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Fear the Walking Dead S2.02 has a tragic scenario radar

The following contains spoilers for  Fear the Walking Dead.

Welcome back to Zombies on the High Seas. According to that log book Nick rescued from the shot-up boat, San Diego is a smoking crater. Travis, Madison, and Daniel discuss heading somewhere else with Strand - perhaps Catrina Island, a nature preserve that’s likely to have a ranger station. It’s a good plan, given that the ranger station is likely to at least have a radio and quite probably provisions of some sort. Strand clearly isn’t down with it but can’t come up with a plausible reason why they shouldn’t check the island out, so off they go. As they’re en route, they see a light on in the ranger station, so it would appear that someone with a pulse is still kicking around up there. Clearly the best thing to do is approach them unarmed! 

The ranger station is, indeed, inhabited by George, his wife Melissa, and their three children. Travis, blithely unaware of the irony of requesting help after sailing right on by other people doing the exact same thing, asks if they can hole up for the evening and get their bearings. George and his family welcome everyone in, and then proceed to inform Travis that the country, or at least the western half of it, is toast. He’s been in touch with ranger stations as far out as Colorado, and basically, odds are good you’re going to be dead pretty soon, so you may as well eat that entire pound of bacon. Cholesterol be damned. 

While Travis and the others are on the island, Daniel and Ofelia have stayed behind on the Abigail. Daniel is pretty convinced that Strand is hiding something and is pushing to keep moving south for nefarious reasons. But hey, maybe Strand really does just think San Diego is safe… oh, come ON, people. Have you heard the man’s voice? Nobody with a voice that deep and silky is up to any good. Of course he’s got something shady going on. While they’re waiting, Ofelia and Daniel share a tender father/daughter moment when she references the fact that he used to torture people for a living. It’s very moving. Her comment about how the world is now “cruel,” combined with the fact that she’s had practically nothing to do so far this season means she’ll probably be dead soon - and Daniel will probably be the one who kills her. 

Nick, who has finally managed to change his clothes but whose hair is still a hot mess, heads up to play with young Harry in his room. Ex-junkie though he may be, but he’s damn good with kids, so Harry is happy to show off his action figures (complete with bullet holes drawn on their heads) and tell Nick about his “power pills,” which “keep his family together.” So, nothing at all creepy there. Melissa has a similarly not-creepy-at-all conversation with Madison about whether or not she likes small children, like, oh, I dunno, say, Harry and Willa’s age, just as an out of nowhere example. Everyone on the island picks up on the fact that something weird is going on except Alicia, who continues to lack any kind of situational awareness. 

Seth, eldest child of the ranger station clan and pretty fond of toting a rifle around, teaches Chris some Zombie 101 at the fenceline that’s right out of the prison season of The Walking Dead, just with better scenery. Jab in the head through the chainlink, don’t shoot your gun because it’ll attract others, you know the drill. All that was lacking was their own unique word for zombies, like biters or walkers. Given that they wash up on the beach, I guess they’d go for floaters. 

His spider senses tingling, Nick starts poking around the house and stumbles upon a stash of pills that he rightly identifies as poison. Seems that George is just looking to chill out with his fam until things get really bad, and then all go out together. Melissa asks Madison to take her two youngest kids, but Travis is against the idea until Nick tells them about the Jonestown plan. Even after that, he says he’ll talk to George. Let’s pause for a moment and think about how that conversation would’ve gone. “Hey, George, I know you plan on killing your family, but do you really need to kill all of them? You could spare one or two, right?” Anyway, it’s all moot. While they’re debating the ethics of kidnapping and/or killing small children, Willa takes a power pill and snuffs it. Melissa cuddles her corpse and you can see where this is going. Willa turns, chomps on mom, Madison and Travis hightail it for the boat, Harry in tow. Seth shows up and demands they give his little brother back. Given that he’s making his request with the business end of a rifle, they relent.

At this moment Melissa shows up on the dock to make an obvious, shambling statement about how no fence is impenetrable and the center cannot hold and all that. One momentarily must wonder how she, in her zombified state, made it from the attic bedroom all the way down to the dock so quickly, but apparently tragic scenario radar is a byproduct of zombiedom. Appropriately horrified, our heroes depart.

While a fine exploration of the new world order when viewed in a vacuum, We All Fall Down loses a lot of its impact if you’re already a fan of The Walking Dead. At first blush, George’s plan to kill his entire family is terrible and the desire to “give Harry and Willa a chance” by getting them off the island makes sense. If you know what’s coming though (which you do if you’ve been following TWD), you see his point. What’s really better, to head out into the world, which is full of ruthless, cruel people and death in the hope that maybe you’ll find something slightly less shitty, or stay in your lovely home until the last possible moment, then go out peacefully with your loved ones? The people in FTWD might still believe there’s some version of normal out there in the world, but we, the audience, know there isn’t, so why not let Willa and Harry just stay playing on the beach? 

The first season of Fear was all about realizing that normal life was breaking down and figuring out what really matters. It used family drama - the mundane bickering of parents about their kids or their exes - to underscore the enormity of the coming threat. This season is looking to view the world through a wider lens, which certainly allows for more thrilling situations, but is losing its identity in the process. If you didn’t already know who was related to whom, you’d never guess that these folks weren’t just a bunch of random strangers who ended up together by accident. You’d also wonder why they don’t just leave Alicia behind somewhere because damn that girl is useless. 

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Susan was once Managing Editor US at GamesRadar, but has since gone on to become a skilled freelance journalist, editor, producer, and content manager. She is now 1/3 of @Continuepod, 1/2 of @BeastiesLl, co-founder of @TakeThisOrg, and Apex Editor, Fluid Group.