Catching Up With Fear The Walking Dead

AMC

I have three episodes of Fear The Walking Dead to summarize. Let’s get to it!

TEOTWAWKI – [s3ep3]

“If you’re going to plan for the future, plan for a better one.”
– Jeremiah Otto

The thing is: That’s rather hard to do (let alone accomplish) when you have a bevy of conflicting ideas on how that future should be composed. And that’s exactly the problem facing this new faction of people Madison and her family find themselves with.

On the surface it seems the community is gelling under Otto’s leadership. But there’s a wrench that got thrown in the machine with the shooting down of that helicopter – not to mention on a personal level with Travis’ demise – mucking up the future. First, the past has to be answered for in order for everyone to move forward for the betterment of all.

That wrench … it’s always the rub, isn’t it?

Add to that the fact no one in Madison’s group knows their place.

Madison is set on figuring out where she belongs – if it’s in Otto’s group she’ll find that out soon enough. Her way of making that determination is diving in head first and being proactive in the scheme of things, the direct approach. Thus, volunteering as one of the team on the mission to discover what happened with the chopper. (Note: Troy certainly isn’t making things easy for her while she’s in this state of flux. He has a definite love (lust?)/hate relationship with her and always had since he laid eyes on her at the military base in episode one.)

Nick (as always full of internal conflict, ramped up even more with his concern over Luciana) is just as confused and wary as Madison. To the point he’s making rash and dangerous decisions. You only have to witness his “discussion” with Troy at the end of the episode to get a quick understanding (such that it was) of his relationship with the younger Otto boy. Still, if he’d only cool his jets a bit he could reign in some of that impulsiveness. But that’s never been Nick – drug-induced high, sober and contemplative … or somewhere in between.

And Alicia, well … getting involved with the local druggies who get off on champing, disembodied walker heads as well as weed? Never a good idea. (Another Note: The cover of Bowie’s “Heroes” was an interesting take, wasn’t it?) Talk about falling in with the wrong crowd. All she needs do is chat with her brother to understand checking out isn’t a viable option. But, as I’m often wont to state: “You don’t learn from your successes, you learn from your mistakes.” Painful as that may be, it’s one of the best ways to learn. There’s no substitute for first-hand experience.

So … let’s see where all those conflicts lead …

Meanwhile, Strand is back to his asshole-ish mannerisms. And no one knows him and those mannerisms better than the old acquaintance he seeks out and eventually finds, Dante Esquivel, an old business partner. And man, does Esquivel ever know him. “You cannot help your need to take … it is in your nature. You exploit everything that you touch” he reminds Strand. Boom. Nail on the head. Wise to his past ways, Esquivel incarcerates Strand to do his bidding, to make restitution for what has come before.

And (Spoiler!) that’s when the surprise arrives: Daniel Salazar lives!

AMC

100 – [s3ep4]

“100” is one of my favorite types of episodes.

Not only do we get back story and discovery on a character in this chapter but we’re handed a ton of surprises in the mix, too.

Episode synopsis in a nutshell: Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades) has survived the fire he set at the winery last season. But he’s injured, delirious, wandering and practically one of the walking dead himself. After being nursed back to health with the help of Efrain, a local opportunist, Daniel wanders off healthy once more to eventually be introduced to Dante Esquivel, who we met the previous week, and his water processing plant. In rather short order Esquivel sees Daniel’s potential via his elite military past and brings him into the fold. Turns out that’s not the best decision as Daniel quickly turns on him and kills him which gives him the way and means to hunt for his daughter Ofelia.

The episode – told almost exclusively with subtitles translated from Spanish – is a treat. We see more of Daniel than we’ve ever seen before. His weakness, his cunning, his supplication. It’s interesting (if you haven’t noticed before) to discover how the man thinks several steps ahead and uses opportunity to his advantage, sometimes in the blink of an eye. It’s heart-wrenching to see him go through the efforts of fighting his demons. And you have to give him his due on his astute craftiness in difficult situations.

Most of all, however, you were left wondering which of his chameleonic sides would be left standing at the end of the episode. The man has a knack for switching gears midway through any action he finds himself involved with. The simple barber in him is a most clever ruse, a method of escapism he’s decided to cloak himself with post-military career as a way to absolve himself from his past atrocities.

