Fear the Walking Dead Ep. 314: El Matadero
Fear the Walking Dead is in transition. Like a snake shedding its skin, the show shakes off what was in an effort to renew itself. Change is the order of the day in El Matadero although in some cases, the more things change the more they stay the same.
The Ranch is in the rear view mirror and Walker, Strand, Madison, Ofelia and Crazy Dog are on their way to the bazar. Everything seems in order until Ofelia faints and falls off the back of the water truck. Turns out that she’s infected and with her health slipping away she fights hang on long enough to see her father again.
Alicia’s on her own but soon discovers that she’s got company. Nick and Troy have tailed her in an attempt to bring her back into the fold. Surviving the apocalypse is killing her and she pushes Nick and Troy aside to make a go of it alone. It’s like Alicia’s a normal teenager who dreams of moving out of their parent’s house. While most kids her age have to deal with crappy accommodations, cheap noodle dinners in a packet and dodgy roomies, she’s opted for an uncertain existence among the walkers.
Anyone who hates fast food playscapes has even more reason to after El Matadero. Alicia runs into a potential ally who unknowingly saves her from a bunch of walkers. After a comically tense standoff over some potatoes Alicia and the new gal team up to form FTWD’s version of Thelma and Louise.
Old habits die hard and while taking over for his mother on Ofelia’s death watch Nick decides to pocket some of her pain medication. Life in the bazar doesn’t sit well with Troy and after a relapsed Nick joins him for a bite it becomes strange seeing Otto’s favorite son emerging as a voice of reason. The episode soon feels like a Phillip K. Dick inspired flick, Fear and Loathing the Walking Dead.
El Matadero’s mid-point is a heavy one. Daniel’s pain and disappointment is raw and Madison bears the brunt of it. Strand spends a lot of the episode yelling at Madison and then goes off to broker a deal with the mysterious Proctor John.
Fear the Walking Dead just got a lot more complicated. The death of a lead character, the introduction of a new one, a painful rift between old allies and Nick’s surprising but not totally unexpected relapse throws things into flux. It’s a bit a sharp narratively and one that doesn’t feel all that natural. Change is inevitable, but it’s easier to take when it doesn’t seem so forced.