Fear the Walking Dead returns with a season that promises the swimming dead are to be just as feared as those walking on solid land, with the gang from last season hopping aboard Victor Strand’s boat, the Abigail. In search of safer shores, Travis, Madison, Salazar, and the rest of their families learn over the course of “Monster” that there are just as many threats and moral quandaries waiting for them on the high seas as there were on the streets of their hometown.
“Monster” makes only a small time jump, hours later from where season 1 ended as the families arrived at Strand’s gorgeous cliffside mansion. And perhaps as a bad omen, they make a break for the Abigail in the midst of the fiery explosions resulting from Operation Cobalt and the fresh walkers already roaming the beaches.
Most of the crew has made it safely to the Abigail by using a smaller motorized boat as transport from the beach to their new floating home. (Interestingly, just as Fear the Walking Dead opens up into the oceans, Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead: Michonne explores life on the waves, including in a fully functioning boat colony.) Madison, Travis, and Chris are still on the beach, along with Liza’s corpse.
Chris can’t seem to focus on the reality of chaos around him. His own father shot his mother, and the swirl of anger, grief, love, confusion, and everything else consuming him has him glued to the spot near his dead mother’s body. He doesn’t want to leave her, even as the threat of walkers becomes not a distant idea but a nearby reality.
Whether atop the cliffs by Strand’s house or down on the beach, the dead are coming for them as Nick returns to shore with the transport boat. Despite a few close calls, having to fend off walkers (which, as was the case last season, are much less decomposed than their The Walking Dead counterparts, who are months further into the process), everyone left on shore, with Liza’s body in tow, makes their way onto the transport boat. And with the killing of one last walker via the boat’s motor, they head for the Abigail, the sky behind them ablaze with destruction.
They find themselves in a much more peaceful, though no less uncertain, condition the following day as the sun and not explosions lights up the serene blue sky. The Abigail can take them up to 3,000 miles, but that’s plenty of space for problems to arise, which they do almost immediately.
The Abigail passes by a boat of survivors begging to be saved. Madison and Alicia want to help, but Strand refuses to, and Travis isn’t particularly interested in letting all of these strangers aboard either. Strand says he’s reached his mercy quota having saved all of them, and he wants to do as little to possible to avoid endangering them as they head south. He’s only stopping the boat to drop people off, not have them board, and so they continue on their way.
The choice doesn’t sit well with Madison, who makes that perfectly clear as Travis contemplates what to do with Chris, who simply sits dejectedly in a room next to Liza’s body. Travis wants to protect the family at all costs, and doing so means not introducing the potential risk of more outsiders, and while Madison has the same goal, she’s not exactly pleased with this first test for the Abigail.
While the boat may be at its maximum occupancy for Strand’s liking, that doesn’t mean the outside world can’t somehow find its way onto the decks of the Abigail. Alicia, who has been tasked with listening to the radio for other possible signs of life, stumbles upon a channel playing David Bowie’s “Five Years,” as well as the man behind the timely (for our world, at least) musical choice, Jack. Hearing her hesitating clicking of the radio walkie-talkie, he calls out for anyone listening until Alicia eventually answers.
The two quickly strike up some facsimile of a friendship (they basically share an AIM friendship, if you replace AIM with a radio and sitting at a desk with fighting to survive the apocalypse), telling each other details about their lives. Some are vague, but some are more specific: Alicia learns that Jack, his brother, and his brother’s wife are running low on supplies at a cove they’re using for temporary respite. He hesitates on telling her where it is (the first sign, to me, that this is some sort of trap).
NEXT: Can the families trust Strand?