TV Show Review

TV Review: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD: Season 2, Episode 4: Blood in the Streets [AMC]

Cliff Curtis Alycia Debnam-Carey Lorenzo James Henrie Jesse McCartney Fear the Walking Dead Blood in the Streets

AMC‘s Fear The Walking Dead Blood in the Streets TV Show Review. Fear the Walking Dead, Season 2, Episode 4: ‘Blood in the Streets,’ had a more subtle meaning to its title, than some zombie fans might’ve guessed. That subtlety, in turn, would compliment one of the more intense episodes of the series; but that just might’ve been my exhale reaction, after what seemed like another sucky start.

So Nick (Frank Dillane) crawled ashore, onto what seemed like a secured site, but was actually just another quarantine zone. He did this with the a level of purpose & skill reserved for scoring a fix, and without anyone else knowing he was even gone; but it turned out he was on an actual mission. I can’t say that he was finally using his powers for good; but he was doing it with purpose beyond his own self-interest, for a change.

The whole episode had this sense of purpose to it; but like Nick’s opening moments, after coming ashore, there was some unpleasantness to get through.

So about that whole not laying about at anchor, while being actively pursued by heavy caliber toting pirates: this episode would’ve brought that point home; but I think the real lesson learned was about the pitfalls to being humane, under survivalist conditions.

Humane hesitation turned out to be another Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) cost; so enter the pirates, and exit one character, off to one of those scenarios that generates character building flashbacks. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was nice to see Alicia’s (Alycia Debnam-Carey) brief radio rapport payoff; so enter Jack (Daniel Zovatto), the sparrowless pirate. There were two others, but I was too busy waiting for them to die; so… I don’t care who they were – they were the warm up act for bigger things.

Once started as a consequence of Chris-cost, Strand’s (Colman Domingo) stranding at sea ran parallel to the Abigail crisis, as his flashbacks would reveal much about the man, the mission, and where the good ship Abigail got its name. Much to my relief, there was very little surprising about it all – Strand remains a personal favorite. Some of the new faces I had looked forward to seeing, however….

It’s bad enough that our pirates (the boarding party, anyway) turned out to be a bunch of kids out to upgrade their post-apocalyptic Spring Break cruise; but these guys had no-good Nick-up written all over them.

If fans of TWD thought Gareth was annoying….

Why do people point guns & make threats, without cocking them first. If you have to cock a gun to emphasize a demand, maybe cocking it first would mean having to ask only once. Something to keep in mind, if you ever find yourself on the demand side of a homicidally hairy situation (that, and try not to be a dick about it, howzabout).

Ah, but the annoyance didn’t stop there. Based on the thoroughly soul-searching conversations they had – y’know, where she practically baited the delinquents – Alicia was somehow willing to bet on Jack.

I assume the ease, with which Alicia was able to talk her mom into leaving her in Jack’s hands, came from Maddie’s (Kim Dickens) stunned silence at Alicia thinking she could go double or nothing, after pretty much causing all this. That, and Maddie working on the inevitable turnaround, with her fellow hostages, I guess. One way Alicia could’ve made good would’ve been to string Jack along; but allowing him to dodge the question of how many people died, as a direct consequence of his shtick, was discouraging. On the other hand, when Alicia did actually start working a little Siren mojo, I was left asking how dumb was Jack for not noticing. Man does not motivate by fear alone, I suppose.

Thankfully, these Nega-Nick-ups were just the tip of the harpoon, and not running the show. Their fear motivation came from a guy named Connor (Mark Kelly) – not quite Negan material, but it’s early all around. The bad news was that he did have timing on his side; so the inevitable turnaround never happened. The good news was that I didn’t mind the unresolved ending to this first clash. In this one episode, there were enough encouraging character developments to warrant anticipating what they do next – including the liabilities.

Speaking of liabilities, why did Nick up & go AWOL? I guess the answer goes back to his falling in with Strand, back when they were cellmates.

The title was a reference to a quote, whose closest American equivalent would probably be the notion of Carpetbagging, after the Civil War. Carpetbagging was what brought Strand to source Abigail (Dougray Scott), to the L.A. outbreak, and ultimately to Nick & the others. I know what you’re thinking – what we were all likely thinking – after the Strand backstory reveal: how FTWD just introduced & explored the subject of the benevolent dictator-in-waiting, through Abigail, Strand, and Connor – all collectors of useful Human assets, and shedders of dead weight. Not a bad subject to change to, actually – the family circus/ civility vs survival arguments were well past old.

What? Strand’s sexuality? I’ll admit: I was disappointed – but not for the reason you might think. It occurred to me back in season 1, when he first took Nick under his wing. He saw potential I didn’t, suggesting he was looking that much harder, I figured. That said, I kinda hoped I had been given the wrong impression. I tend to want more than what seems obvious, when it comes to character storytelling (as examples, like <SPOILER> BSG’s Admiral Helena Cain turning out to be gay, <SPOILER> seemed like an easy out for the writers. Just because she had bigger balls than most men in the fleet, doesn’t mean she had to swing ‘em that way).

In any case, that particular reveal only served to support my hope, that Strand had more noble reasons for his sinister seeming sail south, and the hardline he had been drawing about it. The new ‘old’ talent he had his ‘old’ new talent retrieve only underscored just how tolerant Strand had been, this whole time. Connor’s way of resolving his selection process, on the other hand, added some much needed context to how Strand handled Alex.

‘Blood in the Streets’ was meant to be a wake-up call – presenting Strand detractors with a true warlord scenario, with which to draw comparisons to his helming of Abigail. It turned out to be something of a wake-up call for the series – with the pirate element actually delivering, after some initial disappointment.

As I had hoped, meeting Jack Sparrowless meant more interesting characters being brought on to the scene – if not the cast. At a stroke, we had an expansion of the setting (with not one, but two home bases), potentially opposing warlords to go with it, and the first truly satisfying kills of the series.

That last point, alone, gives me hope that Darwin’s disciples are gaining ground, on this show, and that the walking dead weight are at least now willing to shape up. Sure, the missing weight will be a point to bicker over; but it will also be an opportunity for another liability to be redeemed. In that event – and with Alex still out there – Strand’s boarders could focus on their issues, and leave the heavy lifting to the incoming heavies. More plot by competent action/ reaction; less plot by plotz.

I don’t need the show to have more action & conflict – I just need the characters to be better at it, and smarter about it, when it comes.

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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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