FEAR THE WALKING DEAD’s third episode of its second season was arguably the shows best so far. It’s still not supreme television or anywhere near TWD in its early year’s peak, but this was very good. It was an episode that didn’t really explore anything new, it was a run of the mill scenario for the gang, but it was executed really nicely and highlighted the shows strengths.
The episode was basically about Travis trying to fix the boat (after it got tangled up with a drifting walker), and the kids (plus Daniel), going ashore after spotting some luggage from a downed plane in order to try and see what they could salvage. What impresses me most about FTWD, and what impressed me about his particular episode, was its structure. Using the now familiar, intimate setting of the roaming boat and having characters stop off at other locations in different episodes, is a pretty neat way of organising things. It retains that important cosiness while showing us some new places to keep things fresh. Its smart and I’m enjoying it while it lasts, which it won’t and nor should it. It will of course get old at some point, but this adventuring aspect really makes the show different from its parent and they would do well to continue embracing it.
In terms of plot points, not a lot happened in ‘Ouroboros’. We had Strand being suspicious (talking on the radio with someone), we had Madison finding out about his plan to take them to Mexico, which is obviously not the whole story, we had Travis fixing the boat while we followed Alicia, Chris, Nick and Daniel on the beach, rummaging through belongings etc. It was here where the episodes major moments took place. This is where Chris wondered off by his lonesome and found a survivor, who begged him to put him out of his misery. He reluctantly did so, clubbing the man over the head repeatedly. It was pretty brutal and a big moment for his character, further shaping who he will become. Having to kill a live person this early on is hard, we saw how much members of THE WALKING DEAD struggled last season with the very same act, and they are seasoned vets, Chris is just a kid.
A little later on, the guys found two of the survivors from the episodes teaser — passengers from a downed plane lost at sea, a woman and a burn victim — fleeing from a horde of zombies. They managed to fight the dead long enough to retreat back to the dingy, each one showing some capability, stepping up to the plate but still struggling (as they should). Eventually they were helped by Nick who arrived covered in walker guts after his own earlier scuffle. It was all pretty tense without ever really making us believe that our heroes were in real peril. Everyone survived — which is fine — but there is going to come a time very soon when we will need causalities. They are good for now, because any deaths won’t actually hit all that hard, seeing as we don’t have fully formed connections with these men and women yet. I mean, the characters are still developing, so I suppose they can live for now, live for another day when their deaths will have more impact.
Back on the boat, the girl they found and the burn victim accompanying her, were told by Strand that they couldn’t come on board. Madison agrees, even though it’s obviously hard for her, but these choices are getting easier and easier. It’s tough, but it is the right decision. Bringing someone who is virtually on deaths door, aboard a confined location with no exit, screams stupidity. This being said, our guys and gals aren’t all fifth season Rick Grimes yet, so a compromise was reached, where they decided to tow these folk behind them in a dingy, not letting them aboard. It may seem like weakness but it is unequivocally a step towards the cold people they will surely become. This half measure however, is quickly taken away by Strand, who cuts the dingy loose, leaving them to float away. It’s harsh, but again, it’s right. If you want to survive, it’s the kind of thing that has to be done. The sooner you come on board with this, the better off you’ll be.
As I mentioned at the top, this was an excellent showing, really highlighting everything that works with the show; the focused narrative, the small locations, the tiny cast, and most of all the music. This is where it really excels, the score in this show is proving to be a standout feature, elevating a simple scene like Travis diving off the boat to fix what was wrong, into something much more than that, providing a strange unnerving quality, creating an atmosphere which accentuated the unsettling events the characters found themselves apart of.
Things are most certainly moving in the right direction with FTWD, and until they give us something to really complain about, a sign of ineptitude, I am going to remain positive about this shows chances going forward. Will it ever hit the heights? Who knows. Could the show use with a few more charismatic additions to the cast in place of some of the duller existing members? Sure. But this week was good stuff. So, let’s keep rolling.