The second episode of this season was much better than the first. It was a self-contained story that had nothing to do with the immediate plot, but it was a GOOD story, and it was one I didn’t mind stalling the revelation of the pursuing boat for. And I LOVED the opening title sequence, where it looked like zombies were sneaking up on two innocent children, but they were actually “feeding” them with cookies as they growled from behind a chain link fence. Great surprise.
When we last left our hapless heroes, they had just discovered evidence of an ocean massacre, which as far as they knew was committed by whatever was now chasing THEM. Studying the radar, Strand determines the only hope of losing them will be to hide on the nearest island, and there’s a big one nearby. Better yet, it has a ranger station, so there could be supplies. There could also be people….
They get immediate proof when a light flashes from one of the windows in the ranger station. Travis cautiously tiptoes up to the front door of the station, prepared for anything, but not for the sight of a clueless little boy blasting out of the screen door. It’s the kid from the opening title. His name is Harry, he has a sister named Willa, and his parents follow him: Melissa and George. There’s a much older kid, Seth, who we don’t see much because he’s tending to the family’s survival. Once Travis and the others get settled inside, they learn a few things about these survivors:
George is an anthropologist
Melissa is a nosy buttinski
Harry owns a PSP
Travis tells George they won’t be here long — come the morning, they’ll have escaped the pursuing ship’s radar and will resume their journey to San Diego. George informs Travis that’s fruitless — the ENTIRE WEST COAST is destroyed now. When Strand is informed about this, will it make a difference?
It depends on what he’s actually planning. Mr. Salazar stayed behind on the boat for this entire episode, and while Strand was distracted, Salazar picks the lock on a lockbox and finds….a lot of guns and ammo, plus maps with places in Mexico circled. Strand’s shadiness is confirmed now, as the immediate scene following shows him on the phone with somebody, talking about being present for some kind of event. What does Madison’s family have to do with this? Why does he need them?
Seth is performing his daily chores, which in this existence consists of poking zombies in the eye from behind the chain-link fence as they wash ashore. Chris is there, and he asks to take a crack at it. Seth lets him, and Chris takes to the task naturally. Travis comes from behind, and is a bit disturbed at the thought of his kid becoming a killing machine. This subplot will be continued later. Or not.
Meanwhile, Crazy Nick is sniffing around the house, using his finely-trained bloodhound nose to search for drugs. He’s so good at it that he finds a bunch stashed inside a globe immediately — this would be the last place I’d look. It turns out, though, there are some pills even Crazy Nick won’t swallow. He recognizes them as suicide pills. Yike!
Nick rushes to Travis and tells him “I think George is planning on Jonestown-ing his family!” it turns out Melissa has MS and it’s just a matter of time for her, and George might be thinking it would be better to end it all right now, just without anybody else knowing. Too late — they know.
Worse yet, while everybody was arguing about this, Willa found the open globe and took one of the pills. Last week I wondered if the zombie virus had infected everyone yet. It would appear so, because it worked perfectly on this isolated family: Willa’s body rises and she chomps her mom. Harry screams and the others drag him away, then sprint out of there.
Madison’s family runs to Strand’s yacht, where they’re preparing to leave. Maddie announces they’re taking Harry on as a passenger. No, not that, anything but that! This show wasn’t built for little kids! He’ll be so annoying!
MADISON: “Those people are in trouble, we have to save them!”
STRAND: “We can’t deviate from our course! We won’t be stopping.”
HARRY: “How RUUUDE!”
TRAVIS: “If we keep heading in this direction, we should reach that town by nightfall.”
HARRY: “You got it, dude!” ((laugh track))
The only thing that could save us from this fate would be if Strand was heartless enough to let a little kid die. Fortunately, he was. And while he and Madison were screaming at each other, Seth burst into the scene with a giant gun, demanding the kid stay put. I guess that settles that, then.
As the family leaves the shore, we get one final macabre page in the island’s story: Melissa starts stomping up the pier, clearly a zombie now. Seth orders that Harry stay behind him, and he aims his gun at their mother. The camera cuts away for the “BANG.”
This little story was more effective at Fear The Walking Dead’s original goal than any of the seven episodes before it. The story arc was never dull, got better as we progressed, and the ending was haunting. You really felt how the apocalypse had affected this family. I can’t say the same yet for the family we’re actually following.