If you compare this episode to most episodes of the parent show, it came across as a bit dull. I kept waiting for their patented burst of unexpected horror. Which eventually came, of course.
It did start out very like a horror movie. Two little kids playing on the beach as the zombies staggered out of the ocean and in their direction. And when that turned out to be fine, we had Travis and Madison (plus the teens) trooping down to a dark house on a deserted beach at night with the dead wandering around. What could go wrong? But again, as it turned out, the Gearys, the people in the house on the beach, were friendly. Society's rules haven't had a chance to change much; there aren't any Terminus-ites and Governors and Negans out there forming vicious survivalist societies just quite yet.
But George Geary, amateur anthropologist, said that nature was course correcting, that families were once again becoming tribes answerable only to themselves. And that was the point of this episode. While George was doing his best to keep his family alive for as long as possible, he had already chosen the method of their deaths. In our current society, a man choosing eventual death for his young children would be against the law, but that societal function is already gone. Melissa's conflicting choice, to give her children to Madison and Travis so that they might have a chance to live, was overridden.
Nick and Alicia looked at little Harry and Willa and saw earlier versions of themselves. But Nick and Alicia are a lot more fortunate because they are old enough to make their own choices now. Was Nick really empathizing with Harry, or did he just want information (and possibly drugs)? Both, I think. The action figures with the head shots were pretty creepy. So was Alicia's observation about Ring Around the Rosie. Not much of a surprise that one of the kids turned into a walker.
Daniel was clearly the other side of the coin from George Geary. Daniel doesn't know what Strand has in mind, so while masquerading as a quiet fisherman who would never rock the boat, pun intended, Daniel actively took steps to ensure his own survival, and Ofelia's.
Strand is a formidable person with his own agenda, and now we know that it did not involve taking on quite so many people. He probably just wanted Nick and maybe one or two others, and whoever he just called on his walkie. Since Strand proved conclusively back in season one that he is heartless (not to mention referring to little Harry as "deadweight"), I'm certain that at some point our extended family will be in danger from him. If they aren't already. If it came down to Strand versus Daniel, I'd bet on Daniel because he is so quietly ruthless, clever and single-minded. I think Daniel is probably committed to the Clark/Manawa family because he sees Madison as a tough ally with the same goal, but I'm not completely sure.
So far, Travis and Chris are my two least favorite characters. Travis is still doing his "let's make new friends and everything is okay" thing, even after what happened in Los Angeles. How long will it be until Travis internalizes that the world has fundamentally changed, the way Madison has? Is Travis capable of that complete a change? At least I sort of liked Chris this week. He chose to learn from Seth how to spike walkers with a pick axe, a much more useful teen activity in the zombie apocalypse than mowing the grass or hanging out at the mall. Plus he got to express some youthful rage at the same time.
So what did we learn? That the government used napalm on the big west coast cities: Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver. That the border to Mexico was shut down, and things were pretty much dead right up to the continental divide. Now they know where not to go. Unfortunately, that is pretty much everywhere.
Bits and pieces:
-- What were Willa and Harry leaving for the walkers? Shells? It reminded me of Lizzie on the parent show, who insisted on seeing the walkers as people.
-- When the kids were talking about their "power pills", I at first thought that Geary had a cure for the infection.
-- George knew that Travis was Maori.
-- Alicia saw a sign-up list for birdwatching, and drew her boyfriend's fractured heart graphic on it.
-- Seth was played by Jake Austin Walker, who is a cast member on Rectify, another show I review. Sadly, Seth had to kill his own mother, as Carl had to do on The Walking Dead. How did the Melissa walker make it all the way to the dock? That seemed way unlikely to me.
-- Please brush your hair and change your clothes, Nick. Seriously, my interest in the character is starting to wane because it's like he wants to look awful.
Strand: "It could be Alicia's radio crush for all we know. Which is why we don't talk to strangers."
The Abigail has evaded its pursuers for now. Not forever, I'm sure.
Nick: "No planes, no noise pollution, no smog. Just stars."
Alicia: "We definitely stopped the climate crisis. Awesome."
Nick: "Something is off here."
Alicia: "Everything's off. Everywhere."
I liked the thought that went into this episode, although I'm still waiting for the characters to click in,
Billie Doux loves science fiction but hates horror, and is confused about why she loves The Walking Dead so much.
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