Fear the Walking Dead: Teotwawki

"It's all just different circles of hell. Why not this one?"

A little life and death. A little normalcy. A head named Geoff.

This episode was bookended by the Clarks interacting with the residents of the Broke Jaw Ranch in the community tent, and it appears that the place isn't some post-apocalyptic hell. Yes, there are cult vibes, but really, not so bad.

Jeremiah Otto was actually a professional survivalist with self-help tapes and acronyms and everything ("TEOTWAWKI" stands for "the end of the world as we know it," also abbreviated as T.E.), determined to help others to "defend their sovereignty when the four horsemen ride" with survival buckets free with every set of tapes. The tapes that were made back when Jeremiah's hair was still dark, showing a perfect nuclear family, but clever Madison only watched a little before she went through Jeremiah's bookshelves and found the outtakes that showed him roughing up his alcoholic wife and yelling at his sons.

But Jeremiah has apparently aged well. Yes, he's no Hershel Greene, but he's also a long way from Negan. What changed Jeremiah? His wife's death? Age? The actual arrival of the very apocalypse he'd been anticipating? Jeremiah is certainly easier to relate to than Celia and her bizarre beliefs that walkers are still human beings, and it doesn't seem likely that Jeremiah has killed a bunch of kids in a church taking communion or anything.

Interestingly, Jeremiah likes Madison, and the video image of his late wife suggests that Madison is his type. The two of them are now sharing cigarettes in the dark and Jeremiah actually showed Madison his secret household bunker that had lots and lots of unsold survivor buckets and guns, guns, guns. Of course, Madison is friendly because she is maneuvering her family into the best possible posture for survival. This includes finding a way to live with psycho Troy, since Jeremiah simply brushed away Madison's request that he do something about his homicidal son. A former guidance counselor, Madison seems to have hit on a Troy strategy already: she's infantilizing him, putting his dinner napkin in his lap, ordering him to make the bunk bed he messed up. That may work, since Troy never went to school and has never had a teacher or a guidance counselor, or an authority figure other than his father.

As a problem child, Troy is light years worse than Nick, who simply wants to leave; that seems to be Nick's answer to everything. Madison seemed to be okay with letting Nick go this time, although that might have been grief for Travis talking. At least Nick is going to postpone running away until Luciana is better and can go with him. And at least he's not sabotaging Madison's efforts. Nick's stab at trying to bond with Troy during the boar hunt might even have been successful; Troy actually seemed to enjoy the roughhousing and the fake out with the gun. Why is Troy obsessed with figuring out how long it takes for walkers to turn? Is he terrified of becoming a walker himself? He's already a monster, so maybe turning into an even worse one is subconsciously attractive to him.

So far, the sanest member of the Ottos is Jake, who is taking Madison's words seriously and trying unsuccessfully to keep his brother away from the Clarks. I'm sure at some future point, Jake is going to have to choose between his psycho brother and one of the Clarks. Probably Alicia, who saved Jake's life.

Speaking of Alicia, was that the best Bible study class ever, or what? It was a breath of normalcy, kids in a basement getting high and talking about life, with a bit of Walking Dead weirdness thrown in so we don't forget where we are. As in a walker head in birdcage. A head named Geoff. I kept thinking of Geoff as the Walking Dead version of a Ouija board, or possibly as the bottle in a game of spin the bottle, since the kids used Geoff as a way to ask Alicia some pretty tough questions. Actually, Geoff looked a lot like Jeremiah. I wonder if that was deliberate?

Alicia's enjoyment of the situation was so adorable that it just made me smile. It's been a hard apocalypse for her so far with a distinct lack of fun. While stoned, she told her new teen friends that she killed a man, and that it was easy. That made me think that there was more of Madison in Alicia than I initially thought. Interestingly, Nick found it hard to kill. It's like Nick and Alicia are passing each other going in opposite directions.

Meanwhile, at a dam somewhere, Strand showed up acting like a diva, and discovered that the apocalypse had changed his status with Dante, a former criminal associate. In this new world they're living in, Dante is no longer willing to cow tow to the cartel, water is his new currency, and he doesn't need a completely self-centered thief like Strand around. Strand being Strand, he was able to talk himself out of getting tossed off the side of the dam onto a huge pile of walkers, but not out of getting tossed into a cell. Reminding me that when we met Strand, he was also in a cell.


And surprise! Who shows up with a bottle of water to comfort the sick and imprisoned? Daniel Salazar, like a bad penny, or possibly a guardian angel. For a moment, I thought Strand was hallucinating, but I don't think so. Honestly, I kept expecting Daniel to show up last season and when he didn't, I thought he really was dead, even though we never saw the body. (Josie's Law.)

Bits and pieces:

-- Cliff Curtis is out of the cast. He's really, truly gone. I honestly didn't expect the producers to kill off the male lead, even though he was one of the two worst characters in the series. (The other was Chris.) Bravo, producers.

-- Ruben Blades' credit was at the end so that they wouldn't spoil us. If they've replaced Cliff Curtis with Ruben Blades, I'm completely fine with that.

-- Troy's eye looked pretty good, considering. Hey, it's still in his head. It's also a constant reminder of Troy's conflict with Madison.

-- Emma Caulfield from Buffy the Vampire Slayer played Jeremiah's late wife in the video series. I hope we see her again in flashback or something.

