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Fear the Walking Dead 3.09 & 3.10 Review – ‘Minotaur’ & ‘The Diviner’

September 11, 2017 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
Fear The Walking Dead - Minotaur
7.5
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Fear the Walking Dead 3.09 & 3.10 Review – ‘Minotaur’ & ‘The Diviner’  

Welcome back to Fear the Walking Dead! When we last left the Clarks and their scattered friends, Nick had killed Jeremiah Otto in order to save the lives of everyone on the ranch (before his mother could), thus entering the ranch into a fragile alliance with the Nation, the people with whom Ofelia has found a new home. Daniel Salazar has helped take over a coveted dam operation, though in his heart he still wishes to find his daughter, and Victor Strand was more or less in the wind after torching his boat and talking with a cosmonaut. Tonight, we’re jumping right back into the latest problems to plague these survivors.

The plot: On the ranch, the clash of the ranchers and the Nation was front and center. In the first episode, this conflict centers on Tory being unable to let go of his violent tendencies and his grudge against the Nation for coming onto their land at all, and a growing resentment for how much control Madison and Jake are giving to Walker and his group. It culminates in a standoff in the house between Troy, Nick and the Nation goons, which only ends when Nick tells Troy the truth–that he killed Jeremiah. Troy is exiled from the ranch, but only accepts this after a struggle with Madison when they try to drop him off in the middle of nowhere. In the second episode, a water shortage sends Madison and Walker out to bargain for water at a trading post in the border town of Mexicali where, lo and behold, they run into Victor Strand who is in trouble yet again. Madison ends up using the water money to pay his debts and save his life–because she knows he knows where a dam is, something that could solve their water problem permanently. Back at the homestead, tensions quickly escalate as disgruntled ranchers force Nick into being the new Troy and Alicia struggles to maintain the peace. Just as it was about to finally come to blows, however, Alicia’s tireless efforts to literally dig them out of the situation lead Nick, then Ofelia, then others to disarm and work together at last. And meanwhile, Daniel is trying to help hand out water but constantly looking for his daughter. Lola notices, reminding him of his promise to help and that she needs him, and that this search will break him if he doesn’t let go.

The Clarks have long been a family trying to control their situation without actually being fully in charge. Whether it’s Madison wielding her guidance counselor skills, Nick manipulating those around him, or Alicia going unnoticed and using that to her advantage. Now, however, they’re finally the ones in charge, and they each take to it in a different way. There’s no backing out of the spotlight now. Madison, as usual, is actively trying to stay ahead and puts the well-being of her kids ahead of everything else. Every action she takes really is for them; that doesn’t mean it’s always the smartest choice, but it does keep her motivated and active. Alicia, having dipped a toe into her dark side in the last half-season, has come out firmly not wanting to go back there, determined to find a better way. Nick, meanwhile, struggles with that dark side as he always has, but the temptations the former addict faces now aren’t drugs but power, violence, and madness. These two episodes put the struggles at the top in the spotlight for all of the Clarks, and it’s an interesting change for them.

Madison is still the most adept, and I have to admit I thought she made bad calls a few times but she was thinking a few steps ahead, or at least trying to. Handing the keys for the weapons over to the Nation is the one I’m still unsure of, as she seems to be handing too much power over to the Nation and it definitely contributed to the tensions between the two groups in the second episode. Her and Walker being the ones to leave to find water also seemed like a bad idea, since they are the leaders of their respective group, and it was still very early on to be leaving them unsupervised. I still can’t decide if things turning out okay speaks to her faith in her kids being well-placed, or just her being damn lucky that being a control freak didn’t lead to things falling apart in her absence. But, her deal to free Strand has potential for the ranch’s survival, and the added bonus of meaning Strand didn’t die! And that’s great for two reasons: Strand is still utterly enjoyable on his own, and I had forgotten how well he and Madison play off of one another. The scene of the two of them reconnecting was a really nice emotional moment, to see both of them letting go of their pretenses. Of course, Strand is still holding back about Daniel, even though that bit him in the ass previously when he held back about Ofelia.

I liked Alicia’s plotline quite a bit, and overall I am liking her moving to become a moral center for this family and this show. Her moment of blunt honesty with Nick was an excellent show of how much she’s grown: she easily figured out what he and her mother did to Jeremiah, and her statement about realizing that they were exhausting themselves trying to get Madison to love them when she is a broken person who cannot give them what they’re seeking was incredibly insightful and mature, if also sad. Her absolute dedication to finding a better way in some characters may seem naive, but after that moment with Nick, it felt earned and deliberate. And the fact that in the end it paid off really says something, too. Madison is not wrong when she says that Alicia is the strong one. Her actions are what ultimately end the violence before it begins, after all.

Nick’s journey currently is tied up with his addictive tendencies, the mania that he’s struggled with in his past, and his continued similarities with Troy. With Troy gone, seeing Nick thrust into the role of the leader of the militia wasn’t something expected, but it did make a certain sense. He had quickly risen in Troy’s esteem, and Troy’s goons obviously respected his opinions and decisions. Nick had been notably taken into Troy’s confidence, and they wanted someone to lead them. As a young man who’s been seeking meaning and belonging all his life, it made sense that Nick liked the feeling of being trusted and in charge, and the temptation of embracing that violence and mania. Ultimately, though, Nick’s deeper desire, or perhaps just his smarter desire, isn’t for the path Troy has gone down, but a more peaceful one. He sees the wisdom in what Alicia is doing–even though the task at hand may be completely pointless. The effort to unite the communities, however, was more important.

Finally, Troy’s relationships went through a lot of changes tonight. He’s lost his father, and the new situation at the ranch has him at odds with his brother. To his credit, Troy doesn’t want to endanger or fight with Jake, though, and I respect that in him. Pitting these two directly against one another would be very easy to do, so it’s nice to see that they do love and respect one another despite their differences. Not that Troy focusing his turmoil into a self-destructive spiral is exactly a good thing. But it was interesting that knowing his father didn’t kill himself took the fire out of him. I wonder if part of that wasn’t because it made so much more sense to him that his father had to be killed, that he would’ve let the ranchers all die for his pride, and knowing that truth made it make sense, in a way. But it leaves him at odds with both Nick and Madison, people to whom he had made connections (albeit ones that were both platonic and not at the same time!). And so he’s off on his own, for now–I’m certain we haven’t seen the last of him, though, and I look forward to seeing how he comes back and how changes for it.

There’s not much to say now about Strand and Daniel, but that should be an interesting reunion when Strand gets to the dam again!

7.5
The final score: review Good
The 411
Tonight's double-header quickly set up the new stakes, the new conflicts, and the new desperate needs of the Clarks and their allies. Water is king, and the Clarks are in power--which might mean they have the power, but it's clear that power can easily be taken from them if they aren't careful. They all have to make decisions about what kind of leaders they want to be, and for now, it's working out for them. Good work all around, Clarks, but let's see if you can hang onto what you have--and what else you'll have to give up to keep it.
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