Jeffrey Kopp

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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."

TV REVIEW: ‘Outcast’ – ‘A Darkness Surrounds Him’

Spoiler Warning for the Series Premiere of “Outcast”

Photo courtesy of Cinemax/Fox.
Photo courtesy of Cinemax/Fox.

Intense horror and drama make up Cinemax’s newest series, which is based on a comic book series by Robert Kirkman. Does that name sound familiar to you? Kirkman is the creator of “The Walking Dead” comic book series, which has since grown into a worldwide phenomenon franchise of television shows and video games. Although, don’t expect to see zombies in this series. Rather, demons are the frightening source of terror in this universe. Directly from the opening scene, “Outcast” establishes itself as a gripping and disturbing roller-coaster ride.

The series takes a terrifying turn in the first few seconds as a possessed young boy named Joshua Austin (Gabriel Bateman) smashes his head into a roach that is crawling on a wall. Blood covers the boy’s face as he wanders into his kitchen and shocks his mother. The boy’s mother calls local Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) for help, but this is truly an extreme case. The acting talents of young Gabriel Bateman are astonishing, especially with such dark material. Through flashbacks and dialogue, viewers learn that this is just one case of demonic possession that has been noted in this small West Virginia town.

The series follows the mysterious recluse, Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), as he becomes wrapped up in the town’s latest possession. Kyle is revealed to have had a very dark history, as his mother and ex-wife were both once possessed by the enigmatic entity. Kyle’s mother is still alive, but lives at a nursing home in a catatonic state. Meanwhile, Kyle’s ex-wife Allison (Kate Lyn Sheil) appears to have recovered; she is shown to be living with her daughter. The character of Kyle is one of the most intriguing in the series. He rarely goes out in public due to the almost constant whispers, glares and stares from people around him, most of which truly only know part of his troubled backstory. However, Kyle’s adopted sister Megan Holter (Wrenn Schmidt) does make a regular effort to reach out and help him. Megan’s husband Mark (David Denman) is far less willing to accept Kyle into the family, citing him as a danger to the people around him. This will surely be a major plot point of the season as the family dynamic changes. Kyle’s dark past allows him to better understand what is happening to Joshua Austin. He visits the young boy with Reverend Anderson and chaos ensues as Kyle uses violence in an attempt to remove the demon. This greatly contrasts the efforts of Reverend Anderson, who believes religion is the true cure.

“Outcast” is definitely not a show for the faint of heart. Demonic possession is nothing new, but this series presents it in a fresh and extra-creepy way. The gritty realism of life and consequences is nicely juxtaposed to the eerie supernatural aspect. With an exceptionally talented cast and a thought-provoking premise, viewers are likely in for a thrilling ten-episode first season. In typical Robert Kirkman fashion, there will likely be major plot twists and turns at every corner. Who will be the next host of this puzzling entity? Be sure to tune in to “Outcast” each Friday at 10 p.m. on Cinemax.

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

Spoiler Warning for the mid-season finale of “Fear the Walking Dead”

Frank Dillane as Nick Clark and Kim Dickens as Madison Clark. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
Frank Dillane as Nick Clark and Kim Dickens as Madison Clark. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Everything comes tumbling down in the frightening mid-season finale of “Fear the Walking Dead.” After the revelation in last week’s episode that the Baja house isn’t as safe as originally thought, the characters come into conflict with each other and themselves. Impossibly difficult decisions are made in the name of survival, but what consequences will these choices have?

The episode begins with Daniel and Ofelia waking up in their bedroom to the sound of a gunshot. Daniel rushes outside with Ofelia behind him, but Ofelia begins complaining of pain; Daniel turns to her as she peels skin off of her face. Daniel wakes up and realizes that he was having an absolutely horrific nightmare. This sets him down a dark path for the duration of this episode. He reunites with Ofelia outside and worriedly embraces her. In another room, Celia confronts Strand about his decision to shoot Thomas in the head, therefore preventing him from reanimating. Nick tries to calm Celia down, but she angrily tells the group and Strand to leave by sundown the next day. Outside, Travis asks Alicia to help search for Chris, but she refuses and explains that Chris was last seen standing by her bed with a knife. Travis manages to spot Chris in the vineyard, but he runs away into the darkness.

The next morning, Madison tells Alicia and Nick to pack their belongings and supplies so that they can leave the estate. She also warns them of the danger of Celia, but Nick shuts down Madison’s claims by stating that Celia is simply upset. Madison watches on the horizon for Travis, but Alicia questions if he will ever return. This parallels the first season episode, “The Dog,” when Alicia wondered the same thing about Travis when he left to collect Chris and Liza. Nick leaves and later returns covered in blood with Infected Luis as a peace offer for Celia. Nick speaks with Celia about allowing the group to stay at the estate; Celia accepts, but forbids Strand from staying. Madison confronts Nick about his new-found interest with the Infected and soon learns that he now shares Celia’s belief that the Infected are not actually dead. This moment represents a shift in Madison and Nick’s relationship; Madison is beginning to realize that Nick is truly a survivor, as he was before the world ended. Nick confidently boasts that he will not die and offers to go out and search for Travis and Chris. Madison later asks Strand about Nick’s behavior, which Strand explains is not shocking to him at all; Celia saw Nick as a vulnerable addict and jumped at the opportunity to take him under her wing.

In a nearby town, Travis tracks Chris by following a trail of dead Infected on the ground. After walking all night, Travis comes upon a house with a man inside. There is a clear language barrier as the man only speaks Spanish, but Travis does his best to communicate to him the fact that his son is missing. Travis left the estate in such a hurry that he forgot to put on shoes, so by the time he meets the stranger, his feet are bloody and raw. The man offers Travis a pair of shoes and urges him to leave, but Travis realizes someone else is in the house. He opens a door to find Chris holding the man’s son hostage with a gun. Chris explains that he feels as though he has been ostracized by the rest of the group. Travis is able to disarm Chris by knocking the gun out of his hands, but Chris runs out of the house. Travis catches up to him and tackles him to the ground, but Chris fights back with a knife. The fight comes to an end after Travis knocks the knife out of Chris’ hand; he repeatedly tells Travis “I’m no good.” Nick eventually meets up with Travis and urges him to return to the estate, citing the fact that Madison needs him. Travis explains that he needs to help Chris and that they cannot return yet; he tells Nick to go back, but not mention finding him or Chris. This predicament demonstrates the harshness of the current state of the world; in a normal world, Chris could receive professional help, but in this world, the options are very limited. If he continues to prove to be a danger to the rest of the group, will Travis be forced to kill Chris out of mercy? Is this something that Travis is even capable of? A similar dilemma occurred during the fourth season of “The Walking Dead” with Lizzie and Carol. Regardless, it’s hard to place complete blame on Chris, especially after looking back on everything he has been through in such a short amount of time; not to mention the lack of support that he has received from Travis in the past.

Back at the estate, Strand digs a grave for Thomas as the various workers watch on, clearly angry at the fact that Strand “killed” Thomas. Daniel urges Strand to not bury Thomas on the estate’s property, believing the grounds to be cursed and unholy. Later, Celia hosts a funeral ceremony for Thomas and delivers a eulogy that highlights the fact that she viewed Thomas as her son, even though they were not biologically related. Daniel leads Ofelia to the main gate where he says that his dead wife, Griselda, is waiting for them. Ofelia realizes that Daniel isn’t in a great state of mind and pulls back, prompting some of the workers to intervene. Daniel uses a razor blade to fight back and ends up slashing a man’s face. Ofelia asks to see her father, but Celia refuses to allow her, claiming Daniel is dangerous to himself and others. Daniel is revealed to be being held in a storage room, tied to a chair. Celia arrives and offers him some of her homemade pozole, which he immediately refuses. A gripping scene follows as Celia tells Daniel that he needs to seek forgiveness from the people he has killed in order to gain closure; Griselda’s voice joins in on the conversation. This is just one of many examples that showcase Celia’s skill of reading other people and understanding their various mindsets.

Daniel (Rubén Blades) hallucinates his late wife, Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola). (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
Daniel (Rubén Blades) hallucinates his late wife, Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola). (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

The vision of Griselda is open to interpretation by the viewer. One could say that her ghost is haunting Daniel during this difficult time of his life. Based on what we have seen and heard, Griselda was the part of Daniel’s life that kept him grounded and sane. Losing her has sent him down a dark path that has festered before culminating in this episode. Daniel speaks to Griselda about the various people he has killed in his life, most of which were during his time as a soldier in El Salvador. Griselda asks Daniel to share a story that bothers him now; he chooses the story of the very first person he ever killed. Flashbacks show Daniel as a child standing in a muddy pool of water that is littered with dead bodies. Rain pours down as a lone survivor reaches for help, but Daniel is handed a gun and is told to shoot the injured man; Daniel shoots the man, but Griselda corrects him by telling him “the first victim was you.” Meanwhile, Madison confronts Celia about the fact that she has rubbed off on Nick. Celia offers to help Madison explain why she views the Infected as the next stage of life. Celia takes Madison to the wine cellar where she keeps several Infected. Luis is among the Infected and Celia asks Madison if she would take care of her children, regardless of their situation, referring to the limited capabilities of the Infected. Madison answers as she locks Celia in with the feasting Infected; Celia looks at Madison, seemingly unsurprised. This is a drastic move taken by Madison to protect her family, even though Celia really didn’t have the intent to harm the group; Madison and the others also had the choice to leave. This action taken by Madison establishes her character as a potentially antagonistic force in the overall story.

