Fear the Walking Dead
“Blood in the Streets”
May 1, 2016
It’s a Walking Dead universe first: A FLASHBACK! I mean, technically, The Walking Dead has featured flashbacks before, but only in the post-zombie world, not pre-zombie. But this one takes place days after Hurricane Katrina washed New Orleans away. Our mysterious Mr. Strand chats with a well-dressed gentleman in a Baton Rouge bar about the devastation, revealing that he owned property on St. Claude Avenue that was destroyed, and has left him bankrupt. Somehow, he has to begin again.
As for his new friend, he is in town to buy, and quotes Baron Rothschild: “The time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets.” He does seem to feel guilty that he’s going to have to go close half the Ninth Ward the next day and look those people in the eye. When Strand suggest he just skip it, Stranger explains he’s obligated both to his business and his father, neither of whom he seems to care for too much — which, ironically, makes it easier.
Stranger gets a good drunk on, so Strand helps him back to his hotel room and out of his wallet. YOINK!
(Oh, and other things we learn about Strand that may or may not prove important later: his mother left when he was young and his father was a strip mall preacher. Just tuck that information away, though I doubt it will be relevant.)
Sometime later, a few months? a year? many years? our stranger, who we learn is one Thomas Abigail (you know, as in Abigail the Yacht) and his buddy/muscle, Luis, track Mr. Strand down to a schmancy hotel. There, Strand is like, “Yeah, I stole your credit cards and took out cash advances somewhere to the tune of $36,000, but I turned that into some great real estate deals and I was totally planning to pay you back.”
“OH SNAP, I KNOW YOU WERE GOING TO PAY ME BACK, AND THEN SOME,” Abigail explains, adding that’s why he didn’t call the cops on him. Strand thanks him for the pardon, but Abigail clarifies: Strand’s not pardoned, he’s obligated.
Sometime later, Strand and Abigail are hanging out poolside at Abigail’s Mexican villa, where Abigail tries to convince Strand to stay instead of heading back to Los Angeles to do business things. Strand is like, LOL, NOPE. Later, Abigail is still trying to make Strand stay in Mexico, and warns him that there is some sort of outbreak in California and people are rioting. Strand promises Abigail it will only be a two day trip before kissing him — just in case you were wondering if the two are a couple. They are definitely a couple.
In the present, Travis has a snit about Strand cutting Alex’s and Burnt Jake’s raft free, but Madison is like, “I mean, it sucks, but whaddya gonna do? We need his place in Mexico, so get over it already.”
Out on the deck, Senñorita Barber and Awful Chris are knee-deep in a boring conversation about girlfriends and Catholic school when a raft carrying two men and a pregnant woman pull up to the boat in a full blown panic. “ZOMG THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE BABY WE NEED HELLLLLLP!!” Awful Chris, who is armed, asks several times whether or not he should shoot them, but ultimately hesitates. And the next thing you know the bleeding pregnant lady, a teen boy and former teen pop sensation, Jesse McCartney, are on the boat.
While Madison helps the pregnant lady to the bathroom, Strand goes for his secret gun only to find Señor Barber has removed the ammunition.
Meanwhile, Awful Teenage Daughter comes upstairs from her quarters, having recognized the voice of New Teenage Boy as her radio pal, Jack. “JACK?” she asks, which is when Former Teen Pop Sensation Jesse McCartney punches Travis right in his face. And below deck, Pregnant Lady smashes Madison’s face into the bathroom mirror.
Fight fight fight and the next thing you know our heroes are overtaken by these people, and tied up, all but Strand who sneaks off the boat in a raft, and Nick who is nowhere to be found. Former Teen Pop Sensation Jesse McCartney shoots Mr. Strand’s raft as he drifts away, before asking where the captain of the boat is. “Yeah, about that,” Travis says, “funny story…”
Former Teen Pop Sensation Jesse McCartney, who somehow knows everyone’s name (even though Awful Teenage Daughter swears she didn’t tell Jack. HMMMMM…) puts his gun to Awful Chris’ head and demands to know where the key to the boat is. Travis is like, “ON THE RAFT. WITH THE CAPTAIN. WHOM YOU JUST SHOT AT.”
But Former Teen Pop Sensation Jesse McCartney seems perfectly happy to kill Awful Chris, so Travis offers to hotwire the boat for him. The pair go up to the bridge (which I really wanted to call the “cockpit” because that’s how much I know about boats, y’all), where Travis messes around with some wires for a while before being like, “You know, I think I have to go down to the engine room
to stall for time because computers.”
Meanwhile, on Former Teen Pop Sensation Jesse McCartney’s orders, Jack and Awful Teenage Daughter go look for the backup radio. Once alone, Jack assures Awful Teenage Daughter that they aren’t there to hurt anyone — once their leader Connor arrives, he’ll calm the situation down and she’ll be safe. “And my family?” Awful Teenage Daughter asks, but Jack just keeps saying unconvincingly that this Connor person will listen to him. Jack is able to make contact with Connor on the radio, before explaining to Awful Teenage Daughter that he owes his life to this guy. And then he cuts her wrist bindings because she’s pretty and he’s dumb.
