TV Show Review

TV Review: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD: Episodes 2.14 & 2.15: Wrath & North [AMC]

Danay Garcia Frank Dillane Fear the Walking Dead NorthFear the Walking Dead: Wrath & North Review

Fear the Walking Dead, season 2, episodes 14 & 15, ‘Wrath’ & ‘North,’ was double shot of finale that kinda missed the glass. Just as well, considering that it was a little on the watered down side, to boot.

Things started simple enough. Madison (Kim Dickens) was still talking Travis (Cliff Curtis) down from his guilt – over what he had clearly allowed Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) to do.

Nick (Frank Dillane) was still trying to reconcile his tingling Junkie Sense with Alejandro’s (Paul Calderon) ‘steadfastness,’ and Luciana’s faith in Alejandro. Apparently Nick @Nite wasn’t as fun, anymore; so clearly it was time to bring down the mythical figure, and wake up the acolyte. First, though, Nick had to make the tingling stop, with a pharma pay-off to the narcos.

Well, since Alejandro didn’t bother to make his med stash junkie proof (likely more as a matter of trust, than an oversight), Nick got his pay-off load. Had Nick processed his locking binoculared eyes, with narco Marco (Alejandro Edda), differently, he might’ve been better prepared for the reception he got. Having the junkie Gods still at his back, however, allowed him to get back to Colonia with a warning, instead of being the warning.

This would set off a very long, very drawn out, three-way debate between Nick, Luciana, and Alejandro. Very.

This should’ve been the moment, for anyone chronicling Nick’s future Legend (as… whatever), where he finally crossed over, from Nick @Nite to Nick @Knight; but what we did get bored me to the point of thinking up crap to slap to the end of his name.

Security was more of an Alejandro blind-spot than I ever realized. For a guy promoting himself as a walking miracle – to give hope to the Colonias – while claiming to know how dire their situation has been, there seemed to be nothing in place to account for newly deceased turning. As dialed up as ward Walker attack scene was (28 Days/ Weeks Later thumb solution & all), all I could think about was that it shouldn’t have happened, be allowed to cause that much damage, or been such a surprise.

Then again, they did have that whole faith feeding thing going; so maybe it was just complacency. Of course the faith herd served a purpose, finally. When the plot finally got (way over) to the other side of the debate cycle, both the faith healer & the faith herd played a part in bringing the Colonia arc to climax, fittingly enough.

I’d say more about it, but I was captivated by the sheer stupidity of Marco’s narcos. No back-up team, no guards left with the rides, no perimeter set up, no effort to turn a staircase choke-point into a defensible, high-ground position. No sense.

There are just too many circular arguments, on Fear the Walking Dead. Even when someone conceded a point, the argument/ split goes on by principle. By the time Nick resumed failing to get Luciana to go with him, after breaking her faith-based attachment, I was starting to look forward to Ofelia’s (Mercedes Mason) solo adventure.

Not that there was a whole lot of there, there; but what her sub-plot lacked in… well, plot, it made up for in serving as both bridge & preview to season 3. Anyone recalling a Mexican Coast Guard appearance, for the 1st half of the season, might have found the lack of activity (around a gap to the U.S. Mexican border) kind of odd (along with the disappearance of any kind of Federal activity, anywhere, since the cast crossed the border); but apparently, positions have been filled.

If the Ofelia (and eventually Nick) encounter was any indication, then forget pirates, narcos, and narcissists on vacay – season 3 will bring us Trump supporters having their day, now that the Gov’mint’s away.

I honestly hope not; but I’d be lying if I said the thought didn’t occur to me.

Apparently, all of Madison’s speechifying didn’t register; so more time went into Getting Travis to stop crying over spilt Lemmings. She even threatened us to keep doing it, too – so Fear The Talking Dread, out there. Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) was better at it (not that it was any more necessary, in her hands – but at least she remembered that sunlight’s the best disinfectant). It should’ve been fairly obvious, to everyone (at least by this point), that Nick & Chris had both been by-products of parental blind-spots. Maddie & Alicia could relate their Nick experience to Travis’ Chris situation, and vice-versa – it was really time to move on, already.