A still tied-up Daniel is offered food once again by one of the workers. The worker unties Daniel’s hand, allowing him to attack the man and escape as Griselda urges him on. Outside, some of the workers lead Strand to the main gate where he makes a humorous exit before waving goodbye to Alicia. Daniel makes his way to the wine cellar with a container of gasoline. He enters the cellar, pours the gasoline and stands before the feasting Infected, who slowly transform before Daniel’s eyes into the many people he has killed. Griselda emerges from the Infected and stands opposite of Daniel, smiling as he drops a lighter to the floor. Flames engulf Griselda and the room before spreading to the rest of the estate. The cinematography of this particular scene is hauntingly beautiful and serves as the metaphorical burning away of Daniel’s sins to bring closure to him. Outside of the estate, Nick watches on as the fire spreads rapidly. Madison frantically searches through the inferno for Daniel before rushing to Alicia and Ofelia. Alicia holds back a frantic Ofelia as Strand arrives in a pickup truck to rescue the group. Nick walks up and tells Madison that he wasn’t able to find Travis. He asks where Celia is before explaining that Celia was in fact right about what kind of people this group is made up of; “we destroy everything” he tells Madison. A distraught Madison pleads for Nick to join her and the others, but he refuses and turns away. Strand grabs Madison and pulls her into the truck as the workers arm themselves with weapons and the Infected begin entering the property. The truck drives out of the main gate as Nick walks with the Infected and the fire rages on. This half of the season began with flames engulfing Los Angeles and ends with fire burning the Baja house; a truly interesting parallel.

“Shiva” is a brilliant mid-point to an exceptional season of “Fear the Walking Dead.” This episode features a large amount of character development, specifically for Daniel, Travis and Nick. The performances are also worth praising, specifically those of Marlene Forte, Patricia Reyes Spíndola and Rubén Blades as Celia, Griselda and Daniel, respectively. The episode ends on multiple cliffhangers that will keep fans guessing until the show returns. Did Daniel survive the inferno? What about Celia, who was presumably devoured by the Infected? The general rule in “The Walking Dead” franchise is that if you don’t see a character die, they probably aren’t dead. Will Nick live among the Infected or will he join forces with the remaining workers? When will we see Chris and Travis again? Where will Strand, Madison, Ofelia and Alicia go? As Strand mentions in the episode, it is possible that the Abigail will not still be docked when they return. “Fear the Walking Dead” returns for the eight-episode second half of the season on Aug. 21 at 9 p.m. on AMC.

TV REVIEW: ‘The 100’ – ‘Perverse Instantiation – Part Two’

Spoiler Warning for the Season Finale of “The 100”

Eliza Taylor as Clarke -- Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
Eliza Taylor as Clarke — Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

This season of “The 100” comes to an end in a thrilling episode that wraps the story up while teasing future events. A.L.I.E. and the City of Light prove to be the biggest threats that the characters have faced thus far. With the dark side growing, the characters are forced to work together in order to save everyone. Some problems do exist, but this finale is one of the series’ strongest. Shocking revelations, deaths and reunions are just a few of the exciting twists that this episode has to offer.

Following last week’s first half of the season finale, this episode picks up with Clarke using an EMP to remove the chip from Abby’s head in the throne room. Abby is successfully removed from the City of Light, allowing for a long-awaited reunion with Clarke. Abby tearfully apologizes for everything that she did while under the control of A.L.I.E., but Clarke immediately responds by telling her that she isn’t to blame for everything that has happened. After so much heartbreak and devastation this season, a reunion between Clarke and Abby is a definite highlight that evokes emotion from the characters and viewers. With Abby back in action, Clarke explains that she is going to insert the flame in herself. Because Clarke is not a Nightblood, Abby uses supplies from Mount Weather to connect Clarke and brain-dead Ontari together to transfuse the nightblood into Clarke’s body. This procedure allows Clarke’s body to accept the flame without killing her. At the same time, A.L.I.E.’s minions (including Kane and Jaha) begin climbing up the Polis tower to retrieve the flame from Clarke. This predicament pushes the still sane characters to make a stand in the throne room.

With the blood transfusion going on, Murphy recites the activation code and inserts the flame into Clarke’s neck. She screams in pain before temporarily losing consciousness. Clarke awakens and shares with Murphy and Abby that she no longer feels any pain. Clarke realizes that she must enter the City of Light in order to locate and flip the kill switch to A.L.I.E.’s system; Clarke isn’t sure how she came to this realization, but mostly connects it to the power of the flame. She then takes a chip and enters the eerie City of Light; skyscrapers and empty streets make up this new world that Clarke has stepped into. Clarke makes her way to a busier part of the city and begins noticing the famous infinity symbol. As Clarke wanders through the city, she quickly realizes that the citizens cannot see her. She also stumbles upon Jasper, smiling and eating an ice cream cone. The dream-like feel of the city takes a drastic turn as Ontari starts to crash in the real world; this means that Clarke is not receiving enough of the nightblood and therefore her body is rejecting the flame. In the City of Light, Clarke weakens and the flame’s protection of her lessens.

Meanwhile, in Arkadia, Monty sneaks up behind Jasper, who meticulously urges Raven to give up on her search of the kill switch. Monty heroically rescues Harper by shooting Jasper in the leg; Raven responds by humorously saying “good thing there’s no pain in the City of Light.” Raven returns to the computer and continues exploring A.L.I.E.’s code before realizing that Clarke is in the city. She examines Clarke’s code and compares her presence to a virus that has infiltrated the system. Because of this, A.L.I.E. doesn’t have control over Clarke like she does of the other citizens.

In the City of Light, Clarke struggles to stay standing as her real world counterpart loses control. Two men pursue Clarke as she collapses on a flight of stairs. Suddenly, Lexa appears with two swords and saves Clarke by killing the attackers. A simple smile at Clarke from Lexa and a declaration that “our fight is not over” is enough to cause viewers to cheer. Lexa reassures Clarke by telling her “I told you my spirit would choose wisely.” Lexa leads Clarke through the city as the sky turns dark; a clever manipulation by A.L.I.E. as the system update installs. Clarke and Lexa share a kiss before Clarke looks at her father’s watch that is counting down, leaving them with just ten minutes to locate the kill switch before the system update is complete. Clarke and Lexa notice a little girl with the infinity symbol on her back riding a bike and decide to follow her.

In the real world, Clarke’s body continues to seize due to the lack of nightblood she is receiving. Abby comes up with a plan of manually pumping Ontari’s heart in order to allow the nightblood to flow into Clarke’s body. After cracking open Ontari’s chest, Abby enlists Murphy to the disgusting task of pumping Ontari’s heart with his hand. Murphy initially protests, but quickly agrees after realizing just how dire the situation is; Murphy’s usual humor is present as well. Outside, the mindless minions continue to scale the tower. However, only the Commander’s bedroom window will provide access to the secured floor. Octavia and Pike make a stand in the bedroom as the chipped soldiers begin piling in. Rather than fighting, Octavia uses her sword to slash Pike’s leg before leaving him to be attacked. While this is an understandable move from Octavia, her poor choice of timing is problematic. This is not the time for revenge and Bellamy calls her out on this. Bellamy tells Octavia that his anger and desire for revenge led him to the dark side. This represents a much-needed development for Bellamy’s character, who has truly struggled with grief this season.

Pike is able to escape the room and join Octavia and Bellamy, who use furniture to block the doors. This barricade doesn’t hold for long and the soldiers make their way in, but quick thinking from the group slows them down. Octavia stands in a water-filled hallway and asks where Indra is. Kane explains that Indra is on a cross outside for refusing to take a chip. Octavia jumps onto a box as her group throw their stun guns into the water, electrocuting Kane and the others. Back in the City of Light, the little girl leads Clarke and Lexa to a fence, which Lexa explains is a firewall that is meant to prevent them from getting to the kill switch. Jasper arrives and tries to persuade Clarke to stay in the city and to stop trying to destroy A.L.I.E., but Clarke responds by listing the atrocities that have been committed in order to recruit people to the city. Jaha and an army of chipped soldiers arrive, leaving Clarke and Lexa cornered. Raven’s expert skills come into play as she creates a vault door near Clarke and Lexa. Lexa tells Clarke that she will fight the attackers off, but Clarke doesn’t want to leave Lexa again. Before heading off to fight, Lexa tells Clarke “I’ll always be with you.” Lexa heroically holds off the mindless followers as Clarke enters the vault and meets Becca; the vault is actually Polaris, still in orbit. The brief return of Alycia Debnam-Carey as Lexa is thrilling and emotional. Becca tells Clarke that the second version of A.L.I.E. has merged with Clarke’s mind, but Clarke is still in control. While this entire sequence is confusing, the tone is vastly different from anything seen on this show before.

