Fear The Walking Dead S02E04 “Blood In The Streets” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on AMC Global, Mondays 9pm
Writer: Kate Erickson
Director: Michael Uppendahl
Essential Plot Points:
- We see Nick, naked and towing his clothes in a waterproof bag, swimming ashore. He dodges at least one search vessel and a helicopter, dresses and heads up through a ruined refugee camp. There, he deliberately attracts the attention of a Walker, kills it and guts it, smearing himself in its remains.
- Back on the Love Boat, Travis wants to confront Strand over the fate of the Flight 462 characters. We do too, but maybe for slightly different reasons. Madison talks him down as, at the stern, Chris and Ofelia bond.
- Right up until a dinghy with a pregnant woman and two men aboard appears.
- Chris repeatedly asks, “Should I shoot them?!” as they come aboard, proving that he’s still frequently awful.
- That being said, they seize the boat proving Chris maybe had a point. But is still awful.
- Strand escapes and they shoot his dinghy leaving him to die. As Felicia comes up from below decks, she confronts the pirates. One is Jack, who she talked to in episode one of this season. It is, to say the least, awkward.
- FLASHBACK! BECAUSE THIS SHOW CAN DO THAT! We see Strand in Baton Rouge bemoaning the fact he’s just lost his entire fortune due to Hurricane Katrina. His drinking buddy, Thomas Abigail, sympathises although he did a little better.
- Strand gets Gabriel drunk, steals his credit cards and starts over. Abigail sees him do it but passes out before he can do anything.
- Back on the Love Boat, Reed, who’s awful, holds Chris, who is also awful, at gunpoint. Realising he’s killed the only man who can start the engine (See? AWFUL) Reed bullies Chris until Travis agrees to hotwire the ship. Whether that’s to save Chris’s life, get Reed to SHUT UP or a little of both is left ambiguous.
- Meanwhile, back on land, Nick finds the address he was looking for. It’s a fortified house, damaged but still secure.
- Back in the past, Abigail and his henchman Luis Flores track down Strand. He apologises for the theft and Abigail is remarkably cool about it, but points out Strand is obligated to him. Especially due to the $36,000 cash advance Strand took out on Abigail’s credit cards.
- In the present, Strand loses the satphone, his only way of making contact with his colleagues.
- On the Abigail, Travis plays for time in the engine room and Maddy bonds with and then completely messes with Vida. Nearby, Jack explains that Connor, their leader only takes people who can prove their worth…
- Back on shore, Nick finds Luis! He’s alive! And pretty chilled about the whole end of the world thing. He’s less cool about the various people they’re bringing across the border and is adamant he only had the resources for passage for two. Nonetheless, he cleans Nick up and they prep to head out to the Abigail.
- On the Abigail, Connor arrives and takes Travis and Felicia. The escape plan Maddy, Travis and Daniel have been working on pays off and a short, brutal fight ends with Reed impaled, two other pirates dead by Luis’s hand and the Abigail back under control.
- In the past, Strand remembers spending time with Abigail at their true home, out in the country. He also remembers his boyfriend warning him not to leave for LA just before the outbreak accelerated. Strand didn’t listen and that’s how he ended up in the holding area with Nick.
- As the episode finishes, Maddy rescues Strand and they regroup.
And now things are getting interesting. Four weeks into season two, at the exact point where the wheels fell off season one for an episode, Fear The Walking Dead has taken some big steps. Most of them work, brilliantly. One doesn’t.
Let’s look at that one first. The pirates, including Felicia’s not-quite boyfriend, from the season premiere, are rubbish. On one level that’s deliberate: the world has just ended after all and no one’s quite got to the silver spray paint and “WITNESS ME!”s yet. On the other though it’s a real problem because, well, they’re dull.
Jack – Felicia’s not-quite boyfriend and the one who has the best chance of being redeemed and joining Team Strand – is okay. And Vida’s spat with Madison is well written, nasty and gives both women stuff to do. But Reed is very dull. He’s a by-the-numbers preening jock jackass and there’s no real point to the character other than for him to be the designated needlessly violent death of the week. Hopefully next week the arrival of the actual pirate ship, will get this plot up and running. Especially as the opening seems to make very little spatial sense given what Nick sees when he swims in to shore.
So that stuff, not so good. The rest of the episode? Tip top post-apocalyptic fun that throws you in at the deep end and trusts you to swim to the edges. Or in Nick’s case, the shore.
