Alicia's bolster of confidence in standing up to Chris was fistpump-worthy.
Though the action's slowed, it does allow for some intriguing character development--particularly with Chris.
The performances are, as ever, gold-standard. Frank Dillane's Nick was vulnerably excellent.
The boat location will be sorely missed; our time on The Abigail was greatly enjoyed!
It was always going to be hard to live up to last week's episode, and this one diminished the rollicking pace 'Captive' set.
Travis still hasn't learned his lesson: that he needs to stop blindly seeing the best in everyone.
Neither has Madison: not everyone can be helped or fixed.
‘Sicut Cervus’ slams down on the brakes after last week’s thriller ‘Captive’—and the emergency stop doesn’t quite work.
In Psalm 42, an exiled psalmist pains to see God as he mourns his current distance; yet for all the trials and tribulations he experiences, he holds himself up with his previous proximity of God. ‘Sicut Cervus’ begins with a church service and dissolves into madness as Thomas Abigail (Dougray Scott) springs to meet them, horrified at what he’s witnessing: the slow, torturous death of the host of communion-takers. Was it the priest?
The Abigail’s shot at by police during the exchange Strand (Colman Domingo) had secured. Salazar’s (Ruben Blades) the first to leap into action, but when he finds Luis (Arturo del Puerto) on death’s door, Nick (Frank Dillane) and Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) beg to let him die in peace. Luis gives Salazar a coin to pass to his mother and we know nothing of the coin’s significance for Salazar tosses it into the sea. Our wayward group make it onto land, immediately faced with the church-goer walkers. Chris (Lorenzo Henrie), surprisingly, freezes—and whilst Nick doesn’t, he’s the last to mourn the dead as he stares upon their dispersed bodies. The gang quickly head onto Thomas’ beautiful and isolated mansion, where things turn out to be—of course—not as they seem. Strand finds a bitten and weak Thomas on his bed.
Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey)—ever perceptive—interprets Chris’ lack of action differently. She accuses him of freezing to watch the others kill and Chris, who’s been darkening and simmering to boil with his anger every episode, violently accosts Alicia and begs her not to tell anyone. Alicia quietly challenges back:
What if I do? – Alicia
Strand makes a very Romeo and Juliet request to Thomas—that they’ll die together. Outside, Ofelia takes Nick to pray to her mother, worried about her dad.
Where are you taking me? – Nick
What, you don’t trust me? – Ofelia
Ahh, should’ve known, should’ve known—a woman who says ‘come with me’ and doesn’t tell you where you’re going, it’s always Jesus! – Nick
Daniel Salazar was right to be suspicious all episode. Coming from the cellar, he finds a cage of walkers, and later discovers it was Luis’ mother, Celia, who poisoned small Eucharist pieces. As Thomas dies—peacefully—Strand tearfully kisses the side of his face, and deliberates on the poisoned Communion pieces whilst Chris awakes and enters a sleeping Alicia’s room, picking up a blade—just as a gunshot rings out. Strand’s head-shotted Thomas to save him from coming back.
Fear the Walking Dead’s much-awaited reunion of Thomas and Abigail is one of heartbreak
Strand’s obsessive drive to get to Mexico was to meet his lover once more. Yet he’s too late; Thomas has been bitten and he’s going to die—and turn. Colman Domingo and Dougray Scott shone in their portions of the episode, which showed a drastically, gentle and caring side of Strand we’d never seen before. Thomas pleads to Madison to take care of Strand when he’s gone, and it’s jokily brushed aside—but will Strand need that care? What will Thomas’ death do to him, when Strand’s sole motivation to jump past these hurdles was to get to Thomas? Ultimately, Strand makes the hasty promise that if Thomas dies, so will he.
How very Shakespearian of you. – Thomas
Shut up, Thomas, before I change my mind. – Strand
It is in the end, as tragic as expected, as Thomas dies peacefully—and Strand shoots his corpse with a head-shot to ensure he won’t come back. It’s something to ponder, for Thomas’ mansion-stayers don’t exactly seem to believe in killing the walkers. Celia even says to Salazar:
Why do you fear death? Why are you so obsessed? You need to make peace with your Dead, Old Man. – Celia
It begs the question: when they find out what Strand’s done, how will Celia and Thomas’ mansion residents react? Their full belief system is that the walkers aren’t dead (technically, they’re right…they’re un-dead) but the cage entrapping masses of them show they aren’t willing to smack a blow into their heads to kill them. As for Strand: where’s his head at next? His goal was to reunite with Thomas and as soon as he reached it, it fell apart. Where does that leave him now?