Becca shows Clarke the kill switch, but A.L.I.E. appears and urges Clarke not to flip the switch. A.L.I.E. explains that the remaining nuclear power plants on Earth have begun melting down and releasing radiation into the atmosphere. The City of Light is the only remaining option that A.L.I.E. believes can be used to save the human race. In less than six months, approximately ninety-six percent of Earth’s surface will be unable to support life. Becca urges Clarke to flip the switch, claiming A.L.I.E. is just stalling to allow the system update to complete. Both Becca and Clarke call A.L.I.E. out on her methods of relocating people to the City of Light, but A.L.I.E. declares that she had very limited options. As Clarke struggles to make a decision, the throne room becomes a battle zone as everyone tries to defend Clarke’s body. Kane holds Bellamy down and chokes him as Pike saves Octavia from one of the soldiers. Abby shoots Grounders, but Jackson begins making his way toward her. After more begging from A.L.I.E., Clarke finally decides to flip the kill switch. This is eerily reminiscent of the second season finale when Clarke was forced to flip a switch to save her friends; the citizens of Mount Weather were killed because of this choice made by Clarke. In the throne room, the fighting stops as Kane and the others return to their normal state. Jaha cries, Abby comforts Kane and Monty comforts Jasper. Murphy removes the flame from Clarke before reuniting with Emori. Octavia stares at Pike before shoving her sword straight through his body; while I wasn’t necessarily ready to see him go, it is definitely fitting that Octavia is the one who gets to kill Pike. While the final sequence of the episode is thrilling to watch, the entire City of Light storyline comes to an end without claiming the lives of any of the major characters or having any majorly devastating consequences. Regardless, both A.L.I.E. and Pike proved to be frightening and maddening antagonists that tested the survivors.

This season of “The 100” is a rollercoaster ride of emotion that saw the deaths of two key characters, Lexa and Lincoln. While the end is a bit anti-climactic, the overall story this season has been some of the show’s best material. The characters have truly become hardened warriors and their relationships are continually being tested and pushed to their limits. Heading into season four, many questions hang over viewers’ heads. What, if anything, can be done about the impending nuclear meltdown? Is there a hidden bunked somewhere (similar to Mount Weather) or is this really the end of the world? Who will be the next Commander? Will Luna return or will Clarke have to assume this role? Season four doesn’t have an air date yet, but until then, fans will be pondering these questions and more.

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

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.

TV REVIEW: ‘The 100’ – ‘Perverse Instantiation – Part One’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The 100”

Eliza Taylor as Clarke and Zachary McGowan as Roan -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW
Eliza Taylor as Clarke and Zachary McGowan as Roan — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW

The finale to “The 100’s” darkest season yet has finally arrived and with it comes a whole new sense of danger. The threat of the City of Light is at an all-time high as Clarke and the others struggle to discover a solution. After a few missteps, this first half of the season finale expertly begins to tie everything up.

Following the failed mission to recruit Luna to the fight, Clarke’s group make their way back to Arkadia. While waiting for their rover to charge up, Clarke shares her desire to search nearby Grounder villages for a Nightblood. Octavia immediately shoots this idea down, claiming the high possibility that A.L.I.E. will be following them. Clarke wanders off into the forest to clear her head; one of A.L.I.E.’s minions stalks her. Suddenly, King Roan of the Ice Nation appears and saves Clarke. Roan wants the Flame, but obviously Clarke refuses to turn it over to him. Bellamy arrives and holds Roan at gunpoint and Clarke decides that they must work together to put the Flame in Ontari. Bellamy, worried that Roan may be chipped, decides to shoot him in the shoulder. Roan grimaces in pain, proving that he is not in the City of Light. This is just one of many cases of characters being forced to work together to defeat a common enemy.

The group, along with Roan, arrive in Arkadia and share a new plan with Raven. Being that Ontari is the only known Nightblood remaining, Clarke explains a plan of removing her chip and implanting the Flame. With tactical gear from Mount Weather, Clarke and the others prepare to leave for Polis. Raven hands over an armband that will be used to short-circuit Ontari’s chip. She also tells Clarke to radio in A.L.I.E.’s kill-code as soon as Ontari provides it. Just outside of Polis, Roan declares that he needs the Flame in order to make his role as bait more believable. Clarke, refusing to leave the Flame, decides to act as Roan’s prisoner. With bloodstained streets and the mindless City of Light citizens kneeling in the streets, Clarke and Roan make their way to the Polis tower. Roan reveals the Flame and asks for Ontari, but Jaha appears and orders Roan to hand over Clarke and the Flame. He also tells Clarke and Roan that their friends won’t be able to save them. Roan tells Clarke to run, but Kane arrives and shoots Roan as Clarke is taken as a prisoner. Will Roan survive or is he yet another victim of the madness A.L.I.E. has created?

Over in Arkadia, Jasper and Monty search for a motherboard that will help Raven gain access to A.L.I.E.’s system. A surprisingly upbeat Jasper takes a few moments to make amends with Jasper, however, this is quickly revealed to be just a charade. Suddenly, Jasper uses a screwdriver to stab Monty directly in the abdomen. A.L.I.E. appears, revealing the fact that Jasper was chipped at some point and used to infiltrate Arkadia and spy on the group’s plans. Monty is able to escape from Jasper with the motherboard and lock himself and Raven in the computer room. Raven panics and tries to radio Clarke after realizing that A.L.I.E. knows the group’s entire plan; the radio wires have been cut, leaving Raven with no way to communicate with the others. Unfortunately, Harper is on guard duty and did not make it into the computer room. Monty tries to distract Jasper by asking him why he took the chip. He explains that he didn’t want Luna’s oil platform community to be destroyed; after being tempted by the City of Light chip all season, Jasper finally gave in. Later in the episode, Harper arrives at the locked doors and asks to be let into the computer room. Jasper sneaks up and knocks Harper out before proceeding to hold her at gunpoint and giving Raven and Monty an ultimatum; destroy the computer or Harper will be killed. What choice will Raven and Monty make in this impossible situation?

At the top of the Polis tower, Clarke is reunited with Abby, who is still chipped. Abby demands that Clarke share the Flame’s passcode, but Clarke refuses. Clarke is tied up and Abby begins using a knife to torture her in an attempt to gain the passcode. Abby tells A.L.I.E. that torture will not work with Clarke and proposes threatening her loved ones instead. Bellamy, Octavia, Miller and Bryan are rescued by Pike, Indra and Murphy after being captured by several guards. Octavia is furious to learn that Indra is working with Pike, especially after the murder of Lincoln. Bellamy tells Octavia that they all must work together in order to stop A.L.I.E. and Jaha. Murphy and Bellamy enter the elevator while Pike, Miller and Bryan work together to turn the elevator’s crank. On the ground floor, Indra speaks to Octavia about Pike and reassures Octavia’s place among the Grounders. Suddenly, Kane arrives and shoots Pike and Bryan before Indra is able to knock him out.

With Pike and Bryan injured, the elevator stops before reaching the top. Several guards force the doors open and attack Murphy and Bellamy; they are able to fight the guards off, except for one lone fighter. Miller sets off an explosion that prevents any more guards from gaining access to their location. The elevator continues moving as the remaining guard chokes Murphy. Bellamy has no other choice, but to shoot the guard in the head to save Murphy. This action goes against Bellamy’s original rule of not killing any of the guards as they are not the true enemy. The elevator reaches the top floor, prompting the team on the ground floor to blow up the elevator controls and begin climbing up the shaft. Before the explosive goes off, however, Kane regains consciousness and Indra pushes him out of the proximity of the explosion. This demonstrates Indra’s care and deep friendship with Kane.

In the throne room, Abby stands on a bucket and places her head through a noose. This is yet another tactic used by A.L.I.E. in order to force Clarke to give up. Clarke begs for Abby to break free from the grasp of the City of Light, but Abby steps off the bucket and dangles. Murphy and Bellamy storm into the throne room as Jaha hits Ontari across the head with a staff. Murphy manages to cut Abby down, while Bellamy tends to Ontari. Clarke is released from her bonds and scrambles to remove the chip from Ontari. After examining her pupils, Clarke deduces that Ontari is brain dead and cannot be used to defeat A.L.I.E. anymore. The entire final sequence is incredibly intense and full of pulse-pounding action that leaves the fates of several characters a mystery.

“Perverse Instantiation- Part One” is a thrilling start to the conclusion of this season of “The 100.” With gripping character development and chaotic action sequences, this season finale is off to an incredible start. Many questions linger as the second part of the finale nears; did Indra and Kane survive the explosion? What will the fate of Harper be? Will Raven be the one to stop A.L.I.E.? This episode serves as further proof that “The 100” is absolutely a must-watch series. Be sure to tune in to the season finale’s second part next Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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

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

Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark and Daniel Zovatto as Jack. (Photo courtesy of Peter Iovino/AMC.)
Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark and Daniel Zovatto as Jack. (Photo courtesy of Peter Iovino/AMC.)

