Fear The Walking Dead S02E07 “Shiva” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on AMC Global, Mondays 9pm
Writer: David Wiener
Director: Andrew Bernstein
Essential Plot Points:
- The episode opens on the jungle in the middle of a storm. A small boy watches a river full of dead bodies as…
- Daniel snaps awake.
- Something’s gone badly wrong. He drags Ofelia with him as he takes her out into the dark and she… peels her own face off.
- Daniel wakes up a second time and Ofelia isn’t there. There is a disturbance though. The others all rush in to find Celia tearing a strip off Strand for lacking the courage to kill himself and worse, to end Abigail’s life. She slaps him, goes to slap him again and Madison stops her saying she’s Strand’s friend.
- Outside a panicked Daniel bursts into tears as he finds his daughter alive and well.
- Nearby, Travis asks Alicia for help looking for Chris. She tells him about Chris and the knife. Travis refuses to believe her and leaves.
- Dad of the Year.
- Back in the bedroom Celia is really starting to cook off but Nick intercedes. Celia gives them a day to leave the house forever. Strand remains entirely still throughout the conversation, lost in grief at what he’s just done.
- Outside, Travis searches for Chris and finds him in the vineyard. Chris runs off and Travis goes after him.
- Come the dawn, Strand is digging Abigail’s grave. The atmosphere is super tense as Daniel quietly makes a shiv and Travis continues looking for Chris, apparently outside the fence line.
- Without a weapon.
- Because… yeah. We got nothing.
- He finds a dead Walker, presumably stabbed with the knife Jumpy McGee had and removes it. He also notices the Walker has an empty holster. Nearby, Chris, with the sidearm, watches his father move on.
- Madison tries to get Alicia and Nick to help steal some supplies and go back to the boat.
- Nick offers to talk to her but she tells him not to and to wait for Travis. Alicia, not unreasonably, asks what happens if Dad of the Year doesn’t come back. Maddy doesn’t have an answer.
- Nearby Travis limps to a stop. This is because he didn’t grab shoes before going looking for Chris and his feet are cut to shreds. Let’s say that again…
- TRAVIS DID NOT PICK UP SHOES BEFORE HIKING ACROSS THE DEAD-INFESTED SCRUB LAND LOOKING FOR HIS PSYCHOTIC CHILD
- Travis? Is an IDIOT.
- He hears a noise in a nearby building, goes in and has a tense face-off with the owner. The man, who is not an idiot, gets him some water and treats his wounds.
- Back at the compound, Nick, covered in blood, has returned with Luis bound and gagged.
And yes, Luis is dead. Very dead. Could not in fact be deader.
- He watches Celia greet her “son” who is adamant that he’s still in there. She thanks him, notes that he understands them in a way no one else does and asks him to stay. She asks for his family to stay. She agrees on the condition that Nick is responsible for their actions and Strand is banished.
- Outside, Strand (who spends a lot of this episode topless and Colman Domingo has not skipped Core Day) is still digging. Daniel begs him not to bury Abigail on what he views is unholy ground. Daniel is clearly, clearly losing it and Strand notices but Daniel refuses to accept that.
- Madison talks to Nick, who’s showering the blood off. She calls her son on the fascination he has with the infected. He’s bought in completely to Celia’s idea that the dead are still the same people they were beforehand. Maddy claims she can’t understand what he and Celia are doing. Nick, very reasonably, points out that wanting her son back is something Madison ABSOLUTELY should be able to understand.
- Nick is addicted to the adrenalin high of moving among the dead and offers to bring Travis back. Maddy has no answer.
- Daniel drags Ofelia to the gate, claiming his wife is waiting there for them. Some of the staff intervene, Daniel attacks them and they beat the hell out of him.
- Maddy comes to see Strand. Who basically demolishes her by pointing out that Nick is very far gone under Celia’s influence. He tells her he’s planning on going back to the boat if there is one still and asks if she’s interested. She carefully doesn’t say yes or no, instead refusing to leave without Travis.
- Meanwhile back at THE MAN WHO DOESN’T UNDERSTAND SHOES…
- The farmer gives Travis a spare pair of shoes. He asks for Chris and the man, amazingly, tells him he’s seen him. Travis notices an English language kid’s book in the house but the man doesn’t speak English. He spots movement in a nearby room and the man begs Travis to leave. He barges the door open and…
- Chris is holding a gun on a small child.
