Captive – As Alicia is put to work by Connor and Alex back at their base, Travis is held captive and receives a surprising reunion. Madison and the rest of the group organize a trade for their captive Reed, who gets more complicated than they’d like.
In almost every way, this is a concluding part of the episode to last week’s Blood on the Street in that almost everything revolves around the events of Connor’s crew boarding The Abigail and taking Travis along with Alicia. It’s a solid conclusion but it’s also a bit of sad one because the story could easily have run for at least another episode but as the credits roll, there’s a strong feeling leaving Connor’s crew behind and heading to Mexico. The setup was all the more enjoyable last week for the feeling of being a long-running story rather than just being a two-episode spread. Still, concentrating on what we do have, there’s an interesting theme to the loaming conflict of Madison’s motherly attitude towards the group: the way she views Nick, Alicia and Chris as children to be cared for and protected rather than the capable young adults they could be. Her angered exchange with Strand over using Nick as an errand boy sums this up well. She views Nick through the eyes of a mother, seeing only Nick’s weaknesses and a drive to protect them whereas Strand views Nick indifferently, and as such, sees only the positives of his skillset: his survivalist nature. Not only is Nick ideally suited for such a solo venture but it’s also helpful for someone still working through drug withdrawal to be given purpose and made to feel useful rather just sitting around like someone that needs protecting from themselves. Despite Nick’s success, Madison still refuses to let him be combatant so it looks like her acceptance of dependable adult Nick will stretch across a few more episodes. However, her mothering capacity is not thrown under the bus entirely thanks to Chris’s storyline. Ever since losing his mom, Liza, Chris has demonstrated a desire to be involved in the uglier sides of their survival but here, we see him get completely out of his depth and ultimately needs Madison to comfort him as if he were a 6-year-old that’s fallen off his skateboard. While Madison needs to accept that Nick is ready to be a capable adult, Chris needs to accept that he isn’t ready to be one quite yet.
Travis & Alicia’s story over at Connor’s base has a lot going for it. The aerial camerawork as Alicia comes up on deck is impressive and really captures the scale of their location. Then we come to see that Connor is in no way a tyrannical leader, being a Shane Walsh at best with even moments of Rick Grimes. He’s all about protecting his own and not just their security but also their welfare as he talks about making sure they get at least one good meal a day. Neither is he opposed to new recruits as Alicia is quickly inducted after being vouched for by Jack. The only difference comes in his willingness to take from others rather than just scavenging. Setting Alicia to work on radar and tracking alongside Jack have some enjoyable irony to it. After being hooked and caught by Jack’s radio charms, she’s now being asked to switch things around and reel in other unsuspecting boats. The Alicia/Jack relationship adds an extra dynamic to things as in offering to run away with her it shows his feelings were genuine after all. However, the best scenes here come from Travis and his surprise reunion with Alex (from episode 3) after Strand cut her life raft adrift. There’s a great progression of emotions to exchanges as what starts as clear vengeance driven payback from Alex slowly turns to mutual empathy and forgiveness over the sufferings they’ve both had to endure. In the end, we see them both in some degree of shame over their recent actions; in who the changing world has forced them to become, “We can be more that what we’ve become; can’t we?”.
The resulting payout of the mutual prisoner exchange is good and entertaining thanks to the unexpected difficulties placed on proceedings keeping the odds stacked against our protagonists. Daniel quietly becomes the standout character of the episode in his oblivious impressed state to Reed’s threats, seeing him as nothing more than a scared boy lashing out with his tongue. Although there’s no clear implication, hopefully, we will get to see more of these newer cast members further in the series (a revenge-based comeback maybe?) as particularly the likes of Alex and Vita are characters worth catching up with.
If the season has bigger and better plans on the wa,y then it’s probably right to close this chapter and move on but this may well be looked back on a point in the season that could have been further developed. So it looks like the reunited group are now Mexico-bound for a reunion with Strand’s boat-naming lover but will Strand’s excessive baggage be an issue?