With two of their fellow survivors being held hostage, the characters of “Fear the Walking Dead” are pushed harder than ever as the harshness of the world becomes clear. Tensions runs high on both land and sea, showcasing the danger of other humans. “Captive” is yet another thrilling chapter that perfectly develops the characters and story.

The episode begins with Alicia in a kitchen with Connor, who is cooking an elaborate meal. Connor politely offers Alicia a plate of steak and vegetables before heading out to repair a generator. Vida appears and steals Alicia’s meal before leaving and locking Alicia in the room. Alicia finds an unlocked exit and steps out onto the deck of a massive dry-docked ship in a port. Jack approaches Alicia on the deck and warns her against wandering away. Jack brings Alicia back inside the ship where she demands information about Travis and the rest of her family. Last episode, Alicia and Travis were taken away when the Abigail was still under the control of Reed. Connor gave Reed orders to dispose of Madison and the others before bringing the yacht to port. Therefore, Alicia is unaware that Madison and the others were able to regain control of the Abigail. This creates a heightened sense of urgency for Alicia to escape.

On the Abigail, Daniel tries to get information out of Reed, who still has a crowbar through his abdomen. Reed taunts and threatens Daniel and Chris, who is also present. Daniel learns that Connor has several men and boats and is also Reed’s brother. Daniel exits the cabin and leaves Chris to watch over Reed. In the wheelhouse, a still-recovering Strand lays on a couch while Daniel shares what he has learned with Madison. They locate Connor’s location on the radar and Madison begins sailing for it. Luis enters the wheelhouse and demands that Madison turn the boat around. Madison refuses and Strand quickly backs her up, highlighting a shift in Strand’s character. Luis speaks to Strand in Spanish about the lack of funds available to get everyone on board the Abigail across the border into Mexico; Strand tells Luis that they’ll figure it out later. Daniel lectures Madison on the importance of allowing the teenagers to contribute, claiming that they are no longer children in this new world. This episode also showcases a shift in Daniel’s character, who seems to be moving past his “us and them” mentality towards a more inclusive caring nature.

On the docked ship, Travis wakes up in a holding cell below deck. He tries to pick a lock, but a woman appears and approaches him; the woman is revealed to be Alex, the survivor of Flight 462 that was last seen in “Ouroboros.” Alex shares with Travis that she was forced to put Jake, the other survivor, out of his misery after their supplies were exhausted. Connor later rescued her from the raft and allowed her to join his group; she shared the location of the Abigail as a way of proving her worth and to gain some semblance of revenge after Strand cut her loose from the yacht. There is an interesting conversion that Travis has with Alex about his responsibility for what happened; Travis apologizes to Alex before she leaves. The reintroduction of Alex was handled nicely and establishes her character as one of the more harsh and strong survivors.

Much of this episode shows Alicia struggling to trust Jack, who has clearly demonstrated his untrustworthy nature thus far. Alicia notices on the radar that the Abigail is rapidly approaching her location. She lashes out at Jack in a fit of fear and anger after realizing that her family may not be safe. Jack and Alicia develop a plan to escape from Connor’s base and search for Madison and the others. Alicia briefly reunites with Travis, who tells her to leave without him and get to safety. The survival learning curve that characters must undergo is clearly showcased in this episode as Alicia realizes that trusting strangers has dire consequences. Throughout the episode, it isn’t entirely clear if Alicia is simply using Jack or has real feelings for him. I still have faith that Alicia will be able to fully prove her intelligence later on in the season.

Jesse McCartney as Reed and Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar. (Photo courtesy of Peter Iovino/AMC.)
Jesse McCartney as Reed and Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar. (Photo courtesy of Peter Iovino/AMC.)

Back on the Abigail, Madison speaks with Connor over the radio to negotiate the safe return of Travis and Alicia in exchange for Reed. Connor agrees to meet with Madison only, on one of the docks. Suddenly, a gunshot can be heard from below deck. Chris, with a shaken demeanor and a gun in his hands, slowly backs out of the cabin that Reed was being held in. The group discovers Reed dead with a bloody gunshot wound on the side of his face. Madison comforts Chris while Nick and Ofelia clean up the mess; Luis vocally proclaims that the hostage exchange will no longer be possible. Throughout the episode, Reed is shown to be taunting Chris about his outsider role among the group. Chris has shown this season that he is perfectly willing and able to kill other humans, therefore, him killing Reed makes perfect sense. Reed reanimates (Chris likely missed Reed’s brain when he shot him) and lunges at Nick and Ofelia. Daniel rushes in and pushes the Infected against the wall, pinning him with the crowbar. Daniel realizes that Reed can still be used in the exchange, even though he is an Infected. He places a bag over Reed’s head and begins hearing a strange voice that tells him to “take the gun.” Are Daniel’s actions starting to catch up with him? Who is the source of this mysterious voice?

Madison takes off on the Zodiac with Reed, but not before Nick offers to go in her place. This episode once again represents Nick’s good nature; from offering his assistance to comforting Chris, Nick is absolutely my favorite character of the series. Jack searches for Alicia, who gets into a physical confrontation with Vida in the ship’s holding cell before locking her in. On the dock, Madison pushes a still covered Reed over to Connor as Travis is returned to her. Connor removes Reed’s hood and is instantly bitten on the arm; Infected Reed also attacks one of Connor’s men. Alicia spots Madison and Travis from an open deck on the stern of the ship. Jack corners her and pleads for her to leave with him. Alicia jumps off the ship and is pulled into the Zodiac raft by Travis and Madison; the episode ends as they sail back to the Abigail. The confrontation with Connor’s group ended much earlier than I expected, however, I also believe we may see Jack, Alex and Vida again in the future. I am also not completely convinced that Connor is dead; Connor seems smart enough to realize that amputation can sometimes save a bite victim from dying. If this group does return, will they be out for vengeance?

“Captive” is a game-changing episode for the characters as everyone is beginning to realize that they must give up part of their humanity in order to survive. It’s worth noting that the episode’s title has multiple meanings; not only are Travis and Alicia being held captive, but the characters are beginning to realize that they are captive in this new world and no one will be coming to save them. One negative that I have with this season is the sudden insistence that other humans are more dangerous than the Infected. While humans are obviously incredibly dangerous, it would be nice to see the threat of the Infected become more prominent. The looming question heading into the next episode is will Luis and Strand be able to get everyone in the group over the border into Mexico? Loyalty and trust will definitely be put to the test as the mid-season finale nears. Be sure to tune in to “Fear the Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

TV REVIEW: ‘The 100’ – ‘Red Sky at Morning’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The 100”

Eliza Taylor as Clarke and Nadia Hilker as Luna -- Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
Eliza Taylor as Clarke and Nadia Hilker as Luna — Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

As the season finale of “The 100” draws closer, the situation intensifies and the characters are pushed harder than ever. With a powerful and organized threat, our heroes must figure out how to save themselves and each other before it’s too late. This second half of the season continues to prove its strength as some of the show’s best material to date.

Under the harsh reign of an A.L.I.E. controlled Ontari, Polis begins to collapse as its citizens are turned into mindless minions. In the prison, Pike creates an escape plan with the help of Indra and Murphy. Rather than simply escaping, Pike and Murphy propose that A.L.I.E.’s hard drive must be destroyed. After a tense confrontation with several guards, Indra sends the Grounders away from Polis while she, Murphy and Pike head to the Flamekeeper room. After all the conflict this season, the trio of Indra, Pike and Murphy is odd, but demonstrates the importance of working together to destroy a common enemy. A.L.I.E. quickly figures the plan out and sends guards to the Flamekeeper room, along with Emori. Pike immediately kills the guards, but Murphy pleads for him to spare Emori. Murphy discovers A.L.I.E.’s hard drive and attempts to smash the fuel cell, but Emori warns that the fuel cell is nuclear-powered and would destroy the entire city if tampered with. Emori’s placement in the situation is critical in showcasing the sheer ruthless nature of A.L.I.E. and her tactics of getting what she wants.

At Arkadia, Monty and Raven work tirelessly to examine and better understand A.L.I.E.’s complex code. Raven is able to figure out that Jaha is rapidly chipping the Grounders and has taken over Polis. With the help of Becca’s notes, Raven locates a password that would give her backdoor access into A.L.I.E.’s system. Monty warns Raven against using the password until Clarke and the others return with Luna. Harper arrives and pulls Monty away for some unexpected romantic time. Raven walks in on Harper and Monty, unsurprised by this new relationship. After being cast into the background for so long, I am glad to see Monty being given a larger role among the group. Raven shares what she has found with Monty; a citadel surrounded by water in the City of Light that A.L.I.E. is likely using to hide something. Monty mentions that he only sees code, but that Raven is still able to see the City of Light. This episode demonstrates Raven’s total strength, not only physically, but mentally.

