By Will Romine, Age 32
Hey friends, I’m back again after taking a week off. My big boy job cut into my BleedingCool time, leaving me unable to deliver you my two cents on the upcoming episode of Fear the Walking Dead. Not to worry. Since I’ll be referring liberally to last week’s episode, it’s almost like you get four cents this week. Huzzah!
Last week’s episode left a lot of unanswered questions. How did Strand and Madison escape the zombie strewn bar? How will Nick and La Colonia continue their Oxy-for-water trade? What will happen between Elena and the wedding guests? Rest assured good viewer, those questions will be answered, but I’m not going to answer them. I had the fun of watching the episode uninformed, and I won’t rob you of that joy. Instead, I’m going to rap with you about how, in the past two episodes, Fear has essentially laid bare the DNA of the entire Walking Dead universe.
Communities are important in the Walking Dead universe. All of the best story arcs from both the show and comics deal with community and what it means when everything else goes to pot. Communities in TWD form by one of three tropes: conquering, cooperation, or infusion. From the Prison, to Alexandria, these three patterns inform almost every society developed in TWD universe.
Community By Conquering
Perhaps the most common. These communities sustain themselves through the exploitation or destruction of other communities or individuals. Communities like Woodbury and groups like the Saviors are prime examples of this pattern. They justify the brutality they exact on others through their own self interest. However, these communities are ultimately unsustainable. They rely too heavily on the vitality of the communities that they victimize. Much like a parasite that feeds too voraciously on its host, these communities ultimately fail if they destroy the other communities they prey upon. While weaker communities may only be worth their supplies on hand, stronger communities provide long term sustenance. A good conquerer knows when his goose is golden, and when he should kill it.
Last week’s episode showed Chris as a protean-Negan. Chris, Travis, and their newly found spring break bros discover a seemingly abandoned farm house. They soon find out that the owner is indeed home, and he isn’t really set up for guests. What results is a tense Mexican standoff (I can say that, they’re in Mexico). Travis attempts to negotiate, but the standoff is only broken when Chris kills the owner. He shows no remorse, viewing his actions as just and necessary for survival. Chris demonstrates no hesitance towards violence, especially when it improves his position. However, I doubt Chris is much of a strategic thinker. He lives by the sword and, if not careful, he will die by it. I’m calling it now. By applying violence in a haphazard and capricious manner, he will either emerge the franchise’s biggest sociopath, or fall to someone even more violent than him.
Community By Cooperation
These types of communities emerge from a Hobbesean reaction against the “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” existence that defines TWD world. The individuals in these cooperative communities want to be able to let down their guards and adhere to a social contract where their safety is protected through the collective. Hershel’s farm and Alexandria are examples of these communities formed through cooperation.
Much like Rick in the main series, Madison serves as a catalyst for the creation of a cooperative community. In the last episode, we learned that the hotel staff and guests of the hotel-of-horrors are at odds with each other. I guess when Elena locked them in with a freshly turned walker, she didn’t exactly endear herself to them. Some folks sure know how to hold a grudge! Madison realizes that these divisions do not make for a sustainable community. Without going into spoilers, Madison convinces both factions to work together towards a common good.
Community By Infusion
This one is a bit of a cheat. Whereat the first two categories of community formation deal with the emergence of a community, this final one addresses communities changed by the addition of a new member.
La Colonia is, by Walking Dead standards, a thriving and vibrant community. However, like anything in this universe, its survival hangs by a thread. Enter Nick. Nick is a sore thumb in this village. He is an outside who looks, speaks, and acts differently from the rest of the village. However, by brokering the Oxy for water deal in the prior episode, he is fundamentally changing the character of this community by jostling it from its status quo. Though he is just one person, La Colonia is not the same community as it was pre-Nick. Add even the smallest amount of salt to fresh water, and it becomes salt water. This episode shows how Nick helps his new community (in a Breaking Bad inspired montage) and how the community accepts him.
Overall, this episode is solid, but I’m still left with a few questions. Maybe you, my pals, can come up with some solid answers/theories.
- – When applying walker guts, is it better to use a primer, or paint directly on the skin?
- – What’s the best wine bottle to pair with a walker’s skull?
- – Where’s Ofelia?
Sound off below, check out fresh pics from the latest episode, and don’t forget to watch Fear the Walking Dead this Sunday at 9:00 EST on AMC.