Remember the good times? Those hazy, lazy days back in California, where character motivations were a little more rigid, and the things that defined the heroes of our peace weren’t modified simply to fit in the next set piece? Sure, we maybe all were a little wary as to how any of these people would be able to survive after the end of the world, but at least we knew a few simple truths about them. Madison would do anything to keep her kids from harm. Nick would be the superest of SuperJunkies. And Alicia would calmly keep her head down, actually formulate a plan, and survive by being smarter and more competent than the rest of the people around her.
We’re clearly removed from those days. With Nick, it’s actually a nice move, because he’s been able to shift his character from “junkie” to “recovering junkie”, and it actually allows him to showcase how his addictive personality could get others in trouble, just as much as it gets him there. However, Alicia seems to be putting aside caution in all situations, which could easily be written off as “she’s 18”, since the show already did so. As for Madison, she seems to think that she’s still going out of her way to protect her children, but it looks a lot more like she’s willing to endanger them and anyone else around her just to be proven correct. Good thing we’re at the mid-season break, because The Unveiling of these particular Children of Wrath sure leaves a little bit of a mess to clean up.
6. The Writers
There’s only so much the writers can do at this point. But it doesn’t help that they are still trying to balance all of these separate stories, and just can’t seem to actually do so. Daniel’s return in earlier episodes seemed like it would bring some decent elements, but he only appears in the mid-season as an hallucination. Strand is merely a foil for saying goodbye to the Abigail. The boat itself gets one of the most touching send-offs of any character on the series. And the cosmonaut on the other side of the radio immediately became a more interesting story than anything else we’ve seen. Maybe they needed a break, too.
Alicia spends both episodes either not being cautious enough, or being too cautious. She chases after Jake before he gets to Walker and the reservation, but never once thinks about calling out to him to let him know she’s there. She talks with Ofelia about everything that happened since, expecting to be heard, but then doesn’t take a moment to listen to Ofelia’s side of the story without immediately writing it off. Most troubling about that last one is that Alicia literally had the chance to speak with Walker, and see the truth about how the man was trying to protect his people, so deep down, Alicia knows that Ofelia is telling her the truth.
Let’s see. You know you’re going out to face a man who has at least taken down one of the founders of your father’s community. You believe he’s ordered the death of another whole family. But you’ve beaten him in court, so you are clearly the one best destined to talk him down. Except for a couple of things. Thing one, the rule of law has gone by the wayside, so winning in court doesn’t really have the bearing it once did. And thing two, you don’t have the backing of literally anyone else from home. At best, your negotiations are going to lead to you being taken down for not holding up your end of the bargain. At worst, you’re going to end up overplaying whatever small hand you have, which could get you branded a traitor at home. Oh, and Jake? When the sick guy tells you that maybe you also need to take a break, and maybe get a nap, do so. And when you’ve got someone mostly recovered, maybe let them go, so that you’ve got an extra pair of hands and eyes, just in case another attack happens.
Alright, you’ve made it pretty clear that you’re not a good person, but that you believe you should be forgiven because you’ve kept people alive at this ranch. Just as long as they’re white people. The undertone of racism suddenly became much more blatant in Jeremiah’s conversations with Ofelia (remember how he saved her at the end of last season? No? It’s okay, they recapped it quick in her reveal). However, one would think that, for a guy who doesn’t see too many people of color in his community, or probably in his wanderings, that maybe he’s have a better recollection of running across one that he maybe might have upset. Jeremiah literally saved Ofelia from death, so when she returns to his life as a captive, maybe he should have had an inkling of “haven’t I seen you before”? And who’s idea was it to keep Ofelia in the pantry while she was their hostage? At least his racism explains why he’s willing to die, instead of possibly think about sharing with Walker.
Sure, Nick. Sign up for the militia, so you can keep your enemy closer. And then, before being recruited, make a point of trying to rile the guy with all of the guns, to see if you can’t maybe get him to lash out. I get that Nick doesn’t trust Troy in any level of leadership, but there are better (and safer) ways to make your point to the ranch as a whole. It all comes to a (different) head, however, when Nick confronts Jeremiah about the body buried beneath his house, and then has to intercede to keep Madison’s hands clean of the elder Otto’s murder. Good thing that nobody at the ranch would be familiar enough with angle of entry, to determine that Jeremiah maybe was killed by the only people in the room with him (who conveniently are also the newest people at the ranch). But hey, at least Nick removed a bad person from the equation.
We’ve already pointed out that she’s no longer seemingly trying to keep her kids safe. After all, she’s willing to throw the ranch into a full-scale war against Walker’s people, just to prove that she’s made the right choice to hunker down there for safety. She scolds Nick for signing up with the militia, even though she’s covering for Troy every inch of the way. She blames Ofelia for having Stockholm Syndrome with regards to Walker, ignoring that she seems to exhibit plenty of the same with regards to the Ottos. True, she is the one to ultimately avoid conflict with Walker and his people for the moment, but she certainly went out of her way to try to light that spark before Nick’s actions.
That does it for this half of a season. It’s been a ride, but hopefully one that didn’t take place in a helicopter. The show is still shambling along, but it’s going to be a little bit until we see more of it again. Just like the dead themselves.