And that’s the real kicker for me about “100”. On the one hand he was so gentle and understanding while in the care of Efrain, to the point his fragility exposed his softer side, to not only empathize but open himself up to his own faults and failures. In so doing he was vulnerable enough to confess his sins to a total stranger. On the other hand, in order to work the system to his benefit he was willing and able to turn on Efrain, expose him as the thief stealing Dante Esquivel’s water and, with few qualms, able to beat the stuffing out of him at Esquivel’s orders.

Damn. That C.I.A. training is cold and callous. Sadly, it comes in mighty handy in this new world.

Do you see the complexity of this dude Salazar? This loving father, this sinful killer, this accommodating barber, this tortured soul? Do you see why I like this episode so much?

Lastly, I don’t think there was any other way “100” could have been done except in Spanish. It set the mood and evoked more out of the story than if it had been done in English. I know there are those out there that can’t stand “doing” subtitles. But the decision to do so was an excellent one.

Oh … and the title of the episode? Reference to the 100 people he’s killed in his lifetime, several of which met their ends in this chapter.

AMC

Burning In Water, Drowning In Flame – [s3ep5]

“Burning In Water, Drowning In Flame” was a mish-mosh of an episode touching on the relationships of pairs of characters.

Nick and Jeremiah Otto discuss life and its immediate concerns. Daniel and Victor Strand butt heads. Alicia, not only having “found a place” in the community, gets handed a little slice of heaven in the now horrible world. And Madison is still struggling (physically as well as mentally) with Troy, Jeremiah’s younger, off-kilter son.

With the tragic deaths of two of the community’s beloved founders, Nick and Jeremiah have several conversations about his status on the ranch, that of his gal pal Luciana and where they fit. Nick is in one of his contemplative and nurturing moods, with attempts to not only finally make do with where he’s currently at but take care of his own as well. Jeremiah is quick to inform him however “when we’re in crisis we regress to our own. Way it’s always been.” Clear reference to his understanding about Luciana and her desire not to stay. (You’ve no doubt noticed Nick has two sides to him – the impulsive, carefree and sometimes stupid side and the protective side. Both rarely jibe with each other.)

In the end, Jeremiah’s wizened offering comes to bear: Luciana takes off, deciding to search out her own rather than make whatever new life with Nick that might be in the cards.

Victor – still negotiating, still trying to work the system to his ultimate advantage – takes off from the water plant to go find Ofelia. Daniel is wise to him, however. He’s pretty certain Victor hasn’t the faintest idea where his daughter has taken off to. In grand fashion, he leaves Victor in a lurch to fend for himself, maybe learn a little lesson while doing so. (I thought it just desserts how Daniel rang that hotel bell just as Strand did when all of them first arrived last season.) Victor is left eating Daniel’s dust, the latter taking off in his wheels, leaving him with a horde of walkers to attend to.

Since the beginning of the season, the relationship between Troy Otto and Madison has been nothing but a contentious one. He’s pined for her, offered he shelter, food, comfort, more. All the while she’s spurned all his advances, rebuffed each of his offerings. She’s seen through him like an open book from day one.

And yet she continues to shadow him, continues to push his buttons. I guess it’s a “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” kind of give and take.

And he’s just as bad. But then he’s a bag of chips short of a sack lunch … so …

Alicia? She and Jake Otto got horizontal. It’s been a short, interesting stretch for Alicia thus far in the season. Usually cautious (except for when she was fooling with the radio aboard Victor’s ship way back when) she’s thrown that caution to the wind: Drugs. Social gatherings with strangers. Unprotected sex. (You kind of have to figure beside food and water and creature comforts, condoms are a high list item gone scarce … right?) Hey, to each their own I guess.

The culmination of the chapter was finding out this Walker character Troy, Madison and company happened upon was the dude who took out the chopper Jake, Alicia and Travis were on several nights previous. And he’s not a very nice guy. Not only does he have a fetish for footwear, he’s threatened the Otto stead. He believes he had dibs on the property prior to Jeremiah planting his clan there. Drama!

Stay tuned …

NOTES

 

  • Did Walker scalp the back of that dude’s head who was sing-songing that nursery rhyme, crow picking at his brains?!?
  • What was that jump into the water Alicia committed at the end of the episode? Was that some kind of euphoric cleansing?
  • The Bukowski Tie-In: Were his books meant to be thought of as translation for Alicia’s sudden carefree attitude and actions?

Tell us what you thought of the season premiere of Fear the Walking Dead in the comments below.

 

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