and her radio conversation, there is one simple way that the incidents of this entire episode could have been avoided. Given that everyone on the boat knows that they’re being pursued, unless they don’t even trust Strand’s word for that, they had one simple thing that they could, and should, have been doing. That simple thing? Make sure someone’s keeping watch. It’s clear at the beginning of the episode that neither Chris or Ofelia is actually on any sort of guard duty, as their conversation kicks off because neither can sleep. So where is the guard? And why is Chris the only one who seems to be figuring out Strand’s philosophy, at least enough to ask if he should shoot them?
That wraps up another week of Fear the Walking Dead fun. We’ll see you next week, as we inch closer to the culmination of this whole “Lonely Island” storyline.