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

Madison, Alicia, Ofelia and Strand aboard The Abigail. (Photo Credit: Richard Foreman/AMC)
Madison, Alicia, Ofelia and Strand aboard The Abigail. (Photo Credit: Richard Foreman/AMC)

The tranquil ocean becomes a zombie-infested battleground in the premiere episode of “Fear the Walking Dead’s” second season. After a short and problematic first season, “Monster” sets the stage for a thrilling and frightening adventure in a brand new setting.

Following the tragic death of Liza in the first season finale, the story picks up a few hours later after night has fallen. The epic opening scene throws viewers straight into the action as the characters scramble to make their way to Victor Strand’s yacht “The Abigail.” Strand drives a Zodiac inflatable raft from the beach to the yacht with Nick, Alicia, Daniel and Ofelia on board. Meanwhile, Madison and Travis gather supplies on the beach as Chris sits by his mother’s corpse. Explosions and fire can be seen in the background as the Infected begin making their way onto the beach; Nick arrives on the raft to pick up the remaining survivors. Madison and Travis use an array of makeshift weapons to fight off the undead as they make their way into the water; Travis carries Liza’s body with him. After boarding the raft, they realize that the Infected are following closely behind. Nick uses the raft’s propeller to creatively kill one of the stragglers. They reach the yacht and watch as military jets fly over and bomb the city. Last season, several members of the military referenced “Operation Cobalt,” which prompted our group to effectively flee. Seeing the operation play out in the form of Los Angeles being absolutely decimated is truly chilling to watch; the bombings also represent a shift in the story as the characters will never be able to return to the city.

The next morning, Strand shares that The Abigail will be able to travel up to 3,000 miles if they conserve fuel. Several members of the group notice a small boat nearby that is overcrowded with passengers that are pleading for help. Madison and Alicia immediately declare that they must rescue the ill-fated passengers, but Travis and Strand decisively argue against it. Instead, Travis gives Alicia the task of using the ship’s radio to listen for possible safe areas. Strand announces to everyone that he has set a course for San Diego in the belief that the Navy or Border Patrol may be of assistance. Over the radio, Alicia hears a transmission from the Coast Guard announcing that they will no longer be able to rescue anyone in distress; a truly frightening declaration. The episode takes on a slower pace towards the middle of the episode to allow for the characters to settle into their new home; this slower pace also lets viewers become reacquainted with the characters.

Much of this episode shows the fallout of Liza’s death through the eyes of Chris. The sudden apocalypse, along with the death of his mother, puts Chris in a difficult place, especially with his father. Chris bonds with Daniel as the two fish off the back of the ship. They exchange condolences for their respective losses as Daniel reels in an eel. Later, the group gathers as a funeral is held for Liza. Travis delivers an emotional eulogy highlighting Liza’s impact on the other characters. Chris angrily pushes Liza’s body off the side of the yacht before storming off. Travis checks in on Chris, who blames Travis for the death of his mother. This anger Chris has towards his father is refreshing as characters on “The Walking Dead” tend to get over deaths relatively quickly with the mourning process being somewhat ignored.

The other large subplot revolves around Alicia and her attempts to establish communication with other survivors. She discovers a frequency that has David Bowie’s “Five Years” playing. A man named Jack strikes up a conversation with Alicia as the music plays. They discuss the precarious state of the world, but as the episode progresses, Jack slowly manages to pry information out of Alicia about the yacht and its location. The radio conversations are a bit repetitive after a while, but help to establish the fact that other survivors exist nearby. Later in the episode, a panicked Jack tells Alicia that the boat he is on is sinking; she shares the location of the Abigail in an attempt to gauge how far away Jack’s sinking ship is. Alicia alerts Travis and the others about the situation, but Strand shows up and scolds Alicia for naively trusting a stranger. Strand furiously tells everyone that the boat is his and therefore he is in charge of what happens on board. This episode establishes Strand’s character as one of the most intriguing survivors; his mysterious demeanor and relative preparedness are just two of his interesting qualities.

Travis rescues Chris from the Infected. (Photo credit: Richard Foreman/AMC)
Travis rescues Chris from the Infected. (Photo credit: Richard Foreman/AMC)

The final act of the episode begins with the group sitting down for dinner. This scene elicits a calm feeling of normalcy as the characters are given a moment of relaxation and levity. This is only temporary as Chris wanders to the back of the yacht and jumps into the water. Nick follows behind and dives in to rescue Chris. Chris tells Nick that he is just going for a swim, which Nick immediately accepts without question; was Chris really “just going for a swim” or was he attempting to harm himself? In the water, Nick is attacked by a floating Infected in a beautifully shot sequence. After resurfacing, Nick notices floating corpses and a capsized boat filled with bullet holes; this boat is the one seen earlier in the episode. Nick swims over to the boat and collects the log book; his reasoning for doing this is not really explained. On the Abigail, Strand notices on the radar that a vessel is rapidly approaching the yacht’s location. He deduces that the passengers on the approaching ship are responsible for what happened to the capsized ship. Nick makes his way back to the yacht as it begins to sail away. Could the approaching survivors be Jack and his people? Before the episode ends, Jack eerily tells Alicia “I’ll see you soon.” Alicia’s actions during the episode may have catastrophic consequences later in the season.

“Monster” is a definite strong start to this season of “Fear the Walking Dead.” The setting of a yacht on the ocean is innovative and refreshing to the world of “The Walking Dead.” The open ocean presents many different potential directions that the story can go in. Will the survivors choose to remain at sea or will they take their chances on land? Be sure to tune in to “Fear the Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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Jeffrey Kopp is the Community Editor of the Niner Times. He is a senior double majoring in Communication and Political Science. 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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