Thoughtful & Abstract: Fear the Walking Dead: 'Sicut Cervus'

"I didn't get enough Nick to make me happy and I can't bring myself to even say it was a mediocre episode." - Shawn
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In which Shawn and Kim almost like an episode and want to talk owls but largely just can't wait for Preacher.

Shawn: The title of this episode has some religious significance that's related to the initial scene at the church in the past.  The same way that beginning needed subtitles to make sense is kinda how I ended up feeling about the rest of the episode.  I was initially ready to compliment the episode on finally making sense but the more I mulled it over I'm not sure that it doesn't need more explanation.  So without further ado I'll try to add some additional info.

1.)  THE HERSHEL PLAN.  There's lots to write about Celia.  The most important part of her introduction is her elaborate plan taken from Hershel that you should just keep those dead loved ones around.  Celia's misguided idea that this is some "Day of the Dead celebration" type of event where our loved ones have just moved on to the next phase of life is believable and understandable.  Yet it only takes that first walker to start eating your flesh to make you think twice about this plan.  We've had a few crazed lunatics in the other series but this disarming lovable character might ultimately take the cake.  I am actually curious to where this is headed.

2.)  BIENVENIDOS A MEXICO.  The welcoming party for our group is a big pile of bodies and some dogs eating the bodies.  Then I'm not sure of the next series of events.  The dead are kind enough to gurgle to announce their presence.  Then I don't really follow the editing.  Here are the church folks from the start of the episode looking like it has all happened in real time and they only turned a few minutes ago.  They come out in a nice orderly grouping like preparing for Mass.  Daniel has a weird flashback out of nowhere while holding a zombie kid by the neck and he has to be saved.  I'm not even sure what to make of it.  Did I miss a flashback earlier in the series?  Nick is a bad ass and kills the little kids but we know that's coming back to haunt him.  Then there's Chris.  Madison gets caught somehow even though last episode she was almost Terminator-like.  And he does nothing until Alicia steps in and easily takes care of the walker.  I don't think they sold Chris' non-action for as big a deal as they made about it.  It wasn't like in the heat of battle he pulled out a deck chair and some microwave popcorn. In fact, it was only his weird threatening of Alicia that caused me to even take it as a serious breach.  That fight with the kids and the church folk should have been much better but it was rushed and oddly edited.  Draw it out a bit and let me see who's doing what.

3.)  OWLS.  Owls on the coin on the boat.  And then the owl in the altar that Celia goes to later in the episode.  She puts Luis' photo on the altar and Daniel tells her, "He's dead but, you know, not in the shot in the head way.  So it's better."  And then Daniel loses his appetite.  What are the symbols of owls?  I think it's wisdom and femininity.  So are we looking at a Celia power grab?  We can already see that she's going to be the mother figure conflict for Madison.  It didn't take Nick more than two seconds to be won over by Celia.  I don't want anyone trying to hurt my Madison.  I am not going to complain about the obtuseness of the owl symbolism because so many other things in this show are dead obvious and over explained.  I actually applaud them for the subtle reference.  Unless I'm wrong and owls just mean big feathery birds.

4.)  KNOCKING OF HEAVEN'S DOOR.  The Strand and Thomas relationship comes to a screeching halt as we knew it would.  There's no doubt that this wasn't some put on by Strand but that he really cares for Thomas.  It's the most tender relationship on the show, which is not saying much for Madison and Travis.  I hate to see it come to an end this way but that's the reality of our Dead shows.  Thomas is in this position because Celia is a crazy bitch and this is setting up an Alpha Male and Owl Female standoff in the near future.  I like the tender side of Strand and I don't think it hurts the leadership role he's had with the group.

So we essentially had an episode setting up future conflict.  Maybe it's Celia and her crazy group of "Day of the Dead" zombies vs. Strand, or it's Crazy Chris vs. Alicia and Madison.  Once again, I didn't get enough Nick to make me happy and I can't bring myself to even say it was a mediocre episode.