After Monty falls asleep, Raven decides to enter the password to gain access to the administration part of A.L.I.E.’s system. In the City of Light, A.L.I.E. realizes that her system is being accessed by Raven and alerts Jaha. In order to stop Raven, Jaha decides to use Monty’s mom as a distraction. Hannah speaks to Monty through the computer system and repeatedly proclaims her desire to be reunited with him. Raven tells Monty she can stop Hannah by deleting her code, however, if the code is deleted, Hannah will be gone forever. Monty tearfully takes control and deletes his mother from existence for the second time. Raven returns to the citadel and triumphantly discovers a kill switch that would effectively destroy A.L.I.E. forever. Before she is able to flip the switch, A.L.I.E. removes herself from Arkadia’s computer system. This devastates Monty as he realizes that he deleted his mother for no reason, but Raven claims that they now have the knowledge of the kill switch. Will Raven be the one to save everyone from the vicious terror of A.L.I.E. and will her friendship with Monty be further damaged in the process?

Over in the middle of the ocean on the oil platform, Clarke and the others are introduced to Luna’s community of non-violent Grounders, many of which have been orphaned by the past wars. Luna still refuses to be the next Commander, but Clarke does not let up. Meanwhile, Jasper takes a liking to a girl named Shay, who has never been off the oil platform. Seeing Jasper in a more upbeat mood is definitely a plus after all the sadness he has had to deal with this season. Clarke tells Bellamy and Octavia that she thinks planting the flame in Luna without her permission may be the best course of actions. Octavia shares her belief that Clarke’s plan would be no better than what Jaha and A.L.I.E. are doing. Clarke ignores Octavia and approaches Luna before whispering the flame’s activation code. Clarke tries to install the flame in Luna, but Luna fights back and takes the flame away from Clarke. Luna tells Clarke that she fled from the conclave not out of fear, but because she knew she would win; she also mentions that she killed her own brother in the first round of the conclave.

Luna decides that it is time for Clarke and the others to leave. She places them in a shipping container as several of Luna’s people return from land. Shockingly, the returning Grounders have been chipped after A.L.I.E. used a drone to discover the location of the oil platform. One of Luna’s friends steals the flame and locks Octavia, Bellamy and Clarke in the shipping container. Jasper is still with Shay when the attack happens; after realizing that A.L.I.E. is on the platform, he tells Shay to warn the rest of the Grounders. Suddenly, a Grounder under the control of A.L.I.E. appears and shoots Shay with an arrow. The chipped Grounders round up Jasper and Luna and tie them up before trying to force them to take a City of Light key. Luna is water boarded by her chipped friends, but she still refuses to take the key. Meanwhile, in Polis, Pike and Murphy work against the clock to figure out a way to destroy the hard drive. Emori pleads with Murphy to reconsider, claiming that if the hard drive is destroyed, everyone in the City of Light will be lost forever. Murphy passes off the task to Pike, who destroys the hard drive without hesitation. Unfortunately, the migration to the City of Light has been completed, therefore, destroying the hard drive has no effect. Murphy, Indra and Pike escape from the Flamekeeper room as guards rush in. A.L.I.E. is revealed to have connected herself to the computer system of the remaining section of the Ark that still orbits in space. What sinister plans will be enacted now that the City of Light’s population is higher than ever?

A still somehow alive Shay manages to make her way to the shipping container and free Clarke, Bellamy and Octavia. The chipped Grounders take a new approach to recruiting Luna by threatening the life of a young girl. Luna appears to surrender, but instead bites one of the Grounders and kills the remaining guards in the room. Clarke and the others rush in to find a devastated Luna crying for one of her friends. This episode highlights Luna’s strength as fighter, even though she tries to live a peaceful life. Later, Luna holds a funeral ceremony for the Grounders that were killed in A.L.I.E.’s attack. Clarke once again begs Luna to take the flame and ascend to the role of Commander, but Luna stands firm. Suddenly, Clarke, Bellamy, Octavia and Jasper begin passing out after drinking wine that was spiked by Luna. Clarke and the others wake up on a beach confused and disoriented. With Luna refusing to assume the role of Commander, what will Clarke do next?

“Red Sky at Morning” is yet another strong episode that demonstrates the many different strengths and skills that the characters possess. The threat of A.L.I.E. proves to be a gripping and terrifying force that cannot be suppressed. The inclusion of Pike on the “good guy” team is a shocking, but fitting twist that opens up a possible path to redemption for the seemingly evil character. With the two-part season finale beginning next week, will the City of Light swallow everyone up? Be sure to tune in to “The 100” next Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW.

TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘Blood in the Streets’

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

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

A hostage situation at sea and a series of character developing flashback combine to deliver one of “Fear the Walking Dead’s” best episodes to date. After last week’s sloppy detour, this episode is a definite step in the right direction for the series. Who can our characters truly trust in the harsh undead world that surrounds them?

An incredibly chilling scene opens the episode as Nick washes ashore at the United States-Mexico border in the middle of the night. On the beach, he looks up as a helicopter flies overhead into Mexico; boats can be seen in the ocean on the Mexico side, presumably a military blockade. Nick wanders into a massive refugee camp that appears to have been abandoned. He kills a lone Infected and uses its blood to cover himself; during last week’s episode, Nick figured out that blood and guts from the Infected can be used as camouflage. This opening scene showcases the interesting effects of society collapsing and serves to expand the viewer’s knowledge of the world; the government of Mexico was able to lock down the border and possibly better contain the outbreak.

This episode uses flashbacks to give the audience further insight into Strand’s history. Soon after Hurricane Katrina, Strand meets a man named Thomas Abigail (Dougray Scott) in a Baton Rouge bar. The two men discuss buying property in the devastated state of Louisiana; Strand mentions that he is bankrupt. Later, Strand takes a drunken Thomas to a hotel room where he steals Thomas’ credit cards. Sometime later, Thomas and an associate named Luis Flores (Arturo del Puerto) locate and confront Strand. Rather than alerting the authorities, Thomas offers to negotiate repayment with Strand and from this, a romantic relationship takes shape. Another flashback shows Strand preparing to leave for a business trip in Los Angeles. Thomas attempts to stop Strand from leaving after hearing reports of an outbreak and riots. This final flashback partially explains why Strand was at the military hospital in Los Angeles back in “Cobalt.” While Strand’s true intentions still remain a mystery, this episode gives much needed backstory to one of the most interesting characters in the series.

In the present time, Chris and Ofelia take watch on the deck of the Abigail. They discuss their lives before the apocalypse and Chris wonders if he will ever be able to be a normal teenager again. This scene is a touching moment of levity between two characters who have already suffered losses. The calm moment is interrupted as a small group on a raft approaches the Abigail. Two men and a bleeding pregnant woman board the yacht pleading for help. Chris frantically questions if he should shoot them or allow them to board. Travis, Madison and Daniel rush to the scene as Strand sneaks away to collect his rifle. Madison leads the pregnant woman, named Vida (Veronica Diaz-Carranza), below deck to the bathroom. Alicia emerges from her room to investigate and quickly recognizes the voice of one of the men. It’s Jack (Daniel Zovatto), the mysterious stranger that Alicia communicated with over radio in “Monster.” The situation escalates as the other man, Reed (Jesse McCartney), attacks Travis and holds the rest of the group at gunpoint. Vida slams Madison’s head into the bathroom mirror before tying her up. Jack forces a stunned Alicia to tie Daniel and the others up as well. The sudden assault by the group of strangers represents the learning curve that this group of survivors is currently undergoing. Helping a seemingly innocent pregnant woman proved to be the wrong move as Vida essentially played the role of a Trojan Horse to gain access to the Abigail.

Reed notices Strand fleeing the yacht on a raft and shoots several times. Reed then returns to his group of hostages and demands the keys to the ship. He holds Chris at gunpoint, prompting Travis to offer to hot-wire the boat as Strand had the keys. Vida brings Madison to the rest of the group as Reed leads Travis away. Jack takes Alicia outside and explains that he needs to contact a man named Connor (Mark Kelly), who is the leader of his group. Alicia stands by as Jack contacts Connor over the radio. Connor eerily shares that he is on his way to the Abigail. Jack promises to protect Alicia and her family, but explains that not everyone will be able to join Connor’s group. Alicia embraces Jack, but there seems to be more going on in her head. After being tricked by Jack into giving up her group’s location, Alicia may turn the tables and betray the trust of Jack. Alicia is definitely more intelligent than people give her credit for.

Meanwhile, Nick locates a gated neighborhood that contains a home, whose address was given to him by Strand; this is somewhat confusing as viewers never actually saw Strand give Nick the location of this home. In the neighborhood, Nick uses his disguise to pass a single Infected. It’s worth noting that Nick discovered this camouflage trick faster than the characters of “The Walking Dead” as Rick is still in a coma at this point in the timeline. Nick arrives at the home and is met by an armed Luis from Strand’s flashback. Nick explains that he was sent by Strand, which prompts Luis to lower his gun. Luis sends Nick into the house to get cleaned up before the two drive down to the beach. Luis explains that he only managed to secure passage across the border for two people, but Nick holds out hope that Strand will not abandon the group. Luis and Nick board a Zodiac raft and head toward the Abigail. The scenes on land showcase the devastation that came with the outbreak. There is an interesting juxtaposition of the widespread damage caused by the outbreak and by Hurricane Katrina, which was mentioned in Strand’s flashbacks.

