This week's obvious theme was joining forces, building a home and surviving as a group: Nick and company at the colonia, Madison and company at the hotel.
Hilariously, Nick used his finely honed skills as a junkie to increase the colonia's buying power by cutting Alejandro's large supply of Oxy with powdered milk. Nick's initiative and diligence won Alejandro over, which I bet isn't easy to do, especially so quickly. Then again, Nick has a ton of charm. He's so open about his addiction that it makes it seem like a foible, a personality quirk, instead of a huge weakness that defines him.
Alejandro is a puzzle. He explained when he got his walker bite in terms that made it sound like a parable aimed directly at Nick: that a local addict that had given Alejandro trouble got high on something contaminated, and was attacked by a human mob who thought he was a walker. I kept thinking that after hoodwinking Alejandro into giving him a good-sized supply of Oxy, Nick would leave with it and simply not come back. Was that what he would have done if Luciana hadn't gone with him?
I find Luciana puzzling, as well. Alejandro said she was testing Nick. If so, why didn't she follow clandestinely to see if he would come back from the drug run on his own? I also thought Luciana's grief over the loss of her brother Pablo made Nick look shallow and selfish. Even though they didn't discuss it, the fact that Nick left his mother and sister behind to fend for themselves made for some serious subtext. Wouldn't Nick's loyalty to his family figure into whatever test Luciana might apply to him? Wouldn't that make him less attractive to her? Yes, he's cute and charming, but why did she kiss him?
In contrast, this was the episode where Madison finally connected with her daughter Alicia. Madison apologized for not being a better parent, for essentially letting Alicia raise herself. Maybe Nick's continued absence has allowed the two of them to see each other more clearly, without the emotional interference he can't help but create.
Actually, I think Madison and Alicia's problem stems from the fact that they're too much alike. This time, it was an asset: the zombie lemming waterfall was Alicia's idea, but Madison was the one to carry it out. That pier scene was probably the coolest sequence they've done so far. I actually experienced some edge of my seat tension for Madison, especially when she jumped off the pier and a bunch of walkers fell off right after her.
The thing is, the plan has its drawbacks, much like the megaherd parade on the parent show last season. Riptide or not, won't at least some of the walkers wash up on the beach and stagger back? Maybe that doesn't matter, as long as they're out of the hotel.
Is Madison making the right decision, trying to hold the hotel? Yes, it's high ground -- really high -- there's a good-sized food supply, and I suppose it's easier to defend. I'm sort of unclear about the source of water. Yes, it's still running, but it will eventually stop, won't it? Was Madison planning to run water into every bathtub in the hotel to stockpile it before it stops? That's probably what I'd do.
In real life, this situation would probably be sustainable. Madison would keep the unruly hotel guests in line with an iron hand and bribe them with the pleasure of semi-formal dinner parties by candlelight, they'd start growing crops in the courtyard, and they'd find a way to secure the bottom floor in order to repel boarders and keep out walkers. But we know that it would make for boring television, so it won't last, like the magic house in Baja didn't last. I nominate Ilene, the angry mother of the bride, as the obvious source of future trouble. They didn't cast Brenda Strong for nothing.
Nick and Madison are both strong characters and I don't see them as evil, but I've noticed that I keep attributing evil motives to them. Much like Nick planning to run off with the doctored Oxy, I thought Madison was planning to kill the hotel guests like she killed Celia. I suppose she still could. We shall see.
I really like the strong relationship Madison is forging with Victor Strand. They're both so clever and careful, and they work together well even while fighting for their lives -- as they did in the Last Call Bar Room of Death. And may I pause for a moment to say that it's fascinating how everyone on Fear is constantly using the blood and guts camouflage tactic? It always bugged me that the characters on The Walking Dead didn't, even when the circumstances clearly called for it. Why didn't they? Did the writers balk because it obscures the actors' faces?
Anyway, as much as I like Strand, I'm having some problems with what they're doing with him. I get that he's still grief-stricken and the loss is fresh, but he was actually crying while he talked Oscar the unfortunate bridegroom into letting him take out his zombie bride. (Oscar hiding Jessica in the honeymoon suite was sadly romantic.) But Strand was so heartless at the start of the apocalypse, using the soldiers, acquiring Nick, cutting the rope on the Abigail in order to abandon Alex and that injured boy from the plane. It feels inconsistent to me.
Finally, not that I'm complaining, but this was yet another episode without Travis and Chris. Are they still in the barn, pondering the disintegration of their father-son relationship?
And we still don't know what happened to Ofelia. Strand's truck is gone, and they just did a walker sweep of the hotel and didn't find her, suggesting that she left. It doesn't seem in character for Ofelia to leave her peeps without a word. Did someone take Ofelia? Could it be Daniel? I keep waiting for him to turn up, very much not dead.
-- When Madison was hacking up walkers in the bar scene, the lighting intentionally made her face look skull-like. Foreshadowing? I don't expect them to write out Kim Dickens, though; Madison is a parallel to Rick on the parent show, our leader.
-- Strand used the hotel's big brass luggage cart to carry walker bodies. Made sense, but it also made me smile.
-- Was that a Day of the Dead foozball table?
-- Now that he's made himself so important to the colonia, Nick has his own trailer. But he was using way too many candles. Shouldn't they be conserving candles?
-- In this week's hair report, Nick's wasn't great but it was the best it's looked so far. Maybe that's why Luciana kissed him.
Strand: "You don't ration water. You drink it and you find more."
Dehydration makes you weak. Maybe he has a point.
Nick: "You're a pharmacist, I'm a junkie, okay? Trust me."
Nick: "I have a limited but refined skill set." Laugh out loud.
Nick: "Surviving feels like eating shit."
Alejandro: "You'll get used to it."
Nick: "If I'd known this was gonna happen, I'd have taken Spanish in high school."
Luciana: "What did you take?"
Nick: "Just myself. Very seriously."
So far, FtWD's season 2.5 is a win. Has this show finally turned a corner, or is it just me? Three out of four lemmings,
Billie Doux loves science fiction but hates horror, and is confused about why she loves The Walking Dead so much.
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