What do you think, Kim?

Kim: Here we are, almost done with the first half of the season, and every single thing I am taking with me into the mid-season finale came in this episode.  Nothing I’ve seen before matters, and, in fact, probably shouldn’t have taken up the time that it did in my life. 

This episode is, arguably, the best that Fear the Walking Dead has put forward in a season and a half.   Now, before you get all worried that I’m going soft on this show, allow me to assure you that I still don’t like it.  But I’ve got some actual show-related observations for you this week, so that’s something.

First and foremost:  All of the spots for Preacher made me so happy.  I think there was at least one every 15 minutes.  That will be here next week and will, hopefully, leave a great taste in my mouth.  Oh wait, I’m supposed to be talking about Fear

Current thoughts on the characters:

Madison - She is the most irritating character on this show.  She’s so patronizing and negative in one moment, fake sweet the next, and I swear to all that is holy (Preacher!) that she only has one facial expression. 

Travis - Don’t talk.  Don’t move.  In fact, lay in bed and don’t be part of the show.  'Kay, thanks, bye. 

Alicia - I can’t wait until you are unable to wash your hair or find enough product to put in it.  This is the most unrealistic portrayal of what this kind of life would truly be like.

Chris - Just a hateful little bastard and all kinds of crazy.

Strand - One of two characters I sort of like.  I don’t understand why he acted like such an asshole when he was just trying to get to his man.  I mean, didn’t it seem like he was setting everyone up for some terrible shit?  Nope, he was doing it for love.  Whatever.  It’s not believable the way the writers wrote it, which is a shame.  It could have been great. 

Daniel - I kind of like him, still.  I wish the show could just be about Daniel’s past and how he deals with the present.  That is where the show is interesting.

Ophelia - Non-existent

Nick -  Nick has feelings?  I’m not sure what to make of this.  However, I would like to point out that in the scene where he sees the owl sculpture by the altar - the resemblance between that owl and Nick was uncanny and, when you look at the significance of owls in this culture, it’s kind of creepy. 

I was going to write a whole lot about the owls, but decided not to because I don’t know enough about which branch of what religion crazy Celia is following to discuss what the owls likely symbolize.  What I can tell you is that, in general, the symbolism of the owls in this culture is directly related to death.  Whether it be as a harbinger of doom or a symbol of dead souls (more likely) remains to be seen. 

I’m also not going to comment on the “no guns inside” = Terminus and “My mami’s behind the bars” = Hershel’s barn.  I fully expect to see Celia trying to pull a Milton to try and get the walkers to remember their past lives and come back to her before she becomes a midnight snack for one (or all) of them.   

The thing is this:  The good and interesting thing that finally happened in this show is going to be over just as quickly as it began.   Strand’s love of Thomas was beautiful and really could have taken us on a fantastic voyage, but he’s dead now.  And since Strand shot him in the head, thereby denying Celia the opportunity to lock him in the basement, you know that group’s welcome is going to be worn out, if it was ever truly there to begin with.  Here, have a wafer. 

Predictions:  

There’s trouble with Celia and Strand and trouble with Celia and Daniel.  She’ll somehow have the upper hand in both of these scenarios, but she’ll eventually die by the hands of those she sought to save.

Someone or something is going to try to kill Chris, but either Madison or Alicia will save his ass, then he’ll cry like the little bitch he is and come to terms with the fact that he’s been a little psycho asshole for a while. 

Nick will somehow become the hero, getting everyone out of this compound after having a vision of his past wrongs. 

Travis will become mute (wishful thinking).  

We’ll still wonder why Ophelia is even in this show. 

They’ll make it back to their boat and get underway, only to encounter The Pirates of the Caribbean, led by Capt. Jack Sparrow.  This will cause some confusion because of the aesthetic similarities between him and Nick, and they will spend their time drinking and playing pranks on the rest of the gang.  This would be a better show than what we’ve got now.    

By the way - less than one week until Preacher

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