Fear The Walking Dead S02E09 “Los Muertos” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- We open on bloodstained bedsheets and Nick, one bed over, fast asleep. It turns out his roommate is very sick indeed and he leaves her to cough, stepping outside into the streets of the colony.
- Nick walks around his new home and we get a good idea of where it is: on a hilltop over the city, hurriedly but pretty solidly fortified and very very big. They’ve essentially fortified a suburb.
- He explores and finds a young girl, weeping uncontrollably. He asks her what’s up and she points at a crowd of people standing by the fence on the outskirts of the colony. There’s a bus parked halfway through it and Nick watches as a man, the girl’s dad, says his goodbyes and walks onto the bus and through the fence. A herd descends on him and he walks out to meet them as the people on the other side of the fence chant.
- He’s killed. The little girl runs off.
- Roll credits.
- Meanwhile with Team SUV!
- Maddy has Strand pull over on the outskirts of a city. It’s been two days since the family split up and she’s adamant they should keep searching. Strand talks her down and, reluctantly, she agrees.
- At the colony Nick is recruited to help teat the wounded. Alejandro is treating an older man who has a leg wound. He’s not healing well and talks about “leaving”. Alejandro talks him down and has a hurried conversation with Luciana.
- Back at the SUV, the good news is that they make it back to where the Abigail is. The bad news is the Abigail isn’t there.
Alicia has had enough. She suggests they run for the hotel they saw on the coast. Maddie wants to stay but Alicia lays the law down: Travis isn’t looking. It’s just them now. They leave a message on the beach and, surrounded by fog, drive to the hotel and wait. When nothing moves, that they can see, they decide to go in.
- At the colony, Nick is on water detail, washing bandages. There isn’t much water and none of it’s clean. Luciana tells him the water is worse than the bandages and they have work to do.
- At the hotel, the Artists Formerly Known as Team Abigail get in. They also, showing some much-needed levelling up, arm themselves. Brilliantly, Strand begins hammering the bell for attention. There’s no response, so far…
- Back at the colony, Luciana strides out through the Bus of Death. She tells Nick the three rules (they’re all basically “SHUT UP!”) and drags him out into the wilderness. He asks her why she chose him and she replies, “Because no one will miss you.” They put their “make-up” on and head out.
- At the Hotel Walkerfornia, Strand and Maddy’s team find a wedding that clearly did not go well. They head for the kitchens looking for food.
- Meanwhile, Nick and Luciana are heading deep into Walker territory. Luciana explains what Nick saw at the top of the episode: when someone is too ill to survive they voluntarily join the “wall” – the Walkers that surround the colony and, by her lights, protect it. Nick has his doubts but she calls him on his lack of faith and explains what she believes. The Walkers are natural: they exist to scour the world clean. And she’s seen someone be bitten and live…
- At the hotel, the kitchens come up empty. Maddy wants them to stick together but Alicia has had enough of being her mum’s third favourite child and cuts her down. Strand fixes Maddy a drink.
- Luciana and Nick arrive at a supermarket run by a local gang. Luciana barters for water and is handed a shopping cart. Everything that can fit in the cart she can keep. The only problem is, the deal used to be for two carts…
- At the hotel, Strand and Maddy bond over the correct way to make martinis. This is maybe our favourite scene in the show so far; two hurting, grieving people refusing to look their wounds in the eyes and defining their world through the simple pleasure of a good drink made well.
- Alicia and Ofelia discover a locked room full of Walkers; they navigate around it and begin to pillage what they can from nearby unoccupied rooms. They discover a Walker who killed himself in the shower and, in an honestly sweet moment, hang a DO NOT DISTURB sign on his door.
- At the supermarket, Nick notices a shanty town full of apparently sick people being cared for by the gang. One of whom seems to be addicted to Oxy. And may be the leader’s sister…
- Back at the hotel, Alicia and Ofelia continue pillaging. They talk about the Walker and try and figure out why he killed himself. Ofelia suggests he simply got tired and Alicia is horrified at the thought that they might not want to survive. Ofelia talks about her dad and Alicia reassures her that for better or worse, they’re her family now.
- At the supermarket Nick shoplifts a snack cake he coveted earlier. Nick is seconds away from losing a hand. In a truly ballsy play he points out that the gang leader’s sister is an Oxy addict. Worse, the speed they’re going through the Oxy is going to lead to her hitting withdrawal very soon. They’ll trade Oxy… but they get a second cart of water.
- Later, wrestling the carts home, Luciana tears a strip off Nick for getting the gang interested in Colonia.
- Back at the hotel, Madison and Strand are getting wasted on tequila. Strand spins a story about how the pair of them could have met at the hotel and, slowly, the two of them open themselves up to their pain. Strand tries to reassure her that Nick is bulletproof. She responds that Nick was born lost. The conversation turns to Nick’s dad, Stephen. Strand asks how he died and Maddy tells him.
- She doesn’t believe he was asleep when it happened.
- Maddy becomes increasingly angry that she continually chose wrong in having more kids. She toasts to motherhood then hurls her glass at the wall and takes another one.
- As Maddy breaks the glasses, Strand pounds on the piano. Outside, the horde of Walkers crammed into one of the outbuildings begins to break the glass in the doors…
- Alicia takes a shower, relishing the at least temporary hot water and emerges to find Ofelia has gone. She sees something fall and walks out onto her balcony; there are Walkers all over the hotel and, sensing the noise downstairs, they’re throwing themselves off the balconies to get to Maddy and Strand…
- Back at Colonia, it turns out Nick stole the sweets for the little girl from the top of the episode.
