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'Fear the Walking Dead' recap: 'Sicut Cervus'

Posted on

Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC

Fear the Walking Dead

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
1
run date:
08/23/15
performer:
Ruben Blades, Mercedes Mason, Cliff Curtis
broadcaster:
AMC
genre:
Drama, Horror

The Abigail finally finds its way to Strand’s destination, the supposedly secluded and safe home of the ship’s namesake, Thomas Abigail. But their arrival starts off on a bloody note and never truly recovers, as even in the confines of a palatial estate, Travis and Madison’s combined family, Salazar, and Ofelia face their own internal strife (a.k.a., Chris is the worst, ever) while discovering the dark secrets of their new home.

Of course, none of them were originally intended to come to the safe house. Strand’s plan first only considered Luis and himself crossing the border, so as the boat reaches the border patrol on the water, the rest of the Abigail’s passengers have to hide below deck.

And already the fraught seeds of division are being sown, with a brief conversation between Chris and Travis as the son explains to his father what happened with Reed. Travis tries to imply “the group” said Reed wasn’t sick at all when Chris shot him, but Chris almost immediately guesses Madison said that. He’s furious, saying Madison told him she believed him. (And unless she did so off camera, she never actually said those words, merely comforting him and telling him it would be OK. This marks only the beginning of Chris’ attempts to blatantly, and poorly, lie about reality to suit his safety.)

Before they can properly figure out the situation, though, Luis and Strand send them all below deck to hide as Luis speaks with his border contacts. Salazar translates what he can for them about the trade being conducted, as well as the unfortunate desire for Luis’ contact to search the boat. Gunfire breaks out before they can do so, however, and the families rush upstairs after silence falls to investigate.

Luis and a few other men lie motionless on the deck as others continue to fire on the Abigail. While they attempt to flee, Salazar stabs the bodies on the boat before they turn, but as he comes to Luis, he finds Strand’s compatriot still gasping his last breaths. Ofelia and Nick stop Salazar from killing him, rather letting him die first. He gives them a coin to give to his mother, who he asks for in his last moments, and though Salazar relents, he takes the coin, an owl carved into its face, and tosses it into the ocean.

The gunfire ceases as the Abigail reaches land, as Strand guesses, because the patrol expects whatever is on land to kill them instead.

What they first find after a long hike on solid ground certainly implies death is right around the corner, literally and figuratively. The group stumbles upon a church in an abandoned neighborhood, with what Strand recognizes as Abigail’s truck parked out front. The man himself is nowhere in sight, but what does appear is a group of fresh walkers, ranging from a priest to choirboys to any number of young and old churchgoers.

As “Sicut Cervus’” intro reveals, this church’s congregation gathered for a solemn, ultimately final time as they discussed the end times scenario plaguing the world. The priest ruminates on how what is happening could not be the work of the God they know, but rather the evil working against him. (As much as it might be polarizing to take a lengthy dive into religion, The Walking Dead and Fear only briefly touch on a religious view of what’s occurring. I couldn’t help but hope there would be a longer examination of this group, though they sadly are only then transformed into walker fodder that belies an ugly truth at Thomas’ home.)

NEXT: Strand reunites with Thomas, but all is not well. [pagebreak]

As they all eat of the Eucharist, they depart from the church and begin to turn sick, one by one. Thomas Abigail appears, finding many of their group bleeding from the eyes and collapsing. They blame Celia, working at Abigail’s home, for what’s happened to them, though initially it is unclear how she could have played a part. Whatever she did, it transformed them into the walking dead, who have now come for the Abigail crew. They begin fighting off everyone coming their way, though some of them find the bloodbath difficult to take. Nick is forced to take out a little girl walker, an effort that takes plenty out of the man who has repeatedly spread walker guts all over his body.

Perhaps the most horrific moment of the fight, though, is Chris’ reaction to Madison being attacked. He simply watches and stares as she appears seconds away from dying. Alicia notices, yells at Chris, and eventually steps in to save her mother. (It’s yet another moment that suggests the episode’s title should have been “Chris Is the Worst of All Time.”)

Saved for the moment, they all hop into Thomas’ truck and eventually reach his gorgeous, walled-off home, which looks practically untouched in comparison to the horrors of the church. A staff of workers still tend to the estate’s garden.

The group is met by Celia, whom Strand informs about Luis’ death, while the others relinquish their weapons to the house’s staff. Well, everyone except Salazar, who Ofelia pleads with before he’s willing to let go of his gun.

