Episode 14 - Wrath
AMC, in anticipation of TWD, doubled down on FTWD to wrap it up tonight so I’ve combined the two episodes into one recap/review, so everything makes sense chronologically.
Ofelia almost makes it to the border before her truck breaks down. In the zombie apocalypse, one should learn to be handy with basic auto maintenance, or not trust cars at all. It’s not a matter of if a car will quit on you, it’s a matter of when, and that’s usually when you thought you had made it out of shit creek. Still, Ofelia is more than capable of defending herself, and grabs her bag and water to get a head start on the horde making their way toward the truck.
Travis is still upset that he raised a sociopath but Maddie says that, hey, maybe that’s not so bad in the current state of affairs. She’s not wrong, but she isn’t too right either. Still, Travis is able to begin to make peace with Alicia and apologize for his creepy son. Think long and hard about having children in these times, folks, for you too may one day have to apologize to someone for your murderous weirdo jerk son.
Meanwhile at the colonia, Nick and Reynaldo make their way to attempt to trade with the narcos in exchange for their word that the people in the colonia will be left in peace. But as narcos go, they managed to squeeze information out of Francisco and his family before murdering them, spot Nick standing on the roof like a dumbass, and team up with an even bigger, worse bunch of dudes. No amount of cheap oxy will buy their word.
Back at the hotel, the remainder of Team Dickhead are being their loud, obnoxious, casually racist selves and Maddie takes notice. After they run their mouths a bit more, Maddie does the math and tries to think of a plan. The only thing she can come up with is to exile them while Strand runs a distraction play with Travis. Of course the people get riled up thinking two little punks who showed up just recently are getting special treatment, and their noise gets Travis’ attention before they are either kicked out or on the receiving end of some mob justice. Personally, I think it was kind of chicken shit of Maddie to try and sneak them out and leave Travis in the dark, especially after she just made a big confession to Alicia. Honesty only works here and there, it seems. And really, I would have loved to have seen them get that room they were promised, only to find Travis in there and ready to get some answers. Still, that could happen…
Nick gives Luciana and Alejandro the bad news but before they can come up with an evacuation plan, a walker pops out of bed and bites a few people. I’m a little sick of the forearm bite or the neck bite, so seeing a guy get his nose pulled off of his face was skin crawlingly entertaining. It’s an intense moment, and seeing Nick gouge out the eyes of the perpetrating walker was a zombie kill for the books. One of the people bitten was Alejandro but his claim to fame was that his faith carried him through getting bitten once before, so he should be fine. Still he looked a bit hypocritical sending the other two out to join the zombie defense force with his arm bloodied and bandaged. Though Nick seemed to be a little too interested in this idea of faith, the state of death being nothing to be afraid of, etc., now it seems that it will do more harm than good when the fight comes to their door.
The only person who catches a break is Ofelia, who finds a hole in the border fence after untold miles of walking. Her luck runs out, more than likely, when someone starts taking pot shots at her. She’s ready for a fight, but not really because she doesn’t have it in her to bum rush an old white guy who condescendingly calls her “señorita” and welcomes her to America.
The end of the episode sees the fall of Alejandro, after he reveals to Luciana that he’s in fact not immune to the virus but he sure does heal up well from enraged junkie bites. Even though he built the colonia on a lie, and developed a cult of personality there, he reasons that he’s done more harm than good. It’s true to an extent, that there is a functional community there, the first one we know of in the WD universe and it’s kept people safe. But rather than continue to develop this father/savior personality ala The Governor, he admits his failure and it seems to work. Nick is done with the bullshit but Luciana is prepared to stay and fight.
More importantly we witness a turning point in one of the last good characters. Travis finally gets some answers out of Brandon and Derek, aka Team Dickhead. He learns that Chris was killed in an accident while they were travelling. It was all very convincing and tragic. He fell asleep at the wheel, was thrown from the wreckage, but buried by the Dickheads who decided to take a page from Travis’ Book of Sentimental Bullshit. The story doesn’t add up for him though, and after playing them a little chin music he finally gets the truth: Chris was too wounded to care for or carry, so they killed him in the road like a run over deer. Here it’s both the failure of Chris and Travis to realize that dickheads don’t change once the world goes to shit. They only last as long as someone believes they aren’t dickheads but by then they’ve gotten what they’ve wanted and left some sucker in their wake. Chris thought he had found kindred spirits, and Travis thought he would last long enough with these guys for them to be reunited somewhere down the road.
Travis, who always thought there was a better way than violence or killing, who didn’t enjoy any melee he was involved in, who was perhaps the last person with an intact soul and clear conscience, goes into a rage. Maddie begged him before to believe their lies and move on, and locked out of the room, begged him again not to beat Brandon and Derek to death. It was a long time coming, but inevitable. There is no more moral high ground, and characters that try to retain/reclaim it get pretty annoying, like Morgan in TWD. Once Travis satisfies his blood lust, it appears Brandon most certainly does not have an intact brain case anymore, and Derek’s well-being remains to be seen. But so begins Travis’ journey down a dark road, perhaps. And what about Maddie’s law that no one raises a hand to anyone who lives at the hotel? Surely he could get away with what happened to Team Dickhead but didn’t he also knock out Oscar? We are not civilized if we have no rule of law…
Episode 15 - North
The residents of the hotel are none too happy with Travis going berserk, despite what happened to Chris. Oscar is not only knocked out, but Andres finds that there’s swelling in his brain. Travis already broke their one rule, and is already a murderer without Andres losing his sister-in-law AND his brother. It’s settled that Travis has to leave, and in a show of solidarity, Alicia is more than willing to join he and Maddie in exile. Strand is not so convinced, having lost his soul mate and his sweet villa, he’s not about to risk his life again. I mean, how many luxury properties does a guy have to get kicked out of before settling down? Indeed, our trio of exiles probably need only make it a mile or two up the beach, if that, to find some more sweet digs. One thing I did notice though: was Derek’s gurgling that of a walker or a man severely beaten but still breathing? No matter, Maddie finished the job.