- Back at the compound, Celia presides over Thomas’ funeral. Once the funeral is over, she tries to throw Strand out. Ofelia asks Celia where Daniel is and she refuses to tell her, instead assuring her that her father is safe.
- Meanwhile, back at “JESUS CHRIST CHRIS WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL?” Travis talks the human garbage fire down. He does this by chasing him down, tackling him and almost getting stabbed to death by his own kid. Chris breaks down, sobbing that he’s no good to anyone.
- In one of the outbuildings at the house, Celia feeds Daniel who has been beaten and bound to a chair. They have the exact ethical debate you’re expecting them to have as Daniel begins hallucinating his wife’s voice. It’s a really powerful, morally ambiguous scene that paints both of them as flawed people trying to survive. As Celia leaves. Daniel smiles at his wife, a hallucination in front of him.
- Meanwhile at whatever the hell is happening with Chris and Travis, Nick bloods up AGAIN and finds them. Travis tells him to say he couldn’t find either of them because Chris needs his father.
- This actually happens.
- Back at the house, Madison confronts Celia over her influence on Nick. Celia weirdly champions the other woman’s son as a rare soul who sees the world as it is. She also all but tells Madison that Nick will choose her over his mother if they don’t change. Madison asks to understand and Celia takes her to the Walker bunker.
- Back at Daniel, his “wife” explains that Celia is threatening their daughter. He flirts, very sweetly, with the delusion who then berates him for not burying her when she died. He claims to have moved past every one of his sins but the delusion calls him out on what’s haunting him. We see the little boy, actually Daniel, from the top of the episode. He’s handed a gun and told to kill a man on the riverbank. Daniel admits this was his first victim and we see him break.
- Back at the compound, Maddy is shown through to the gate separating the Walkers from the other members of the household. Celia steps through into the passage the Walkers are held in. Celia, consumed with love for the thing that used to be her son, asks Maddy what she wouldn’t do for her children. Maddy replies, “Nothing,” steps back through the gate and locks Celia in with the dead. Stoically, she accepts her fate.
- Daniel is partially untied to be fed and promptly knocks out the man who comes to feed him.
- Releasing himself he’s egged on by the hallucination.
- At the gates, Strand is being walked out. Alicia waves to him as he leaves.
- Daniel enters the Walker compound (there is no sign of Celia although plenty of blood on the floor). He douses it with petrol and watches as the horde approaches him. Slowly their wounds fade, his wife emerges from the crowd and welcomes him. Daniel drops his lighter and goes home.
- Strand makes it to the pick-up truck as the compound goes up in flames. On the outskirts, Nick sees the fire and runs in to help. Madison tries to find Daniel but can’t. She finds Alica and a weeping Ofelia outside as Strand rolls up in the truck.
- Madison sees Nick heading towards them and ignores Strand’s screams to get in the truck. Nick pleads with her son to come with them. Nick tells her he couldn’t find Travis and Chris and that Celia was right about them. With the compound staff closing in one side and the infected on the other, Strand bundles her into the truck. Nick walks off, amongst the dead, unnoticed as the others make their escape.
It may be time to call it: Fear The Walking Dead is bad at both penultimate episodes and mid-season finales. There’s some great material here but it’s all wasted thanks to plodding, paceless direction, flat performances and the single stupidest thing the show has ever done.
We go into detail about the Travis and Chris stuff below (and above – there is a lot of stupid to cover after all) but it still bears repeating. Travis doesn’t hesitate to leave his entire family behind. He has no resources, he has 1.5 weapons and the only person he has with him is his son.
Who tries to kill him.
That’s not just stupid that’s indefensible. Yes he’s a good dad. Yes he’s a good guy. But there’s being both those things and then there’s a character suffering a lobotomy for the sake of the plot. Witness the just cretinous thing with him not wearing shoes. It honestly feels like there’s an episode missing between these two the sudden drop in IQs is so sharp. And don’t even get us started on no one else bothering to go help looking for Chris while there’s a ticking clock on them being evicted.