On the main deck, while Señor Barber works to loosen his own bindings, Madison distracts Pregnant Lady by asking her about her pregnancy and the last time she felt the baby move. Has it been a while? You think the baby is OK? What happens if the baby dies in there? You think it’ll become a zombie baby? What would THAT be like? Pretty sucky, amirite? Eventually, Pregnant Lady hauls off and hits Madison — because pregnant ladies have enough on their minds without having to also worry about their babies chewing their way out of their bellies.
As Former Teen Pop Sensation Jesse McCartney marches Travis back to the bridge, Travis slips a crowbar into the couch for Madison y Los Barbers to use when they get the chance. Travis and Former Teen Pop Sensation Jesse McCartney get the boat engine started just as the famous Connor and his boat arrive.
“Cool boat!” Connor declares, before noticing that they roughed up Madison to his displeasure. Connor announces that he’s keeping Awful Teenage Daughter and Travis as pets, but the rest of them are to be taken safely back to shore, because he, unlike Former Teen Pop Sensation Jesse McCartney, is not an unreasonable guy.
With that, he and Jack and Pregnant Lady, Travis and Awful Teenage Daughter get back on his boat and drive away, leaving Madison, Awful Chris and Los Barbers with Former Teen Pop Sensation Jesse McCartney and a few of his armed buddies. Former Teen Pop Sensation Jesse McCartney explains that he will not, in fact, be taking any of them to shore after all.
So, wait, where’s Nick?
As it turns out, before our new boat buddies arrived, he slipped out for a naked night swim to shore without telling anyone. Once on shore, he put on a nice clean set of clothes. Look at you, Nick! So fresh and so clean, clean! But then he marches straight to an abandoned tent city, deliberately attracts a walker, kills the walker, and then covers himself in walker goo. Oh, Nick.
But thanks to his intestine camouflage, however disgusting it might be, Nick is able to make his way into a gated community, and to a specific address he was carrying on him.
Quick question: How did he know how to get to this address in a city he didn’t live in with no help from the internet or even Rand McNally travel map? JUST WONDERING.
Anyway, the point is, he goes to a specific house where Thomas Abigail’s buddy, Luis is apparently waiting. And armed. Nick explains that he’s with Strand, and Luis chooses not to shoot him, instructing him instead to go hose himself off before getting into his car because gross.
As they load up Luis’s suitcases into his car, Luis explains that the community was an “Abigail Home Experience” and they were just about to break ground on the second phase when the apocalypse interrupted their plans. However, they will not be staying there, instead heading to Mexico, and he is none too pleased to learn that there are some six other people with Nick and Strand. He only has enough money and supplies for two people, but Nick is not buying it.
Luis takes Nick to a hidden zodiac they and make their way towards the Abigail. As they approach, Nick sees the interlopers through binoculars, and warns Luis who shoots two of them without hesitation. Madison takes the opportunity to impale Former Teen Pop Sensation Jesse McCartney with Chekhov’s crowbar. Ouch!
Once onboard the yacht, Luis refuses to take our protagonists to Mexico. Not without Strand.
So Madison — alone for some reason (couldn’t Nick or Luis have joined her?) — gets back into the zodiac, and, somehow, manages to find a stranded Strand, hypothermic and barely alive, and, somehow, pulls him to safety.
Alright, so I don’t want to spend too much time on this, but I think it’s worth pointing out that aside from the unusual — and unprecedented — flashback (something I hope they will do more of), this episode was also notable in that it was very theme heavy.
Woven throughout the episode is this question of obligation and indebtedness. Strand finds himself in Abigail’s debt after he steals from him; Abigail himself feels obligated to the business and to his father; Madison argues to Travis that they are indebted to Strand; Jack tells Awful Teenage Daughter that he owes Connor for saving his life; Awful Teenage Daughter tries to negotiate her family’s safety in exchange for her companionship; and Strand presumably will be in Madison’s debt for saving him a second time.
It’s an interesting issue in the context of this new world our protagonists find themselves in: what would bind non-related people to one another in an every-man-for-himself universe? Strand has no real reason to bring any of these people with him to his safe house, and they have no real reason to trust him to do so. And yet, through his flashback we see that Strand is a man who has his own peculiar code of honor. He may not love Abigail — it’s unclear that their feelings for one another are mutual — but he does seem to be committed to him, romantically and financially. Similarly, I think Strand feels obligated to Madison and Travis for helping him escape the military compound — an obligation that he was ready to be done with when the pirates took over the Abigail. However, now that Madison has saved him again, I think he will feel indebted to her again.
The other theme of the episode is rebirth; starting over. There are two very prominent birth symbols in the episode: Pregnant Lady is a living breathing birth symbol. And then there is Nick’s struggle onto the beach from the ocean, very much a metaphor for the process of birth itself: exhausting, dangerous, emerging from one world into another.
Then there is the literal idea of starting one’s life over again: when we meet Strand, he is lamenting the loss of his property, the loss of his life as it once had been. He steals from Abigail not just to buy himself dinner and pay for his hotel room, but to start an entire new real estate venture, to start a new life. Thanks to Abigail’s generosity — and desire to have Strand in his debt — Strand is able to begin again, and reshape himself into someone different, someone new. Which, ultimately, is a metaphor for what everyone in this world is going through: through help from others, they are starting over, stripping away the past and making a new life for themselves in this terrifying new world.
Oh, and Alex is totally the one who told Connor and Former Teen Pop Sensation Jesse McCartney our heroes’ names, right?
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on AMC.
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