Madison rescues Strand from the ocean. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
Madison rescues Strand from the ocean. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Back on the Abigail, Daniel tries to loosen his bonds as Madison cleverly heckles Vida by asking questions about her pregnancy. Madison brings up the possibility of a stillborn baby turning and devouring the mother from inside the womb; this theory was originally brought up by Lori during her pregnancy in the original series. Ofelia joins in and taunts Vida, prompting her to lash out and point her gun at her hostages. Reed and Travis return from the ship’s engine room and Travis slides a crowbar behind a couch cushion. Connor arrives and boards the boat with two other members of his group. He mentions Alicia and Travis as being useful and decides to blindfold them and take them away. Reed and the two other members of Connor’s group stay behind. Luis steers the Zodiac raft toward the yacht as Nick notices the armed intruders; Luis pulls out a rifle and shoots two of the intruders. A shocked Reed walks over to investigate, giving Madison and the group the opportunity to fight back. Daniel grabs Reed’s gun, then Ofelia pushes him against a wall and Madison impales him with the hidden crowbar. Chris takes over and pushes the crowbar further through Reed’s abdomen. This scene represents a shift in the group’s survival mentality. After several episodes of mistrust and arguing, the survivors finally teamed up to subdue an active threat. Nick and Luis board the yacht and a slight conflict erupts, but Nick manages to calm the situation. Madison panics after realizing Alicia and Travis have been taken away. She heads out on the Zodiac raft to rescue Strand from drowning in the ocean. After heavy tension between the two characters, Madison saving Strand demonstrates her caring nature. Will Strand abandon Madison and the rest of the group or will he figure out a way to get everyone across the border?

“Blood in the Streets” is by far the best episode of the season so far. After originally introducing Jack in the first episode of the season, the threat of his group is perfectly reincorporated into the storyline. Will Alicia and Travis be able to escape their captors and reunite with their group back on the Abigail? My prediction is that one of the two will not make it out alive. Strand’s backstory was also nicely tied into the main story, with Luis and Thomas being intriguing new characters. Will Strand be able to make his way to Thomas and the house in Baja? Be sure to tune in to “Fear the Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

TV REVIEW: ‘The 100’ – ‘Join or Die’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The 100”

Michael Beach as Pike and Henry Ian Cusick as Kane -- Credit: Dean Buscher/The CW
Michael Beach as Pike and Henry Ian Cusick as Kane — Credit: Dean Buscher/The CW

The brutal and harsh world of “The 100” is shown in full force in the latest episode. The main story rapidly moves forward as viewers are treated to a series of flashbacks to life on the Ark. With powerful performances across the board and thrilling plot twists, “Join or Die” is one of the season’s best episodes.

Following the capture of Pike back in “Fallen,” the main source of danger has shifted to A.L.I.E. and the City of Light. Arriving in Polis, Kane and Pike witness the shocking and brutal state of life under the new Commander. Blood literally runs through the streets as dozens of A.L.I.E.’s minions sit meditating. Kane and Pike are greeted by Jackson, Jaha and Ontari who try to persuade the new arrivals to swallow the City of Light key. Pike refuses and threatens Ontari before being rushed away to a holding cell. Kane is also taken away after refusing, but Abby appears and tells Jaha that she would like to deal with him personally. Under Ontari’s leadership, Polis has been invaded and conquered by A.L.I.E.; this is a stark contrast from Polis under the leadership of Lexa.

Kane is truly tested during this episode as Abby is essentially used as a bargaining chip to draw him over to the City of Light. In a private room, a frantic Abby meets with Kane. She pretends that she hasn’t taken the key and begins questioning Kane about the location of Clarke and the others. She also attempts to seduce Kane, but he quickly realizes that she has turned over to the dark side. This maniacal manipulation just shows how truly sinister A.L.I.E. is, as Abby is being used completely against her will to further the City of Light agenda. Kane is dragged away and taken to a metal cross, where he is literally crucified as a form of torture. Nails are driven into Kane’s body as he screams in pain, however, he doesn’t break down and give into Jaha’s promises to stop the pain if he takes the key. Although, the situation drastically changes when Jaha takes out a gun and points it directly at Abby’s head. After holding out for so long, Kane realizes that he must give up to save Abby’s life; this clearly demonstrates the strong connection that Kane and Abby have. Henry Ian Cusick delivered the strongest performance of the episode as a tortured and conflicted Kane.

The major highlight of this episode is the use of flashbacks that serve to develop the characters and show how far they have come. Six months prior to the current events, Kane, Abby and Jaha prepare to send the hundred to the ground. They enlist Pike to teach some of the teenagers skills that will help them survive on Earth. With just two weeks until the hundred are to be sent to Earth, Pike attempts to teach a variety of survival skills; Octavia, Murphy and Jasper are just a few of his inattentive students. Pike is frustrated and confronts Jaha, asking to be sent down to Earth with the teenagers. Jaha rejects and demands that Pike assure his students pay attention to the lessons. With time running short, Pike decides to teach the students about survival by using violence; Pike beats up Murphy as the other teenagers rush to help. Pike’s message of helping each other in order to survive is made clear through this demonstration. Showing Pike’s life on the Ark helps to humanize and develop his character; while his tactics are brutal, his overall goal is survival. The flashbacks continue as the 100 prisoners board the Dropship; Abby is shown saying goodbye to a tranquilized Clarke. A slowed down version of the Imagine Dragon’s song, “Radioactive,” plays during the final set of flashbacks; this is an homage to the series premiere which used the original and more-upbeat version of the song. The flashbacks perfectly showcase the clear development that each of the characters have undergone since arriving on the ground.

In a Polis holding cell, Pike is chained up with several other prisoners that have refused to enter the City of Light; Murphy and Indra are among these prisoners. Following Pike’s massacre of the Grounder army of three-hundred soldiers in “Hakeldama,” Indra is looking for revenge. Using her chain as a knife, Indra sentences Pike to a traditional form of Grounder punishment by cutting him three hundred times, one cut for each of the people he killed. Murphy rallies the other prisoners against killing Pike, claiming that strong survivors will be needed in the fight against the City of Light soldiers. Indra agrees, but promises Pike that she will get revenge soon. After only making sporadic appearances this season, it’s great to have Indra back in action; Adina Porter always delivers a stunning performance as Indra.

While the situation in Polis escalates, Clarke, Bellamy, Octavia and Jasper search for Luna. Using Lincoln’s map as a guide, the team arrives at a marked location that appears to be a dead end. Octavia, looking to assure Lincoln’s death wasn’t in vain, pushes the group to keep searching. Jasper accidentally discovers a way to signal Luna; he throws leaves into fire, which turns the flames green. A group of Grounders arrive and begin questioning Octavia; the Grounders are initially suspicious, but Octavia mentions Lincoln, prompting them to be more trusting. They distribute vials of an unknown liquid and Octavia immediately drinks the substance before collapsing to the ground. Jasper, Bellamy and Clarke panic, but quickly follow Octavia’s lead and drink from the vials. They wake up in a rusty container, unarmed and confused. The container doors open and a woman walks in; it’s Luna. Clarke explains that Luna is the last surviving Nightblood and shares the importance of Luna assuming the role of Commander. Luna declares that she has given up violence and killing before rejecting Clarke’s offer. She exits the container as Clarke and the others follow closely behind; the group is revealed to be on an old oil platform in the middle of the ocean. What purpose does this oil platform serve and why is Luna hiding out on it?

“Join or Die” is one of the best episodes of the season as the threats continue to escalate. The flashbacks were well-done and are interspersed nicely throughout the episode, displaying immense story and character development. The expedition to find Luna is also full of character development, specifically for Bellamy and Octavia. Will Clarke be able to convince Luna to become the Commander? Be sure to tune in to “The 100” next Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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

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

Daniel, Chris, Alex, Alicia and Nick flee from Infected. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
Daniel, Chris, Alex, Alicia and Nick flee from Infected. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

After an impressive start to the season, “Fear the Walking Dead” takes several steps back. Sloppy writing and plot holes plague this underwhelming episode. However, several positives do exist in regards to the character and story development. With the world collapsing around them, who can our characters truly trust?

“Ouroboros” features the continuation of AMC’s webisode series, “Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462.” The sixteen-part series tells the story of a group of passengers and crew aboard an airplane during the early days of the outbreak. After a passenger dies and turns, a chain of events follows that eventually leads to the plane crashing. This episode begins with one of the passengers, Alex (Michelle Ang), swimming through the plane’s wreckage in the ocean. She locates Jake (Brendan Meyer), a young man that Alex protected during the webisode; Jake’s face was severely burned during the crash. Some of the crash’s other survivors pull Alex and Jake onto a life raft, however, these other survivors don’t last long as Alex kills them after they threaten Jake. This opening scene is a definite highlight of the episode and perfectly establishes a feeling of intensity.

