Wicked Nerdery

Where psychology, pop culture, and true crime collide


April 2016

Stronger Than She Looks: Ofelia Salazar

Only a few episodes into the second season of Fear the Walking Dead and fans are already making comparisons between the new characters and those from its predecessor, The Walking Dead: Strand’s the new Negan! Travis will be the next Rick Grimes! Nick’s the new Daryl Dixon!  There are a hundred different theories and comparisons to make about these new characters, but there’s one that frequently gets overlooked…Ofelia Salazar.  Despite not making much of an impression on audiences yet I can’t help but be reminded of The Walking Dead‘s favorite Queen of the Apocalypse, Carol Peletier, when I watch her.

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Fear the Walking Dead “Ouroboros”: Baggage Claim Chaos

Remember that little mini-series throughout last season’s The Walking Dead?  The one with everyone on the plane that ends up crashing?  Well, this is the episode where the survivors are revealed along with the fate of the plane as a whole, finally bringing Flight 462 and Fear the Walking Dead together.

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Fear the Walking Dead “We All Fall Down”: Detour for Death

When last we left our motley Abigail crew they had come across an annihilated boat and realized that its likely attacker was closing in on them fast.  “We All Fall Down” picks up very shortly after with Strand failing to lose their tail out on the water and suggesting they head closer to land because radar tracking (or something) won’t work as well and they’ll have a better chance of going unseen until the other boat passes.  The rest agree and Travis says the island with the park ranger outpost because they may have answers or, at least, supplies.  …Pretty good idea so Travis earns some survival cred with that one.

They dock on the less inhabited side of the island and all save Strand, Daniel, and Ofelia decide to go ashore.  There, in the darkness, is a single house whose lights flash once, then once more.  Madison decides it’s a signal to approach, though leaves Travis to make the call out to them.  On the plus, when the door opens, it’s just what appears to be a normal family…husband, wife, teen son, two younger kids (initially seen in the opener making pretty things for the Infected washing ashore).  They’re survivalists seemingly determined to stick it out on their side of the island until…whenever.  Yet, almost immediately, both the audience and the Abigail crew get the sense something is wrong.

As Travis speaks to the husband he’s told that everything from Colorado to the West Coast is confirmed gone – burned, overrun by the undead, etc – and that includes the Abigail’s hoped for destination, San Diego.  He also gets the man’s life philosophy, which includes staying together as a family and dying where you were born.  Travis seems wary, but accepting as ever.  Meanwhile the wife questions Madison about her life before the teen son is seen going out to do chores with shotgun in hand.  The little girl, Willa, sings “Ring Around the Rosie” in that creepy way only little girls in these types of shows can and the boy, Harry, happily shows Nick the action figures with bullet holes drawn in the center of all their heads.  Later the teen son even takes Chris out to “clean” with him and the two have some good times cracking the skulls of the Infected with a pickax…Travis is deeply disturbed seeing Chris working so hard at it.  Honestly though, it’s probably a good idea that at least one of these teens grow accustomed to and skilled at killing because there will come a time when they don’t have the option unless they want to die.

Eventually what’s wrong with the family is put together: the husband plans to wipe out his family on his terms rather than have the incoming tides of Infected do it.  The wife flicked the lights when the Abigail docked hoping to find people to take her children away so they might have a chance.  Madison agrees and, as the woman gives instructions like only a panicked mother handing over the care of her children to someone else can, it all goes to hell.  Little Willa somehow managed to get the suicide pills her dad tucked away and had died, which leads to her mother breaking down and clutching her little girl in her arms right as Willa turns.  Willa starts to eat her mom just as the husband comes in and, though he refuses the offer to join them on the boat, he tells Travis and Madison to take Harry and go.  I presume after that he gets eaten.

Everyone rushes back to the boat with calls that they need to leave, but Strand is having none of the child aboard – they’re the definition of dead weight.  Madison insists they bring the boy so firmly it looks like Strand might just relent when Survivalist Teen Son boards, shotgun in hand, and even more firmly insists they give him his brother.  There’s a tense few moments where I kind of hoped Daniel would shoot the teen son, but eventually they relent and Harry goes back to his brother.  As Harry and his big brother head up the dock their Infected mother (who, apparently, wasn’t totally eaten?) comes lumbering towards them.  With instructions Harry keep waving to the nice people on the boat teen son shoots his mother in the head.  Madison is distraught at having to leave yet more people behind, but the rest seem resigned to it being the way things are now.

During all this Survivalist Family drama Strand, Daniel, and Ofelia remain on the boat.  Strand because this is still his goddamned boat, Daniel because he doesn’t trust Strand, and Ofelia because she doesn’t really have anything else to do anyway.  Most of the time Ofelia just stands around, mopes, and throws not-so-subtle digs at her father.  Daniel spends most of his time asking Ofelia if she’s taking her antibiotics, hovering around the helm, and needling Strand both in a general and attempt-to-get-information way.  Eventually Strand slips away to talk on what’s either a cellphone – in which case, he’s insane because they surely don’t work anymore – or radio that looks like a phone – in which case he’s setting up some sort of meeting with an unknown (and I’ll presume unsafe) entity in Mexico.  Daniel use Strand’s absence to finally get some solid intel on what the man’s up to…which is still pretty vague as Daniel finds a machine gun and bunch of maps that indicate Strand’s intent to go to Mexico, but little else.

