Fear The Walking Dead is back with this midseason premiere, which features more of Nick’s past and a family divided in the post-apocalyptic world.
After a summer break, it was time for the midseason premiere of Fear The Walking Dead. We’re continuing to recap the show, and if you need to catch up, you can do so in our recaps for the first half of season 2 here. The midseason season premiere is also episode 8 of the second season and is officially titled Grotesque.
Here’s how we left everyone in the mid-season finale
When we left the group in the midseason finale back in May, the family was completely divided. Travis (Cliff Curtis) decided to try and save his son, Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) after he had run away. Well, actually, he had been watching Madison (Kim Dickens) and her daughter, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) sleep, while holding a knife. Oh yeah, and this was after he neglected to help Madison when they were fighting The Dead earlier on. Basically, he’s been trying to actively or passively kill his stepmom for a while. This is the (very valid) reason why Chris can’t go back, and Travis wants to help the “poor boy”.
As I’ve made clear in my previous recaps, I think Chris (aka annoying teenage son) is seriously messed up and dangerous. Yes, he lost his mom [at the end of season 1], but people do tend to die in a zombie apocalypse. Also, he first witnessed his mom fighting for herself and all of their extended family. He, however, has chosen to grieve her (“grief” tends to be what people use to defend his actions) by doing the opposite.
Madison and Alicia are trying to get to a safer place – away from Chris – along with Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) and Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason). Strand lost the love of his life, Thomas Abigail (Dougray Scott), to the “disease” that turns people, while Ofelia lost her father, Daniel (Rubén Blades) when he had a mental breakdown. Basically, Daniel started seeing his dead wife and ended up setting fire to a whole jail full of the dead – with himself still inside with them. However, we didn’t actually see him die, and I loved the character, so I’m hoping he’ll be back.
Nick (Frank Dillane) has gone in a different direction, which also leads him away from his family. Madison tried her best to persuade her son to come with them, but he wasn’t interested. Having kicked the drug habit, he’s become addicted to surrounding himself with The Dead (oh yeah, we’re talking zombies) just to prove to himself that he’s invincible. Also, he seems to have given in to the idea, that they’re still somewhat human and so he doesn’t want to kill them any longer.
Midseason premiere episode: Grotesque
The first thing we see in this Fear The Walking Dead midseason premiere is Nick. Really, this entire episode is about Nick Clark, which is fine by me. I think the character is fascinating. Also, he’s somewhat of an idiot at times. But, I have to say, Frank Dillane has been doing a stellar job of walking the line between Nick being a selfish idiot and a bright sweetheart.
He wakes up in a house, where another of Celia’s friends are also hiding with her son. Quick reminder: Daniel locked Celia in with The Dead, whom Celia and “her friends” refused to kill because they all still see them as being somewhat human. Nick is ready to go out into this brave new zombie-apocalyptic world, while mother and son want to go looking for the boy’s father. Nick is on his own, as he starts walking towards Tijuana. He has a gallon of water and a few supplies with him in a backpack, but that’s it.
Fortunately, he finds shelter for the night but is woken up quite violently by a woman with a baseball bat. She’s there with her daughter and finds the blood-soaked man quite intimidating, so she chases him out. Of course, this means he lost his water and supplies on the first day. But of course, nothing can harm Nick – in his own mind – so he takes off way too easily, in my opinion. Though the woman does get a few good swings – and hits – in.
During this episode, we also get to learn more about Nick’s past in rehab. We watch him talking very openly and honestly with his girlfriend, who we know from the pilot episode as the very first infected, we see. Her name is Gloria (Lexi Johnson), and they’re in rehab together and she is trying to get through to him. He’s about to meet his parents and needs to talk to them in a productive way, as part of the rehab program. We see these flashbacks in between, so that’s just the first time we meet Gloria in the episode. The first little tidbit from Nick’s past is that his dad was always tired and seemed to never have time for Nick when he needed his dad. Mom, on the other hand, is the strong one, who tackles things head-on. Oh yeah, that’s the Madison we know.
During the long, and now very dry, walk there, he comes across abandoned cars. I mean, he is walking on a main road, so that’s to be expected. He’s fortunate enough to find a water bottle with a bit left. He just has to snatch it out of a car with one of the infected in it. Of course, this doesn’t phase Nick, who also manages to get a radio. Suddenly, a car with three men wielding all kinds of weapons shows up.
Remember, people are always more dangerous than The Dead in the entire The Walking Dead universe. In other words, we know this is bad news, and so does Nick, so he hides. The three men start shooting all the infected in and around cars. When they come across an old man in one of the cars, who is clearly still alive as he’s begging them for water, they kill him as well. Of course, this is when the radio Nick was tinkering with, starts making noise.
