Fear the Walking Dead: This Land is Your Land

"Promise me you'll never make decisions based on fear."

It was Alicia's turn in the crucible of the Apocalypse. And wow.

There they were in the pantry, the last members of the Broke Jaw Ranch. Lots of food and water, but running out of air. Alicia had to lead, had to take charge, and she had to make the toughest of tough decisions. Of course, it made sense that the bitten should be killed since they would die, anyway. But the logic behind coming to a decision like that and actually carrying it out are two completely different things.

Alicia didn't delegate the tough stuff, either. When each of the bitten, starting with that brave guy from the Nation, accepted their fate and the morphine, Alicia had to shove her knife into each one of them. While they probably got the most enjoyable, blissful, comfortable deaths in the entire apocalypse, that didn't make it easier on Alicia. Gold acting stars for Alycia Debnam-Carey, who got a tremendous acting workout in this episode. Not to mention a crazy physical workout, too.


Excellent performance by Linda Gehringer as well, who played Christine, a character we hadn't even met until now. She said a lot of things that Alicia needed to hear, and gave her much needed emotional support. I particularly liked the scene where Alicia and Christine were exchanging important moments in their lives, and Alicia told her about her camp experience at the age of nine when she was supposed to sing "This Land is Your Land" but got extreme stage fright and couldn't remember the words.

That was a nice little leadership metaphor, because Alicia knows all the words now. She not only had to take out the bitten, she had to kill the survivors who suffocated and became the infected. How many people, friends and acquaintances, did Alicia have to kill in this episode? A couple of dozen?

Even though I was certain Christine would be dead by the end of the episode (and she was, at Alicia's hand), I kept hoping that she would make it because she represented everything that was good about the people at the Broke Jaw Ranch. Interesting that she had wound up there because of 9/11 and her new husband thinking it was the beginning of the end, but that if she'd had it to do over again, she would have spent those years out exploring the world. She also made me laugh when she told the bitten that morphine would send them to heaven before they even got there, hinting that she'd had an interesting past with lots and lots of drugs.

While this was undoubtedly Alycia Debnam-Carey's episode and Linda Gehringer was terrific, Mercedes Mason was also a standout. I'm really liking Ofelia's growing partnership with the not-so-crazy Crazy Dog, whom she is now calling by his real name, which is Lee. The two of them had some nice moments when Lee lost control in the claustrophobic air vent, and he shared his experience as a veteran and his pain at losing his son. Mason also did a lovely job in the end when Ofelia learned that her father Daniel was still alive.

Much of this episode was made up of strong interactions between two characters, and Nick and Troy had their moments, too. At first all emotional about his brother's death, Troy was actually laughing out loud with joy while mowing down the infected. I think I understand why Nick covered for Troy – he probably sees a lot of his former addicted and maladjusted self in Troy – but even though Daniel Sharman has been killing it in this part, I so want someone to take Troy out now, now, now. Because the end of the ranch? that was all Troy. All of those people Alicia just had to kill? That was because of Troy. How much worse can he get? How much more harm can he do? Are they going to give him a shot at taking down the dam, now?

The ending, with nearly the entire cast together again, should have been more enjoyable. Instead, it was sad. While Ofelia did get surprisingly good news about her father Daniel, Alicia got the bad news about Jake, and after the Pantry of Death, it was clearly the last straw for her. Now firmly convinced that no place is safe and her mother is deluded, Alicia is off to the secluded hunting cabin that Jake told her about. Since Nick simply had to make certain Alicia made it okay, off he went after her, with Troy in tow. And Madison had no choice; she had to let both of her children go.

So much for the Broke Jaw Ranch. Alicia is right that no place is ever safe, especially on a television show that thrives on dramatic conflict. This land definitely wasn't made for you and me.

Bits and pieces:

-- Alicia told Christine that when she was nine and on that stage, Nick had run up to her rescue but couldn't remember the lines, either. And that she had always looked up to Nick even more than to her father. The absence of Madison in that story says a lot.

-- Linda Gehringer (Christine) has had a lot of acting work, but I know her best as Helen, Raylan's aunt slash stepmother, on Justified.

-- As the exhausted, blood-covered Alicia was driving off, it looked like she was about to fall asleep at the wheel. Fortunately, no.

-- I couldn't help thinking about all those lost supplies and weapons in the pantry. What a waste.

Quotes:

Christine: "It's morphine. It's the best goddamn feeling in the world. You'll be in heaven before you get there."

Troy: "He got bit. I put him down."
A little callback to that unfortunate rabbit Jake told Nick about.

Alicia: "Stop pretending any place is safe. It's not."

Very good episode, possibly one of the best in the series. Four out of four vials of heaven,

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

3 comments:

Henrik Bennetter said...

Heavy, heart-breaking, episode.
Much because this will always be the inevitable end to a story.

*SPOILER ALERT*

Much as the parent show found a location, lived in it, and then somebody decided to level it to the ground, so will this show go from one location to the next only to have it obliterated.

I dunno. It's just...tiring. I'm not really sure I want to watch this anymore, or the parent show, because of this - but I probably will anyway.

Does anybody else get me? It's like, I don't know if I want to see Madison, Strand, Walker, Ofelia and Crazy-Dog go to the Dam only to see it be destroyed but some new, even bigger, threat.

I guess, maybe, what would be fresh for a series like this is to have people banding together instead to fight the actual threat - the zombies - and maybe work towards a solution. That'd actually be something new.

More destruction and despair, people fighting people - squabbling over tidbits - is just getting old.

Don't get me wrong. This was a gripping episode with superb acting and all it's just....I'm maybe as tired as Alicia. It doesn't matter that she goes off to a cabin, there will still be some bully there or elsewhere. Won't there?

Billie Doux said...

Henrik, it does feel like they've finally reached that point on the parent show: they've settled on one place and now they're determined to keep it. So maybe FtWD will get to that point sooner rather than later.

And maybe the Walking Dead 'verse is reaching the end of its television shelf life, too. It's had a long run.

Patryk said...

Fear is actually still in the beginning of the timeline of the Walking Dead so the zombies are still the primary threat, with people still holding on to the old world values and grudges like racism so the vicious cicle of finding a place and then it self imploding should continue for a while.

The parent show is in the post-apocalptic nation phase already so I hope the tones will differ enough to not get bored of it.