TV REVIEW: Fear the Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 4 – Blood In the Streets
By Megan Wilde
There’s a lot to discuss with this episode. “Blood in the Streets” is a departure from the usual formula of this show. It’s a very solid episode that features flashbacks and playing with time a little so that you aren’t quite sure what is going on for parts of it. And it’s very engaging because of that — it makes you think and keeps you guessing.
For example, it starts off with Nick swimming ashore somewhere at night, naked with a bag tied to his ankle. He finds a seemingly abandoned (but recently abandoned? There are fires burning, and they’re not out of control) tent village on the beach, and wanders around till he sees a walker, which starts to follow him. He leads the walker around a bit before knifing it in the head, and then he brings it inside, opens up its belly and starts smearing its blood all over his face and body. At first I thought he was testing out ideas and almost training himself, but it’s just that he has realized he is safer if he smells like them. We aren’t sure, at first, when this is taking place; I thought it might have been a flash-forward. But later we see that it’s happening at the same time as the action on the boat.
The Abigail has been boarded by three people who turn out to be the group Alicia found on the radio. One of them is Jack, the guy Alicia talked to on the radio, and one of them is a pregnant young woman who uses her pregnancy to get them on the boat, faking a problem with the baby. The third is Reed, who seems like the most no-nonsense, most cutthroat member of the group. They are working for someone named Connor. This feels very reminiscent of the different factions on “The Walking Dead,” and it seems quick for such antagonistic groups to have formed, but we don’t have the whole picture on them yet either. This is our group’s first encounter with a malicious group, and they are caught off guard. Chris hesitates about shooting them when he sees them approaching, and as Reed tells him later, if he has to ask the question, it’s already too late. That may be a bit of an oversimplification, but at least in the later world of “TWD,” it comes to be true.
Reed and the pregnant woman seem like pretty unpleasant characters, but Jack is, or at least is pretending to be for Alicia’s sake, “the nice guy.” Alicia might be playing him too, and I hope she is, but it’s left ambiguous. She does show some bravery in this episode; she is trying to make up for bringing this on them, so she does what she’s told by the captors and goes alone with Jake to show him around the boat, seeming to know he wouldn’t hurt her. He is about her age, good-looking and is trying to make nice to her, so three guesses where this eventually will go. It’s good to see her trying to make things better. I hope she isn’t totally buying what he’s trying to sell, though, and is keeping her wits about her. I like to think she’s learned her lesson after the radio, but characters have disappointed me before.
Reed and the two others tie everyone up, and shoot at Strand, who has taken a raft and paddled away. They shoot the raft, so it deflates, and part of the episode deals with him struggling in the water, and part of it is flashbacks of his backstory. That’s another new device this episode uses, and it’s a good choice, since it fills in some blanks that we need to know. It’s a quick way to give us some background on Strand and how and why he had the house and the boat, and why they’re headed to Mexico. And it’s different from what we’ve seen so far, so that alone creates interest. I hope they continue to do this when appropriate, since this show was supposed to be more about the lead-up to the apocalypse anyway. Just because we’ve moved into the beginning days of the collapse doesn’t mean we can’t keep going back every now and then to see more about the lead-up through various characters’ eyes.
Strand’s backstory is that he was a bit of a grifter, meeting a rich real-estate magnate, Thomas Abigail (played by Dougray Scott), in a bar. Strand has lost all his own properties in Hurricane Katrina, and says he’s now bankrupt. He gets Abigail drunk, then takes him back to his room and steals his credit cards while he is almost passed out on the bed. Abigail and his employee/henchman Carlos find him in a fancy hotel, and Strand knows he’s caught. He says he planned on paying him back, and Abigail takes a liking to his moxie, apparently, because he doesn’t punish him. He says he expects Strand to pay him back. The flashbacks show that the two become lovers and partners, with Strand involved in Abigail’s life and business. The last takes place in the early days of the collapse, Strand saying he has to go to LA even if there are riots, and promising to return in two days. So now we know how he got the house and boat, and who is waiting in Mexico.
One more interesting question this episode raises is what happens to babies who die before they’re born, after this infection? Maddie and most of the others are being guarded by the pregnant woman, and Maddie tries to get to her by talking about that — asking when was the last time she felt the baby move, and talking about the pain of childbirth, and all sorts of things pregnant women are nervous to think about. Then she and Ofelia start asking what happens if the baby is stillborn, or if she miscarries: Would the baby start to eat her from the inside out? And really, what WOULD happen? It’s unnerving to think about, but I like that they raised the question.
Connor arrives and takes Alicia and Travis (who has been working to get the boat running since Strand had the key) with him, after Alicia makes him promise he will give the others a boat so they can make it to shore. So the group is split up, with Travis and Alicia being taken who knows where. And the thought of this really got to me. Imagine your family being split up for no reason, and you having no way of knowing where your child and partner are being taken. This scene really brought it home to me. Meanwhile, Nick has been sent by Strand to meet up with Carlos — the rendezvous from earlier when Strand was talking to someone on the phone. He brings Carlos back to the Abigail just in time for them to see that there are armed strangers aboard, and Carlos is a good shot, taking them out and saving the day. So they make introductions, and he asks after Strand. They debate about whether they need him, Daniel hoping this will be the end of their association, but Maddie takes the launch out to find him, and she pulls him to safety. So she showed him the compassion he has been lacking, in her opinion; it will be interesting to see if this changes anything for him.
FBI SCORE: 9 out of 10. “Blood in the Streets” is a departure from the norm for this show, and it’s a welcome change. There are flashbacks, the group finds out that not everyone is friendly in the apocalypse, we find out more about Strand and get some questions answered there, we meet a new character who seems like he will be sticking around, and some interesting questions are raised. It is an engrossing episode with lots going on, and it is highly enjoyable. Well done.