As everyone digs into their new safety, Strand finds his love, shocked to see him in the state he is. Thomas rests in his room, looking like he’s on the verge of death, and there’s good reason for that — he’s been bitten by the infected. It’s only a matter of when, not if, he perishes, but at the very least he has Strand by his side to keep him company in these final moments.

Meanwhile, the others try to take advantage of this newfound solitude from the outside world. And though Alicia attempts to enjoy the comforts of a nice couch and an actual working television, she’s quickly interrupted by Chris. He asks if she’s mad at him, which is an odd question to ask for someone who thinks he did nothing wrong.

And that’s exactly the lie Chris is selling, a lie he himself only buys into at its most surface level, if his dialogue is any indication. Alicia confronts him about just sitting by and watching what happened to Madison as some weird desire for revenge, but he vehemently denies it.

Chris demands she tell no one what she thinks she saw (which looks to be the most logical conclusion), and when she asks why, his response is “I don’t want to hurt anyone.” No one says that horrific cliché unless they are 1) guilty of doing something bad, and 2) fully aware they did something bad or that everyone but them seems to view as wrong.

Alicia eventually opens up to Madison after Chris’ behavior, which she certainly noticed while her life was at stake. With her suspicions confirmed and with Chris’ apparent threat to Alicia, Madison finally approaches Travis later that night about his son’s behavior.

NEXT: Salazar uncovers the dark secrets of their new safe house. [pagebreak]

At first, he can’t believe it, but as Madison hammers home the point, he doesn’t back down. Instead he escalates the fight and blames Madison, who says Chris may be “sick,” for not being with him in this time of need. He doesn’t want her blaming his son. Travis wants her to help him make things right with his son, especially after she asked him to be a united front with her on the boat.

The two, both embittered by a fight that feels manufactured more by Travis’ defensiveness over hearing his son could be behaving this way than by a genuine problem between the two parents, each go to be with their kids that night. Madison sleeps in Alicia’s room while Travis goes to Chris.

And as “Sicut” continues Chris’ descent into a wrongly indignant hassle for the family, Madison’s attentions are also focused on her own son, as Nick spends just a brief moment bonding with Celia. She quickly takes a liking to him and instantly recognizes the pain behind his smile, the weight of all the killing taking its toll on him. Madison isn’t pleased, however, by this connection, particularly as Celia offers her philosophy that the dead always walked among them, only now everyone can see them. Madison still holds onto Nick as an impressionable, fragile boy, and she wants a stranger like Celia nowhere near him.

Celia draws the suspicions of another in their group — Salazar. He’s been acting strangely as far as Ofelia can tell, particularly after they arrived at the estate. He stays away from almost everyone, but strange noises attract his attention while he’s walking outside, and he notices Celia doing something curious.

But his fears are later confirmed as he continues to investigate. (Meanwhile, Ofelia takes Nick with her as she prays to her mother for help with Salazar. Nick flashes back to his last religious experience — waking up in a church in the series premiere only to find death, devastation, and the undead surrounding him.) He finds a little boy talking to who he says is his mother through a gate. His mother, as may not be a total shock, is a walker, and is kept caged up with a host of other undead, all family members of people on the staff as she later tells him.

In fact, Celia is surprisingly forthcoming when Salazar confronts her with his discovery. She wanted to give these undead shelter from those “hunting” them, because, as she explains later to Nick, she doesn’t believe they’re dead. “They are what comes next,” she tells Nick that night, and so she not only keeps them safe but helps to bring this transformation about. Salazar discovers her poison-laced Eucharist, a new batch of which she is currently making.

And with a simple suggestion that Salazar make peace with his dead, as she can tell he fears the concept, she leaves him be to administer the wafers to Thomas… and Strand.

Yes, Strand floats the idea to his beloved that he could leave this world with him. They could go together, and Celia finds the idea so brave she’s willing to help further that plan along by preparing a piece of the Eucharist for each of them. Thomas doesn’t want Strand to take this route, but Celia’s delivery makes it seem almost certain.

Until he decides to stick around. As Thomas’ last breaths leave his body, Strand doesn’t leave time for Abigail to turn. Instead he grabs a gun and shoots him in the head because Strand clearly holds a different concept of what comes next than Celia does.

His gunshot is well timed, too, as it wakes up Alicia and Madison just as Chris looms over them, a knife held in his hands. It takes Alicia shouting at him to leave for Chris to awkwardly excuse himself from the room, but the damage has been done.

And it’s all going to make for one awkward family breakfast in the morning.

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