This entire plot kills the episode stone dead and honestly may have serious consequences for the show’s viability. Yes we know a season three is certain but the rest of this season is going to be a slog if it’s Team Abigail over here and Lone Wolf and Idiot Cub over there. It’s a desperately bad second stage to what looked like an interesting plot. Worse still, Travis is now as awful as Chris.
The other plots at least fare a little better. The Celia/Nick stuff is really interesting as is Celia’s weirdly hopeful and naïve view of the dead. Of course because the main characters of the show are almost all awful people now that doesn’t last long, but still it tries. In fact, the Nick plot is really interesting and arguably the only element this half season that looks truly fun and original. God knows we’d rather spend an episode with Nick and his dead homies than Travis and Chris or Team Abigail right now.
Daniel’s exit plot has some good material too and Rubén Blades honestly can’t turn in bad work. Unfortunately, it again feels rushed. Daniel was fine (ish) three episodes ago and now he’s barely functional? Okay. But when only Strand notices and no one actually does anything that only deadens the emotional impact of yet another part of this weirdly flat, almost boring at times, mid-season finale.
Fear the Walking Dead has had a wildly uneven half season. It’s done brilliant stuff with Nick and Strand, both of whom were barely functional last year and promises more to come. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the rest of the cast are at this point either annoying, awful or both. But the truth is the biggest mistake the show made this year was coming ashore. Let’s hope smoother waters, or any waters at all, are on the horizon.
- “I move among them, mom. Invisible.” The way the show’s played with Nick’s thrill-seeking and the weird peace he finds among the Walkers has been really interesting. We suspect he may not be alone and the show could be gearing up to introduce The Whisperers, a late-run antagonist group from the comics. They move amongst the dead wearing their skins as disguises and that seems to be the next logical step for Nick. If nothing else it would save his white t-shirt collection…
- “No my love, the first victim was you.” The scene with Daniel and his wife is one of the highlights of the episode, especially this line. He’s realising, and articulating, and to some extent, forgiving himself through a hallucination.
- “Don’t worry about me, I’ll hail a cab.” Colman Domingo has gone from being given the absolute worst material in the first season to being the MVP. Great work, sir. The show will need your skills.
- Maddy locking Celia in with the dead. That is COLD.
- For an episode with no pacing worth a damn there are some lovely visual moments. Nick running to the dead, Daniel’s victims slowly morphing out of the Walkers in the basement and the end scene are all well shot. There’s just no pace or tension to anything we see.
- Oh God where to begin? How about with Travis who apparently took a blow to the head at some point between episodes. The concern for his son is understandable. The blowing off of Alicia’s concerns is a dick move but works in context but no weapon? NO SHOES?! There’s dedication and then there’s idiocy and based on how useless the Manuwa men are this episode it may be a good idea for them to not come back.
- Seriously this is the stupidest thing anyone on this show has ever done and it especially makes no sense with Travis who has at least been fairly sensible most of the time. It also makes his decision to stay with Chris shift from “stupid-but-heroic” to “…FINE. GO.” Which undercuts what should be one of the emotional cores of the episode.
- We don’t see Celia’s body in the cellar. We fervently hope this is a production oversight and not a hint she’ll be back.
- She’s right by the way: like Nick says they are profoundly awful people and burning an entire compound to the ground really kind of proves the point.
- So Daniel goes from zero to crazy in two episodes. And is probably dead. That’s a shame. Especially as the show needs to do something with Ofelia pretty urgently now.
- The ending doesn’t work in two different ways. Firstly, there’s the total lack of urgency, a problem the direction has throughout the episode. What should be the characters trapped between a rock and a hard place is actually them trapped between two equally slow, equally non-threatening stereotypes. Who will fail to reach them first?! The shambling infested horde or the honest-to-God mob of angry villagers! Tune in in six or seven minutes to find out!
- Then there’s how emotionless it is. Maddy’s husband and his son may very well be dead. HER son is wandering off to join a plotline from way later in the comics. She has NOTHING. Her family are in pieces and what we get is faint annoyance and blank-faced kind of horror. Then there’s the fact that, yet again, this is an episode that doesn’t so much end as it does stop.
- So the boat’s a really long way away? But Nick can get there and back in under 12 hours? With no water?
- Shot Of The Week is Nick, running to the only people he feels comfortable around; the dead.
Review by Alasdair Stuart