After a week that devoted far too much screen time (i.e. any screen time at all) to morons Travis and Chris, ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ shuffles them back to the sidelines. We also, finally, find out what happened to Maddie and Strand. Sadly, Nick’s storyline is still going nowhere.
Don’t Be Such a Pill
We’ll start with Nick, because that’s the least eventful or interesting part of the episode. To atone for his screw-up with crime lord Marco two episodes ago, Nick comes up with a plan to stretch out the colony’s supply of oxycontin by cutting it with powdered milk before trading it to the gang for water. As a junkie himself, he knows exactly how much they can dilute the drug before anyone will notice. He’s also an expert at making powder into pills, as he demonstrates in a silly music video montage that suggests this show has pretentions of being ‘Breaking Bad’ all of a sudden. All this puts him back in the good graces of colony leader Alejandro.
Grumpy Luciana has also warmed up to Nick rapidly. Despite being very sad after learning that her brother Pablo has died, she goes on the drug delivery run with Nick and later pays him a late-night booty call.
Lovely Day for a Swim
First things first, a flashback informs us how Maddie and Strand escaped the giant horde of zombies that encircled them in the bar. Conveniently, the bar had a trap door exit to a storage room where they were able to bide a little time, then lure in a zombie, kill it, and smear themselves in its blood. After that, they just strolled right out past the bloodthirsty brain-munchers, easy peasy. (Even the zombies seem dumber on this show, if that’s somehow possible.)
Eager to make a quick getaway out of the damned hotel, Strand and Maddie are very disappointed to discover that their truck is missing. Obviously, it must have been stolen, because “The dead don’t drive.” At least, not yet. Coming soon: ‘The Driving Dead’.
In short order, they’re reunited with Alicia and meet her new friends Elena and Hector. (We saw that part at the end of last week’s episode.) They all assume that Ofelia must have stolen the truck and left them to die. Bitch.
When Elena informs them that the hotel has food stores that should last them at least a few months, Maddie and Strand parley with the surviving hotel guests, led by would-be groom Oscar and his mother-in-law Ilene (Brenda Strong). Maddie proposes that they form an alliance, work together to clear all the zombies out of the hotel, and make the place into a home for all of them. Ilene and Oscar refuse to help unless Elena is exiled, but Oscar grudgingly gives up his collection of hotel keys so that Maddie and the others can deal with the zombies themselves. What a nice guy.
The hotel has a lot of zombies in it, so many that it would take weeks to kill them all and dispose of the bodies. Fearing that someone else will come across the hotel and try to take it from them in that time, Alicia and Maddie hatch a plan to lure all the zombies at once downstairs, out the front door and onto a pier, where they’ll tumble over the end and get carried away by the riptide. Of course, this means one of them will have to act as bait. Alicia volunteers, but Maddie insists that she do it herself.
Strand and Elena systematically open all the doors to the hotel, and Alicia draws the zombies’ attention by playing music from her iPhone, which amazingly still has a battery charge despite the fact that she hasn’t been anywhere with electricity in weeks. Maddie takes over when they get to the pier, herding all the zombies to the end and then jumping off first. Alicia and Hector fetch her out of the water in a zodiac raft just before wave after wave of zombies tumble into the ocean through a big gap in the railing. You’d think some of them might stop and wander off as soon as the food they were chasing disappeared, but no, they continue to march forward in a long single-file line like lemmings.
Once they see all the hard work Maddie and company have done, most of the other hotel guests join in to help with the clean-up efforts. With all the work finished and the two warring factions united, they celebrate with a big feast in the hotel’s dining hall. Ilene doesn’t go and there’s probably not going to be any getting through to her. Oscar doesn’t attend either, but Strand has an idea. He finds Oscar sulking outside the honeymoon suite, where his zombified bride, Jessica, still clatters around inside. The two men have a heart-to-heart about losing loved ones, and Oscar eventually concedes to let Strand enter the suite and take care of what he couldn’t bring himself to do.
The Nick stuff is pointless and a waste of time. I don’t care about Nick, and I don’t care that he has a girlfriend now.
The hotel storyline is stronger. Aside from the iPhone bit, the characters there don’t do anything too egregiously stupid this week. The climactic zombie-herding is fairly suspenseful. Even so, my interest is tempered by the fact that I know the hotel won’t be a permanent home for Maddie, Alicia or Strand. It will either be overrun by zombies again or taken away from them by bad people before the season is over. That inevitability is entirely too predictable.
My patience with this show is wearing thin. That we have nearly another month of this to go before the season is over is disheartening. I haven’t thrown in the towel yet, but I really wish the series had stuck with six-episode seasons. That’s as much as it can sustain.