The season two premiere of Fear The Walking Dead effectively set up new environs and threats for the L.A. survivors: They’re now on a boat (the ownership of which will soon be up for debate) headed for San Diego, where they face dangers like marauders and moody teens. Strand’s tried to impress upon Maddy and the rest of the survivors just how precarious their position is, multi-million dollar yacht notwithstanding—and for some reason, this has made Daniel edgy. It could also be that his Salvadoran junta past has just left him skeptical of anyone who would so readily assume a leadership role under such conditions. Or maybe Daniel just wants a turn steering the boat. It is quite impressive.

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Strand knows this, of course, just as he knows the Abigail can’t outrun the larger ship that’s seemingly tracking them, that may have caught their trail thanks to Alicia. (He’s also the only person who hasn’t moved past this, which is something I feel viewers, myself included, have in common with him.) But they have more pressing matters, as the ship’s log that Nick recovered while he was ostensibly trying to rescue someone reveals that San Diego is no longer an option (or a city). Even worse, Strand and Daniel concur that a military-grade machine gun must have been used to wipe out the boat they just encountered, which suggests that the military’s taken to wiping out seadogs as well as landlubbers.

Their predicament reminds us of just how unfamiliar this freshly post-apocalyptic world is for the group. Although they’ve all endured some loss or injury, no one—not even Strand or Daniel—is jaded enough to doubt that a safe harbor exists. They might all have different definitions of what that might be—and certainly different methods for how to get there—but they seem to share a belief in its existence (for now). Learning that the government/military has completely turned on the citizenry remains a bitter pill to swallow.

The Angelenos are able to make it safely ashore this episode but, as the title “We All Fall Down” suggests, they don’t enjoy much of a respite. Now that everyone seems to understand the danger they’re in, the group races to find an alternative to San Diego. Catrina Island (a Catalina stand-in, I believe) beckons the group with its “deep cove,” ranger station, and the light flashing from a home at the coast.

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The light and home belong to ranger George Geary and his family: Wife Melissa, sons Seth and Harry, and daughter Willa. They live in relative comfort, thanks to the ranger station’s amenities, including a fence that keeps the walkers that are washing ashore at bay. George and Seth are also survivalists (though George rejects the label), meaning they’ve figured out that a headshot kills even the undead, which is a technique they employ to secure the perimeter. But the family hasn’t emerged unscathed: They’ve lost an uncle, who’s presumably the person for whom Willa and Harry were making a seashell-covered memorial at the episode’s opening.

The Gearys are welcoming and informative, but it doesn’t take long for the cracks in the façade to show. Melissa and George are sizing up Maddy and Travis from the get-go, a fact which is not lost on the couple. They have very different objectives, though. Melissa tries to assess Madison’s mothering skills, and seems happy to learn that the guidance counselor has seemingly unlimited reserves of “”caring.” Meanwhile, George posits the walkers are just the Earth’s “course correction”—that Mother Nature is “pulling weeds,” i.e., ridding herself of humans. He suggests that Travis’ Maori background has somehow prepared him for this new world, and Travis gives us another season-one callback by murmuring “Nature always wins.”

This notion that humans proved too rapacious a species for the planet and are now literally eating themselves/each other is slightly more interesting (and less distasteful) than the theory that addicts like Nick are well suited to surviving among the not-quite living or dead. But it still takes a backseat to the ever-present pondering of survival and what everyone’s prepared to do or sacrifice for it. Travis thinks his belief in a return to normalcy means he is doing more than just surviving. He presents this as somehow superior to George’s simple weathering of the storm, demonstrated by his fortifying of a fence that won’t be able to hold back the hundreds of walkers just across the way. Acceptance and denial are the options George proffers, but Travis has a plan C: “I choose survival,” whatever that will eventually mean.

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Because this show doesn’t reward optimism or pessimism (jury’s still out on opportunism), there are tragic consequences. Despite their initial cheeriness, George and Melissa have all but given up—he because of said “plague,” she because of her multiple sclerosis. And we learn that George’s acceptance was more resignation, as he stockpiled “power pills” that he intended to use to wipe out his family when the time came. The pills achieve that end, though not as he planned, as the family is basically wiped out. And Madison’s dreams of finally saving someone are once again deferred.

Stray observations

  • Nick rummaging through the Gearys’ home would appear to confirm that he was just looking for drugs on the capsized boat.
  • Speaking of Nick, I noticed someone in last week’s comments said Frank Dillane is Stephen Dillane’s son. I didn’t know that, so thanks.
  • If Travis and Madison are planning to take turns being the noble one, they’re probably going to need a conch.
  • Watching Catherine Dent (The Shield) as a reanimated Melissa making her way to attack the child she was just trying to save was just heartbreaking.
  • David Warshofsky’s a nice stand-in for Noah Emmerich, as a disillusioned guy with desirable skills and knowledge in the apocalypse.
  • Just a friendly reminder that “Ring Around The Rosie” wasn’t inspired by the Bubonic plague.
  • No apocalypse survivor ever finds the time to read.

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