Interesting Asides:

So apparently Nick does have skills in being an addict: he can identify pill types on-site and figure out who else might be drug users after brief meetings.  He’s also really good with kids.  I confess it would’ve been interesting to see him trying to take care of Harry longterm, but Strand is right…Kids are the definition of dead weight, especially in an apocalypse.  Just look at Willa, Sophia, Lizzie, Mika, younger Carl, Judith (love her, but she’s a human Walker siren), and that girl The Governor had to kill after she played by River Walkers.

Not sure drinking all the Survivalist’s wine and walking around an island half-full of Infected with music blaring in your earbuds is the best idea, but at least Alicia wasn’t actively harmful to the group this episode.  I wonder if we’ll see more fallout from her radio chats with Jack in the future?  Otherwise that was a lot of buildup with little payoff…I mean maybe it was just meant to be a scare, but I’m still curious who Jack is/was.  Regardless, Ofelia and Alicia were both pretty useless again.

What and who is in Mexico, Strand??  I’d say drugs or guns and their dealers/buyers because, well, it’s Mexico and Strand had that machine gun.  That being said, I highly doubt Strand saw Nick the Addict and thought “yeah, he’s a good choice to bring on a drug run” so I’ll go with guns.  Guns are always valuable and become more so in an apocalypse so Strand going even now makes sense.  Whatever it is I see the potential for it all going a hundred variations of wrong already…and this is presuming they even manage to make the rendezvous between tensions on the boat and others out on the water.

I saw awesome Asian lady in the promo for next week, yay!  She seemed to know a great deal about the Infected and was the only one with a brain on that Walking Dead plane.  Something tells me she can be a major asset to the crew if she lasts through the episode and joins them, which I really hope she does (otherwise, what was the point, right?).

The Cult of the Red Woman

There is no doubt that Melisandre, a.k.a. The Red Woman, is incredibly powerful.  I mean, she can birth killer shadow babies and see visions of the future in fire, which is pretty damned impressive for a woman who was once a peasant slave.  There is another, less mystical, way in which she may also be powerful…she might just qualify as a cult leader.  Her religion in and of itself doesn’t seem any more a cult than the rest of the religions in Game of Thrones, but as advisor to Stannis Baratheon, Melisandre runs things in a manner that heavily mirrors that of a cult.

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Fear the Walking Dead “Monster”: Mayday Madness

As if in direct response to people’s frequent complaints about the show’s “slow burn”  The Walking Dead’s stand-alone prequel show, Fear the Walking Dead, opens its second season with all of Los Angeles on fire.  High school guidance counselor, Madison Clark, and her beau, English teacher Travis Manawa, stand on the beach with Travis’ teen son, Chris, still clutching his dead mom – who was bit, then put down by Travis in the previous finale – as every undead person in a few hundred miles approaches with hungry interest.  There’s some head-smashing via driftwood and rocks, some yelling, and then a lot of running to the safety of the speed/life boat that’s come to collect them and carry them onwards to the Abigail – a massive yacht owned and run by the mysterious Victor Strand.  After one last awesome kill via boat propeller to the face things slow down again…

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Hero to Villain: The Journey of Rick Grimes Continues

Last August, before the start of the sixth season, I wrote a piece concerning whether or not Rick Grimes had become a villain using the definition created by Chuck Klosterman in his book, I Wear the Black Hat.  According to Klosterman a villain is someone who knows the most, but cares the least.  Using that interpretation I went with yes.  Or, at least, “yeah, kinda”.  He had gone from a man who knew little of what was happening in the world, but was deeply disturbed by it, to a man who’d seen way too much and no longer cared about those around him (outside his core group, but even then he would disregard their feelings and thoughts in favor of his own).  I ended on a note of hope that Rick could change, go back to the more heroic guy he once was.

So, with a season passed, has anything changed?  Has Rick been redeemed in the arms of Alexandria?  A little, perhaps, but not really.  While he’s certainly getting along better with others, managed to see the Alexandrians as his people, it took some extreme events to have that happen and he’s generally not any kinder or gentler to those he still considers not “his people”.  The biggest difference, really, is that those around him have (mostly) stopped opposing him.  The original Alexandria citizens have stopped questioning him; when he says “this is how it has to be”, that is how it has to be.  Nowadays Rick might not be considered a villain only because everyone else is just as bad…or there’s someone who’s worse, who knows more and cares even less, like Negan and his Saviors.

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Walker Apocalypse Love

Lately there’s been a lot of coupling going on in the Walker apocalypse.  Maybe it’s that Rick’s people are starting to settle into a fair sense of security or maybe it’s because love and romance always raise the stakes in a TV show…Or maybe it’s just psychosocially accurate.  Over the years there have been studies showing that intense situations and intense conversations can make those around you more attractive.  When someone is keyed up, scared, in fear for their safety and/or life, they fall into attraction more easily and more strongly than when not…basically, when you’re fighting for survival in the apocalypse you’re way more likely to fall in love too.  Simply being close to someone on a near constant basis can also cause attraction, just as being exposed to a person over and over can.  Really, it’s no wonder those on The Walking Dead are pairing up like those in an ark.

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