Fear the Walking Dead recap: We All Fall Down
A pit stop on an island turns disastrous when the Abigail crew meets a family just waiting to come undone
While the crew of the Abigail hoped they could set off for the safety of open waters, they quickly ran into the threat of danger on the high seas, forcing them to make a pit stop in “We All Fall Down.” Unfortunately, as society collapses and the last vestiges of civilian life struggle to survive, they don’t find life any easier back on solid ground. And that return to land forces them to reckon once again with what kind of people they are — ones who help their fellow survivors or ones only looking out for their own salvation.
That question comes up as they decide to take refuge and hide from the mystery boat and possible threat chasing them. Strand still wants to chart a course for San Diego, despite the logbook Nick rescued in the premiere saying the city is gone, but for now they have the danger of company with possibly heavy firepower to outrun. They choose a cove (one Travis picks, not the one Strand selects) because of the ranger station there. There’s more hope for some supplies and information, if not signs of fellow life, in a place like that, but what they find eventually proves to be much more than bargained for.
While approaching the island, they notice a light flashing momentarily on and off at the top of a house. Docking, Travis and Madison’s combined families go to investigate (Salazar offers to stay with Ofelia and keep Strand company, a.k.a. monitor his behavior). Once they come close to the house, armed only with flashlights, Travis makes the brilliant move of yelling out a hello to anyone who may be inside. Because if there’s one thing people love in the undead apocalypse, it’s unwelcomed guests.
But rather than being met with a gruesome response, a young boy runs out to see them before he’s called back inside by a man. Travis introduces himself to the man, George, by promising there’s nothing to fear from their arrival, and George hesitantly invites them inside. Any seeming concern over these newcomers dissipates once there. George hands Travis a beer, and the two talk in his office while Madison spends time with George’s wife, Melissa, downstairs. George, narratively excused as an amateur anthropologist, marks Travis and his family as being from Los Angeles and also guesses Travis’ heritage.
In doing so George sets up a set of beliefs that become core to the struggle of “We All Fall Down.” He treasures the idea of a people or family’s reverence for their homeland, whether that be a cultural one or the place that has become their home, as this island has become for George’s family. But the other conversations going on in the house hint at the first signs of trouble. Melissa keeps asking Madison questions about her work as a counselor, going down a line of seemingly innocuous but actually loaded questions about Madison’s experience with younger kids.
George and Melissa have two young ones in their care, Harry and Willa, first seen in the show’s cold open playing by a beach with a fence blocking access to the ocean. It’s really there to block washed-up walkers from them. They also have an older son, Seth, who goes around eyeing these newcomers with nothing but mistrust while toting around a rifle that is roughly the size of his entire body.
NEXT: Is the crew of the Abigail about to expand?
Nick and Alicia largely entertain the younger ones, who also offer a sign of just how dour things have become. Harry’s room is full of action figures representing other people, all with red dots painted on their foreheads. That’s what has to happen when people get sick, Harry tells Nick with such apathy that is as peculiar to Nick as the boy’s mention of his “power pills.” (ASIDE: In a nice sign of the show paying attention to the details of being a few years earlier than present day, Harry is playing with a PSP, not a PlayStation Vita, a fact about three of you may have enjoyed as much as I did. END ASIDE)
Whatever deeper issues are lurking beneath the surface of this family, they’re still decent enough people to give the Abigail crew a chance to remain docked overnight. George does warn Travis that the western seaboard is essentially gone (to the north, every major city has suffered, and he says the border to the south has been closed down). Yet they come away from their first night relatively uneasy. Madison firmly believes Melissa turned on the house lights on purpose to signal them while Nick is thrown by his early interactions with Harry.
The next day of their relatively short visit begins with further unease when Chris joins up with Seth for the latter’s daily chores — thinning the walker herds at the beach fence. He even offers Chris a chance to help in the pruning process, which Chris takes to as he swings the ax into the head of a blocked-off walker. Unfortunately, Travis is there to witness this and doesn’t like the idea of his son participating in any kind of violence. He still sees Chris as just a boy and wants him to be safe, expressing his discontent to George, who is working on another fence.
