Fear the Walking Dead Pablo & Jessica Review
Fear the Walking Dead, season 2, episode 11, ‘Pablo & Jessica,’ seemed like an attempt to fold space, between current events & the the next happening, with the titular references serving to keep all involved evenly paced, in this effort.
Getting from point A to point B, in this case, began with a cleaning of the mess, that Victor Strand & Madison (Colman Domingo, Kim Dickens) – Vaddie – had gotten themselves into, by getting themselves dirty.
Call me a stickler for details, but the franchise doesn’t seem to take the Walking Alive camo trick as seriously as it used to. I remember Rick going to greater lengths – getting full corn syrup coverage. Down the line, the meat poncho became something of a standard. With FTWD, however, a face-mask & a couple of streaks to the upper body does the trick. Are these early Walkers just too inexperienced to notice things like living scalp, relatively clean ears, and live sweat? Maybe they’re not as hungry as they will be, by the time Rick Grimes wakes up….
Well, this time around, the trick got Vaddie clear enough to clean up, drink the meaningful way, and just happen into earshot of where Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) had dead-ended, last episode. From there, Maddie took the opportunity to acknowledge her raising of Alicia as less than best. This, despite their history making Alicia quite useful, at present.
Maddie stepped-up, herself – turning her penchant for hen-pecking into a knack for diplomacy. What could’ve been drawn out drama, between Elena (Karen Bethzabe) & the surviving guests, turned into some mercifully efficient house cleaning. Hard feelings over the titular Jessica, however, left surviving mother & husband – Ilene (Brenda Strong) & Oscar (Andres Londono) – well wary of the truce. Points to Maddie, then, for even reaching out to the guests.
Something about the absurdity of their collective dilemma – fighting over a luxury location too dangerous to stay in, but too stocked & secure to leave – left me half expecting Oscar to hurl crude insults at her, in a really bad French accent, before switching to cows.
At one point, I had feared that the Victor-Thomas reveal would bring about a softening to the Strand character. Whatever qualities kept his character on the more compelling side of the cast, being a soft touch wasn’t one of them. Being on the run had kept him relatively sharp; but here, that softening seemed more evident. Passing on a secure location, due to sentiment over the ‘home’ he had lost, was more motive-by-sentiment than befit the character – humanizing or not.
That sentiment did serve the episode, though, with Strand bringing personal experience to Oscar’s trouble with letting go of undead Jessica.
I credit ‘Pablo & Jessica’ for managing to have multiple characters put their most annoying qualities to some constructive use. More-so, when you consider that the episode included Nick (Frank Dillane), pretty much on the same page.
I suppose it’s only typical, that Nick is at his most useful when doing things that kids shouldn’t try at home. Still, useful is useful; and Nick was proving that he can use his evil powers for good. Of course, the chance to be a reckless hero also came with more time for brownie points, with Luciana (Danay Garcia). There was also some quality bonding time with Alejandro (Paul Calderon); but the Alejandro miracle took another back seat to Nick & Luciana. I cannot bring myself to consider Nick having earned the kind of positive attention he keeps getting. The kind of attention he’ll be getting from Luciana, for the moment (since there’re clearly no eligible alternatives for her), won’t be helping. Maybe it was his reward for key-wording the titular Pablo, but at least the episode left him on a useful streak.
Barring some technical issues (what is the charge on Alicia’s phone, and how has she kept it working this long? Would the rip-tide really keep the Walkers from just walking out of the surf, and back to the hotel?), and some convenient time management (the episode managed to skip both Nick dealing with the gang, and Maddie convincing the guests to not kill/ exile Elena), ‘Pablo & Jessica’ was one of the better episodes of the series, so far. Overall, I was hard pressed to think of all that many episodes which put the bulk of on hand characters to such good use. It might not be too late to hope for (yet another) turnaround.
On the other hand, I do find myself wondering if anything useful will come of Ofelia’s disappearance. Hoping for a family reunion, actually; but it’s really too early to be that encouraged. Let’s give it a few more episodes, to see if the show does have some wind to its back….
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