Fear the Walking Dead: Red Dirt

"Good people die as easy as bad."

I would like to address the extreme unfairness of how fictional horses are treated in this franchise. Couldn't they stop showing horses getting chowed down upon? Horses should be freaking non-combatants in the fictional zombie apocalypse, like babies and dogs.

You know what I kept thinking about while watching this episode? (Other than it was unfair to horses.) It was that killing off Travis Manawa was a masterful move on the part of the writers and producers (sorry about that, Cliff Curtis) because it has allowed Kim Dickens to take Madison Clark to an extreme that Travis would never have been able to allow or accept. Imagine Travis' reaction to what Madison did in this episode: she used the brutal murder of a family of four to control the fears of a community full of frightened people and direct their anger at the outside threat, while stroking, controlling and concealing the real murderer. Madison has always been formidable, but she has now crossed the line into diabolical.

And yet, if most of these people survive the coming battle, it will probably be because of Madison. Throughout the episode, she was right there whenever anything important happened, watching and contributing. Vernon confronting Jeremiah. Jeremiah and Jake fighting with Troy over the departure of Vernon and his family. Troy's speech to his militia about order and discipline and the chain of command. When Vernon's horse showed up outside the fence, Jeremiah immediately told Nick to go get Madison. Early in the episode, after the mission team stumbled back to the ranch on their wrapped, bloody feet, Mike Trimbol told his sister Gretchen that everyone would have died if it hadn't been for Madison.

Divide and conquer. I really liked that both of Madison's children were not only backing her up, but taking the initiative with the Ottos. While Madison was manipulating the despicable Troy and even worming a murder confession out of him, Nick did his best to control the unhinged Jeremiah Otto, who was watching his thirty-year-old dream die while staring at the reflection of the encroaching fires in a bottle of booze. Alicia impressed me by taking it one step further, acknowledging to her mother during their bunkhouse conversation that she was sleeping with Jake for reasons that had everything to do with her family's survival.

Is this the first time in the series that all three Clarks have been on the same page? I liked it. I also liked how the first thing Madison said in response to Alicia was a reminder about birth control. One thing about The Walking Dead that drives me nuts is that they never discuss birth control. Of course, they also almost never have sex, either.

I've been a bit surprised that the survivalist Ottos have disintegrated so quickly. Faced with real danger and a challenge to his empire, Jeremiah has already dropped his folksy philosophical front and shown himself to be a weak, racist, sexist alcoholic whose leadership is totally inadequate to this situation. Troy just lost his temper and killed his best friend Mike and Mike's entire family out of pique. Jake is the obvious heir apparent, but he may have just gone off on an impulsive suicide mission to confront Walker. I'm not happy that Alicia just went after him, either.

How cool is it that the opposition is the "Black Hat Reservation"? What a great name to denote villainy. How many people does Walker have? It takes a lot of people and serious coordination to set twenty fires at the same time over such a large area.

Next week: the two-part midseason finale. Wow. Did that come quickly, or is it just me?

Bits:

-- The title of the episode was "Red Dirt." After firing three bullets into the floor of the cabin to symbolize the deaths of the other three founders, Jeremiah told Nick that there was blood in the earth.

-- Nick and Alicia asked Jeremiah and Jake to teach them to shoot. Smart.


-- Troy's eye keeps looking a little better with every episode, but there is still a big mark. A physical reminder us of how pretty Troy is ugly on the inside.

-- The fires that Walker set didn't draw the infected, like the cabin fire. Is the ranch simply too remote?

-- As tough as she is, Madison couldn't pull the trigger on undead Gretchen. I liked Gretchen. So sad that there will be no more adorable Bible study.

-- Nothing this week about Strand, Daniel, Ofelia or Luciana.

Quotes:

Jeremiah: "I feel your liberal judgment. It's palpable. But that's not racism."
and
Jeremiah: "Some men, they have kids, turns them into women."
Shithead.

Nick: "What happened to your hand?"
Jeremiah: "You know that song, 'Can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with'? Well, that goes the same with hitting people."

Madison: "The rhythm method is bullshit. I told you that, right?"
Alicia: "Yes, when I was thirteen. I thought you were talking about a band. (pause) There's birth control in the pantry."

Alicia: "Jake's important to us. And I like him."
Madison: "In that order?"

Nick: (to Madison) "How do you tell a lie that big and sleep at night?"
I really enjoyed Nick's expression as he was watching his mother manipulating everyone. And I liked that he backed her, anyway. It was the smart thing to do.

Three out of four bullets in the floor,

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

3 comments:

paladinteacher said...

"Madison is diabolical." Yeah. She continues to nudge Troy to get him to do what she wants. I kept thinking of her as a "kingmaker." She is setting Troy up to make a power play. Because she plans on being able to control him? On taking over from him?

Alicia is just like her mother. She is influencing Jake to do what they want him to do. "He's important to us. And I like him." Pretty calculating.

I, too, was surprised that Nick backed Madison's story about the Black Hats being responsible for the murders of that family. I keep remembering Nick's addiction at the beginning of the show. That's an interesting family dynamic as well.

Interesting observation about the bullets in the floor. I just thought he was being drunk and stupid.

Dayton Callie was on Talking Dead with Chris Hardwick after the show. He is a hoot! Hardwick asked him about why he was interested in a role like this (Jeremiah Otto) and Dayton replied, "I wanted to get paid." I don't think I'ver ever heard an actor be so blunt. He also said that he wears his pajamas to the set, "because they're gonna change me anyway."

paladinteacher said...

Is it a bad omen for this show that they aired the first two episodes together in one night, and then two episodes together again for the mid-season finale? It means that the show is broadcasting for fewer weeks. I know that it doesn't have the ratings of the parent show, but beyond that, I'm clueless as to how it is doing and the plans amc has for it.

Billie Doux said...

paladinteacher, I'm not that familiar with how ratings work, and I'm not sure how Fear is doing. It does seem strange that they were doubling episodes when it's the spinoff of their biggest show. You'd think they would want to stretch out the summer season as much as they could.

I saw that ep of Talking Dead and I thought maybe Dayton Callie was trying to be funny as well as honest. :)