TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘Sicut Cervus’

"You're fighting death with death. It's madness."

| May 16, 2016

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “Fear the Walking Dead”

Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar and Marlene Forte as Celia Flores. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar and Marlene Forte as Celia Flores. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

As one threat ends, another surfaces in the latest chilling episode of “Fear the Walking Dead.” The survivors soon realize that life on land may be no safer than life on the ocean. Conflict and character development make way for the season’s best episode thus far.

The episode begins with an eerily beautiful scene that involves a priest speaking to his parishioners in a church in Baja. The priest delivers a motivational speech about not losing faith, even with the horrific state of the world. The parishioners stand in line and take communion wafers before exiting the church and arming themselves with weapons. The priest rallies his followers to fight the dead and to take out a threat that stands in their way. Thomas Abigail arrives and pleads with the priest to stop, but the churchgoers suddenly begin collapsing to the ground as blood trickles out of their eyes. This opening scene perfectly showcases the role of religion in the series; while some survivors lose their faith, others are able to keep fighting because of their faith.

On the Abigail, Madison speaks with Luis and Strand about what the plan is for crossing the border into Mexico. From the bridge, they notice a small boat approaching the Abigail; one of the men on the boat is a military contact that Luis had that promised to assure safe passage across the border. Being that Luis only has payment for himself and Strand, Madison quickly leads everyone to the engine room where they hide. The two members of the Mexican Navy board the yacht and collect their payment, but insist on searching below deck for Infected. Gunshots can be heard and the group rushes out of the engine room to investigate. Strand speeds through the flotilla toward the coast as the Navy unleashes a torrent of bullets on the Abigail. Daniel rushes to stab the dead soldiers onboard in the head. He discovers Luis in a pool of his own blood with a fatal gunshot wound. Ofelia rushes over and stops Daniel from stabbing Luis in the head; Luis hands Ofelia a medallion with an owl and asks her to deliver it to his mother. Daniel flings the medallion overboard as Luis utters a few dying words.

On land, Strand leads the group to the church from the opening scene. Strand rushes away after noticing Thomas’ truck, while Nick and the others inspect a pile of dead bodies outside the church. Suddenly, a small herd of the Infected begin surrounding the group; these Infected are the churchgoers from the opening scene. Everyone arms themselves with melee weapons and proceed to fight the Infected. A child Infected lunges for Daniel, who experiences a flashback involving a young boy; this flashback likely has to do with Daniel’s time as a soldier in war-ridden El Salvador. Ofelia saves Daniel by stabbing the Infected boy in the head. Nick also freezes up after being forced to kill an Infected young girl. Madison is thrown to the ground and pinned by an Infected. Chris stands close by and watches as Madison struggles; Alicia screams at Chris to save her mother, but he does nothing. Alicia rushes over and saves Madison by stabbing the Infected. The entire fight sequence expertly demonstrated the fighting skills that these characters have developed over the course of the series thus far. It’s worth noting that the Infected are far less decayed than those in the original series and are therefore much more difficult to kill, both physically and psychologically.

Strand drives the group in Thomas’ truck to an expansive gated property. The property has a large mansion, fields of crops and livestock pens. Strand meets with Luis’ mother, Celia (Marlene Forte), who is quickly alerted to the fact that Luis was killed. A maid asks the rest of the group to turn over their weapons, which Daniel hesitantly does along with everyone else. Strand makes his way to the bedroom of Thomas, who has been bitten. Nick introduces himself to Celia in the kitchen and shares Luis’ final words with her. Nick tells Celia that he is becoming increasingly tired of the constant death and violence that exists in the world now. Madison arrives and essentially urges Celia to keep her distance away from Nick, citing the fact that he is impressionable. Chris confronts Alicia, who lashes out at him for apathetically standing by as Madison was attacked. Chris basically threatens Alicia to keep her quiet about the incident. Outside, Daniel stands at a makeshift shrine; a tree carved with an owl design is located nearby. Celia approaches the shrine and posts a photo of Luis. Daniel offers his condolences, but Celia explains that she is not bothered by what happened to Luis as he was not shot in the head; Celia holds on to a belief that the Infected are not dead people, but rather the next stage of life that humans enter. This episode showcases an interesting parallel between Celia and Hershel Greene from “The Walking Dead,” who had similar beliefs about the walkers.

