Oh man. Fear the Walking Dead really knocked it out of the park in the mid-season finale for year two. I mean, who else was shocked to see Seth Rolli– wait, that was on WWE Extreme Rules. Um, but what about that great backstory for the single-named her– shoot, that was Game of Thrones. As you can see, there was just a little competition for this mid-season episode, although they did get the benefit of being the lead-in for the highly anticipate Preacher.
That’s not to say that Fear didn’t try and bring the thunder to their story. However, it was a story stuck spinning its wheels with a repeat of the Greene Farm story from the parent show. It was also an episode that showed exactly why role-playing groups have a specific adage; “Don’t split the party”. This party got split everywhere. But hey, that’s clearly just what’s expected to happen when Shiva sits Shiva.
See what we did there, with the episode title? Depending on which system of belief you’re looking at, “Shiva” could either mean “The Auspicious One” (or, more popularly, “The Destroyer”), or a seven-day mourning period. Clearly both definitions were meant to be taken into account, even if the seven days was condensed to closer to seven hours, but there were few characters as auspicious, or destructive, than Daniel. Of course, now it appears that the show is going to have to press forward without one its most interesting characters, which doesn’t fill me with a lot of hope for the second half, but that’s just become expected with regards to every new step taken by the writers for Fear. Before we attempt to look ahead, let’s analyze this week’s list.
Madison actually spent most of the episode really showcasing how ineffective she has become, and not being terribly brainless. Sure, she kept delaying out of a misguided hope that Travis and Nick would return, but that’s faithfulness to her family, completely understandable given what they’ve gotten through together thus far. However, after spending pretty much every day on the Abigail as a thorn in Strand’s side, having her try and offer deep sympathies and speak of friendship rang hollow. But hey, when the fan is about to get covered with feces, there’s no time too awkward to pretend like you were always best buds with someone.
Daniel has been haunted by voices for a little bit now, and his past has caught up to him. The dark path he was put on made him one of the few people in the show that actually had the skills needed to do anything to survive. Now he’s (apparently) sacrificed himself for the survival of everyone else, which seems a moment more driven by the demons of his own mind, and less about actually trying to protect the others, especially since he’s made it clear that the only person he’s indicated he has any reason to care about is Ofelia. So where did Daniel drop his intellect? Again, much like Madison, this revolves around Strand and his grave digging for Thomas. Daniel, who, like Madison, never saw eye-to-eye with Strand, apparently now felt that a moment of intense grief would be the most opportune time to convince the man that they were on the same side from the get-go, and that he should abandon his whole need to bury his love. Even if Strand hadn’t been dedicated to his task, there was no reason that he would want to buy into what Daniel was selling, and Daniel should have realized that from the start.
Celia makes it clear that she believes the walkers are the next evolution of humankind, and that she can only allow those who share her belief to stay at the villa. She’s only barely willing to give Nick’s family a chance because of the clear risk that Nick takes to prove his own dedication to the cause. So why on earth would she walk with Madison down to the cage full of walkers? More specifically, why would she open the cage door, enter ahead of Madison, and not keep track of her surroundings? This is a woman who has apparently used her craft and guile to spread her beliefs, and has actually established a relatively safe haven, so long as nobody gets incredibly stupid. Well, incredibly stupid is bringing someone you don’t trust to your secret walker lair, and letting them lock you in because you didn’t have the awareness to realize that they weren’t right at your side.
Nick is someone who has shown incredible resilience, and his survival skills are really coming to the forefront. Put it this way, if there’s ever an actual zombie apocalypse, I might just find a bunch of heroin addicts, because they can apparently get their acts together super fast, if they just kick the addiction. Anyway, Nick now apparently believes that he is invincible, having proven that he’s figured out how to navigate the walker hordes due to his camouflage. But, for a guy who was there right at the beginning, and the first person of his family to really see the threat of the undead rising up, he bought into Celia’s beliefs far too quickly. Sure, the writers tried to handwave this by saying that, as a former addict, he was simply looking for a strong personality to latch onto, but he had that in Strand, and apparently flipped at his first opportunity. And now, he’s decided to wander alone, leaving everyone behind because his ability to filter through the hordes of the dead has given him the unique perspective of not actually seeing the truth of the situation.
If you think that Nick striking out on his own was stupid, oh boy, you were just scratching the surface, because this week, as he has in many weeks, Travis really takes the cake. From ignoring every single warning about Chris, even shooting down the idea that he could possibly have stood over Alicia and Madison with a knife (because she just has a random vendetta against him for some reason, right?), to deciding to chase after his son through the night, in unfamiliar territory, wearing nothing more than socks on his feet. Even the final moments, during his encounter with Nick, where he talked about how Chris needed his father and how he was going to stick by his son’s side, seemed filled with stupidity. It was made clear in the first season that Travis hadn’t been the most connected father BEFORE the infection spread like wildfire, and at that point Chris still had Liza and didn’t appear to be set on the path towards future serial killer status. About the only thing that Travis got correct in this episode was realizing that Chris wouldn’t be welcome back with the rest of the group.
That wraps up the first half of this season for Fear the Walking Dead. The series has been uneven, and running a variant of the Greene storyline doesn’t really carry it in the best light. It’s also running into situations where the stupidity of the characters should really be carrying bigger consequences than it is, with only Celia (a bit character only in existence for two episodes) suffering the consequences of her own mental lapses. The show won’t return until August, and when we come back we’ll clearly get the storyline of Stand and the ladies, Travis and Chris, and solo Nick, until everyone gets reunited through bizarre and poorly explained circumstances in a bid to bring back viewers for a third season.