Nick starts running and they shoot at him, but of course, they miss. Clearly, they’re not used to shooting at anything that moves. Nick escapes but is desperately in need of some water, so when he comes across a cactus, he tries to eat the moist insides. Not a good idea! He gets very sick and is left much worse than before he attempted to dine on cactus.
Again, he slips into a dream of a flashback with Gloria and himself at rehab, waiting for their parents to show up. Her parents arrive first, and look pretty posh – just Beverly Hills wealthy, Nick guesses, after his guess of them being from Bel Air is strongly dismissed by Gloria.
Madison is next to show up. She’s there alone, wearing black and looking very somber. They talk in a room alone and when Nick wonders why his dad isn’t there, his mom has to give the bad news; His dad just died in a car accident. Nick reacts very strongly to this, so Gloria hears him and comes back to watch Madison try to hold and comfort her son.
While trying to recuperate from puking up the last bit of water in his stomach, Nick is relaxing against a car when he hears a noise. Two dogs – a pair of German Shepherds – are looking very hungry and Nick is their next meal. Just when one of them manages to sink its teeth into his leg, there’s some noise as a large group of the infected come walking in their direction. The dogs give up on Nick and start going for one of the infected each.
Of course, the infected aren’t bothered much by this, and soon the rest of the infected attack the dogs instead and eat them. Then shots are being fired in the distance and you can hear some noise, so the infected take off in that direction. Nick hurries down and starts eating the fresh remains of the dogs. Then he grabs a belt from one of the infected that the dogs got to. He tightens the belt around the bite wound on his leg, covers himself in blood, and catches up with the group of The Dead, who were just feasting on the dogs.
Now, I don’t know what blood he’s wearing to camouflage himself. I mean, I can’t imagine the blood from the dogs would work, and he’s against killing the dead. But here you have it…
All is not really well with Nick, who starts hallucinating that the infected are talking to him. And then, the one right next to him appears to be Gloria. Not the living version, but the infected version of her. They’re all asking Nick to join them but he focuses and manages to stop the hallucination.
They come across the same three men, who chased Nick off the road earlier, and of course, they start shooting at the zombies. Again, Nick is cool as a cucumber and seems certain he can’t die. Even with bullets flying around him, and infected dropping to the ground left and right. The leader of the three-man-gang sees Nick, who staring directly at him, and gets so Hellbent on killing Nick that he doesn’t move when the infected get too close, so they eat him. They also manage to eat the second guy, who also doesn’t move a few feet back and get into the car.
This was the dumbest part of the episode. I mean, seriously. They know what the infected will do to them, and they just stand there trying to reload their guns instead of moving to safety. The third guy does however manage to get away.
Afterward, the group just moves on, and we see that someone else is watching Nick from a distance. It’s a woman and two men, who I must admit have a much more stylish way of wearing the blood of the infected. The two men think they should help the man walking with the dead (see what I did there?!), but the woman doesn’t agree. Nick is clearly struggling and is at the very back of the group, but they take off, just as Nick has to give up from lack of water and the wound on his leg and just lies down in the middle of the road.
This is when we get the final flashback with Gloria, which catches up with the pilot episode. They’re out of rehab, and getting ready to shoot up at the abandoned church. Nick is reading one of the many books, his dad apparently gave him. It’s a dark and sad book, but it reminds him of his dad, and Gloria agrees to try and read it as well. Tomorrow. Of course, tomorrow never really comes for Gloria.
And remember, this is the immortal Nick, so he wakes up with rain pouring down on him. He manages to find a small town, where he starts searching for water and supplies and comes across the same three people, who were watching him earlier. Clearly impressed that he made it this far – but not at all impressed with his duct tape bandage solution – they take him along to their doctor.
Again, I would like you to notice the very light application of blood on the three people. The woman is Luciana (Danay Garcia) and we’ll be seeing a lot more of her, as she’s a series regular from the second half of season 2. And yes, she is beautiful, but it still seems strange that just a bit of blood on her cheeks and forehead is enough to make her pass for one of the infected. Or, let me put it this way, I hope they’ll talk about this in a later episode when they see Nick dress up like Carrie, as they have to walk among the infected.
When Nick sees the doctor, it does seem to be a pretty well-functioning place. The doctor, Alejandro (Paul Calderon), patches him up and asks him about how he views the infected. Clearly, he gives the right answer, as he leads him out of a door that reveals a small village of sorts. Think The Walking Dead, when they come across survivors, who have started to build a new community. There are children and merchants trying to sell – or probably trade – their products. It’s gated and protected and seems to work. Nick looks relieved and just might have found a home that could work for him. Of course, no good things last long in this world, so we’ll see about that…
For the record, this is the official episode plot:
Nick’s steadfeast search for answers leads him into a deadly dog-eat-dog landscape. A dark piece of his past is uncovered.
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Photos: Richard Foreman/AMC