On the Abigail, Travis, Madison and Strand notice odd noises coming from the engine; Travis is able to deduce that something is blocking the water intake. Travis volunteers to scuba dive under the ship to investigate the blockage. While under the ship, he discovers the problem to be stemming from a trapped Infected; this Infected is a survivor of Flight 462. This scene features one of many cheap jump scares that seem to plague the horror genre. In the engine room, Travis tells Strand that repairing the engine will likely take several hours. Strand, worried about the yacht’s vulnerability against attackers, begins lashing out at Travis. This is one of many interesting developments from this episode; I’m really interested to see where the relationship between Travis and Strand goes. Meanwhile, Daniel inspects Ofelia’s gunshot wound and realizes that it is infected. Ofelia is out of antibiotics, but Daniel refuses to ask Madison for additional medicine. This scene demonstrates the clear rift that exists between the Clark-Manawa family and the Salazars. Daniel has always been reluctant to ask for help from others, fearing the problems that may stem from being in someone’s debt.

Up on deck, Alicia alerts the group of nearby sand dunes on the coast that are littered with luggage. Daniel agrees to take Alicia, Nick and Chris to the shore to collect supplies. Madison and Travis voice their concerns, but Alicia declares that the teenagers can’t be kept at the children’s table. Before boarding the Zodiac raft, Daniel alerts Madison of Strand’s plans to head to Mexico; he also encourages her to speak with Strand, mentioning her diplomacy. As Daniel’s group go to the shore, Travis focuses on repairing the ship’s engines, while Madison confronts Strand. With San Diego off the table, Strand explains that a town named Rosarito, in Baja, Mexico (This town also happens to be the filming location for this season), may be a safe haven with food, supplies and walls. Madison and Strand agree to trust each other moving forward, but not before a painfully cringe-worthy line of dialogue is uttered from Madison about throwing Strand overboard if he betrays her trust. Many questions still remain about Strand’s motives, but this is a notable development in the story that establishes a destination for the group. Is Strand’s secret location in Mexico legitimate?

Meanwhile, Daniel’s group arrives on the beach and quickly begin exploring the wreckage of Flight 462. Daniel orders the teenagers to stay within his line of sight. Everyone spreads out and rummages through suitcases for medicine and clothes. These scenes are incredibly reminiscent of the highway scenes from “The Walking Dead’s” second season. Chris separates from the group and locates part of the plane’s fuselage. He enters and finds two Infected, still strapped in their seats; he kills one of the Infected with a piece of metal. Clearly Chris is on an excursion to release some of his anger, however, his decision to split from the group is incredibly careless and lacks common sense. A surviving passenger wakes up and hoarsely begs Chris for help. Chris helps the man out of his seat and quickly notices a fatal spinal injury. Realizing that there is nothing he can do to save the man, Chris bashes his head in repeatedly. This is a major turning point for the character of Chris as this is the first human he has killed. I predict that the combination of Chris’ anger and his eagerness to kill Infected will lead him down a truly dark path.

Chris inspects the wreckage of Flight 462. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
Chris inspects the wreckage of Flight 462. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Daniel realizes that Chris has disappeared and wanders calling his name. Alicia also wanders off in search of Chris, while Nick manages to locate painkillers. Rather than sticking together like Daniel demanded in the first place, everyone separates. Nick finds a small ravine that has an Infected buried half-way in the sand at the bottom. Nick slips and lands near the Infected; Nick has a close call, but he quickly stabs the Infected in the head. Another Infected stumbles into the ravine, covering Nick in blood. Alex runs into Daniel as a herd of Infected come stumbling over the sand dunes. Daniel uses his gun to shoot several, but there are far too many to handle. Alicia and Chris join up with Alex and Daniel as the Infected close in on the group, trapping them on a cliff. Using pieces from the plane wreckage, the group fight back against the Infected. It’s worth noting that this is the first time that Alicia has had to kill the Infected. Nick arrives, covered in the Infected’s blood, just in time to save Alicia. The group is able to escape the cliff, but Nick takes a moment to learn the famous “guts” trick (most recently seen in the original series’ episode, “No Way Out.“) of camouflage. A bloodied Nick standing face to face with the Infected is a truly chilling scene that highlights the expert cinematography of this series.

After a tense battle with a herd of Infected, the group makes their way back to the Zodiac raft. Alex alerts Daniel that they need to make a quick stop; this stop is to pick up Jake, who unexpectedly appears out of nowhere on the yellow safety raft from earlier. Daniel’s group returns to the Abigail; Strand angrily refuses to allow Alex and Jake aboard. Fearing Jake may die and turn, the group decides to tow Alex and Jake on their raft. Madison announces to everyone that Strand is leading the Abigail to Baja; many members of the group object, but Travis subdues the worries. The episode ends as the Abigail speeds away to the next destination. Strand makes his way to the rear of the yacht and sternly cuts Alex and Jake’s raft loose. Madison voices her objection, but Strand ignores and the Abigail continues, leaving Alex and Jake behind. After so much build up with the Flight 462 storyline, these characters better return sometime in the future.

The major problem of this episode deals with the established timeline. Flight 462 took off from LAX during the earliest days of the outbreak. After being unable to land in Phoenix, the flight was forced to return to Los Angeles, but abruptly crashed; the entirety of the flight took place over the course of a few hours. The current events of “Fear the Walking Dead” take place approximately twenty days into the outbreak. Jake received a seemingly fatal injury during the crash, however, this episode seems to suggest that he survived for weeks with this injury. Also, the survivor that Chris found in the fuselage suffered a fatal injury, however, he also somehow managed to survive for weeks without medical treatment. This discrepancy in the timeline is incredibly distracting and lessens the impact and believably of the story. The story of “Flight 462” could have been tied into the main story in a far better way, but instead, viewers were treated to a sloppy plot hole.

“Ouroboros” is not a terrible episode, but definitely showcases the many problems that “Fear the Walking Dead” still has. Inconsistencies in the timeline may seem like a minor problem, but I found myself unable to suspend disbelief for this, mostly because I was really looking forward to the “Flight 462” tie in. While the characters are still learning the rules of life in a zombie apocalypse, there are several cases of complete lack of common sense. Amidst the problems, this episode does feature some very tense action sequences and strong character development. Hopefully this is a simple bump in the road for the series as I still have very high hopes. Will the group make it to Mexico? Be sure to tune in to “Fear the Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

TV REVIEW: ‘The 100’ – ‘Demons’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The 100”

The 100 - Eliza Taylor as Clarke and Bob Morley as Bellamy -- Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
The 100 – Eliza Taylor as Clarke and Bob Morley as Bellamy — Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

“The 100” takes a dark and emotional turn in the latest shocker of an episode. After the great victory last week, tragedy strikes our band of characters once again. With significant character development and several different twists and turns, this episode is yet another thrilling addition to this phenomenal half-season.

An incredibly creepy scene opens the episode; Miller, Harper and Bryan take shelter from a storm in the cave. For some odd reason, Miller decides to share the frightening story about a massacre that happened on the Ark shortly Unity Day. Miller leaves the cave to use the bathroom and Bryan leaves soon after to check on him. Harper follows to investigate after hearing a noise; suddenly she is attacked by an anonymous figure wearing a mask. This opening sequence expertly establishes an eerie tone that continues through the rest of the episode.

Clarke and the team make their way back to an abandoned Arkadia. It appears that A.L.I.E. and Jaha led the mindless citizens of Arkadia, including Abby, to find their next group of victims. Octavia struggles after the death of Lincoln, however, Jasper consoles her. Jasper and Octavia have both lost loved ones, so this scene is truly touching and further develops both characters. Octavia discovers Lincoln’s notebook full of drawings of her; this only adds to the devastation felt by viewers and Octavia alike. The notebook also contains a map to the location of Luna, the sole survivor of Lexa’s conclave and one of the final remaining Nightbloods. Out of nowhere, Jasper and Octavia are attacked by the same mysterious man that assaulted Harper, Miller and Bryan.

While the others formulate a plan, Bellamy checks out Arkadia’s armory. He discovers that Jaha and A.L.I.E. left all of the guns and ammunition. Meanwhile, Raven and Sinclair share what they have learned about the Flame with Clarke. They realize that the Flame is voice activated, so they begin saying common Grounder phrases. Sinclair is able to deduce that the keyword is likely a Latin phrase due to the fact that Becca’s book contains many Latin writings. They say the phrase “seek higher things” in Latin; this activates the Flame, but it quickly shuts down due to its lack of a host. Only a Nightblood can be a host; anyone else that tries to use the Flame will be killed by it. Clarke and Monty make their way down a hallway to investigate creepy music that has suddenly begun playing. They find the source, a toy carousel, but are quickly ambushed by a barrage of red smoke. The mysterious attacker, equipped with a gas mask, arrives and viciously attack Clarke. She fights back, managing to remove the gas mask; the attacker is revealed to be Emerson, the last survivor of Mount Weather who was last seen in “Bitter Harvest.” Clarke is able to escape Emerson and make her way back to Bellamy, but the situation only worsens from here.