Back at the colonia Luciana prepares for battle, and patches Alejandro up a bit so he can make one final speech to his people. If they see him dying of a bite, their morale suffers, and the colonia falls. Nick tries to convince her one last time to leave with him but she’s made of sterner stuff than to be swayed by the romantic idea of two people on the road, with only their love and a day’s worth of supplies to carry them to the next paradise. She thinks it’s better to make her stand with her people, her family, than to just skip out and live for herself like Nick always has done. It takes a strong woman to call you on your bullshit to make you reconsider your philosophies on life. Still, as Alejandro stirs the people into believing that their cause/faith/way of life is stronger than the nebulous idea of evil and the very real concept of guns, Nick greases up and hits the road. But as he hears helicopters in the distance, he sees in his binoculars (very handy in the zombie apocalypse) an airport or base of some kind.
Travis and Maddie have a very honest conversation about their natures as they prepare to hit the road again. Both are guilty of murder but at the same time Travis understands now what Maddie grasped a while ago, that killing is necessary now and it’ll keep happening if they want to survive and protect each other. It’s as solid and loving a pact as a couple can make in their world. Good thing too, because box cutters and power tools are no substitute for surgical technology, and Oscar dies on the operating/kitchen table. Andres and Hector storm the room and are about to execute Travis when Alicia lands a critical strike on Andres with her knife. Before the battle could continue, Strand swoops in and breaks it up. Time to leave, again. I feel bad for Strand; once the man with the plan but now he finds himself at the mercy of the group and their insistence on staying together and wrecking shit. Still, he’d rather take his chances negotiating with an angry mob than throwing his lot in with a bunch of murderers. If Fallout has taught us anything, it’s that the gift of gab still has power at the end of the world.
As they drive into the night, they “stumble” on the warehouse the narcos were previously holed up at. Francisco and family are still there and a bit worse for wear but that doesn’t stop Maddie and Travis from searching their corpses. An already disillusioned Alicia starts to see that her mother may be back on her Nick Quest, and perhaps though the road had its twists and turns, she was steering things back to her search for her wayward son all along.
Nick himself has machinations. He returns to the colonia to tell Alejandro that he saw a medivac helicopter landing at a camp, and helps him with his dose of oxy. Nick has grown tired, it seems, of Alejandro’s grandeurs and hunger for greatness disguised as fatherly guidance, and knows the impact it will have on Luciana and the rest of the people. While he may not be as violent as the rest of our heroes, Nick most certainly has the power to influence people. It’s that addict charm people have been falling for all along.
The next day, the Battle of Colonia turns out to be a dud. Other than shooting a few walkers, Marco and his merry band of narcos (intended?) find no action. It’s then that Nick’s plan is revealed. With his last ounce of strength, Alejandro moves the bus that served as the hallway/barrier between the colonia and the walkers. I give him credit for dragging his half dead ass all the way to the bus and putting it in drive. Turns out a bunch of keyed up narcos are not the most tactically efficient squad so they eventually break ranks and all die. Meanwhile Nick, the great white hope, leads the rest of the colonia through town, all greased up in gore. One last check to get their bearings and get that necessary glimmer of hope before smashing it all. The group is ambushed by militia right at the border. Let’s take a minute to point out that while the few scouts that they had were armed, these are all family men, women and children that are getting shot at. Luciana gets winged and both her and Nick are either about to be executed or taken captive. Ofelia may have gotten extremely lucky, or unlucky depending on why, exactly, there are people armed to the teeth guarding the border because I’m sure that old white dude isn’t just guarding his farm.
Now these could be remnants of the evac/kill teams like the one that was supposed to kill everyone in the neighborhood in season one. Probably not under orders anymore but still with some semblance of duty and command. OR they could just be a bunch of nationalist assholes (remember the Minutemen border guards?) who don’t care that the world is over. “We ain’t got a country if we ain’t got a border, and damn it that wall is going up!” That last part might not be a thing anymore, since they keep shooting the Mexicans that are supposed to pay for/build the wall. Either way, season three might be a can of worms. In TWD, Merle was pretty much the only racist dickhead people had to worry about. FTWD’s next “big bad” might be a whole bunch of Merles. Should a zombie apocalypse show get into current events given the social and political climate? Maybe not, but whether or not it was intended, Night of the Living Dead was a poignant statement about society in its time. If that’s the granddaddy gold standard all other zombie media strives for, then I’ll show up to see FWTD’s attempt at social commentary.
To finish out the season, Maddie and Travis arrive at the colonia and quickly figure out what they need to know, and leave, but not before arming themselves to the teeth. They find Alicia comforting Alejandro, who is seriously going to die this time, but not before he hints at where Nick is headed. It’s a pretty solid bet that they’ll wander into the same shitstorm he did, and Maddie’s never-ending search for the prodigal son will continue to have repercussions and consequences, just not for Maddie or Nick.
Overall I think that this show had some very strong scenes and dialogue this season, especially compared to last. However this chase after Nick being the driving force behind the progression of the story has to change. Either Nick or Maddie dies, or Nick settles the fuck down, or they both realize they have way bigger problems when they find themselves at Camp Asshole. See you next season!
Written by A Play On Nerds contributor, Jerry Herrera - Lover of horror, sci fi, and fantasy in that order. Semi-permanent Disneyland resident. I'm at least one of the droids you're looking for. Twitter: @FrankenJerry - Instagram: @GeraldoPedro