While the tagline for season two of AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead is “No Safe Harbor,” the core characters might have done well to heed the words of Chef in Apocalypse Now when he said “Don’t get off the boat.”
Yes, the Clarks, Manawas, Salazars, and Victor Strand have managed to make it through a season and a half with only two casualties (which very well might be a Walking Dead record), but every time they have left the Abigail, bad things happen. They have been attacked by adversaries both living and dead – including wannabe pirates. They met a family on a Catalina Island analog whose patriarch had opted for mass suicide. Finally, in the episodes leading to the mid-season finale, the group made it to the relative safety of the Abigail Ranch in Mexico only to find that Strand’s partner, Thomas Abigail, had been bitten, and the ranch’s manager, Celia, was keeping a couple dozen walkers in the wine cellar – feeding them a steady diet of stray animals – which of course, Daniel had to torch during his descent into madness.
In the midst of the resulting conflagration, Strand (Domingo Colman), Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason), and the Clarks (Kim Dickens and Alycia Debnam-Carey) managed to escape by the skin of their teeth – though Nick (Frank Dillane) made the seemingly puzzling decision to leave his family and walk among the dead. Daniel (Ruben Blades) is M.I.A. and presumed deceased. Meanwhile, Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) has gone over the edge; and realizing he is a legitimate threat to Madison, Alicia and even himself, Travis (Cliff Curtis) opts to disappear in hopes of curbing Chris’ increasing blood lust and hostility toward the Clark family.
What can we expect to see in the second half of season two? In a nutshell, the second half of FTWD’s sophomore season is shaping up to be a lot like season four of The Walking Dead, with the core cast scattered and on the road, but probably destined to reunite.
Spoilers follow …
First and foremost, with the action landlocked for the immediate future, expect to see not only more of Mexico, but a radically different cultural attitude toward the undead. With a significant portion of the population practicing Catholicism, but incorporating rituals and holidays from ancient indigenous peoples (e.g. Dio de los Muertos), Celia was not alone in the idea that zombies aren’t monsters to be feared. Rather the dead have always walked among us, and that we should, as the season three slogan from the mothership recommends, “Fear the Living.”
There will plenty of living to fear as well as a host of new allies. Since the main characters left Los Angeles, the largest group they have encountered was the staff at the Abigail Ranch. On one hand this created a more intimate bond between the audience and the characters. On the other hand, with three (four, if Daniel escaped) scattered throughout Baja California, the world of The Walking Dead will expand not only in geography, but in new cast members – several of whom are likely to be series regulars.
From the trailers, we know that Nick will eventually stop wandering with the dead (who apparently have internal compasses set to due North) and hook up with a survivor group. However, they also have a zombie arena in which they appear to be sacrificing the living. [Woodbury, Mexico?] Meanwhile, Strand, Madison, Alicia and Ofelia arrive at a beachfront resort where small pockets of staff and vacationers have been holed up since the beginning, surviving on what they could scavenge from the hotel’s dwindling supplies. Apparently, this is going to pan out, at least as a short term option, as we see Alicia taking surfing lessons.
The resort aspect in regard to the expanding cast of Fear… is worth thinking about. Because of its proximity to the American Southwest – to say nothing of the beautiful beaches and legendary hospitality – there are many, many tourists in Baja California at any given time. So in addition to locals, the characters are sure to meet some displaced Americans. Some will try to make it home, while others will adapt.
For example, Travis and Chris meet up with a group of surfers from San Diego. Separating from the Clarks has apparently had a positive effect on Chris as Travis’ focus is on surviving and rebuilding the father-son bond. However, even though he has stopped punching Travis in the face, Chris still feels that he understands the new world and its rules more than his father. According to Henrie, who spoke with Bleeding Cool recently, “Chris knows his dad isn’t adjusting to the new world. You even see it when they meet the Americans. Travis wants to use them and get the hell out of there. Chris is like, ‘What are you talking about? We need people. We need to start a new society. We need to work with people that have the mindset.’”
At first, their fellow Americans seem like decent guys; forgiving Chris for an earlier encounter and sharing supplies. They also travel frequently to Mexico, so they have a better-than-average knowledge of the lay of the land. However, they also have guns and are more or less what The Zombie Survival Guide‘s Max Brooks has referred to as “Rambos” — survivalists long on ammo and short on common sense. To make things worse, despite Travis telling them how bad things are in L.A. and San Diego, they are determined to get back to the States. Chris wants to stay with them and go home by any means necessary. Travis wants to stay, look for Maddie, and above all else, save his son from his darker urges.
Ofelia is another character fighting off the darkness. On more than one occasion, she has stated very emphatically that she believes that they are all going to die. However, the second part of season two finds her having lost everything, but summoning the courage to press on and survive. While Strand and Madison get drunk at the hotel bar, inevitably jeopardizing their safety, Ofelia offers to help Alycia, who wants to explore the hotel and clear walkers.
Of her character’s transformation, Mason said, “At the end of the first part of season two, she’s literally lost everything. While she was under her parents’ proverbial thumb, she was very much a good girl wanting to appease them and protect them. Now, when you have nothing and you have nothing to lose, that can bring out your strengths.”
In fact, if Mason gets her wish, she would like to see Ofelia’s trajectory paralleling Carol’s (Melissa McBride) in the parent series. “Carol on The Walking Dead is one of my all-time favorites. And I think the sort of connection between the two — other people have made that connection as well — is because both of the characters, Ofelia and Carol, started out quite meek,” she explained. “Even in the second season, [Carol’s] kind of in the background, quiet. Then she just sheds that meek exterior and this lion is in there. I can’t say for sure, but I’m hoping that’s exactly what’s going to happen with Ofelia.”
Fear The Walking Dead returns to AMC tonight.