“A picture on the wall, like a postcard with a better view of all things absent from Room 209. Diana sips from an empty glass of hope she poured last night, the clouds above reflect the shape of all she's gotta leave behind” sang Strung Out about their Lost Motel. There’s always something about hotels and the like that speaks to some people of loneliness and doubt. Despite being part of many positive past times for many people, being alone in a hotel represents a separation from their family, their loved ones and all the little familiarities they associate with being home and safe. It’s a bland and unfamiliar place yet for at least a night you have to tell yourself its home. It’s understandable that it can open people up to thoughts about their own life and being lost because so much else feels out of place. This week’s Fear the Walking Dead sees several faces make an unplanned hotel stay and the feeling of being lost is very much on their minds.
Los Muertos – In Tijuana, Nick adjusts to his new community and their alternative beliefs. After finding The Abigail gone Madison, Strand, Alicia and Ofelia seek shelter in a nearby large hotel but will the opportunities of comfort leave them vulnerable?
So after last week’s Nickflix & kill session, the show reunites us with other cast members while fleshing out its new Tijuana setting, and overall it’s an excellent episode. Last week’s slow trudge is swapped out for some good pacing, aided by having two main stories to cut between. The two locations are also connected well by a common theme of faith, particularly over the idea of giving up. In the hotel, we find a towel in every room just so everyone can throw one in as giving up weighs heavily on their minds. The suicide victim walker makes a great representation of giving on the survival game and leads to some good reflections from Alicia and Ofelia. Throughout the episode, these moments don’t feel like an emo style downer for the sake of it. Right now, the group is broken and lost so it feels completely in keeping with their situation to open the doors to doubt, even if just for a conversation on the porch. Ofelia is the biggest beneficiary here. Throughout the first half of this season, she was frustratingly condemned to being a scenery filling tag along character. Yet here, she gets the chance to react to losing her father following Daniel’s explosive departure. It ties in well to her earlier revelations about almost being married but having to give it up in care for her parents. She sacrificed everything for them but now that they’re gone, what does she do with her life? The Strand & Madison boozy revelations are a bit more hit & miss. Their scenes are fun and it’s great to see Madison doing something other than being stern and worried but at the same time things get taken too far. Like Ofelia, we understand that Madison is coming to terms with losing Nick; her reaction feels too extreme and very against her character.
On the other side of the faith coin, the Tijuana compound community develops into a very fascinating affair as we’re keyed up on their ways while spending more time with the key characters of Luciana and the Pharmacist community leader. The episode wastes little time splattering them with grey with the early wall ritual scene being a good creepy affair. It all builds well towards the idea that this is less a community and more a cult, believing there will be an after after-life for them to inherit once the dead have been and gone. In mirroring of the hotel scenes, we see that community members are eager to give up should they become a burden to others with “The Wall”/moat of walkers becoming a memorial graveyard of sorts. It’s great setup. Nick as a character is best used as a rogue element, something unstable that could go wrong. There’s some excellent story potential over Nick upsetting the balance, especially now he’s a blip on the radar of the “Occupy Wallmart” supplies controlling East Tijuana gang. Both the hotel and Tijuana locations have the duel attributes of placing their characters in peril while presenting a feeling of safety. The climax of the hotel scenes is particularly rewarding as walkers run the Drowning Pool play. A hardy pat on the back goes out to director Debroah Chow over its execution as we view things from Alicia’s perspective. The suspended disbelief over Ofelia’s fate is a brilliant moment of suspense.
Despite the odd little niggle, Los Muertos covers all the bases for a clear home run. It’s both world-building and character developing while still providing plenty of immediate gratification. Despite delivering us to a walled off survivors community, it doesn’t feel like it’s re-treading anything off the main show and with Travis & Chris still out in the sticks, there are still some cards left to play. It’s a much more promising effort from the show that bodes extremely well for the rest of the season. Hail the victorious Dead.