by Thom Yee
2×06: “Sicut Cervus”
A lot of sh*t has happened to the fear team in a relatively short amount of time, or rather we’re supposed to feel like a lot has happened. That whole thing with ol’ whatshisname… Connor? I guess that really messed everybody up insofar as most families never have to go through a father-daughter-pirates hostage situation. Beyond that though, it doesn’t feel like a whole lot has happened, at least not much that we could really care about, so all the wild turns some of these people take this episode kind of come out of left field.
In this, the penultimate episode of this half season of Fear the Walking Dead (next week is the last and then who knows when the rest of season two will air), the families are in flux as their situation changes drastically. Losing Luis to some sort of Mexican coast guard in an offscreen shootout, the fear team nevertheless makes it to land and the Mexican villa Strand has been aiming for this entire time, and there’s definitely something in the air. Something ominous and sinister and… unusually well done for this show. But let’s put that aside for a second.
For me, if there was one standout character in “Sicut Cervus”, it would have to be Chris, who’s clearly going through some very serious growing pains in the midst of the apocalypse. Yeah, he lost his mom a few weeks ago, and yeah, he still blames himself for letting Reed, Jack, and that pregnant girl on the boat, but this episode he does some very questionable things, including watching Madison get pinned down and struggle against one of the infected rather than save her after finding out that she doesn’t believe his story on why he had to shoot Reed. When Alicia calls him on it, he says he wasn’t watching her die, he just froze up, and right now I’m actually inclined to believe him. The writers are trying to make Chris a dangerous liability on the show, but the way I see things, he’s just really awkward. Later, when the girls wake up to find him staring at them in their room (knife in hand, but mostly incidentally rather than with intent), Alicia screams at him to get out, and, again, it’s just really awkward, like he’s just a complete dork who doesn’t know how he should act around anyone.
In other developments in the Clark/Manawa family, Madison and Travis’ relationship is further tested by Chris’s possible psychosis and Nick starts feeling bad about all of the recent deaths, which felt slightly out of character considering that it seemed the whole point of Nick was that he was the only one comfortable in this new world. I mean, this is the same Nick who was going on special ops only two episodes ago, but now Luis is dead, and suddenly he’s all spiritual about everything? Meanwhile, Ofelia mourns the loss of her mother because that’s about the only active thing she could possibly do on this show, and Daniel’s going nuts as the villa and all of the recent deaths have caused him to recall his past. I really didn’t care about the Daniel side of things mostly because, like Nick, I preferred the proactive version of the character rather than the considered one. He’s probably going to die soon.
We also catch up with Strand’s love interest, Thomas, this episode, and [of course] he’s been bitten by one of the infected, causing Strand to spend most of the episode by his side in slow, eventual mourning to the point where he considers joining him in death via communion wafer. You see, Celia, the woman seemingly in charge of this whole villa’s operation, is also possibly the woman responsible for several deaths in this messed up little slice of paradise, and, at the very least, she probably killed an entire church full of innocents with her poisoned wafers. We’ll have to wait and see what kind of death-worshipping shenanigans are really going on here, but they’re probably not good.
All of these events beg the question, “What the fudge?”, as in “What the fudge are these people at the villa doing?”, “What the fudge do they think these infected are?”, and “What the fudge are they doing with an entire cellar full of infected?” “Sicut Cervus” hews dangerously close to The Walking Dead’s farm from season two, with Hershel’s barn full of walkers he was trying to save, and it’s possible that it’s an intentional comparison. Maybe this time they think they can make it work? In the end, it’s hard to look at the episode without noting several character development flaws, but for the first time in a long time, those flaws are outweighed by the good, which is this episode was actually really scary at ties. Not mortally terrifying or jump-scary, but there was actual tension and a sense of dread, as if the storytelling of the episode was actually working. Even if a lot of what happened was kind of dumb, it felt right, and that counts for a lot.
Fear the Walking Dead — “Sicut Cervus” final score
Items of Note
- She may go by Celia here, but to me she’ll always be the Spanish teacher that slept with Pierce from Community season one.
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