Fear The Walking Dead S02E15 “North” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Travis, covered in three people’s blood, is slumped in the office where he killed Brandon and Trevor.
- The others break in and try and get through to him but Travis is catatonic. He’s taken away by Elena because, thanks to the rules that Madison put down, he’s banished.
- Madison asks for Alicia’s knife. Strand and Alicia, sensing just how sideways this is about get, follow her back to the murder scene.
- Where she drives the knife into Trevor’s head to stop him turning. They arrive in time to see Brandon start to turn and she kills him too.
- Back at the Colonia, Luciana is tending to Alejandro. She tries to put make-up on him to cover his rapidly worsening condition. To her surprise, Alejandro agrees with Nick: the Colonia is ending.
- Back at the hotel, Strand tries to persuade Madison to let them throw Travis out. To her eternal credit she admits this is her problem; if she didn’t light the beacon none of this would have happened. Strand is adamant Travis can’t stay. Alicia agrees; they need to go with him. Madison tries to argue her down but Alicia convinces her. Strand is done.
- Madison and Alicia go and negotiate with Elena; she asks to stay until morning and then they’ll all leave. Elena agrees and after further negotiation, lets Madison in to see Travis. He tries to get her to stay but she refuses.
- Back at the Colonia, Nick’s gearing up to leave. He again tries to reason with Luciana but she replies that all he does is run.
- Back at the hotel, Andreas is tending to Oscar who was badly injured when Travis slammed a door on his head. They have no choice but to open his skull to relieve the pressure.
- Back at the Colonia, a clearly dying Alejandro addresses his people for the last time. He warns them what’s coming and reassures them that their faith, and the wall, will protect them. Nick leaves as Alejandro claims that, again, faith is what will protect them.
- We see Nick stop in the middle of the street nearby as je hears something: a helicopter. There’s a fully functional army base on the horizon.
- At the hotel, Travis warns Madison he’s not the same. She retorts that she’s the same and confesses that she killed Celia to protect Nick. She tells him she’s always been like this and will always forgive Travis because she can face the world how it is, if he’s with her. They hug.
- Oscar dies. Hector and Andreas stop him turning and go to murder Travis. Madison and Alicia try and talk them down as Armando holds Travis at gunpoint. Travis is ready to die.
- Alicia is ready to kill. She stabs Andreas in the heart.
- The frantic brawl that follows culminates in Strand saving the day and them fleeing into the night. Strand sees them off and refuses to go with them.
- The Clarks and Manuwas go back on the road. They do this by smashing through the gates. Because – and never ever forget this – they are terrible humans.
- Back at the Colonia, Alejandro is dying. Nick comes to see him and tells him about the base. He helps Alejandro mix up the drugs he’s taking for the pain. Nicks asks if he’s afraid and Alejandro insists he can still fight and help. Nick responds with Alejandro’s own words, “Be brave but careful.”
- Nick begs him to give them permission to run and tells him about the base. He persuades Alejandro to give his people permission to run and appeals to the well-intentioned hubris that drove Alejandro to tell his white lie.
- Meanwhile, Travis, Madison and Alicia head for the supermarket. When they get there it’s deserted and any hope Madison has of finding Nick seems lost. They head to the office upstairs and smell death. They find the family from the Colonia and begin searching the bodies looking for an address. Alicia asks her mother what she’s doing and she can’t answer.
- The gang storm the Colonia. They make short work of the Wall and make it through the bus. They find the Colonia deserted.
- Aside from Alejandro. Dying, he gets into the bus, starts it and opens the Colonia. The wall sweep in and Oscar and his men try and kill them. It doesn’t work and the gangsters are routed.
- Elsewhere, Nick and Luciana lead the Colonia residents through the streets towards the base.
- Back at the Colonia, Madison, Travis and Alicia arrive to see the aftermath of the battle. Because, AGAIN, they’ve forgotten that Alicia is the only adult left, they tell her to wait in the van while they check the Colonia. Amazingly, they do actually take weapons this time.
- They find the aftermath of the battle and Oscar and his members as part of the Wall. Turns out Alejandro was right about something. Alejandro, incidentally, has been found and cared for by Alicia. When Madison and Travis arrive they ask him where Nick is. Alejandro lives long enough to tell them to head to the border, then dies.
- Nick and friends make it to the border. Nick sees the helicopter again and shows Luciana. There’s just enough time for them to celebrate before a group of soldiers open up on them. Luciana is wounded, others killed and the refugees flee back into Mexico. Nick and Luciana take cover as the battle rages on.
- At the border, Luciana and Nick are captured.