Night falls and Madison delivers dinner to Strand and a bedridden Thomas, who is rapidly succumbing to the infection. This scene showcases a compelling development in Madison and Strand’s relationship as Thomas asks Madison to protect Strand. Since their original meeting in “The Good Man,” Madison and Strand have been in conflict for the most part. There seems to be a growing bond between these two strong survivors that will likely further develop as the season continues. Later, Alicia tells Madison about her confrontation with Chris earlier in the day. Madison rushes to Travis and shares her fears about Chris’ behavior, claiming that he may be mentally unstable. Travis shoots down Madison’s claims and furiously questions why she isn’t offering help; Travis references the support he gave to the Clark family as Nick struggled with his addiction. Madison ends the argument by declaring that she will share a room with Alicia while Travis does the same with Chris. This conflict between Madison and Travis will likely continue and grow; Travis has shown that he treats Nick and Alicia like his own children, however Madison seems to be less willing to accept Chris.

Meanwhile, Nick and Ofelia visit the shrine, where Ofelia prays to her late mother, Griselda. Nick listens, but soon notices the tree with the owl carving; he begins having flashbacks to his drug hideout in the church from the first episode of the series. Daniel wanders around the property before coming upon a young boy carrying a puppy. The boy slides the puppy down a chute that leads into a wine cellar. Daniel approaches the wine cellar and notices the boy speaking to an unknown person. Daniel enters the cellar and discovers a group of Infected behind a gate; the young boy claims that his mother is among the Infected. Daniel locates Celia and asks about the Infected that are being kept alive. Celia tells Daniel that they are family members of the survivors who live and work on the property. Celia prepares two communion wafers, which Daniel sees and is able to deduce that she was responsible for what happened at the church. This is yet another parallel to “The Walking Dead’s” Hershel, who also kept walkers in captivity, believing they were simply sick rather than dead. This is an understandable belief, especially this early on, however, Celia seems to have a sinister side to her.

Colman Domingo as Victor Strand and Dougray Scott as Thomas Abigail. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Colman Domingo as Victor Strand and Dougray Scott as Thomas Abigail. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Throughout the episode, Thomas is shown experiencing the common symptoms associated with being bitten; fatigue, fever and pale skin. Strand asks Thomas to end the suffering, but Thomas refuses, claiming his fear of leaving Strand alone in the world. Strand offers to kill himself so that they will be able to stay together. Later, Celia brings the poisoned wafers to Strand and Thomas; she also voices her approval to Strand. Outside, Nick meets with Celia again and the two discuss the Infected. Celia explains her belief that the Infected are not dead to Nick, who seems to somewhat agree. The final few scenes show Strand planting a goodbye kiss on Thomas’ cheek. Chris leaves his room and enters Alicia’s room; he picks up a knife from the bedside table. A gunshot awakens Madison and Alicia, who scream at Chris in fear and anger. The episode ends after Strand is revealed to have shot Thomas in the head in order to prevent him from reanimating. What will Celia have to say after learning that Thomas was not allowed to turn?

“Sicut Cervus” is a brilliant penultimate episode to this half of the season. With an interesting new setting and a band of new mysterious characters, is our group facing a formidable threat? A major highlight of this episode is the emotional developments for Strand’s character, who had not shown real care and emotion for anyone up to this point. How will this death affect Strand and the others? The other main development deals with Chris and his potential danger to the group. Is Chris just struggling with the situation or is there something psychologically wrong with him? Next week’s Midseason finale will hopefully explore these questions and more. Be sure to tune in to the Midseason finale of “Fear the Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Tags:, , , , , , , , , , ,

Category:Arts and Entertainment, Television

Jeffrey Kopp is the Arts & Entertainment Editor of the Niner Times. He is a junior double majoring in Communication and Political Science, with a minor in Criminal Justice. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead.”

Twitter

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Jeff420 says:

    I LOVED Fear TWD this week. The story is just so well written. I thought it was going to get boring as soon as they went into that safe house but no, the apocalypse has completely taken over these survivors minds and they can’t control it. They’re all losing it, Chris wanting to kill Alicia? Chris was going to let Madison die! Nick now thinks the Walkers are still living people!

    Definitely can’t wait for next weeks episode, it’s going to be super great.

    I’ve also been following this survival guide. It’s got some amazing tips I can even start using now. At least I know I’ll be safe when the world ends haha. http://the-walking-dead-fans.com. Good luck out there everyone.

Jeffrey Kopp is the Arts & Entertainment Editor of the Niner Times. He is a junior double majoring in Communication and Political Science, with a minor in Criminal Justice. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead.”

Twitter