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Fear the Walking Dead 3.03 Review – ‘TEOTWAWKI’

June 11, 2017 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
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Fear the Walking Dead 3.03 Review – ‘TEOTWAWKI’  

Welcome to The End Of The World As We Know It, or TEOTWAWKI! In this episode, the Clark family works to fit into their new home at Broke Jaw Ranch, while Strand runs into more than one old friend, one of whom I was not expecting at all!

The plot: Madison introduces her family during/after a memorial for Charlene, who died last week, and they get some shade from a few locals for not pulling their weight. Alicia gets roped into a “bible study” that turns out to some of the teens sneaking off to drink, get high and basically be teenagers. Nick is caught between Luciana’s desire to leave as soon as they can and Madison’s determination that they will stay here, dammit; he eventually goes on a boar hunt and of all things has a moment with Troy. Madison puts her guidance counselor side to work as she takes some time to analyze the Ottos, watching part of a video lecture series that Jeremiah made and sold in the 80s or 90s, getting a look at the motherlode of supply depots under the ranch, and starting to creep on Troy in a maternal way. Strand drives his Jag up to a damn where people are trading for water and asks to see Dante, an old friend from his con man days, but the happy reunion is turned on him when he’s put in a cell for his ‘past crimes’. But most shocking of all, Daniel Salazar shows up to sneak him some water!

There was a lot of either regressing (in a good way) or relying on old skills by everyone in this episode. Using old tricks or old, comfortable habits to either get information or forge new connections–and for everyone but Strand, it works out rather well. Alicia, who’s been carrying around guilt and tension from her experiences, finally gets to be a teenager again when she unexpectedly joins the ‘bible study.” It was refreshing overall to see her act her age, from the quick attempt to get out of it by claiming she was Jewish, to seeing her finally laugh again at the absurdity of something like a snarling head on a table when you’re drinking moonshine and smoking weed from a PVC pipe bong in an underground bunker, and it’s the most normal thing you’ve done in months! So not only does she get to make friends her own age, she gets to finally unload the truth that has weighed her on so heavily: killing another human being was easy. There was a hint of this last week when her instinct to hide a knife disturbed her, but here she’s finally saying it aloud and it clearly helps her to get it off her chest. When she walks back to the ranch proper later, in the dawn, she’s walking loosely, arms swinging, she smiles at Jake and makes a joke (and maybe checks him out?). Sure, she might still be riding a high, but it feels like much more than just that.

Nick is torn by loyalty to Luciana and to his mother: he’s not personally strongly tied to staying or going, it seems, but Luciana is determined to leave. Understandable, given that they slaughtered her people for no real reason. Madison, however, is still determined to stay here after all they did, and lost, to get there–including Travis’s life, and including how much she’s already sacrificed for Nick. But the question of what can Nick contribute is a valid one for them, because his only obvious skills are in connection with drug use. He has survived surprisingly well, but this is a camp full of people who can do that. What he can do that others can’t, however, is relate to Troy. The scene with the two of them in the dark on the boar hunt was unexpected but very interesting. Troy’s fixation on death and turning is revealed as being much deeper than it seemed last week; his claim of it being for science is genuine, even if his idea of science is twisted and seriously morally questionable. Much like Nick, though, he’s found his place now that the world has gone mad. The world has finally caught up to him, as Nick put it at the end of Season 1. When Nick starts tearing pages from Troy’s journal and cackling madly, he’s tapping back into that part of himself as well, and Troy recognizes a kindred spirit. Hence, “I think we can be friends now.” Given that Troy’s style of unhinged is more deadly and dangerous than Nick’s, I’m both curious and worried about where this friendship will go.

Madison, as usual, is the one holding the master class, however. She and Troy have a power struggle scene early on when he pulls a Goldilocks just to show her that he can get into their bunk at any time, but when she tells him to make the bed and he listens, the power ends in her hands. As she goes on to learn more about Jeremiah and the Otto family’s past, she cranks up the maternal angle with Troy later on, placing a napkin on his lap while they’re eating. By then, she’s aware that she bears a resemblance to his mother, that he wasn’t well-socialized, that he tried to care for his mother but was rejected by her thanks to her illness, and that Jeremiah was harsh on him when he younger as well. Though her power move in the first scene may have been simply that, by the end, her volunteering to go with his squad and the napkin are far more intentional. I think that Madison knows and has known from the get go how dangerous he is and what kind of person he is, but now that she’s seen more of what caused it, she knows how to act to more or less control him as best she can.