-- There was discussion about the as yet unsolved shooting of the helicopter that caused the deaths of Charlene and Travis, and that "Outpost Alpha" isn't reporting. Plus, there's a boar stealing cabbages.

-- The apocalypse really did need a nickname, although the pronunciation of "Teotwawki" as a word instead of an acronym sounds slightly obscene."T.E." is slightly better, although I always want to follow it with "phone home."

-- The ranch has available showers, and yet Nick's hair is actually getting worse.

-- Still no Ofelia.

Quotes:

Jeremiah on tape: "Don't be a Pollyanna. If you're gonna plan for a future, plan for a better one."

Gretchen: "You'll meet Geoff, if you come."
Alicia: "We're Jewish."
Gretchen: "Cool! We'll do Old Testament."
Laugh out loud. Especially after meeting Geoff.

Jeremiah: "The ranch ain't my autocratic plaything. Its residents don't bend to my whims and wills and fancies. It's a place for free people who only ask for help when they need it."
And I'm still thinking, what's the catch?

Nick: "You want to stay."
Alicia: "No. But I've seen what it's like out there, and it's all just different circles of hell. Why not this one?"
Circles of hell, and we just got a character named Dante.

Dante: "So you escaped this hotel in this crazy woman's car, and all you have with you are your wits and charms and this crunchy suede coat?"

Alicia: "I killed a man."
Gretchen: "How did it feel?"
Alicia: "Easy."

Jeremiah: "Boys are fierce creatures."

Madison: "Alicia must have read the entire Book of Moses by now."

Nick: "What is wrong with you?"
Troy: "Newton stabbed his own eye to understand the nature of light. I just... need to know. I need to know why we spoil."

Jake: "Turning water into wine?"
Alicia: "Praise Jesus."

I enjoyed this one. Especially the Bible study. Three out of four heads in a birdcage,

Billie
---
Billie Doux loves science fiction but hates horror, and is confused about why she loves The Walking Dead so much.

5 comments:

Henrik Bennetter said...

I luuuuurved the beginning, with Jeremiahs doomsday speech. It sound SO much like so many maniacal politicians of today. Alas, yes, we have them in Sweden as well - saying that society is "overrun" and "collapsing" and so on and so forth and blablabla.
But. Like you said. Jeremiah seems like an okay dude.
Therefor, I think Ofelia is there. In the camp. Probably being held as a slave of some sort. Quite possibly the worst kind of slave, if you get my drift.
It just seems they were all to willing to kill Luciana - because she was Mexian? So, I'm guessing the camp doesn't take well to people of color (haven't seen any other that white people there) and I'm pretty sure they'd all be Trump-supporters and hoping for a wall.
But. A good looking mexican-girl (Ofelia) as a sex-slave? Not a stretch, I'm afraid.
'cause - you know - why is Luciana still chained to the bed?

Billie Doux said...

Henrik, I had the same thought about Ofelia. What Troy did at the Depot felt racist, even though there were white American men in that shower line. Troy's guys kept asking Travis what his ethnicity was. And this is Walking Dead, after all. It seems unlikely that the situation at the ranch is as good as it seems.

paladinteacher said...

Henrik, yes, the opening was very interesting. It makes sense that "doomsday preppers" would do okay in an apocalypse. With every survival bucket, the buyer gets a pocket Constitution. I don't know why but I find that hilarious.(You think having a pocket Constitution would have kept Negan from becoming a despot?)

Madison the former guidance counselor. Yeah, she's working on Troy, and Jeremiah's tapes are helping her do that. Not the 'buy in' that Jeremiah wanted her to have.

Nick and Troy are the proverbial problem children in their families. Nick has regard for human life while Troy seems to only value his own life. (Just consider the actions of both of them at the depot.) In their fight during the hunt, though, Troy seemed to see something in Nick that he connected to. Nick has, after all, had a penchant for spreading walker blood over himself and walking around with zombies.

At the Abigail compound, Celia was starting to become a surrogate mother to Nick. Now, at Broke Jaw, Troy is starting to look like a surrogate son for Madison. (Madison is putting herself in that position to manipulate Troy, she doesn't have the affection that Celia showed Nick.)
Madison appears that she'll be able to connect with Troy, though she has struggled to reach Nick.

"I'm sure at some future point, Jake is going to have to choose between his psycho brother and one of the Clarks." - or get killed as he is caught between his brother and the Clarks.

Alicia's Bible study group - agree with you. If we get humor in this episode, we can expect the next one to be grim, right?

"Still no Ofelia." - Mercedes Mason had a bit on Talking Dead. She didn't speak, but she held up several posters with questions and statements, amounting to #WhereIsOfelia?

Jeremiah: "Boys are fierce creatures." - Well, Jeremiah, you better watch out for Alicia and Madison.

During the episode, Madison said something about Travis being their "constant" ("compass"?). Chris Hardwick always says that if you're the moral compass on The Walking Dead, you better watch out.

Apologies for the length. I had a lot of thinky thoughts.


Billie Doux said...

Don't apologize, paladinteacher. We love comments and thinky thoughts.

Patryk said...

Damn I should pay more attention. Before I read the review I thought TEOTWAWKI was some sort of native american word. ;) How silly of me. Of course it's an acronym.

Good to see Daniel Salazar back, I wonder if the dam occupants shot the helicopter down, but I guess the dam is still in Mexico and a long way from the ranch. I hope Stand's solo adventure won't last the entire half season and he'll be reuninted with the rest of the cast.