Warning: This article contains spoilers from Season 2, Episode 11 of Fear The Walking Dead. If you've yet to see this episode then stop reading now.
Fear The Walking Dead is one of those shows that seems to always come under criticism, no matter how good it gets. Plenty of people complain that the show is either too slow or that it fails to live up to its parent show. I sometimes agree with the general viewer — sometimes it can be too slow. Last week's episode suffered from a plodding narrative, but that was mainly due to Nick and Madison's absence.
However, all of my fears (pun very much intended) and worries were put aside in "Pablo & Jessica" — the show's latest episode — as Fear The Walking Dead delivered its most powerful hour yet. The episode was filled with character development and a great culmination that would give even the almighty The Walking Dead a run for its money.
Madison and Nick Take On Leadership Roles
Up until recently, I've often wondered which member of Fear The Walking Dead's group would become its leader. The Walking Dead set up Rick Grimes as the leader within its first few episodes, proving he was worthy of the role when he successfully escaped from his hometown after it was infested by walkers.
But on Fear The Walking Dead, it's mostly been a democracy, with characters only jumping in to take the lead when they had a plan of action. We've seen both Travis and Strand take charge while the group was aboard the Abigail, and we've also saw Madison lead the crew on several occasions during the first season. Other than that, the core cast has usually discussed their tactics as a team. While the democracy of the group was something I appreciated, it was becoming more and more apparent that they were in desperate need of a leader.
As the group is segregated at the moment, we've seen the emergence of two leaders — Madison and Nick. At the hotel, Madsion took on the task of removing all of the infected from the building and made some new allies along the way. I always thought Madison had what it takes to lead but we hadn't really seen her do so. Kim Dickens, who pays Madison, was excellent in this episode and, for me, Madison proved that she has what it takes to become Fear the Walking Dead's equivalent of Rick Grimes.
Over at La Colonia, Nick also stepped up and took on a leadership role. Using his "limited but refined skill set" that he picked up as a junkie, Nick doubled the Colonia's supply of oxycontin, hoping to buy the settlement's citizens more time and more hope. Nick proved himself to be an asset and Alejandro — the leader of La Colonia — clearly sees his worth. In fact, Nick appears to be more at home here than he ever was with his family.
Earlier episodes saw Nick spend tons of time with the dead, so it's great to see him enjoying some human company for a change. The prospect of romance with Luciana has definitely opened him back up to the land of the living. A romantic relationship is rarely seen on The Walking Dead — even the great Maggie and Glenn's partnership happened after the two of them had given up hope — so it's exciting to see that the folks of Fear haven't given up hope yet.
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Alicia Proved Her Value
The Clark Family really proved themselves in "Pablo & Jessica," with Madison and Nick stepping into leadership roles, but let's not overlook Alicia. In the past few episodes, we've seen her escape from the infected, jump into elevator shafts and make new alliances, proving that she'll push herself to survive. The latest episode took Alicia's development one step further as she not only walked into danger head on, but came up with a plan on how the group would dispose of the infected — to use the rip tide to pull the walkers away from the hotel resort.
Alicia may have been separated from her mother earlier this season, but that's proved a blessing in disguise resulting in some strong character development. With each passing episode, we learn more about her and she continually proves that she has what it takes to survive in this post-apocalyptic world. We haven't seen her take the lead just yet, but she definitely has leadership potential. Alicia's a survivor, and hopefully she'll live long enough for us to see her blossom into the leader we know she can be.
Venturing into Unexplored Territory
A few weeks ago, I mentioned how Fear The Walking Dead went where The Walking Dead did not when we saw the struggle Nick faced surviving on his own. The latest episode continued to venture into unexplored territory as we saw Madison and Strand escape from the infected by covering themselves in the blood of one of the walkers — a tactic they learned from Nick.
The characters over on The Walking Dead have rarely used this genius tactic, and its pretty hard to believe that the group has survived as long as it has without doing this more often. By covering themselves in walker remains, Madison and Strand were able to get to safety by moving among the dead unnoticed. In one and a half seasons, the characters of Fear have used this tactic many times whereas characters on The Walking Dead have only used it twice in six seasons.
But even more interestingly, the show's exploring the mystery behind Alejandro's walker bite. If his scar's real, that means walker bites might not be fatal, which would go against everything we've seen on The Walking Dead. I'm still suspicious about Alejandro and his miracle bite, but nevertheless it's another angle that The Walking Dead failed to explore. As much as I love the action and killings seen over on The Walking Dead, the idea of exploring the virus is seriously compelling compelling. More importantly, think of the ramifications for both shows if Alejandro is telling the truth. Fear The Walking Dead definitely deserves to be commended for exploring so much territory that The Walking Dead seems to have stepped over.
The Pier Scene
I have no problem saying that the latest episode of Fear The Walking Dead was the show's best yet, and one of the main reasons for that was the pier scene. As the crew from the hotel worked with Alicia, Strand and Madison to take out the infected, it became clear that the floor-by-floor method could takes weeks. However, Alicia came up with an idea and Madison was the one to perform the final act. They split into three groups and lured the infected out of the hotel and out onto the pier as Madison made enough noise to make them follow her. After coming to the bottom of the pier, Madison jumped into a nearby boat with Alicia onboard and the walkers began falling into the sea. It was an incredible moment, reminiscent of the pied piper story, proving that Fear The Walking Dead is every bit as good as its parent show.
The intensity of the scene was reminiscent of when Rick and the group lured the walkers away from Alexandria in The Walking Dead, but with even better results. The group now has a safe haven, someplace free from infected that they can call home. But that could lead to new dangers, as Madison notes that someone could come and try to take their sanctuary. As we've learned from The Walking Dead, there are ruthless people in this post-apocalyptic world so she's probably right. For now, though, they're safe.
Fear The Walking Dead really proved itself this week and for the first time, the show's intensity was on par with The Walking Dead. Fear can often be slow, but I can't help but become more enthralled with every passing episode. It's also great to see new directions for the shared Walking Dead universe. Whether or not you're a fan of the show, there's no denying that it continues to venture into new territory every week. With Madison and Nick set at the show's new leaders, who knows what dangers they'll face in future episodes?
You can catch Fear The Walking Dead Sunday nights on AMC. How do you feel about Madison and Nick as leaders? Tell me in the comment section below.