Nick, at times one of the worst parts of season one whose name wasn’t “Chris”, is increasingly the show’s star. His plot here, swimming ashore past the armed barricades that seem to surround Strand’s home and rendezvousing with Luis, is immense fun. The “covered in zombie guts” trick being used twice in two weeks could have felt staid but here it feels like a character using a weapon they’ve only just realised they have. Plus, it’s an interesting character note for both Nick and Strand. As the show started, he was a panicking addict on the run. As season two moves into gear, he’s the right-hand man of the most prepared human left alive. Or at least on the Abigail.
And speaking of Strand, the other crime the pirates commit is leaving him to apathetically kind of drown off the stern of the Abigail. However, his flashback sequences are brilliant and teach us a lot about the man. Strand as a principled shark is a fascinating beat and the fact he clearly planned on repaying Thomas Abigail is oddly sweet. Plus, him losing everything in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is a subtly played piece of context. Strand is ruthless because he really has dragged himself up from nothing, twice. It doesn’t make him any less brutal, but it does make him less openly villainous. That’s a subtlety of writing the first season, on its best day, could only dream of.
Likewise his romance with Abigail, which is old fashioned and surprisingly poignant. Strand and Abigail are very similar men, and the conversation about their losses in Katrina’s wake makes that point. But it’s what happens next that really works. The evolution of their relationship feels formal but genuine and honest in a way neither man quite is with anyone else. In the space of one episode the show introduces us to Strand’s other half, makes us see how incomplete he is without Abigail and makes us invest utterly in their relationship. Smart, clever writing from a show that’s on the way to being something much more than a prequel and another strong episode.
- “Should I shoot him? Piece of advice: if you have to ask the question someone should already be dead.” Reed is awful but this is a decent line.
- “You’re definitely not rubbing that stench on my leather interiors.” Luis, on the other hand, is delightful and can stay for as long as he wants.
- “When’s the last time you felt her move?” OUCH. Maddy twisting the knife is just brutal. This is the show’s “Don’t you think she looks tired?” moment.
- Absolutely no “For I am… GAY!” angst about Strand and Abigail. They’re a couple, deeply in love and very, very dangerous. Also adorable.
- Action Nick!
- Characters learning things. It’s such a relief to see Nick use what he learned last week.
- Luis is wonderful and clearly a very bad man.
- Thomas Abigail! Almost certainly some form of arms dealer! Also romantic, literate and Dougray Scott-shaped!
- Vida! The single competent pirate.
- The Flight 462 folks are officially dead it seems. Well that was a waste of time.
- So where is the Abigail? Because if Nick swam in from the bay, which is clearly being patrolled, then surely the ship’s been spotted by now? While we’re at it, who’s patrolling the waters?
- The pirates are very dull.
- Chris is still a bit awful. Less so than recently though.
- So they shot Strand’s raft which was maybe 300 metres off the Abigail at the time, didn’t bother checking to see if he was still alive and left him there? In the same waters that the opening shot establishes are patrolled? And in which the Abigail and Strand are very visible?
- This show still hasn’t figured out endings. This episode doesn’t so much end as just kind of stop.
- Daniel Zovatto, who plays Jack, had a memorable turn as Seth in “Seeds”, an early episode of Agents of SHELD. He’s also in excellent contemporary horror movie, It Follows.
- Jesse McCartney, who played Reed in this episode, played Tyler in the never-aired Locke & Key pilot. He also voiced Nightwing in Young Justice and has appeared in movies such as Chernobyl Diaries. Magnificently, he’s also the voice of Theodore in the Chipmunks movies.
- Arturo Del Puerto is great fun this episode as Luis. He’s previously appeared on NCIS, Rizzoli & Isles and The Lottery as well as The Magicians and movies like Ride Along 2. Intriguingly, IMDB has him listed for 12 more appearances this season so it looks like Luis may be sticking around a while. Or IMDB has had too much sugar. Again.
- Veronica Diaz-Carranza who does great work as Vida here has previously appeared on Criminal Minds, Walkout, Cold Case and many others. She’s also an active producer.
- Dougray Scott is the character actor’s character actor. He’s one of the few high spots in the remarkably dismal Mission: Impossible 2, is excellent in The Wrong Mans and Hemlock Grove and is best known in geek circles for his excellent work as Alec Palmer in underrated Doctor Who episode “Hide” (it’s not underrated by me – it’s one of my top five new Who episodes – ed).
- Shot of the week is this. The casual way Luis and Nick are strolling past the approaching herd is a lovely piece of visual shorthand for how quickly they’ve adapted.
Review by Alasdair Stuart