Previously on Fear The Walking Dead: on the good ship Abigail, our merry band of seaborne survivors have been boarded by a gang of post-apocalyptic pirates, kidnapping Alicia and Travis, and leaving Strand in the ocean, stranded.
Be warned: this review contains major spoilers for Fear The Walking Dead throughout.
Sittin’ on the dock of the filet
We open on Apocalyptic Masterchef, as Connor (Mark Kelly) whips up a juicy Omaha steak for Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) while delivering a Creepy Bad Guy Monologue. As the leader of this mercenary group, Connor is talked of in grand terms by his brother, Reed, but feels like a slightly throwaway villain, shuffled in at the end of last episode and promptly shuffled out this week.
Still, we get a sense of Alicia’s plan to escape the boat, which seems to be... turning Jack to the Light Side? Hitting everyone with clipboards until they comply? Bargaining with steak? Either she has no plan, or very poor judgement.
Burn After Reeding
Two of the would-be pirates were killed aboard the Abigail last episode, but one remains: sneering villain caricature Reed (Jesse McCartney), stabbed in the chest, and taken hostage by our heroes. His capture allows for Daniel (Rubén Blades) to unleash a bit more tough-guy-ery, and remind us all that Strand isn’t the only one with a mysterious past. With this and the voices he’s hearing, is the show gearing up to a Big Moment for Daniel? Will we see him caked in blood, shotgun in hand, steely expression upon his face, come the finale? We can but hope.
After doing some more sneering, Reed gets promptly killed by Chris (Lorenzo Henrie), who claims he was going to turn. As if Chris needed more stuff to brood over. What direction is Chris going? Is he about to become a troubled psychopath, a la Shane from Walking Dead? Or will he simply become more troubled and weak-willed, leading to an inevitable death? Again, we can but hope.
A pirate’s life for me
Travis (Cliff Curtis) is also aboard the landlocked pirate’s boat, as part of the strange deal brokered by Alicia. It’s not clear what he was expecting, but unsurprisingly he is locked in a cell, confronted by Alex (Michelle Ang), the plane crash survivor from episode 3. Frustratingly, she appears to have morphed into another hissing baddie. Travis is remorseful, though: “I’m no better than the man who cut the rope,” he claims. Seems a bit hard on himself. As we remember, he was quite diplomatic.
Anyway, Alex recounts having to mercy kill her pal, as a sort of justification for her turning to the Dark Side. Not sure this sort of highly emo monologuing is really needed – not only because it’s a slim rationale for siding with clearly dishonourable types, but because we’ve seen this sort of monologue a thousand times before on the main show. In these moments, Fear struggles to make itself distinctive enough.
The Great-ish Escape
Our pirate encounter reaches its conclusion with a good old-fashioned prisoner swap, trading Travis for a now-zombie Reed. Connor is pretty swiftly dispatched by his walker brother, and that exchange seems fairly straightforward. But the exit between Alicia and Jack is infuriatingly bad. “You’re going back to those people?” asks Jack. “Alex told us what they did.” As if Connor’s crew haven’t done anything ten times worse. Yet Alicia genuinely ponders the decision. To quote a character from an earlier episode: “how is this even a conversation?”
It’s a disappointing ending to a subplot, and perhaps elucidates the recurring problem with the show: this is a show populated by teenagers, and at times seems targeted at a teenage audience. Which is fine, of course, but you do wish it would mature and, well, grow up a bit.
Highlight: That steak in the opening scene looked pretty tasty.
Lowlight: Alicia’s indecision at the end was a genuine head-slap moment. Really? You’re really not sure whether to go with your family or some clearly evil pirates you’ve just met? Really?
Kill of the week: Only one to choose from this week – Reed, getting blammed in the head by Chris.
Zombie of the week: Again, only one to choose from this week – Reed, after getting blammed in the head by Chris. Forgive us for sounding morbid, but this show could use a bit more death.
Quote of the week: “Everything is a negotiation.” Even after having been pulled out of the ocean, Strand is the consummate dealmaker.
MVP: Daniel’s tough El Salvadorean past proves his worth as an intriguing prospect.
Fear the Walking Dead airs in the UK on Mondays at 9pm on AMC, exclusive to BT TV.