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The family’s home is relatively close to a tourist section of the island, where George suspects many weekenders were trapped once the world went to hell. They haven’t become a problem yet, but Travis wonders why he would live in such close proximity to a threat, wonders why they would just give up like that. George argues he hasn’t given up. He’s fixing the fence, but of course, Travis (and Madison) wonders why the family won’t leave and find shelter with other survivors.
Of the entire family, Alicia is perhaps the least wrapped up in the affairs of the island’s family; instead, she spends the day on a trip into the deserted sections of the area, coming across what looks to be a main gathering area for tourists, including souvenir shops. She leaves a facsimile of the drawing her long-departed boyfriend drew on her arm last season (a calling card, perhaps a trail of where they’ve been until someone, possibly the guy she spoke to on the radio, finds them). Nick takes a more invested tactic to his snooping, sneaking into George and Melissa’s home where he begins to rummage through their pills, looking for whatever this “power pill” may be, finding a hidden baggie full of pills in a globe. Unfortunately, he’s pulled away by Willa before he can investigate more.
But the issues plaguing the family come to the surface during a conversation between Madison and Melissa. The former confronts her about whether she turned on those lights as a call for help, and Melissa reveals she did because she saw their arrival as a sign of hope. She has M.S., and while she’s not expecting to die in a week, it’s a weight burdening them when all she wants is safety and livelihood for her kids. She doesn’t think the island will ultimately be safe, as well, but George will never contemplate leaving, nor will Seth. So she asks Madison to take the kids.
NEXT: A family falls apart
Madison takes the question and poses it to the group back on the boat, where Travis is initially hesitant. She asks him to do it because she’s asking, because they’re saving these kids. She can’t allow them to keep leaving healthy people behind, and she fears what will happen should they continue down this route.
Someone surely who would not be in favor of this idea is Strand, who has gotten wise to Salazar’s intention of watching him while the rest of the family has been off on their island adventures. This knowledge that Salazar is hovering like a specter of death over him makes it all the more surprising that he leaves Salazar alone long enough in the bridge for the man to find and pry open his lockbox. Inside, he finds some heavy firepower and a slew of maps and other papers highlighting Mexico (Baja California is specifically highlighted on one map).
Where is Strand during all this poking around? He’s finding a private space in one of the island’s abandoned tourist buildings, where he takes a phone call with an unknown caller. Telling him they have the all-clear and are no longer being followed, he asks how late “it” can be pushed. Sundown is the deadline, and he promises to be at whatever destination they have in mind.
And the rest of the Abigail crew is not long for the island, anyway. Nick tells the crew that George is Jonestowning his family — he believes he’s slowly poisoning them, and he can tell by the type of pills and the lack of any other signs of addiction in the house.
So Madison and Travis agree to Melissa’s request, and they’re all set to take Harry and Willa with them — until an enraged George appears that is. Melissa tries to reason with him, but he man isn’t hearing much until Harry comes down to tell them something is wrong with Willa. They find her passed out on the floor, the pills out on the table nearby.
Melissa grabs her daughter, but it’s too late. She’s gone…until she comes back as a walker and bites Melissa. The others attempt to help, but George shuts them out. He won’t let them interfere, but even he’s reasonable enough to realize how bad the current situation is. He asks them to take Harry; they tell the boy that Willa has simply gotten sick and that he’s going on a boat trip.
But there’s one more roadblock in their way to leaving: Seth boards the boat, gun aimed while demanding they return his brother. Salazar pulls his pistol on Seth, but the boy won’t back down, refusing to believe his father would have changed his mind about wanting them to stay. He won’t come with them either, blaming them for what has happened, directing that blame in particular at Madison as he waits for Harry to return to him. His brother eventually goes to him, and the two walk off onto the dock (with Ofelia wondering why Salazar won’t do anything — he continues to take a removed view of the situation, claiming that the boy has a rifle as he attempts to shut out the reality of what letting them go means).
Yet Seth and Harry come to find Melissa, now turned, shambling toward them. Seth turns Harry around, having him face the Abigail as he waves goodbye. He keeps waving, with Madison waving right back, as Seth aims and fires at his own mother. (Alicia tells Chris not to look, and yet he does).
And so the Abigail sails away from a family half dead, emotional devastation awaiting those who remain alive. And those on the boat are left to wonder what blame they have in the whole ordeal.