Although it’s just been a few weeks since the bottom fell out of the world, survival is quickly becoming a zero-sum game on Fear The Walking Dead. Sure, there’s still some strength in numbers, but resources are already becoming scarce. And as the Abigail’s quarters grow more cramped, there’s less room for doubt and nuance. So while our survivors might regret the other refugees they failed (intentionally or otherwise) to rescue, they can’t deny that this might just be the way of the new world.
Each of the Angelenos is coming to grips with this realization at their own pace. Strand’s been on board with this philosophy since day one, with Daniel not too far behind. Obviously, they haven’t ignored everyone’s pleas for help, otherwise they wouldn’t all be together in this mess at the moment. But they are being far more judicious about their assistance, especially Strand, who recognized something in Nick that he knew he could use down the road.
Madison and Travis are slowly coming around, though they continue to take turns being the lady/gent who doth protest too much. I’m more forgiving of that inconsistency when I consider that it could be the natural response to getting a glimpse into their future whenever they meet someone who is too far gone. Neither of them identified with George Geary’s despair—it just seemed to strengthen their own resolve to find a way to not just survive in the walker-infested world, but to live in it. It might not be a complete 360 back to their old lives, but they have displayed a desire to find some semblance of normalcy.
The arrival of Jack and the rest of the pirates last week also presented Maddie and Travis with funhouse versions of themselves. Jack is the least awful of the bunch, as he’s only putting out his siren’s call to the remaining impressionable gals out in the world to repay Connor for saving his life. Just like Strand, Connor will only help those who have something to offer him in exchange for his largesse. But he’s not needlessly cruel—even when he absconds with Alicia and Travis, he tells his brother Reed (sorry for misspelling your character’s name last week, Jesse McCartney) to leave Maddie & Co. on the shore before bringing the Abigail to their pirates’ bay or cove or whatever.
But “Captive” establishes more than just a good-cop/bad-cop dynamic between the two brothers. They are each other’s keepers, with Connor seemingly ignoring his younger brother’s more sociopathic behavior. Reed alludes to his older sibling’s inability to adjust to the new moral code (which is defined by its very absence), and Connor does appear to be compartmentalizing. He must have had some sense that leaving a bunch of bound people in Reed’s “care” would just spell their doom, but as long as they aren’t directly dying by his hand, he can live with it.
There are multiple standoffs this week, as each group has something the other wants. Connor spends time with Alicia to figure out how she can be of use. He tries to win her over with kindness, especially after learning from Jack about her disappointment in her family over some of their recent decisions. Despite the fact that everyone was right about the danger that Jack presented, Alicia’s disillusionment is obvious to Jack and Connor, so they both try to manipulate her with it.
Even though Alicia ultimately sides with her family—who, by the way, rescue her—she still has her doubts. She considers them the lesser of two evils, but I just don’t think that level of skepticism has been earned. Yes, it’s shitty that they doomed Alex and Jake, among others, by not just making room for them on the boat. But Alicia wasn’t exactly introduced to us as the most selfless teen before the world went to hell; she only grudgingly helped her family during the military occupation of their neighborhood. She wasn’t indifferent to Nick’s addiction/suffering, but she certainly seemed weary of it. Last season, as her neighbors were taken away, Alicia and Chris broke into their houses to break their shit and drink their Champagne. She’s just a kid and all that, but those acts make her suddenly unbearably heavy conscience a tough sell.
There’s a chance that Alicia will eventually become so uncompromising about the moral compromising that she strikes out on her own, something she appears to consider doing with Jack in “Captive.” I doubt that’ll happen, but that’d be one way to streamline the show, which shouldn’t feel so scattershot considering the group hasn’t found an Alexandria or anything yet. (See, Alicia? This is why we don’t save everyone—it just makes the story unwieldy.) But for now, the party is split up, with Alicia trying to figure out a way out of Connor’s stronghold, even as she believes that Jack has let Reed kill off her family.
That’s because the Abigail is returning too quickly from its supposed detour, though that’s actually because Maddie and Daniel have regained control of the yacht. Alicia doesn’t know this, but Connor soon does, and he prepares for an exchange of prisoners. We don’t see Connor do much leading beyond occasionally saying things into a radio, so it’s hard to understand why everyone’s fallen in with him. He isn’t especially strong or ruthless, so he obviously doesn’t lead with an iron fist. His bargaining approach appears to be working for him nonetheless, though, as he swapped a position in his group for the position of the Abigail. And with whom did he trade? Alex, who’s come back for revenge on Travis.
It should be a big reveal, but I doubt anyone thought we’d seen the last of her even when she and Jake were set adrift. She eventually had to put him out of his misery, and she holds Travis, not Strand, mostly responsible. Why is that? Because Travis should have known better. There’s not much dramatic weight to their scenes—Alex is briefly menacing, but her revenge is put on pause following a group therapy session with Travis, in which he admits that he’s also had to do the whole mercy killing thing, too. Travis still thinks we can aspire to more than just this “eye for an eye” mindset, but Alex isn’t so sure.
The other standoffs blow over just as quickly: Reed manages to get inside Chris’ head, telling him he’ll eventually be the one left out in the cold because he only has Travis looking out for him. Reed’s a wounded animal, lashing out because he might be worrying about his own position in his group. But the taunts work, if getting killed is what Reed was aiming for. This threatens their bargaining position, but that’s okay, because Connor has apparently never done a prisoner swap before, and he welcomes his undead brother with open arms that are quickly bitten. Jack and the pregnant woman are still alive, so there’s a chance we’ll get to see this play out again later this season. I really hope not, because the Abigail and her crew will have plenty to contend with soon enough trying to get into Mexico, as well as dealing with its moody teens.
- Maddie doesn’t want Nick taking unnecessary risks, so she plans to just keep taking his place. Okay then.
- Daniel having auditory hallucinations/flashbacks is the new “Rick gets phone calls from heaven/hell.”
- A hands-off managerial style works surprisingly well on scavengers and pirates.
- Connor’s obviously not the Big Bad, and not just because he’s dead. There were multiple references to a fleet of five boats, one of which probably had that 50-caliber machine gun that tore apart the capsized boat we saw earlier in the season.