Cold opener: a preacher in a Mexican church conducting a communion ceremony. He’s riling them up for something, some kind of raid — at least, that’s what we gather from Thomas Abigail, who arrives in his Ford to warn them not to do whatever they’re about to do. They don’t get to do any of it, though, because within the next few seconds, they fall to the ground and all their eyes start bleeding. This isn’t how the zombie virus affects people, so..what is it? We’ll have to wait a while for the explanation to this.
Chris is still sticking by his story that Reed started turning into a zombie without dying, despite over 50% of the family being familiar enough with the phenomenon by now to know that’s a bald-faced lie. Before they can get to wringing his neck, however, the Abigail approaches the Mexican shores at last.
One problem: Strand and Luis’s original plan involved just two people getting through the border, so everybody else has to hide below deck. They hear the border guards galloping onto the ship, they hear some muffled banter about a trade, and then before anything else happens gunfire starts ringing out. The plan was completely pointless; they could have just entered without asking. They do get through after a fierce chase.
BUT the reason they get through is because the border patrol expects whatever is on land to kill them anyway. Which begs the question why they are guarding it in the first place.
No need to fear, however — they’re heading for Thomas Abigail’s giant, expensive Walker-free (as far as they know) estate. And as soon as they entered this fenced-in area with its serene middle-American farm setup and quiet atmosphere, I thought “Oh NO.”
It’s still up to debate as to which season of The Walking Dead is the worst one, but my personal pick is Season 2. Team Rick finds a farm and stays there, and they’re for the most part safe. As a result, almost nothing happens. When you take away the zombies, the running and the danger, the show only has one other thing to fall back on to raise tension: to make somebody do something stupid. To have some weird issue come up and have people suddenly act like toddlers and start fighting over it. Season 2 of TWD relied entirely on this, and it sucked. It’s a miracle public interest remained steady enough to make future, better seasons possible.
And my instincts were 100% correct. The moment Team Madison stepped onto this farm, the focus went off the zombies and survival and started becoming about abrupt problems the characters suddenly had with each other. For the love of all things holy, people, DON’T do a repeat of your predecessor’s worst hour!
So Chris is gonna just start acting strange. To be fair, the seeds of this have been planted over the previous few episodes: he charged right into the savage hack-and-slash lifestyle, only to be scarred by having to kill an actual human. Now he doesn’t want to have to kill anything, to the extent that when Madison has a zombie right on top of her, and Chris is right next to her while holding a weapon, he does nothing but stand there while holding it.
This episode showed a good chunk of TWD Season 2’s plot in fast-forward: they find a secluded place, everything seems fine, and then the “boss” of the area turns out to be hiding Walkers because he/she believes they aren’t actually dead. At least it took half an episode to tell instead of seven. But we’ve already seen it and it wasn’t good the first time.
There’s a little twist here, though, that wasn’t in the original: Celia, the house caretaker while the Master is away, believes being a Walker is some kind of higher form of existence and so she is purposely killing people to get them there. The hopeless folks at the church with bleeding eyes? Her doing — she poisoned their communion wafers. She may be a dollar store Governor knockoff, but it’s only midseason — I wouldn’t expect her to be the big finale boss.
But back to Chris — Alicia noticed him derping around while her mother was in danger and she isn’t happy about it. She tells Madison, who tells Travis — but since Chris is Travis’s son and not hers, he’s less inclined to believe anything is amiss about him. This actually causes a schism that results in Travis and Madison sleeping in separate beds that very night (if memory serves correctly, they were happily doing it on the night previous). Does this feel implausibly strained, or what? But that’s what happens when you take the zombies away.
THE ADVENTURES OF CRAZY NICK, PART 12: OWL-VISION
We’ve got a doozy today.
Cray-Cray Nick wanders into the yard outside where he meets Celia. Celia starts chatting like the nut she is about how Walkers are “what comes next,” but Nick isn’t paying attention. Instead he stares up at the trunk of a tree, where someone has carved a wooden owl into its face. He then has a bizarre freakout flashing back to the pilot, and the first zombie he ever saw — his ex-girlfriend, and then her face is cross-cut with the wooden owl, because….the owl reminds him of her, which makes no sense.
Strand does get to meet up with his lost love, Thomas Abigail, again….but Thomas is on his deathbed. He was chomped out there while trying to save those church people, and doesn’t have long. Strand is upset enough about it that he considers killing himself to join Thomas wherever he’s going, causing Thomas to snark “How Shakesperian of you.”
I thought this was heading toward Thomas Abigail rising as a zombie, and Celia taking him away to join her collection, and Strand getting upset, initiating a conflict actually worth fighting over….but the episode ends with Strand putting him down. So…what…now? Do we just wait for this to play out? Is the main source of tension in the midseason finale going to be this stupid “Chris is chicken” subplot?
From the perspective of the ending, it appears so: Chris sneaks into the room where Madison and Alicia are sleeping to get his hands on a knife — and the moment he picks it up, the sound of Strand’s gunshot reverberates throughout the house, causing both women to rise from bed and stare at Chris with shocked expressions. This is Walking Dead, not Three’s Company, and no one’s here to watch a comedy of misunderstandings escalate.