Previously on Fear The Walking Dead: our merry band of seaborne survivors were heading to Victor Strand’s Baha compound south of the border – but not before Strand made himself into Mr Unpopular by cutting the line of a new boat of survivors.
In the Nick of time
The pre-credits sequence, lasting a good five minutes long, sees Nick (Frank Dillane) wash up on a beach at night, encountering a desered survivor camp and neatly dispatching a lone walker. (The episode is never quite clear of the circumstances leading up to Nick’s beach landing, but it’s sort of hinted at in the previous episode, in a conversation between him and Strand.)
We get a nice repeat of the Carrie-esque moment from the previous episode when Nick cakes himself in zombie guts to walk among zombies safely. But having set up a memorably badass visual motif, the show isn’t really sure what to do with it, and Nick subsequently scores no kills, instead happening upon Luis (Arturo Del Puerto), who insists to our disappointment that he hose himself down. (Compare this to the main Walking Dead show, which saw Michonne utilise the same zombie-guts-armour trick, but to a far more satisfying end).
Pirates of the Californian
Kevin & Perry impersonator Chris (Lorenzo Henrie) tries a bit of romantic posturing early in this episode with Ofelia (Mercedes Mason), which if nothing else gives the sorely under-utilised Ofelia some screentime. But it’s inevitably short lived when a band of bandits board the boat, posing as survivors in need. This new lot seem remarkably ready to dish out a brutal new form of terrorism, considering society only crumbled, what, a month or two before?
Anyway, they’re the first human threat the series has thrown up. It’s a mixed bag: Reed, the leader, is a caricature villain; Vida, a pregnant woman, teases the possibility that her baby could turn into a zombie in utero (it's intriguing to see if the show is brave enough for that sort of horror beat); and Jack, the man Alicia (Alycia Debnam Carey) bonded with over the radio in episode 1.
Naturally, those brief minutes of chat are all the assurance she needs that these gun-wielding baddies have hearts of gold, once you get to know ‘em. “I trust him”, says Alicia to her mother, who sports a large bloody head wound from one of these friendly pirates. Let’s hope it’s wily subterfuge she’s using here, and she doesn't actually trust them. Please don't be that foolish.
Early story Strands
The episode’s most engaging moments come in flashbacks to the early years of Victor Strand (Colman Domingo), consistently the most compelling character – if only because we know so little about him. The flashbacks add a little more meat to his bones, without spoonfeeding us too much. They’re nicely done.
Here we meet Dougray Scott’s character, Thomas Abigail (presumably, the owner of the Abigail boat). Thomas appears to be many things to Strand: friend, business partner, lover... Theirs is an unusual meet-cute – it’s not many romances that begin with one stealing credit cards from the other – but it potentially sets up the most interesting dimension for the show thus far. As Thomas’ henchman, Luis shows potential too, picking off the pirates from his raft and ending another patchy but promising episode on an explosive note.
Highlight: Nick, adopting his blood disguise.
Lowlight: Nick, being told to wash off his blood disguise. The ultimate anti-climax. It was enemy of a climax.
Kill of the week: Luis, sniping one of the pirates from his raft, with Bourne-like precision.
Zombie of the week: Not many to pick from this week. Probably would have to be the guy Nick hacks away at in the tent. For a show ostensibly about zombies, this season has been disappointingly low on them.
Quote of the week: Strand’s father “had a great voice. Rich. Baritone. Resonant.” Like father, like son, then.
MVP: Thomas Abigail, looking like a cross between Gerard Butler and Gordon Brown, and potentially adding some parasitic spice to the series.