TV REVIEW: Fear the Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 6 – Sicut Cervus
By Megan Wilde
Things are getting a little weird on Fear the Walking Dead. In “Sicut Cervus,” whose title comes from the Latin for Psalm 42, the group finds the villa Victor Strand was talking about, the safe place, but it holds some dark secrets. In this episode, the tight group seems to be unraveling a little. The fact that they are now on land underscores that impression, since while they are still together, they are not forced to be SO tightly clustered as on the boat. They are stretching their limbs a little, but also starting to show some cracks.
One who definitely is coming apart more than a little is Chris, but the setup of his story in this episode doesn’t make sense to me. Chris finds out that Maddie was talking to his dad about how Reed wasn’t sick and wasn’t going to turn, and she doesn’t trust his judgment. But THERE WAS NO INDICATION of that last week! So this seems to come out of nowhere, like it’s manufactured to set up what they decide to do with Chris in this episode. Last week, Maddie comforted Chris, and there was no hint that she was really thinking something different from what she was saying to him — admittedly, this is possibly because in this show Kim Dickens has maybe two expressions. So was this a failure of her acting, or of the writing or the direction? I don’t really know, unfortunately, but something doesn’t mesh here. This leads to Chris being angry at Maddie, and then when they come across the walkers at the church and she’s in trouble with one, he just stares at her, like he’s going to let her be killed. Which seems like too harsh a reaction to her having a suspicion that any normal human would have after what he did last week. I mean, be mad at her, sure, but let her actually be eaten by a walker? Those are two very different things.
And Alicia sees this, sees him just watching, and calls him on it — which is nice to see in a show for once, because usually they skirt around these things and it bites them later. He tries to play it off like he just froze, but we all know better. And then he threatens Alicia! He is definitely not very shrewd, and is kind of a wild card at this point. I’m not really sure where they are going with him … it COULD all be a misunderstanding, even when he later sneaks into Maddie and Alicia’s room and grabs a knife and they are woken by Strand’s gunshot to Thomas’ head, and they see him standing there with it. Or he could be cracking. (I lean toward the latter. Maybe we will have shades of Carol telling Lizzie to just look at the flowers at some point.)
Nick is another one whose cracks are starting to show. Celia, Luis’ mother, who raised him and Thomas, asks him why his smile seems so heavy, and he says he’s tired of all the killing, all of the madness. And that’s not what we’ve seen from him so far. I like how the writers have shown through the characters’ reactions how they’re all having a chance to catch their breath and the world is now catching up to them. Daniel, however, remains ever on guard — and thank goodness, because he discovers Celia’s big secret.
She is running a tight ship at the villa, but is keeping a cellar full of walkers because they “are not really dead.” Oh, and she also poisoned the parishioners at the local church. I wasn’t clear on why, though — she thinks people who turn are just entering the next phase, but the parishioners seemed to have a fear or hatred (or both) of her, so I don’t know why she’d be “saving” them as if she loved them and wanted to keep them close. And who did that — who got the poisoned wafers to the church? One of the household employees? It certainly doesn’t seem as if the parishioners had agreed or asked to die like that.
This reveal would have a lot more shock value if we had not seen something very similar before, in Hershel’s barn. I know not everyone who watches this show watches The Walking Dead, but most do, and as soon as I saw the kid dropping the dog down the chute, I had a feeling about what was up with that. So it was a bit of a letdown, because we’d seen it before. I can imagine how much of a shock it was to Daniel, but I’m not sure why the writers went this route.
Celia is also keeping watch over Thomas, who has been bitten. Victor makes it there in time to say goodbye and spend some time with him, and they talk about Victor dying with him. I think what happens here is that Victor sees that Thomas doesn’t want to let go, wants to stay with him, and in order to help him make peace with the situation, Strand says he’ll go with him. When Celia hears that Victor is ready to die with Thomas, she says she finally thinks he’s good enough for Thomas — but this doesn’t really make sense to me, because if she is so excited for people to die so they can “move on to the next step” and turn, then why doesn’t she take one of her own poisoned wafers, and kill everyone else in the compound as well? If it’s not OK to hurry things along, then why is she OK with Victor doing it? But in the end, he doesn’t; he either never intended to, or he did intend to, showing how much he dearly loved Thomas, but when faced with it, couldn’t do it. Either way, he saves Thomas, after death, by putting a bullet in his head to keep him from turning. And everyone in the house seems to have heard the shot, so Celia will not be happy next week. It’s the finale, so expect something big to happen with those walkers.
FBI SCORE: 8 out of 10. “Sicut Cervus” is an exciting episode to watch, with a lot going on. But some things don’t flow well, and some of the choices made are puzzling. Then again, some of the characters and events are refreshingly real. It’s a good penultimate episode, setting us up nicely for the finale next week.