- Nick is summoned to see Alejandro who levels with him: the patient Nick saw him with was injected with saline solution. They’re running out of drugs.
- Nick wants to do something. Alejandro responds that faith is a test. They are the faithful and when the world is cleansed of death they will remain. As he leans down, Nick sees the Walker bite that took a chunk out of his shoulder. He was bitten and lived…
- Back at the hotel, Drunky Brewster and friend finally see the falling Walkers. This is entirely too late as the Walkers smash through the windows and it all starts to go distinctly Shaun Of The Dead.
- The episode closes with a church service led by Alejandro intercut with the fight in the bar. We see Alicia alone and unable to help. We see Strand and Maddy in serious trouble.
- We see Nick slowly joining in the chants at the church, his eyes wide. He may have found a new drug after all…
In the immortal words of Will Smith (possibly slightly edited) from now on, THAT’S HOW YOU DO FEAR THE WALKING DEAD!
This is about as good as this show’s ever been. It hits the beats that The Walking Dead fans have come to expect (dealing with the existential horror of life, new relationships, frequent Walkers) but also does things in its own way.
A huge part of that is splitting the family up. Together these people are frequently very awful. Apart you get to see them blossom in some really interesting ways. Alicia, in particular, has actual stuff to do this episode and seeing her out from under the shadow of her two brothers is incredibly welcome. As is the fact she has a massive problem with being last in line and has had quite enough of her mother’s moping thanks very much. She’s kick-ass, takes charge and is still fallible. She’s also becoming the heart of the group and the clear implication that Ofelia is considering suicide as an endgame is as horrifying to her as it is to us. Alicia’s on screen maybe half this episode and it’s the best written she’s ever been, Much much more of this please. The new hotel setting is fun too and Page’s script does a great job of setting it up and leaving some areas for future episodes to dig into.
Likewise, the Nick and Luciana plot touches on some familiar elements of the show’s background but does it in a new way. The gang holding the supermarket is a lovely idea but what makes it is Nick’s realisation of their real problem, the ruthless way he exploits it and his true motives. That’s complex, chewy character writing of a sort this show has almost never had before and it takes the already strong Nick/Luciana/Colonia plot even higher. Plus the continued exploration of faith as a coping mechanism is fascinating and, so far, pretty even-handed.
All-in-all this may well be the best the show has ever been. A complex and nuanced script is subtly and confidently directed by Deborah Chow and anchored by some fantastic performances. We’ve checked in to the hotel Walkerfonia but hopefully we won’t be leaving for some time.
- Deborah Chow has a fantastic eye. The entire episode is menacing and quiet as characters pick their way around a newly desolate world but the hotel is the standout. Covered in mist, quiet, mournful but not deserted…
- A banquet of great lines this week.
- “What good is faith when the water runs out?” That’s the central conflict, right there.
- “What did you think she needed?”
“SOMETHING. ANYTHING. Comfort.” Nick, fundamentally, is a caregiver when he’s at his best. This really does seem to be Nick at his best.
- “He was asleep?”
“That’s what I told the kids.” This is the best episode Madison and Strand have ever had. The reveal, and gradual slip into, Madison’s old accent was great. This line, especially after last episode, was better.
- “Maybe you been holding on too tight?”
“OBVIOUSLY NOT.” Likewise this sparky little exchange,
- “His name was William. He was a good man.”
“Couldn’t have been that good.” Oh Strand we have MISSED you. This is classic him – snarky, snippy and kind.
- “Service is sub par.” Likewise ringing the bell. A tiny little moment of control but one that really hits home.
- “He’s NOT looking.” But Alicia gets line of the episode. At long last, the third child in the family has had enough of her human dumpster fire brothers getting all the attention. More competent, kickass Alicia please.
- Strand hammering on the piano and his entire demeanour this episode was great. He’s finally letting himself grieve, and it’s ugly and he’s holding on anyway. It’s great stuff and we’re delighted the writers’ room have decided to make the Madison/Strand double act a thing.
- Nick’s theft and why he’s actually stealing it is great. As is the “genuinely not caring if he lives” bargaining scene.
- Nick skating on the trolley on the way back to Colonia is the best.
- The Shaun Of The Dead shoutout! All it needed was a Queen soundtrack
- This is nitpicky we know, but given that Alejandro told Nick not to put any pressure on the wound, how is he moving? Especially if it’s only been two days?
- We’re getting the nasty feeling that Ofelia is going to be the one who drops out for Luciana to join the main cast. So much so, in fact, we’re not unconvinced she didn’t kill herself this episode and we just didn’t see it yet. While that’s not super likely she does seem to be being positioned for imminent death. Which is a shame because if there’s one thing a show that’s seemed to have a revolving door on POC characters doesn’t need, it’s a “one in one out” policy on non-caucasian female leads. Still, we’re not there yet and hopefully won’t ever be.
And The Random:
- Notice how the last two episodes have been good and very good respectively? Yeah? Us too!
- Notice who hasn’t been on screen, even once, in those episodes?
- Us too.
- It’s looking increasingly like the big problem the show has is Chris and to a lesser extent Travis. Both the other sub groups have interesting plots now, both are growing and both are far more fun without the Crisis Twins around. Hopefully when Chris and Travis make their inevitable return they’ll be improved too.
Review by Alasdair Stuart