Remember when this show was completely different from its parent? In six episodes it seems to have morphed into TWD II, and a big part of that can be blamed on Crazy Nick’s new friend, who I’ve decided to call Smooth Tux Man.
Actually, they said his name in this episode, but it was “Strand,” which makes no sense and is stupid, so “Smooth Tux Man” it is. The producers said repeatedly this cast would be made up of real people, as opposed to the rugged cowboy cartoons that make up TWD. Then I wish they’d explain Smooth Tux Man because generally, most average families don’t run into guys like this. He’s got the uncrackable calm demeanor of James Bond, he has a plan for everything no matter how improbable (he was well prepared for zombies), and he’s so rich he probably owned that stadium we saw at the beginning. He is right out of a Kirkman comic.
Somehow I find Mr. Salazar more believable, but that’s because his more outrageous side was introduced gradually. I have to admit the way he handled the situation of an entire army about to kill a neighborhood of defenseless people was pretty great, if a bit reckless. It’s also a tad too convenient that a giant stadium packed to the rafters with Walkers happened to be in the show as of last episode, but it works for me. They got what they deserved.
With the army distracted and out of the way, the family launches a rescue mission to pick up Crazy Nick and Liza. Thanks to Nick’s unflappable friend, though, he’s already out. As poetic luck would have it, Smooth Tux Man runs across the very soldier who nearly had Nick executed. As the man is being eaten alive from the shoes up, he whimpers “Kill me.” Smooth Tux Man casually reaches into his pocket, takes his cuff links back, and remarks “Keep the watch.” He’s even got his own library of Schwarzenegger one-liners; he’s too much man for anyone to handle.
Alicia and Chris are left behind in the parking lot to watch the car, in effect sidelining them for yet another episode. They’re wasting a great resource. I have the dread feeling Alicia is never going to be allowed to do the great things her character is capable of, simply because of her age (unless the show lasts long enough for her to become emancipated). I guess we can’t expect Madison or Travis to be okay with putting their kids in grave danger, but that’s what they did anyway, and the pair were left with no means of defending themselves when a few soldiers found the car and decided to take the keys from them to escape. There was little they could do.
There was no Nick in the room full of prisoner cages, but there WERE a bunch of people whom Smooth Tux Man left to die because he “didn’t have time to waste” freeing them. Travis feels differently and smashes the lock, helping them all escape. Given that they’re running into an area now packed with zombies, the odds of their survival are still low. We never see them again.
When the family finally catches up with Crazy Nick, its on the opposite side of a locked door. He and Smooth Tux Man wind up boxed in by a crowd of Walkers while Liza frantically swipes and re-swipes at an uncooperative card lock. For a few seconds, I thought this was where Crazy Nick was going to meet his end, and….I was okay with it. But the door opened at the last second, so I guess we get him a while longer. Yay.
When they all return to the parking lot, Madison’s SUV is long gone, but since Smooth Tux Man has his own car they can still escape. OR MAYBE NOT….remember that guy Mr. Salazar was torturing? He picks that moment to return, gun drawn at Salazar, and he’s not happy. The others try to talk him down, but he’s picked his target…only to change his mind at the last second and blow away Salazar’s daughter instead. Travis goes Hulk and tackles the guy, bashing his face into an oatmeal pulp.
Pictured above is the exact moment the trigger was pulled. Kind of blurry and hard to tell what happened, and we barely see Ofelia at all after this. Since Ofelia’s head is twisted back, I figured the shot was fatal. I wasn’t the only confused one. It took a Twitter account to settle this:
We have two different definitions of “tough girl,” but anyway….
The original plan is to get out of here and drive as far east as they can (because maybe things turned out better in Georgia). Smooth Tux Man, however, insists they go WEST, which is odd since that direction only stretches a few more miles before it reaches the sea. What we find out is that Tux Man’s swanky house comes with an even swankier yacht. Unexpectedly, they’re ending this season in style. Things are a little TOO nice, especially for this kind of show. Something was bound to go wrong. And that’s when Liza lifted up her shirt and showed Travis the bite marks she’d been hiding.
So now we finally come to the moment it’s all been building toward: the very first death of a central character. And the question we have to ask ourselves is, do we care? If the goal of the show was successful, we were supposed to, but as the Careometer proves, some were easier to get attached to than others. And Liza? As I’ve pointed out repeatedly, Liza is Liza. She was just there, and now she’s not there, but I don’t feel it’ll be like she ever was. If anything, I felt relieved when she handed her friends that gun, because this meant we wouldn’t be subjected to the Liza-Travis-Madison Love Triangle it looked like the show was setting up.
Some might say it’s unrealistic to expect the audience to care about ANYONE that much after just six episodes, but that’s not entirely true. There are already several characters I’d miss if they were shot or bitten. Liza could have been a stronger character than she was, but she was never given the opportunity. She was never given a pivotal scene to herself. Madison and Mr. Salazar got some great solitary scenes to strengthen their storylines. Liza got a few nurse bits and then she left.
Speaking of the Careometer, let’s check in one more time to see the results of the season. Madison ended strong, Travis not so much. Alicia didn’t get to do enough. I still like her a lot, but I feel I’m in the minority on that one and most people won’t have an opinion because she didn’t do anything grandiose like Mr. Salazar. She could be much more than “Insert Daughter Here” if the writers would give her a chance. More Alicia in Season 2, I say.
Smooth Tux Man seems to have all the ingredients of a fan favorite, even if he clashes horribly with the “normal people” plan this show originally had. He got a few points dinged for leaving all those caged people to die, however. The only notable thing Chris did was shoot rooftop YouTube videos and make a discovery that was never followed up on. Crazy Nick fell down to Chris levels after starting fairly high. (No pun intended. Nah, changed my mind, pun intended.) As for Mr. Salazar, he was the highlight of the season and gets the honor of holding its highest Careometer reading.
Fear The Walking Dead has a way to go if it wants its characters to be cared about as strongly as those of TWD. At least, I have yet to see a “If Madison Dies We Riot” T-shirt at Hot Topic. That’s the problem with deliberately using “ordinary” people, which may be why they threw that rule out the window with the last character they introduced. The show has at least one more season to prove itself. Can this family survive?
Fear The Walking Dead Recap