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FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Review: “Blood in the Streets”

Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of Fear the Walking Dead! Proceed with caution, survivors. For reals, if you haven’t yet watched tonight’s episode, “Blood in the Streets,” we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.

“Blood in the Streets” is the kind of episode that Fear the Walking Dead only gets the chance to do once this season. At least as long as this season has the show set on a yacht. Some fans complain that The Walking Dead is a tad repetitive, with its survivors’ cycle of wandering-settlement-wandering. But there will be no end to the complaints if this series finds the Abigail taken over once more by pirates.

Yes, Alicia’s chickens have finally come home to roost. Several episodes ago, we saw her evoke Strand’s anger by opening communications with an unknown vessel. Her actions were born out of naivete and loneliness; basically, she was behaving like the kid she is. But this week, she finally meets her mysterious friend when he and his associates board the boat with guns, tie up her family, and take them all prisoner. Before irate viewers can hurl insults at her, however, she owns her mistake, takes matters into her own hands, and uses what wiles she has to manipulate her captor into promising he’ll keep her family safe from his trigger-happy friends. At least we think she’s manipulating him. It’s left slightly ambiguous just how much of a connection she really feels. Since “Blood in the Streets” ends on a cliffhanger, we won’t see the extent of any plan she’s hatching until, presumably, next week. But the episode does find a way to use her predicament as a metaphor for adolescence, with Alicia asking her gentleman caller, “How many came before me?”

Madison, meanwhile, grows more cunning with every episode, using her own experience as a mother to generate prenatal fear in the pregnant pirate holding her at gunpoint. (In so doing, she reveals that she lost a child between Nick and Alicia.) Oh, how I wish this particular fear were justified. The Walking Dead universe has never shown us a stillborn zombie before; and although the idea is horrifying, well, any true undead devotee must also find it compelling as hell.

Oddly, the character who gets the most development this week is the one completely cut off from the group. Separated when he runs off in a raft after their vessel is overrun, Strand is left for dead and we flash back to the point that set him on his current path. It turns out he was a con artist who, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, seduced a wealthy businessman (played by Dougray Scott), winning his trust and a home at his estate/compound in Mexico.

Nick spends the episode searching for Strand’s point man, with whom the captain has been arranging safe passage. But only, we learn, for two. So just how do Madison, Travis, and the kids factor into his plans? That remains to be seen, along with whether Strand will feel a greater debt to his guests for saving his life, or a deeper resentment for endangering him in the first place. Alliances are fragile things in this new world. But it’s still a world in which the survivors’ hope burns brighter than it does on The Walking Dead.

That much is made clear when Madison tells Travis, “I want to do more than survive.” Can she let herself do that if both of her children aren’t with her? Here she kills a human being for them. But she also confesses she was made weaker the day they were born, because she knew she would die for them. Might Fear the Walking Dead soon have her put that knowledge to the test?

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Undead Afterthoughts

— So why didn’t Travis use the crowbar when he had the chance?

— “There are still girls left on this planet.” Way to kill Nick with kindness, Ofelia.

The Walking Dead has briefly experimented with flashbacks, like when it showed viewers Michonne’s past. But that was ultimately revealed to be part of a dream sequence. “Blood in the Streets” might be the first time this universe has given us a distinct flashback to a period of time before the apocalypse in order to depict one character’s backstory (as well as the first time we’ve seen two men lock lips). Given the contained setting for much of this season, it’s not a bad idea at all.

— “I’m a student of the fine.”

— Most of the violence this week is human-on-human, but we get one innovative kill: when Nick uses a tent to lure and slay a walker.

— Come on, people. Let’s make zombie-themed baby showers a thing!

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).

Images: AMC

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