TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘Grotesque’

"Death is not to be feared, but it shouldn't be pursued."

| August 22, 2016

Spoiler Warning for the Mid-Season Premiere of “Fear the Walking Dead”

Nick Clark. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Nick Clark. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Sundays belong to the dead again as “Fear the Walking Dead” makes its anticipated return to a post-apocalyptic Mexico. With the group split up, the characters are likely to receive more development than ever before. This week’s episode focuses on Nick as he makes his way across the harsh Mexican landscape, learning that the Infected are just one of many threats that exist in this new world.

“Fear’s” Mid-Season Finale (Shiva) left off with the group splitting up and going in their own separate directions. After Daniel burned down the Baja mansion and seemingly died in the inferno, Nick made a choice to turn away and leave his family behind, claiming that they destroy everything that they touch. A heartbroken Madison was dragged away by Strand to join Alicia and Ofelia. Meanwhile, Chris and Travis are also on their own, with Travis choosing to keep Chris away from others due to his violent outbursts. This episode picks up with Nick staying in an abandoned home with Sofia (Diana Lein) and Juan (Moisses Arath Leyva), two former residents of the Abigail mansion. Sofia explains that she is taking Juan down south in search of the young boy’s father; she begs Nick to join them, but he refuses and shares that he wishes to find other people that share Celia’s views on the Infected. Sofia tells Nick to head north before telling him goodbye, giving him supplies and taking off with Juan. Nick begins his journey by wandering down a highway headed north toward Tijuana, which is one-hundred kilometers away. He eventually discovers an empty house, which he settles in for the night. A woman sneaks up on Nick as he is sleeping and attacks him with a metal baseball bat. She screams at him in Spanish while forcing him to leave without his supplies; a young girl is present, watching in fear. It is always interesting to see other survivors, even briefly, to help show that our characters are not alone in the world.

This episode features a truly emotional series of flashbacks to life before the apocalypse that help to develop Nick’s character. The flashbacks begin in a rehab center with Nick and his girlfriend, Gloria (Lexi Johnson). Nick’s parents will be visiting him in the facility soon, so Gloria decides that they should practice what Nick will say. She pretends to be Nick’s father while he opens up about his feelings after spending a few weeks in the facility. Nick speaks about how his father’s apathy toward Nick hurt him. Later, Gloria’s parents arrive to meet with her; Nick jokes about how well off Gloria’s family is. Madison arrives and meets with Nick in a private room. She tearfully explains that Nick’s father is not at the meeting because he was killed in a car accident on the way home from work. A shocked Nick breaks down as Madison embraces him. A final flashback shows Nick and Gloria in the drug hangout church in Los Angeles from the pilot episode. Nick shows Gloria a book that his father gave him; Gloria tells him that she wishes to read the book herself. The two shoot heroin before going to sleep. This brings Nick’s story full circle, as we first see him waking up in the church to find an Infected Gloria feasting on another person in the pilot; Gloria likely died from an overdose before turning. The flashbacks are a welcome addition to the episode and help to provide a large amount of character development for Nick. The flashbacks also help to explain why Nick left Madison and Alicia behind.

With no supplies, Nick wanders onto a road with multiple abandoned cars. He locates a bottle of water and a radio from a car that has a snarling Infected in it. Nick hears a car approaching and hides behind one of the abandoned vehicles. Three members of a gang arrive and kill an elderly man that is asking for water. Nick’s radio makes noise, alerting the gang members. Nick flees as the trio fires on him; he manages to evade their bullets and escape, but he finds himself lost in the desert. As the pain of hunger and thirst begin to envelop Nick, he becomes desperate and eats part of a cactus; he immediately vomits. Next, he decides to drink his own urine in an attempt to quench his thirst. He rests next to a van, but is soon startled by two wild dogs barking at him. One dog bites Nick on the leg, but he fights them off with a rock and works his way to the roof of the van. The hungry dogs try to grab him again, but a small approaching herd of Infected distracts them. The dogs attack the Infected, but are overwhelmed and devoured in a disgustingly brutal slaughter. This episode truly demonstrates Nick’s ability to adapt and survive even under the especially harsh situations where many would crumble.

Nick and an Infected. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Nick and an Infected. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

On top of the van, Nick grimaces in pain from his leg wound. Several of the Infected begin moving toward him, but a car horn distracts them and draws them in a different direction. Nick jumps off the van and eats some of the meat from the dog’s corpse. He uses a belt from an Infected to make a tourniquet for his wound. He then covers himself in the Infected blood and joins up with the herd. Nick begins to hallucinate and begins hearing the Infected talking to him. The gang members from earlier show up as the herd makes their way down a road. The gang members begin shooting several Infected, but Nick keeps walking. One of the gang members seem to recognize Nick among the herd and freezes before dropping his bullets. The gang member scrambles to pick up the bullets, but he is quickly surrounded and devoured by the Infected. This entire sequence was filmed beautifully with Nick essentially becoming a living Infected. From a nearby spot, a woman named Luciana (Danay Garcia) and two men watch the scene, apparently looking for someone. One of the men, Francisco (Alfredo Herrera), tells Luciana that they need to help Nick, but she disagrees and walks away. Nick passes out on the pavement, but later wakes up as rain falls from above; the rain represents a shift in Nick’s luck.

Frank Dillane as Nick and Paul Calderon as Alejandro. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Frank Dillane as Nick and Paul Calderon as Alejandro. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Nick slowly makes his way into a city, likely Tijuana, where he stumbles upon an abandoned pharmacy. The store has been ransacked and very little medicine remains, none of which is useful to Nick. He makes his way into another store, where Luciana and Francisco appear and ask him about his wound. Understandably, they are worried that the bite is from an Infected, but Nick explains that it is from a dog. Luciana tells Nick that she knows someone who can help him. Later, Nick is shown in an infirmary where he meets a doctor named Alejandro (Paul Calderon). The wound isn’t life threatening, but Alejandro scolds him for being so reckless around the dead. Alejandro then leads Nick outside to a lively community called La Colonia. Nick plays soccer with children as other residents stroll around visiting various food stalls. La Colonia instantly reminded me of the Hilltop Colony on “The Walking Dead.” Could this community be a safe haven for Nick or are there sinister undertones that will be revealed as the season progresses?

“Grotesque” feels more like a artistic survival film rather than an episode of “Fear the Walking Dead.” This is arguably the first time that a character on “Fear” has been without food and water; this is also the lowest point that Nick has been at since the start of the apocalypse. This episode showcases the fact that Nick has what it takes to survive in this world; this episode solidifies Nick’s place as my favorite character in the series. The new community and characters are both promising and refreshing; I am especially interested to learn more about Luciana, who also demonstrates strong survival skills. The absolutely beautiful scenery adds to the artistic style of this episode. It is worth noting that this episode featured very minimal dialogue; Frank Dillane is able to expertly carry an entire episode while only uttering a few words. I am incredibly impressed by the acting talents of Dillane, who stands out in every scene he is in, whether it be the highly emotional flashbacks or the action-heavy scenes with the Infected. Will Nick choose to stay in La Colonia or will he search for his family? Be sure to tune in to “Fear the Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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Category:Arts and Entertainment, Television

Jeffrey Kopp is the Arts & Entertainment Editor of the Niner Times. He is a sophomore 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.”

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Jeffrey Kopp is the Arts & Entertainment Editor of the Niner Times. He is a sophomore 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