A new place houses some new family dynamics
As ever, familial drama is key on Fear the Walking Dead. Nick perhaps stole the show tonight, with Frank Dillane bringing in heartbreaking levels of regret, fatigue and fragility. Madison can be mollycoddling but she’s right: he’s just a boy, really. And as Nick’s always cheerful and laid-back facade cracked tonight, that was plain to see—as well as he tried to keep it together.
Though we’re now in a new setting, there’s some new switch-ups in family ties too. Alicia’s blunt accusation of Chris watching—not freezing—as they were attacked by walkers upon making it to land clearly hit too close to home. And too close to the truth. His aggression towards her is what sparks a frantic argument between Madison and Travis, with Madison confessing:
I almost died back at the church. Chris could’ve helped; he didn’t, and Alicia saw him. She saw him just watching. – Madison
So you’re saying he wants you both dead? – Travis
I’m saying he’s sick. – Madison
No, you’re saying my son wants you both dead—are you hearing yourself? – Travis
He needs help! – Madison
Travis throws the past back in Madison’s face—about being there to support Nick every time he went into rehab, about finding Nick in the first place. It reveals their fundamental errors: Travis still wants to believe the best in people, and Madison still thinks the broken can be fixed—and on both points, sometimes it’s simply not possible. And it may be Chris’ case, as the climax of the episode show him creeping into Alicia and Madison’s room as they are both asleep, picking up a blade—only to be caught, alarmed, by Strand’s gunshot. There can’t be any excuse now. Chris has been sliding down a slippery slope into darkness for a few episodes now, and caught red-handed, what’s next for him?
Salazar knows something’s up—and there definitely is
Daniel Salazar was always a man of wariness and caution, but as the familial tables flip tonight, it’s Ofelia who is the one to worry about him. Salazar was right in his suspicions about the mansion, but Ofelia worries for him and prays for him. It’s a big change from the Ofelia we saw in season one, where her father and mother were always protecting her. Now she’s doing anything she can to try and look after him—because in this ever-changing world, nobody’s safe from a descent into darkness.
Mama, it’s me. I’m worried about Papa. He’s lost his way without you and I—don’t know if you could see him—maybe you could see him—I—he’s just so frail. – Ofelia
To everyone else and perhaps to the audience too, Daniel Salazar is anything but frail, but in the scene he exchanges with Ofelia, perhaps Ofelia can simply see right through him. Years of isolation and protection from the world doesn’t acquire you plenty of company, and Ofelia would know her father better than most. It made for a wonderfully shot scene with Nick as well, as the character relationships on this show continue to develop—and a nice touch was Nick’s quick joke about Jesus before fully understanding the seriousness of the situation and respecting it completely.
Final Verdict: It was difficult to live up to last week’s episode but ‘Sicut Cervus’, unlike the choirboys, unfortunately hit some bum notes as the show headed towards a thrilling pace screeched to a halt.
‘Sicut Cervus’ was a massive drain after the Fear the Walking Dead’s intense ‘Captive’ last week. It felt re-introductory all over again: that the gang would find a new place to settle, that they’d find something odd with the settlement, and there’d be suspicion and a twist at the end. Admittedly, the one positive was surprisingly Chris’ development—and his is certainly the most intriguing. How far will he go? But for all intents and purposes, Fear the Walking Dead seems to follow a very similar pattern: have a slow build-up (that doesn’t always work) and jolt the viewer back with a cliff-hanger conclusion.
It wasn’t boring—the flipping of the familial roles and the mystery of the mansion were story-lines to eyeball, but after last week’s episode, ‘Sicut Cervus’ just fell flat. Once again the direction and cinematography cannot be faulted. Fear the Walking Dead feels as beautiful as film, every episode and credit must go to Dave Erickson, and the visual effects executive producer Neishaw Ali. Fear the Walking Dead looks absolutely tremendous—but it showed last week that it had promise, that it was utterly gripping, which makes it ultimately frustrating when we hit a bump like this episode. Nonetheless, Fear the Walking Dead continues to leave us hanging with questions as ever, relationships ready to blossom, and perhaps arcs foreshadowed—it’s only episode six. A lot can still happen, and maybe it’s one to stick around for.
Questions and comments:
- Colman Domingo and Dougray Scott’s portrayal of Strand and Thomas’ relationship has to be one of the best things of the episodes; it was beautiful, gentle and so genuine.
- Will we ever find the significance of the coin Daniel Salazar tossed into the sea?
- What will happen to Chris, caught red-handed? Travis cannot defend him anymore, right?
- I’m liking Nick’s bond with Celia, Luis’ mother—but will it land him in trouble? She’s not all she seems…
- “When was the last time you’ve been to church?” Ofelia asks Nick. Grin-inducing question there…
FEAR THE WALKING DEAD airs Sundays 9l8c on AMC
Fear the Walking Dead Review [2×06]: “Sicut Cervus”