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

Chris Manawa and Seth Geary. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
Lorenzo Henrie as Chris Manawa and Jake Austin Walker as Seth Geary. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Is land safer than the ocean? The latest episode of “Fear the Walking Dead” explores this question in a dark and disturbing excursion. Following last week’s polarizing premiere episode, “We All Fall Down” serves to build the world and develop the characters. While not perfect, “Fear” seems to be taking several steps in the right direction.

Following the intense ending of “Monster,” this episode picks back up on The Abigail as the characters come to terms with the situation. Strand actively monitors the rapidly approaching vessel on the radar while Madison scolds Nick for foolishly swimming into the wreckage of the capsized boat. Nick responds by sharing his desire to help those that are in danger. The group collectively reads through the capsized yacht’s log book. They learn from the book that San Diego has been burned down by the military. Strand sets a course for the nearby Catrina Island, which he believes will offer as a temporary refuge from the mysterious boat that seems to be stalking The Abigail. Before docking, Madison notices a strange light coming from the island. This episode expertly establishes an eerie tone at the beginning, which carries through to the end.

After docking, Travis, Madison, Chris, Alicia and Nick get off the boat to investigate, while Strand, Daniel and Ofelia stay put. The group, led by an intrigued Travis, approaches a house on the island. A mysterious family emerges from the house and introduces themselves to the group. The Geary Family consists of George (David Warshofsky) and his wife, Melissa (Catherine Dent), along with their three children, Harry (Jeremiah & Maverick Clayton), Willa (Aria Lyric Leabu) and Seth (Jake Austin Walker). George invites the group into the house, where some interesting developments take shape. George talks to Travis about the lack of safe places that exist now. He shares what he learned from his communications with other ranger stations; most major cities on the western coast of North America have been napalmed by the military in an attempt to contain the outbreak. The United States-Mexico border was sealed, as well. These are interesting revelations that line up perfectly with knowledge from “The Walking Dead” about the containment attempts by the military during the beginning stages of the outbreak; Atlanta was napalmed early on. Obviously, viewers know that any attempts at containing the disease are futile as every living human being is already infected. George explains to Travis his belief that the outbreak is simply nature correcting itself. He also shares his plan to survive on the island with his family for as long as possible. Melissa questions Madison about her job as a high school guidance counselor. Harry takes Nick to his room and shows him several of his action figures. He also mentions that his family has “power pills” that prevent people from getting sick. This scene demonstrates Nick’s good-nature and cheerful spirit; Nick has quickly become my favorite character of this series due to his various interesting qualities.

On The Abigail, tension erupts as Daniel keeps an extremely close eye on Strand. Daniel accuses Strand of not caring about the other members of the group. While Strand is away, Daniel searches the bridge of the yacht. He finds a locked compartment, which he opens and finds a gun and a map of Baja, Mexico. Later in the episode, Strand is shown alone, talking on a satellite phone; “It’s all clear now. Sundown, I’ll be there” he tells the anonymous voice on the phone. Does Strand have malicious plans for the group? This episode also highlights the splintering point in Daniel and Ofelia’s relationship. Daniel’s actions during the first season, including his torture of Corporal Adams, have warped the way Ofelia views her father; she flat out calls him “cruel.” This fractured relationship between Daniel and Ofelia is an interesting storyline and will surely develop further as the season progresses.

Night falls and the group heads back to the docked yacht. Nick and Alicia stay up late and discuss the positives of life in the apocalypse. Nick mentions the lack of light pollution and smog, which allows for the stars to be seen. This scene is a touching moment that demonstrates the strong sibling bond that Nick and Alicia have even among their hardships, both before and after the outbreak. The next day, Chris meets up with Seth on one of the island’s beaches that is protected by chain-link fences. Several Infected have washed up on the beach and are now slamming against the fence. Seth explains that it is his chore to kill the Infected at the fence with his pickaxe. Travis arrives as Chris kills several of the Infected himself. Chris’ eagerness to kill the Infected is troubling to Travis; he mentions to George that Chris was just a normal boy doing normal things not long ago. George responds by saying “this is how we manage now.” This is a thought-provoking situation as killing Infected is obviously a harmless and beneficial task that also allows for a much-needed tension release. However, anyone that kills Infected for fun makes me incredibly uneasy, as the Infected were once living people. Could Chris be headed down a darker path due to his experiences thus far?

Nick comforts a frightened Harry. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
Nick comforts a frightened Harry. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Later, George enlists the help of Travis in fixing a fence on the island. This particular fence blocks access to a nearby marina on the island that according to George, has been overrun with the Infected. George explains that regardless of the situation, his family will never leave the island. Nick sneaks into the Geary home and searches for drugs. He discovers a hidden baggie of pills in George’s office, but he is quickly interrupted by Willa. This particular aspect of Nick’s character is incredibly riveting as he is having to deal with his addiction among the various threats; he is also unable to acquire drugs as easily. Madison confronts Melissa about the light she saw before docking. Melissa admits that she intentionally sought the attention of Madison’s group because of her growing fear for her children. She asks Madison to take Willa and Harry away from the island to a safer place where they may have better lives. Melissa also tells Madison that she has multiple sclerosis and even though she isn’t close to dying yet, she would rather her children not have to see their mother become sickly. Madison meets with Travis and Nick to share what she has learned about the family. Nick alerts Travis and Madison of George’s possible plans for his family; Nick was able to realize that the pills he found contain poison. This dramatic turn of events creates a feeling of sadness and devastation; clearly, many people living at the end of the world would choose to end their life rather than face the difficulties and uncertainties of the future.

Nick, Travis and Madison return to the Geary house where Melissa hurriedly explains several habits of her children. This scene is highly emotional as a caring mother makes the difficult choice of handing over her children to strangers. George arrives and begins questioning everyone before being interrupted by a frightened Harry, who alerts everyone that something is wrong with Willa. Melissa finds Willa dead upstairs after swallowing the “power pills” that Nick discovered earlier. A tearful Melissa holds Willa in her arms, but Willa reanimates and attacks Melissa, biting her in the jugular. George sends Madison and Travis away with Harry; George was likely killed, however, his status remains unknown as viewers did not see him actually die. Nick carries Harry back onto the Abigail as Travis and Madison follow. Strand and Madison argue over Harry being allowed to board, with Strand claiming that children are dead weight. Seth, armed with a rifle, boards the boat and demands that Harry be returned to him. Madison pleads for Seth to join the group on the boat, but he refuses. Seth and Harry begin making their way back down the dock, but are stopped as an Infected Melissa makes her way toward the two. Madison distracts Harry as Seth shoots his undead mother. The entire final sequence is tense and heartbreaking, but also problematic. Will the remaining Geary family members return later in the season? What is the purpose of introducing several intriguing new characters, only to never see them again? Hopefully, Harry and Seth (and possibly George) will be featured later on in the season.

“We All Fall Down” is a step up from last week’s average premiere episode. The setting of the California coast provides a refreshing feel to the universe of “The Walking Dead.” Seeing zombies stumbling around on the beach and in the ocean is something I have definitely never seen before. The introduction of a new band of characters was handled well, although, their quick exit proves to be a problem. What is the next destination of the Abigail? Is Strand leading the group to a trap in Mexico? What happened to the enigmatic ship that was following our crew earlier? Find out by tuning in to “Fear the Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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."