Well, here we are again. At the end of season one we wrote this:
“This is a show that’s been running on the spot, very badly at times, for at least four of its six episodes. Now, at last, it’s off and moving and looks set to go some interesting places. That by itself would be quite an achievement, but on the way, it’s finally made us care for these characters. That’s amazing and promises much for season two. Roll on life on the ocean wave. Let’s all go meet Abigail.”
So, season one finished strongly despite some incredibly odd narrative choices. How’s season two done?
In places, very good. In places, mystifyingly bad. Much like this episode.
The good first. The consequences of Travis’ murder of the bro’s is logical, well done and locks Madison out with her own words. It’s immensely tiresome that we’re out from under the Hotel plot but the impossible situation the family are in at least feels earned. Plus that last scene between Travis and Madison is chilling and goes a really long way towards solving one of the show’s biggest problems. The Clark/Manuwas are incredibly horrible people who destroy everything they touch and Madison acknowledging that and welcoming Travis to his new world view is as romantic as it is dark and chilling.
Then there’s Alicia, who closes the season out in the best place she’s ever been. The idiotic piracy/flirting plot she was saddled with at the top of the year has been replaced with her taking her place as the competent member of the family. She’s also clearly really not happy about it and seems a little jealous of Ofelia for getting the Hell out of there. There is a lot to do with her next season and now Chris is out of the show, we’re hopeful Alicia will get whole entire plotlines to herself.
As for the other kid still left standing? The news isn’t as good. The Colonia plot this episode does exactly the same thing it did last episode; not a lot. There’s no reason we can see for this plot to be spun over two episodes and it damages one of the show’s most interesting plots in doing so. Nonetheless, Nick, Luciana and Ofelia all discover what the story arc is for next year independently and that should be fun to see explored from different perspectives. Regardless, while Nick’s idled for two episodes he’s certainly much more interesting and well utilised than he’s ever been.
So that’s the good news. The bad?
Strand being left behind is an awful idea and we can only hope it means that we’ll be back at the hotel a bit next season. Similarly, now Madison and Travis are basically alone together with Alicia the chance for the two new Worst People On The Show to be awful is pretty high. The end of this episode is a worrying sign of that with Madison reconciling yet again with her daughter and then basically telling her to wait in the car.
Elsewhere the season has felt like a series of vignettes. Life on the Ocean Wave was fun and we’d like to see the Abigail back. Abigail’s compound was a pretty horrible misstep, managing to combine near instantaneous gay character murder with Chris going dark side and Travis being an idiot, along with Madison straight-up committing murder. This last section has been the most successful with the hotel and the Colonia both doing interesting things with the show’s format. Superficially it seems like both of those are over now but, like we see, we’d like to see the hotel again. And, provided it’s not as bad as the season one take on them, next season’s military plot should be fun.
So, that was Fear The Walking Dead season two. Frustrating, tedious in places and at times fantastic. The show seems to be working hard to fix its problems and while it’s not there yet, progress has been made. Maybe it’ll be third season lucky.
- “Your people will live and you get to die a beautiful death.” Nick finally appealing to Alejandro through a combination of pride and altruism.
- The “I see you, you garbage fire of a man” look Strand gives Travis as they drive off is epic.
- “I know the world changed and made you this. Me, I’ve been like this a long time.” That final hotel scene between Travis and Madison is sort of amazing. These are HORRIBLE people but for the first time we’re seeing one admit that. It’s really dark, very smart writing that hopefully marks a welcome new direction for the show.
- “We found this place. We’ll find another.” NONE OF YOU PEOPLE DESERVE ALICIA
- “Are you really going to leave for the man who abandoned you?” OR YOU, VICTOR.
- “I had the chance to kill myself. I chose not to. I wouldn’t die for him and I’m not dying for any of you.” Victor Strand, Truth Speaker.
- The gentle, almost loving way Oscar is killed is a neat contrast to Nick’s gouge fest last week.
- The fact that no one, not even Nick, noticed the huge Army base over the border is ludicrous. Like “The explanation for why no one ever noticed Dracula’s castle on the outskirts of Sunnydale” in Buffy-level ludicrous.
- The pacing. Two full episodes of the gang storming the Colonia and Alejandro dying verrrrrryyyyyy slowwwwwllllyyyy.
- The hotel plot being a total waste of time. Unless we spend more time there with Strand next season. WHICH WE’D BETTER.
- Travis breaks the gates down. It’s what Chris would have done. And then whine about it. ENDLESSLY.
- Oscar being offhandedly killed is a bad end for an interesting character.
And The Random:
- The music accompanying Nick and Luciana leading the Colonia’s residents out is “The Desperate Kingdom Of Love” by PJ Harvey.
- The music accompanying the ending is “Goodnight” by Mirel Wagner.
Review by Alasdair Stuart