Clarke radios Raven and Sinclair, who are in the hangar bay studying the Flame, to warn them of Emerson. Raven and Sinclair lock the area down, but Emerson has already made his way in. He cuts the power and stalks Raven and Sinclair with his night-vision goggles. Raven hides in a rover as Emerson brutally attacks Sinclair. A highly emotional scene follows as Raven tearfully says goodbye to a dying Sinclair. Emerson apprehends Raven and drags her away as Bellamy and Clarke arrive. These scenes are incredibly tense and frightening to watch; the return of Emerson is yet another shocking twist to the story. Clarke radios Emerson and tries to establish a deal; she demands that Emerson let her friends go if she agrees to turn herself in. Emerson accepts the offer and tells Clarke to meet him at the airlock without any weapons; Bellamy follows closely behind, armed.

The other storyline of this episode follows Murphy and Ontari in Polis. This subplot is far less interesting than the events occurring in Arkadia, however, some major developments do occur. While strolling the markets of Polis, Murphy reunites with Emori; their romantic relationship continues, but out of the eyesight of Ontari. Murphy basically explains everything to Emori about his fake role as Flamekeeper for the Commander. Later, Ontari sits in the throne room and listens to the grievances of her constituents. Out of nowhere, Jaha shows up and begins cleverly persuading Ontari to join the City of Light. Emori arrives and shows support for Jaha’s claims; she also completely throws Murphy under the bus by revealing him as a fraud in regards to his role as Flamekeeper. Emori, feeling betrayed after hearing the revelation, has Murphy arrested. Later in the episode, Ontari is shown with Emori and Jaha in the throne room with A.L.I.E. sitting in the Commander’s throne; A.L.I.E. chillingly declares that it is time to fill the City of Light. This scene perfectly represents the rapid rise to power that A.L.I.E. has had this season. With A.L.I.E. calling the shots now, will anyone be able to put a stop to her madness?

Back in Arkadia, Clarke makes her way to the airlock, but Emerson immediately demands that Bellamy turn over his weapon and join the other hostages. Emerson holds Octavia at knife-point, prompting Bellamy to instantly follow the commands. This highlights Bellamy’s true caring nature that he has towards Octavia, regardless of everything they have been through lately. Emerson exits the airlock and shuts off the oxygen supply before grabbing Clarke. With the lives of nearly all of her friends at stake, Clarke makes a sharp decision and utters the Latin phrase before jamming the Flame into Emerson’s neck. The Flame digs itself into a squirming Emerson as Clarke rescues her friends; Emerson dies a truly horrific death that is strikingly similar to the deaths of the victims at Mount Weather, minus the strange technology. The episode ends in a truly touching way as the group gathers to hold a traditional Grounder funeral ceremony for Sinclair and Lincoln. Octavia breaks down at the sight of Lincoln’s lifeless body; Marie Avgeropoulos gives an absolutely stunning performance in this episode, specifically in this scene. The bodies of Lincoln and Sinclair are burned as the group recites Grounder and Skaikru sayings. Clarke, Bellamy, Octavia and Jasper head out to find Luna while Raven and the others stay behind in Arkadia. Is Luna the key to stopping A.L.I.E. and Ontari?

“Demons” is yet another thrilling episode of “The 100” that perfectly blends emotions with intense action. This episode features the shocking death of Sinclair, who has been a mainstay of the Sky People since the very first episode. How will the loss of Sinclair affect Raven and the others? I’m very much interested to see the enigmatic Luna, who has been teased throughout the last few episodes. What is her relation to Lexa? My prediction is that Luna is a long lost twin of Lexa. Will Clarke and the others be able to find her? Be sure to tune in to “The 100” next Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW.

TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘We All Fall Down’

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.

TV REVIEW: ‘The 100’ – ‘Nevermore’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The 100”

Erica Cerra as Alie / Becca -- Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
Erica Cerra as Alie / Becca — Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

After a few problematic episodes, “The 100” delivers a thrilling and intense episode that reunites many of the main original characters. As one threat is subdued, another rises up and attacks in a very unusual way. More conflicts arise as our characters are forced to work together to save themselves.

Last week’s episode ended with the daring escape of Jasper and Raven from Arkadia with the help of Clarke. This episode picks up with Jasper driving a truck to a nearby cave where Octavia and Bellamy wait. A tense argument erupts between Octavia and Bellamy while they wait for Jasper and the others; Octavia holds Lincoln’s death over Bellamy and insists that she will never forgive him. Having these two close sibling on opposite sides is incredibly unsettling, but definitely moves the plot in an interesting direction. Jasper and Clarke arrive and explain what has happened in Arkadia. Raven (controlled by A.L.I.E.) awakens and begins questioning the group about the Flame that Clarke has in her possession. A.L.I.E. realizes that the Flame is her second version and sends Raven running out of the cave in an attempt to figure out the group’s location. Jasper drugs Raven before she is able to describe her surroundings to A.L.I.E. Clarke takes charge and leads the group to Niylah’s outpost.

Niylah has one of the last remaining wristbands, which the group hopes can be used to short-circuit the chip in Raven’s head. Niylah is not happy to see Clarke and the gang as her father was one of the many victims in Pike and Bellamy’s massacre back in “Hakeldama.” Niylah declares that she is no longer a friend to Skaikru and attempts to send them away. Raven begins to wake up so Bellamy points his gun at Niylah and leads everyone into the back of the outpost. Bellamy and the others struggle to tie Raven down to a bed; Raven dislocates her shoulder and reopens her wounds in the process. Clarke establishes shifts to watch Raven, but Jasper immediately shuts her down, highlighting the clear lack of trust among the group. Jasper’s anger towards Clarke after her actions at Mount Weather at the end of Season 2 is also displayed. Possessed Raven lashes out at Clarke by mentioning the deaths of Wells, Finn and Lexa as failures of Clarke’s leadership. Clarke gets angry and yells “we’re going to fry you” to Raven; this declaration from Clarke allows Raven and A.L.I.E. to piece together the group’s plan of using the wristbands.

The plan of the group is put into place as Monty and Octavia make their way to the Dropship to collect an electromagnet that will be used to short-circuit Raven’s chip. The pairing of Monty and Octavia is incredibly dynamic and feels reminiscent of the first season. Monty reassures Octavia of her place among the group by stating “you’re one of the 100.” Unfortunately, the plan takes a drastic turn as Monty’s mother, Hannah, reveals herself and begins claiming that she escaped from Arkadia. Monty quickly realizes that she is yet another mindless minion under the control of A.L.I.E. There’s a conflict as Hannah attacks Monty, prompting Octavia to get involved. Hannah holds Octavia at knife-point, leaving Monty only one option: to shoot his own mother. This emotional scene is sure to develop Monty’s character, however, I am not sad to see Hannah go as she is partly responsible for many of the hardships faced this season.

Back at Niylah’s outpost, Raven begins taunting Bellamy and Jasper. Bellamy makes Jasper leave the room due to the irrational nature of Jasper; Bellamy takes all of the jabs that Raven throws his way. Niylah bursts into the room after realizing Bellamy had a role in her father’s death. A.L.I.E. is able to determine where the group is based on Niylah. However, Sinclair is able to configure the wristband leaving A.L.I.E. with very limited options. She causes Raven to bash her head against the wall in an attempt to kill herself. They manage to get the wristband on Raven’s arm and successfully send an EMP through her body, knocking her unconscious. In a fit of anger, Jasper threatens to destroy the Flame, which Clarke panics and declares “it’s Lexa.” This nicely parallels the situation that Clarke found herself in during the Mount Weather situation with Jasper’s girlfriend, Maya. Normal Raven wakes up and complains about the pain she feels; this assures the fact that Raven has returned to normal as people in the City of Light do not feel pain. The group realizes that they must leave the outpost and find a new place to hide from A.L.I.E. and the others. Before leaving Clarke apologizes to Niylah and tells her to leave, fearing A.L.I.E. may arrive to recruit her. The final few moments show Raven explaining that the Flame is the only thing that can stop A.L.I.E. Jaha and A.L.I.E. stand in the City of Light and decide that their only course of action is to kill Clarke and the group. The entire City of Light storyline is a definite refreshing and reinventing turn in the plot that also creates a terrifying tone. Will anyone be able to stop A.L.I.E. and Jaha?

“Nevermore” is a frightening twist in the story of “The 100” as Raven is essentially possessed by technology. The performances across the board are spectacular, specifically Erica Cerra and Lindsey Morgan as A.L.I.E. and Raven, respectively. The City of Light storyline is finally revealing itself to be a horrific threat to the entire cast of characters. Will the group be able to escape the various threats? Be sure to tune in to “The 100” next Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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

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.