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Heart of Darkness – Fear the Walking Dead Review – “Date of Death”

Last week we saw your least favorite main character and one of my favorite main characters, Travis, all alone in the dark and gazing at the blazing hotel sign in the distance. Wearing his most Travis of looks and a beard. I knew then that even if he was alone, his son couldn’t be dead. That character just has too many possibilities. I did suspect that Chris either threatened his father, who had to run, or left his father and I was kinda, sorta right.

“Date of Death” didn’t just belong to father and son but to mother and daughter. Madison’s moment of Nick insanity last week (turning on the hotel sign as a beacon to living and dead for miles) made me lose all good will towards her but it also made me like Alicia even more. Yes, Nick has the street smarts of Daryl but after giving Madison a good tongue lashing, Alicia stands out as the series lead. The one with the moral compass of Rick, the toughness of Michonne, and Glenn’s quick thinking. Will Madison finally realize that her daughter is standing in front of her?

There’s no time to think about it because the chickens are coming to roost. Suddenly, the gates protecting the hotel, are covered in people wanting in. Not walkers, the living.

Earlier in the second season, Madison and Alicia were spitting fire, incredulous, when Strand decided to drive his boat past a life raft full of helpless people. Now, it’s up to Madison and Alicia to make that decision on who should die in order to protect the new haven they have created. Who they have to ignore. I thought it was a great turn around and showed viewers how wise to survival these two women have had to become. Of course, it’s not easy for them. They’re only human so when these children cry at the gates, begging for water and shelter, the hotel citizens are stymied. What do you do? Some of these new people could be sick, violent, or lawless. This is exactly the sort of fodder for water cooler “what would you do” talk that Fear has failed at. The sort that TWD excels at.

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Great job, Madison.

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Back at the farm with Chris and Travis, Chicken Killer (who got shot by the farmer two weeks ago) is being given amateur medical attention by Travis. A valiant move only moments after his son cowardly killed that farmer. Oh, Travis gets to dig the grave as well and he’s the lone person standing over it, giving something akin to a sermon. The rest of the idiots are playing with a chicken corpse and drinking beers.

Unfortunately, Chicken Killer’s recovery is keeping Chris’s new squad from moving on so Alpha Asshole decides he needs to kill him. Guess who tries to save Chicken Killer? Of course it’s Travis. Who else would it be? He keeps an eye on him after stealing Chris’s gun and refuses to let the other boys near him. It’s all for naught though, as Travis is suckered and betrayed by his own son. Chris actually played on Travis’s emotions to overtake him and grab the gun. Then Alpha Asshole does the deed.

You would think this might give Chris pause. After all, Chicken Killer was just a part of a supposedly tight threesome of friends. The sort of American white boys who pop their collars and act tough because they’ve never had their asses kicked. Give them a couple of guns and they’re gods. Watching a former comrade so casually taken out because he’s slowing them down should terrify Chris but it doesn’t. They could have merely left Chicken Killer with Travis which means he was really taken out because they enjoyed the thrill of killing him. With those sort of paper thin, brotherly bonds, Chris could be next. Any of them could be next.

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“It just dawned on me that my son is going to kill and eat me.”

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Chris puts Travis out of his misery by leaving his father at the farm, where he is safe. In a way, as that little shit drives off in the back of the truck with his new friends, there is a sense of relief on his face. He’s finally free and one part of an armed trifecta of douchery. God help us all. These boys don’t even believe Travis when he tells them that San Diego has burned to the ground. As for his son, he used the last shred of his humanity to leave his father alive. Of course, Travis doesn’t appreciate being abandoned and pathetically begs Chris to stay up until the truck goes over the hill. It’s a hard scene to watch because you hate this kid so much and almost resent Travis for not letting him go. The older man then wanders like a repenting nomad, without supplies, until he finds the hotel at night. Thanks to Madison.

Oh, Travis, my sweet summer child. So late in realizing that the world has ended. So late in realizing he can’t “fix” his troubled son.

The crowd at the hotel gates is certainly a dilemma but in the end, a no brainer. In the world of The Walking Dead, we’ve learned that it’s too dangerous to allow these strangers into their oasis. But guess who shows up in the middle of the crowd? Travis…and he’s a wreck. Him and Madison’s reunion is more about how destroyed he is about Chris. How guilty he feels about divorcing Liza. Travis puts the blame all on himself for his son’s shortcomings. It’s actually really sad as the reality of having lost his son, both in body and mind, is finally evident to Travis. Cliff Curtis does a wonderful job with this scene.

That’s been the theme of the second season. When, as a parent, do you give up? What does it take? Endangering the rest of the family? Risking your own life? Leaving your psychotic or drug addicted child on the loose to harm others? It’s an impossible decision to make and can only be made when cornered. Mother of the Bride was willing to kill in order to keep the walking corpse of her daughter in the honeymoon suite. Nick abandoned Madison yet again but she’s willing to kill everyone around her, including her daughter, to get him back. Travis did the right thing by isolating Chris and himself only to realize that they will still run into tests of character and that his son will fail.

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After seeing the agony in Travis and his regrets for his son, Madison is inspired to try and make things right with her daughter. She decides to finally confess to Alicia that her husband committed suicide, hoping that this will bring the two women closer and let Alicia understand where her mother is coming from. It’s a quiet moment between them, both trying to let go of the past. Frightened of the newcomers who will undoubtedly destroy the new home they’ve worked hard to build. Fearful of the future.

B+

 

MY TWO CENTS:

  • Woh! The end scene has the trifecta of douchery at the hotel gates, wanting in. Just because Chris wasn’t in the frame doesn’t mean he’s gone. There’s no way the show would ditch him when there is so much to work with. I’m not worried…
  • Nick’s compound adventure almost feels like a waste of time when FTWD delivers such beautiful work.
  • I think Donald Trump is evil and can’t help but notice the Skittles like quandary at the gates of the hotel. It doesn’t change my views. The world of The Walking Dead is not real life. We cushy Americans are not living in an apocalypse.
  • A little background on Chris? In middle school he used to hide from the football bullies during recess and his father told him to blend in. He decides to use this as an example of why he should start murdering with his new buddies. Crazy Chris is official!
  • The only kink in the show was how eager Chris’s friends were to get to San Diego or kill a friend who wasn’t even bitten. It didn’t make sense at all.
  • I’m getting a little impatient waiting for Daniel’s awesomely righteous return.
  • So is that it with Ofelia? Is she living it up in the U.S. now never to return? Vaya con Dios, Ofelia!
  • “I never, ever loved you any less.” says Madison as she’s apologizing to her daughter for ignoring her all of these years. There’s something in my eye.

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Nicolina Torres
Nicolina Torres

Nikki worked for Barnes & Noble for 15 years, in seven stores. She is the author of This Red Fire, Young Nation, and Girls Who Wear Glasses. She prefers to live in the country and is a new aunt to a potential bookworm.

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