‘Fear the Walking Dead’ 2.03 Recap: “This Is the Worst It’s Gonna Be”

With ‘Game of Thrones’ back to its regular timeslot on Sunday nights, ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ is no longer a Day 1 viewing priority for me. I suspect that the two shows have a lot of viewer overlap and that a significant portion of the audience will feel the same way. As for the zombie series, this week’s episode is both the season’s most exciting so far and also its most frustrating.

Did anyone actually watch those ‘Flight 462’ minisodes that aired during commercial breaks on ‘Walking Dead’ Prime last season? I sure didn’t. I paid no attention to them at all and had no idea they’d link up with this spinoff. I was therefore left quite a bit confused when the beginning of episode ‘Ouroboros’ opened by focusing on characters I’d never seen before wrapping up a storyline I knew nothing about. Fortunately, the gist of it is fairly simple to catch: A zombie outbreak happened on a passenger jet and the plane crashed into the ocean. We pick up from there.

Initially, a bunch of survivors pull themselves out of the water onto an inflatable life raft. When one is found to have a bite mark, another whaps him on the head with an oar and tosses him back in the drink. Quickly enough, the remaining survivors turn on each other until, eventually, they come down to just two – a young woman named Alex and a badly burned boy named Jake whom she feels responsible for and is desperate to save.

Meanwhile aboard the Abigail, Travis and Maddie’s sexy playtime is rudely interrupted when the boat comes to a dead halt because the engines have overheated. Travis, who’s now apparently a boat mechanic, determines that the water intake system is blocked. The only way to fix it is to put on scuba gear (which they conveniently happen to have) and dive under the boat to see what’s clogging it. Strand insists that they need to do this immediately and get the boat moving again ASAP. Against Maddie’s urgings that it’s too dangerous and they should wait until daylight, Travis agrees to make the dive. Of course, when he gets under the boat, he finds a zombie with its arm trapped in the intake port. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the zombie is one of the former raft people.)

Travis returns to the surface and climbs back onboard. He tries to clear out the system the best he can from the inside, but finds it backed up with disgusting sludge. Salazar, still distrustful of everyone, tells Maddie about Strand’s secret destination in Mexico. This appears to be a ploy to play the two of them against one another.

When morning comes, Alicia spots a bunch of luggage washed up on a nearby shore, with no zombies in obvious sight. Since the boat isn’t moving anyway, she wants to go see if they can collect some fresh clothes and hopefully find some medication. (Ofelia is still recovering from her gunshot wound and may have an infection.) Nick and Chris think this is a great idea and want to help. Salazar offers to go as a chaperone.

The group of four take the motorized raft to shore. Once there, despite Salazar’s insistence that they move quickly to grab what they need and get back to the boat, the three kids all dawdle around and do a really lackadaisical job of searching the luggage. Chris, being a total idiot, wanders off alone out of everyone’s sight. Even Salazar doesn’t pay much attention to what anyone else is doing.

Back at the Abigail, Travis does another dive to remove the zombie from the intake while Maddie looks down into the water and frets about his safety. She gets frightened when she sees a lot of commotion in the water and a big outpouring of blood, but soon the zombie corpse bobs to the surface with a knife in its face, and Travis comes up safely after it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the boat is fixed yet. He still needs to flush out the rest of the system.

Dumbass Chris finds the fuselage of the crashed plane and, for no particular reason, thinks it’s a great idea to go inside and check it out. He finds a zombie trapped in a seat, and relishes the chance to bash its skull in with a metal bar. I guess he wanted to prove how tough he is by getting a confirmed zombie kill. Suddenly, another body stirs awake. This one’s still alive. It’s a survivor, and he begs for help.

With the information that Salazar told her, Maddie confronts Strand about Mexico. He tells her that he has a fortified safe house in Baja, and that’s where he plans to ride out the apocalypse. He didn’t tell anyone about it because he still doesn’t know if he can trust them. (He neglects to mention the guy he’s been talking to on a satellite phone.) Maddie thinks he’s still hiding something.

Nick finds and puts on the shirt from an airline captain’s uniform. (I hope this was from the luggage, not torn off the captain’s body.) He thinks it’s swell. He also finds a medical bag stuffed with drugs. Salazar finally notices that Chris is missing and goes looking for him.

Chris attempts to move the plane survivor, but the man is in terrible shape. A chunk of his spine juts out through his back. The man begs for Chris to kill him and put him out of his misery. Chris can’t bring himself to do it at first, but finally smashes the man’s head with the metal bar. It takes several blows to finish him off. Chris feels sick.

Salazar sees what he believes is Chris running towards him over a sand dune, but it’s not Chris. It’s Alex, the girl from the beginning of the episode. She screams warnings about something behind her as she runs past him. Over the sand dune stumble a big horde of zombies.

Nick spots a zombie in a sand pit being eaten alive by crabs. He thinks it’s funny, until he slips and falls into the pit with it. He barely survives by stabbing the zombie with something he luckily found on the ground. Before he can catch his breath, another zombie falls into the pit from above.

Alicia finds Chris at the airplane fuselage. He looks shell-shocked. He tells her that he killed a zombie but doesn’t mention the other survivor. They hear gunshots and run back to the beach to find Salazar shooting at zombies. He yells that they need to get to the raft, but Alicia doesn’t see Nick.

Looking through binoculars from the boat, Maddie sees a swarm of zombies heading for the beach. She yells to Travis and Salazar that they need to move the boat right now. (Does she think the zombies will swim out to them?) Travis pulls a lot of gore, including a zombie hand, out of a pipe and gets the engine running again.

Salazar runs out of bullets. He, Alicia and Chris pick up whatever blunt objects they can grab from the ground to fight zombies with. Even though they seem to have a clear path to the beach, the three of them allow themselves to get backed up to the edge of a cliff. Fortunately, Nick, covered in blood and gore, rushes in and clears them another path. He notices that the zombies think he’s one of their own and won’t bother him. The four of them rejoin with Alex and run to the raft. Alex tells them that they need to make another stop before they go to the boat.

Maddie sees not one but two rafts coming her way (the motorized one towing the life raft from the plane). They arrive at the boat and Alex introduces herself and Jake. Strand isn’t having any of this and won’t let them aboard. Maddie argues with him but he won’t budge. Alex can’t believe they’re debating her life like this. Finally, Travis suggests that Alex and Jake can remain in the raft and the boat will tow them to San Diego. That way, everyone else will be safe on the boat and the other two will at least have a fighting chance. Strand grudgingly agrees.

However, later that night once they’re further out to sea, Strand storms down to the bow of the boat and cuts the raft loose while Maddie looks on disbelievingly. He gives her a stern look as if warning her not to cross him.

Episode Verdict

One the one hand (no dismembered zombie pun intended), this episode is quite action-packed and suspenseful. The ominous, nerve-jangling score by Paul Haslinger especially generates a lot of tension. I’d almost be inclined to say that this is the best episode the show has had so far… except that the characters behave like such friggin’ idiots.

Seriously, nothing Salazar or the three kids do while on shore is at all believable human behavior. They needlessly put themselves into danger repeatedly just to set up contrived excuses for zombie attacks. I actively wanted them all to get eaten.

Is this the last we’ll see of the Alex character? I have no particular investment in her fate, but this seems like a poor end for the star of the minisode series. I wouldn’t be surprised if she pops up again later, but I’m pretty sure that Jake kid is a goner.

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