Other interesting moves on her part are, as Troy points out, casting herself and her family as victims when she mentions Travis’s death to the group as a whole, and the way she connects with Jeremiah, and her bluntness with Luciana. With Jeremiah, Madison is upfront about her concerns because she’s seen how indulgence can encourage bad habits, she’s done it herself, but she still acknowledges that this guy is the guy in charge. They’re honest with each other, and as a ‘reward’ for her honesty, she gets to see the stocked up pantry under the ranch, full of food, water, supplies and perhaps most importantly: guns.

The Ottos show a little more of themselves and their dynamics this week, too, mostly Jake and Troy. Jake is the one who’s more moral, more sympathetic, and more level-headed, that much is clear. He doesn’t have the command of this place that his brother does, or the easy charisma that comes to Troy. But I keep waiting for the catch with him–is his weakness his family, the fact that despite being aware of who and what Troy is, he’s still indulging him? Will he eventually snap and lose his carefully maintained cool? Will it be what kills him? Or will he wise up before it’s too late? Or is his weakness something we haven’t yet learned?

And meanwhile, back south of the border, Strand tries to hook up with a ‘friend’ from the old days, someone he knew while working as a con man. But Dante is apparently one to hold grudges, and nearly sends Strand to a grisly death for it. Strand naturally falls back on wheeling and dealing, claiming he can help Dante, he needs him, and I’m starting to lose count of how often we’ve heard Strand say that! But he points out that Dante will inevitably be attacked by the people he’s withholding water from. Dante seems unmoved, but rather than kill him, he takes away Strand’s power by putting him in a cell by himself. Leading to the biggest surprise: Daniel Salazar is alive and whole, and not a pile of ash! How exactly is that possible? How did he not go up in flames at the Abigail estate? I look forward to finding out, as unrealistic as it seems that he’s alive at all, because Daniel’s a great character, so I happily welcome him back.

What do you think of this week’s developments and what we’re learning about the Ottos and Broke Jaw Ranch? How about Strand’s situation and Daniel’s return? Let’s hear it in the comments!

Other Thoughts:
– I called Jeremiah ‘Russell’ last week, thanks to IMDb misleading me. But I’m on track now!
– Also, Jeremiah IS the lone gunman who pinned and approached Ofelia when we last saw her, so that makes the question of where is she now an even bigger one.
– That 80’s/90’s-tastic VHS survivalist tape commercial was awesome. Well done!
– Quotes!
— “Everything that I do is in service to this place.”
— “Complicated problems call for complicated solutions.” “Killing people isn’t complicated. It’s simple.”
— “Are you a hard woman to like, Madison?” “I’m extremely hard to like when someone threatens my family.”
— “I killed a man.” “How did it feel?” “Easy.”
— “I broke Troy in that old world. In this world, Troy has a purpose. We all do. And nothing heals a family more than that.”
— “The things we do to our children. And the things for them to make up for it.”
— “What’s wrong with you?” “Newton stabbed his own eye to understand the nature of light, I just…I need to know. I need to know why we spoil.”
— “I think we can be friends now.”
— “He was a good man. A much better person than I am.”
— “I told you I could be your guardian angel.”

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
The Clark family taps into old skills and habits as they find places to fit in at the Broke Jaw Ranch, with Alicia unexpectedly making friends, Nick making an unexpected friend in Troy, and Madison steadily learning more about the Ottos and positioning herself favorably to make sure her family is safe and protected and, perhaps more importantly, liked. I enjoyed seeing the turns their storylines all took, things that I didn't see coming but that fit and were fun to watch all the same. Strand's storyline took it's biggest development at the end when it was revealed to him and to us that Daniel Salazar is alive! And that's worth an extra point right there.