One useful first step: Maddie learning that a more productive outlet, for her emotional crisis response, is through Strand (Colman Domingo). Strand’s advice was obviously logical enough – even for her – but there was still a bit of the old oops to the execution. This is how characters like Madison relapse, to facilitate plot.

When it’s clear, that Wasters like Brandon (Kelly Blatz) & Derek (Kenny Wormald) are too stupid to know when being ‘Ugly Americans’ works against them, civic amputation gets messy. In a near repeat of her tripping the light fanatic, Maddie was forced to deal with an angry mob, unwanted attention (this time by Travis, instead of with him), and having her own rules thrown in her face.

I came to this finale expecting comeuppance, but really wanting schadenfreude. Well, all I got was comeuppance, because there was no satisfaction, here. Brandon & Derek were one-dimensionally thick-as-a-brick, and bluntly traumatized, as such. A definitive turning point for Travis, to be sure; but where this bode ill for Maddie & C0. was in the collateral damage. Until the hotel coalition came to their own mindless revenge rage moment (and completely missing the irony), however, all the come-down hand-wringing focused on Travis getting unwanted closure, to a matter he didn’t want left open.

“Hey, Mikey, I think Travis gets it….”

So when did staffer Hector (Ramses Jimenez), and former guest captors like Oscar (Andres Londono), become so close? From the way Elena (Karen Bethzabe) & (especially) Hector were acting, it was like Travis attacked one of their own – making Madison & Alicia the outsiders. To completely turn on them, however, just seemed like convenient plotting. Too convenient to be as compelling as intended.

The worst thing about the hotel resolution, might have been some cumulative damage to season two, done by repeating a low-point to the end of its first half. Once again, the home-wrecker family tour had to make an emergency exit, from a well worn welcome. Once again, it had to do so without a star player.

The thought of Strand having to carry this show – without Daniel, to work off of – was bad enough. The thought of this Road show going on entirely under Travis & Madison’s management… I hope Alicia took a lot of notes – she’s next in line, for the sensible survivor position. Madison seems to have had a Nick-fix relapse.

As for Nick: he’s better off writing his own Legend of Whatever story – complete with his own cast of semi-regulars & Red Shirts.

The Colonias closed out their arc with a carnage camo make-over for everybody not serving martyr detail. If only it were that easy on the original series, a certain Cookie Monster (and other members of his family) might still be alive (or at least survived their own meat poncho march). I think Walker Wear is officially fashionable, now – lazy Halloweeners might want to take note.

What comes next for Nick @Knight might’ve been telegraphed by Ofelia’s cliff-hanger; but off the action that brought his Happy, Shining People ending to a ricochet ringing halt, however, his prospects may be something more familiar to Alycia Debnam-Carey’s last role. Minute Men’s got the same ring as Mountain Men, sorta, kinda.

Between pirates, Doomsday preppers, cultists, sporadic bandits, warlords, and – oh, right – zombies, added to the emergence of a would-be-warlord, from within the cast, the second season of Fear the Walking Dead had more than enough to get itself on solid footing, and out of TWD‘s shadow.

The pacing killed it, though – and not in the slang sense. Worse, all the come-downs, and recriminations took away from what should’ve been satisfaction kills. Worst of all, the given end, to arguably the most polarizing character on the show, was a complete anti-climax – serving only to provoke Travis into taking what “he got” around a very dark corner. A dark corner that allowed him & Maddie to get back on the same page, again. Is this what all that character-cost was worth?

There was a time I’d rail against scripts that used discourse & deliberation as an excuse for pre-determined action (hell, the 80s redefined punch-lines as one-liners literally leading to punches). Karma, it seems, has seen fit to bring me a show that uses action as an excuse for drawn-out deliberation.

Every time some wind hits the sail, someone lowers the mast, folds arms, and says “we have to talk.” That’s fine, except for everyone else on board for a ride. If I can swim faster than the boat is allowed to sail, why should I stay with it?

Maybe I’m curious to see if some of the crew, that already jumped ship come back – and with anyone interesting in tow. Maybe I’m curious to see if anyone interesting takes their place. Hell, maybe I’ve been assigned to evaluate the ship & its crew; so I don’t get the Rat’s option.

Way past time to learn to swim, guys.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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