"Wrath" and the season finale, "North" aired together and I initially planned to review them that way. But "Wrath" was such a terrific episode that I decided it deserved a review of its own.
Fatalism triumphed, big time. We already knew that Brandon and Derek were bad news because there had been so much set-up. Travis most certainly didn't want to leave his emotionally disturbed sixteen-year-old son with them, but he had no choice. And those heartless, selfish boys put Chris down like an injured dog, just like Baby James. Of course, they did.
From the beginning of the series, Travis has been the good guy, the voice of virtue and compassion. He even abandoned Madison in order to take care of Chris, knowing full well that he would probably never see her again. I'm not surprised that Travis completely lost it and beat Brandon and Derek to death. The level of rage he must have felt, the depth of grief and despair, would have been overpowering. Cliff Curtis gave his best performance of the series in this episode, and I cried for him during that final scene. Travis may live on, but the good man inside of him has clearly died.
So what happens now? When Madison asked for his advice, Strand asked her what she had to live for, what got her out of bed in the morning, and she of course said it was her children. Travis' only child is now dead, and his girlfriend tried to hide Brandon and Derek and the truth about what happened from him. How will Travis take that?
The beat-down scene was effectively staged and intensely heavy, but Nick taking down the walker in the pharmacy at the colonia was the goriest scene they've ever done on this show (so far, anyway), what with the face biting and the finger and Nick slowly gouging out the walker's eyes to get to his brain. That was a "holy shit" moment, and Frank Dillane did an amazing job with the expressions on Nick's face, especially the shock and nausea when it was over. It was like Nick's mind was trying and failing to catch up with what his body was instinctively doing to save his own life.
But the result wasn't just two more additions to "the wall" of walkers, because Alejandro was bitten during the incident, and clever Nick realized immediately that Alejandro was afraid. And now we know. Alejandro was never immune. It was all a hoax, apparently carried out with the best of intentions. Let's hope that Nick can talk Luciana and, hopefully, all of those other residents of the colonia into leaving before Marco and the supermarket gang stop by and kill them all.
There was a lot of build-up to the events in this episode and honestly, it was so heavy that it made me feel a little sick, and a bit leery of what might happen in the finale. Of course, Chris' death wasn't a surprise; I've had a feeling for awhile that they would write him out, mostly because he is such an unpopular character and has gone so irredeemably far off the deep end, although I'll say again that it would have been a lot more realistic if Chris had simply vanished and Travis never found out what had happened to him. Instead, the writers went for the death of hope, the end of any chance of happiness for Travis. It's so sad that Travis teaching Chris to drive might have inadvertently led to his death, since it was such a lovely bonding moment for the two of them in an earlier episode.
The last shot in the episode was a flashback of Brandon and Derek walking past Chris' dead body, followed by Travis walking past Brandon's. I'm not sure if that was intended as foreshadowing, but I wouldn't be surprised if Travis killed himself in the finale. I hope he doesn't. I didn't care about Travis before, but I do now.
-- Ofelia's completely separate storyline continued, beginning with a badass action scene where she took down several walkers with a hammer, and ending on the other side of the border when she was trapped by an American man with an AK-47. Who is he? A vigilante? Part of another group?
-- While Ofelia was walking along one of the walls between the U.S. and Mexico searching for an opening, I kept thinking of what a huge political deal it is right now during this increasingly stupid presidential election.
-- The refugees in the parking garage were practically rioting because they thought Brandon and Derek were getting special treatment. What ultimately happened to the boys made sleeping in a hotel parking garage look pretty good, though, didn't it?
-- That shot of the hotel stairs as Travis was running down was gorgeous.
-- Marco, whom I kept wanting to call "Narco" because of the drug plot, called the colonia a "fortress." I thought at first that he was referring to the hotel, but no.
-- There were some nice character moments early on when Madison tried to convince Travis that he had done all he could do to keep his word to Chris' mother Liza, and when Alicia and Travis apologized to each other about what happened with Chris at the Baja house.
Alicia: "They cook everything here in lard. It's pretty delicious."
This wasn't particularly clever or funny written down, but Alycia Debnam-Carey's expression was amusing.
Hector: "Your countrymen."
Alicia: "Can we kick them out? Seriously. They're actually awful."
Again, it was Debnam-Carey's delivery that made it funny.
Brandon: "Don't worry, ma'am. These people are docile."
Madison: "Well, I'm not."
Four out of four hammers. My review of "North" will post immediately after this one (and here it is),
Billie Doux loves science fiction but hates horror, and is confused about why she loves The Walking Dead so much.
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