I’m bored. It’s not to say that the actors on Fear the Walking Dead are boring; Alycia Debnam-Carey gave one of the more impressive performances as Alicia on the show to date with this week’s “Close Your Eyes.” It’s not to say that the premise of the show is boring; I’m still trying to figure out a catchy equivalent of Sharknado but with walkers. I’m just getting to that point — a point I’ve reached with the Walking Dead universe multiple times over the course of the show — where I have to ask myself, How much more of my life can I give to a show that seems to be trapped in a loop of its own making?
With “Close Your Eyes,” we find Alicia seeking refuge in a remote house from the violent storm. She purges the foundation of the four walkers that used to be its residents and rids the walls of old photos depicting the family that was versus the family that now lies dead in the mud on the lawn. They remind Alicia of the family she once had who have already met the same fate.
On its own, this episode is a contained (both in terms of episodic structure and the actual setting) character study on Alicia dealing with her trauma. In the grand scheme of the Dead-verse, it’s another predictable installment that chooses to milk the “dark and gritty” tone instead of keeping the energy moving along. Also, it’s just super depressing all the time. I can’t spend a lot of time with glass-half-empty type of people, and I don’t want to spend a lot of time with glass-half-empty types of shows.
That’s my vent. Now to the glass-half-full portion of this recap…
“Close Your Eyes” plays out in one location: the house. Alicia physically can’t leave, as she found when she tried to get in the car and the wind knocked her both off balance and unconscious. The space becomes even more constrained — there’s flooding in the basement, there are walkers that come along to bang on the windows, and people are locking themselves in rooms — until she’s finally forced to face what she’s been running away from. Last episode, we saw Luciana drowning out the rest of the world by blasting music, but as Charlie snuck into the house through an unlocked door, there came the symbolic realization that she can’t lock herself away because that brings other problems.
Charlie similarly sneaks into the house through a door Alicia broke when she first busted in. Finding the girl who killed Nick and brought the Vultures to the baseball field brings up emotions Alicia has been putting on pause. She attempts to leave because she fears she’ll kill Charlie if left in a house with her, but, as I mentioned before, that doesn’t work out so well. She wakes to find herself back in the house, where she unleashes a speech on Charlie, who locked herself in a bedroom, about how she’s “garbage” and a “waste of a person,” not realizing that Charlie has been contemplating suicide. Alicia keeps trying to do the “right thing” by making sure Charlie’s okay because that’s what her mother would’ve done — that feeling is all Alicia has left of Madison. Plus, she needs help securing the rest of the windows against the storm.
Alicia becomes tempted to kill Charlie again. However, when she offers to dry Charlie’s jacket by the fire she’s making. She grows suspicious when the girl, still mute, won’t give it up. So Alicia threatens her to give it up. She finds a gun — the same gun Charlie used to kill Nick — and puts it to Charlie’s head, thinking she meant to use it on Alicia. Both of them shaking and in tears, Alicia lets her run back to her room. Charlie, however, after glancing at the family photos she saved from Alicia’s purge, decides to go visit a walker that’s been impaled on a tree branch outside her window. Alicia runs up and pulls her back just as she gets close enough for the dead to bite her.
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Charlie finally breaks her vow of silence when Alicia realizes the gun she was carrying was meant for suicide. She asks Alicia why she saved her from the walker, and Alicia doesn’t exactly know why. She does know that Charlie has to live with what she’s done, just like Alicia continues to do. So the two live with their baggage. They also live with each other. Over dinner, Charlie reveals she and her family were en route to the beach and boardwalk in Galveston, Texas, when “everything changed.” She enjoys reading so much because she tries to imagine the places described on the page, but she hasn’t found any yet about Galveston.
As the storm becomes more violent, so too does their internal struggles.
Later that night, the storm blows the walkers off the porch and shatters a window. Charlie had been scrambling to save the family photos in the home, while Alicia kept explaining that it doesn’t matter anymore, that no one will be coming back for them. They’re forced to head to the basement when the upper levels become unsafe, but the flooding in the basement continues to rise. They immediately try to get back out, but debris crashes down on them, trapping them below. The back entrance is also chained, so they’re forced to wade it out by standing on top of containers.
It’s here, in their most trapped state, Charlie admits she doesn’t want to die, but she doesn’t want to become a walker either. She watched her parents turn and now she can’t remember what they used to look like. That’s why she saved the old photos in the house. Charlie then begs Alicia to get the gun and shoot her by invoking her mother and brother’s names. Visions of her family flash before her eyes as she holds the gun to Charlie’s head, but she can’t bring herself to do it. Everything she’s feeling comes out in sobs. With it, Alicia releases her anger. Once that’s gone, the lock on the basement door is broken. The same walker that was dangling from the tree falls and forces an opening so that they can get out.
The next day, Alicia buries the bodies of the family and marks their graves with a jar filled with their photos. She then bequeaths Charlie her old weapon — the gun barrel sharpened into a blade — and they set off to find the others. Charlie reminds her, “I’m good at finding things.” As they’re driving away, Alicia gives her the gift of the beach. Charlie closes her eyes as Alicia describes her favorite place, and in doing so, it unlocks Charlie’s memories of her parents before they turned. It’s an echo of when Charlie said she saw Madison in Alicia, even if Alicia couldn’t see it herself.
On the downside, they find Victor and Luciana aren’t in the estate, which has been wrecked by the storm. Morgan’s truck and John and June’s bus have also been overturned with no trace of the inhabitants. Charlie says they must go and find them, but Alicia thinks “they’re gone” and they won’t be around to see just how bad things get. When a walker (who’s neither John nor June) emerges from behind the bus, Alicia reclaims her makeshift blade to kill it. So perhaps she’s not quite yet ready to let this piece go just yet.