Fear the Walking Dead S2.04 review - Yes, you should shoot them

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So, you know that whole "We can’t keep leaving people behind" mantra that Madison’s been chanting for the past few episodes? Yeah, that comes back to bite her as the reality of the new world becomes fully realized. As she and Travis argue about what they should do with Strand, head with him to Baja or just chuck him overboard, a boat full of strangers advance on the Abigail, claiming to be in distress. Chris, who’d been chatting with Ofelia about the truly important things in life - namely, whether there’s a girl out there somewhere who might be willing to get naked with him - is smart enough to wonder if maybe he should shoot these people, but not quite smart enough to know that if you’re asking the question, the answer is invariably "yes".

The strangers bull their way on board and swiftly take possession of the yacht. Remember that boy Jack who was chatting up Alicia over the radio? He’s part of the boarding party, but he feels really bad about the whole thing. So bad. Like... just the worst, especially now that he sees what Alicia looks like and thinks maybe he can tap that. The folks he’s with, on the other hand, are pretty chill with the whole 'tying people up and hitting them with guns' thing. Strand bailed as soon as he realized what was happening, but he doesn’t get far before Jack shoots a hole in the dinghy. It’s a smooth move, were it not for the fact that Strand has the only key to the damn boat, so they’re standing on a ten-million-dollar buoy unless Travis can make good on his claim to jump start the thing.

While all this is going on, Nick has swum to shore, found himself a zombie, covered himself in its plasma (ew) and is roaming the streets in search of an address. It’s been interesting watching Nick go from being the problem spoken about in hushed suburban tones to being the one who figures things out, takes action, and gets stuff done. Perhaps what serves you best during a zombie apocalypse is the innate ability to not care what other people think of your life choices. Or maybe it’s that he simply didn’t have enough of a life before the fall to make it worth missing, so he can concentrate on the now. Regardless, he’s proving to be one of the most consistently interesting characters. We’ll come back to him in a minute, but for now we’ll leaving him bouncing a basketball through the streets of an abandoned subdivision, because where he’s headed has everything to do with Strand’s past.

Years ago, Strand was down on his luck - bankrupt, in fact - when he ran into a very wealthy, fairly ruthless, yet also rather charming guy by the name of Thomas Abigail. (HEY WAIT, THAT’S THE NAME OF THE BOAT, HEYYYYY.) They got on like a house on fire, despite the fact that Strand stole a very drunk Abigail’s credit cards, and eventually became a couple. That house in Baja? It’s Abigail and Strand’s home, and now it suddenly makes sense why Strand was in such a hurry to get there, though who knows if it’s really as fortified as he says. Strand, who’s still clinging to a rapidly deflating dinghy, sent Nick to that address looking for Luis, Abigail’s right-hand man, who’s packing up supplies and getting ready to bounce. Good news is Nick finds him; bad news is, Luis only made plans to get himself and Strand across the border into Mexico. Ok, on a list of problems including "armed incursion on the yacht", "civilization in ruins", and "hordes of shambling undead", "more people coming to Baja" seems relatively minor. They’ll wing it.

Back on the yacht, the leader of the merry band of lying jerks shows up and says ok, Alicia is Jack’s squeeze and Travis actually did manage to jump start the boat so he’s pretty handy, let’s take them with us. Everyone else... meh. Whatevs. He departs just in time for Luis and Nick to roll in on a zodiac, pop one of the gun-toting guards in the head (hey, that’s a tricky shot when you’re bobbing on the water, so give the man his props), and retake the boat. Hooray! Good(ish) guys win! Well, sure, two of them are in some compound somewhere - but hey, we got Strand back, so that’s good, right? Hope he still has the boat key.

Overall, Fear the Walking Dead is still feeling like a cleaner version of its progenitor, but the interpersonal tensions that made the first season distinct are beginning to come through in some intriguing ways. Alicia used to be certain of her role in her family, but now that Nick is not only around but also sober, she’s feeling unsettled and useless. Madison’s control issues are starting to wear on Travis, and my guess is he’s an episode or two away from telling her that he’s sick of her shit. Ofelia is growing increasingly bitter of the life she gave up to, as she sees it, protect her parents, given that they clearly didn’t need protecting at all. They say you’re stuck with your family, and that’s even more true for these people now, who all have issues bubbling under the surface that they can’t really deal with because they need each other to survive. But you can bet those feelings are going to lead to some bad, bad decisions pretty soon.

Susan Arendt

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.