Even by this show’s increasingly appalling standards, one of the main (allegedly sympathetic) characters in ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ behaves like an astounding dumbass this week. We’re so close to the end of the season that I don’t feel I can stop now, but it’s getting to be really difficult to justify why I keep watching.
My wife has had enough. She gave up and didn’t even ask me to fill her in on what happened in this episode. I envy her resolve.
Make Like a Tree and Leave
The episode opens with characters we’ve never seen before. (At least, they don’t look familiar. If we met them, they were totally unmemorable to me.) Early one morning, a man named Francisco, his wife and their young daughter sneak out of the colony, fearing that things there are falling apart. What this is based on, I’m not sure. They don’t get too far before they’re spotted and captured – not by anyone from the colony, but by gangster Marco, who recognizes Francisco and is eager for his latest delivery of oxycontin. Francisco doesn’t have it, but Marco doesn’t believe his story that they’ve left the colony, so he kidnaps the three to question and potentially ransom them.
When colony leader Alejandro gets word that Francisco and family are missing, he grows very paranoid that he’s losing control of the place. He orders an immediate lockdown of the colony. Nobody’s allowed to leave. This worries Nick (who’s suddenly fluent in Spanish after a couple days of studying). He protests that they need to make their scheduled oxy delivery to Marco or the gangsters will come looking for them. Alejandro isn’t swayed. He’s confident that Marco will never find the colony.
As the episode progresses, Alejandro seems increasingly off his game. Luciana makes excuses for him, but Nick starts losing faith in their leader. He makes secret plans to sneak out of the colony that night and deliver the oxy himself. Those plans are interrupted when he stands on a hill and looks out over the fence, where he spots someone with binoculars staring back at him. Yup, it’s Marco. That’s probably not good.
We finally have confirmation that Ofelia stole Strand’s truck and abandoned her friends at the hotel. What a bitch. She drives to another, smaller hotel, clears out a single zombie, and has a flashback to her American boyfriend proposing to her pre-apocalypse, and asking her to leave her parents behind and move to New Mexico with him. Later she has another flashback about talking with her mother. None of this is interesting. The last we see of Ofelia, she drives off in the direction of the U.S. border, presumably to try to find her fiancé.
We’ll Leave the Light On
Back at the hotel, things are looking pretty good. Maddie, Strand, Alicia and the former wedding guests work together to fortify the place, plant a garden, get a generator running, and fish for food. Alicia has so much down-time she takes surfing lessons from hunky Hector.
Things go sour when grief-stricken mother Ilene (Brenda Strong) stabs Strand in the gut for killing her zombie daughter. Fortunately, she didn’t hit any major organs, and one of the guests named Andreas conveniently happens to have been a med student. He must not have been a very good med student, though. He complains that he doesn’t have any sutures, and apparently isn’t able improvise anything to sew Strand up. As a result, Strand loses a lot of blood. In addition to the sutures, Andreas says that he also needs antibiotics and a drug that will help Strand’s body increase its natural blood production.
The local pharmacies have been picked clean, but Elena has an idea. She, Maddie and Oscar hop in one of the hotel’s vans and make a trip to see Marco the gangster. Elena knows about Marco because her other nephew, Antonio (Hector’s brother), fled the hotel after the apocalypse and joined the gang. While getting the drugs and supplies they need, Elena hopes that she can also convince Antonio to come back. Maddie is upset by this, because she thinks it will distract from their important mission. Maddie, it will turn out, is a terrible hypocrite and a bloody moron.
Arriving at the gang compound, Maddie and Elena offer to trade some fish and ice for the medical supplies. In the process of this, Maddie overhears Marco questioning the captured Francisco about the location of the colony and about the gringo who was supposed to deliver their drugs. Maddie immediately jumps to the conclusion that they’re talking about her son Nick, based on nothing. She freaks out and causes a big scene, demanding to know where her son is. Elena has to pull her out of there.
Although they get the sutures and drugs back to the hotel, Maddie is still out of her mind. As the sun sets, she powers up the generator and turns on all the hotel’s lights, hoping they’ll be a signal for Nick (who, the last she saw him, didn’t want anything to do with her). Alicia has to smack some sense into her, pointing out that the light will also draw any zombies and bad people in the area directly to them. They have a big fight about why Maddie doesn’t love Alicia as much as she loves Nick.
The lights in the hotel eventually go out, but not before being seen by a man in the distance. The episode ends with the reveal that it’s Travis. Dammit, I guess this means that we have to see more of him and Chris next week.
In Season 1, strong-willed and fiercely-protective momma Maddie was one of the key characters in the show for audiences to latch onto. In Season 2, she’s a blithering idiot who needs to die, and quickly. I thought she couldn’t possibly get any dumber than her drunken escapades luring zombies into the hotel, but this really takes the cake. Her behavior is, frankly, inexcusable and unforgivable. This is just flat-out terrible writing for the sake of manufacturing conflict and drama, and a transparent excuse to reunite Travis with his family before the end of the season.
Any lingering sympathy I may have had for these characters or good will for the show is evaporating quickly.