More than anything Fear the Walking Dead’s “Pablo and Jessica” focuses on how characters react after the loss of loved ones.  Even the opening scene speaks to this as Madison takes a page out of her “lost” son’s playbook in killing and gutting an Infected, then covering herself and Strand in the blood to escape the overrun hotel bar.  Once outside they find their truck gone; Strand presumes Alicia and Ofelia fled, forcing Madison to again face the possibility of losing someone she loves.  Something she stubbornly refuses to do as she insists that, unlike Nick, Alicia wouldn’t just leave, and is relieved to be proven correct when she finds Alicia (along with Elena and Hector) banging on the other side of one of spa’s doors.

Both Clark ladies realize this hotel is likely going to be as good as it gets in the Infected-filled world and thus are determined to make it their new home.  A wise move, but not without hurdles…first and foremost being those surviving wedding guests.  Madison and pinch-negotiator Strand team up to create an alliance that will be in everyone’s best interest.  While the groom (Oscar?) and his brother (Andrés?) are receptive, provided hotel manager Elena is ultimately ousted, the mother of the bride is completely disinterested in anything except mourning and avenging her daughter.  I already sense trouble for the future – as tough as Madison’s shown herself to be, I’m not sure she’s casually-casting-decent-people-out-into-danger tough yet and even if she can convince the rest of the guests to forgo banishing Elena I don’t see that mother following suit.

For the moment though the two sides do work together on the most pressing matter – the Infected littering the hotel.  Initially they kill them one-by-one, room-by-room, before dragging them out to burn by the beach.  Effective, but just barely.  After taking hours to clear just one floor of a seventeen-floor, three-building, resort, Alicia rightly points out it’d take months to finish the job by this method.  The young woman proves herself more than someone who can see the problem, however, as she also comes up with the solution upon discovering the beach has an overly aggressive rip current.  With the help of both sides (minus Mother of the Bride) Madison becomes the Pied Piper of the Infected, ultimately leading the whole mass of undead hotel guests to their doom via a lemming-like leap off a pier into the violent waters.

Throughout the episode the usually charming, personable, Strand is quiet and withdrawn.  When Madison mentions the hotel being their home now, he firmly states that it is not.  His home had been at the villa with the man he loved and any sense of home he had was buried with Tom.  It isn’t until the hotel is cleared of Infected that those brief glimpses of Strand’s loss blossom and the depth of his pain is revealed.  As opposing sides join for an awkward meal Strand notices the groom is absent and offers to go get him.  Strand already knows exactly where he is – standing guard over his beloved bride, Jessica, outside the honeymoon suite still unable to let her go.  As the groom talks about their love Strand empathizes in near silence stating simply, “I understand”, as tears stream down his face.  For the first time he shows himself to be full of deep compassion and empathy not just for his own love, but for someone else who’s recently lost a loved one.  With great care and understanding Strand does what the groom couldn’t bring himself (or allow anyone else) to do…end Jessica’s undead life.

Back at the Colonia we again open with characters dealing with the loss of loved ones, this time with a glimpse of the little girl whose father gave himself up to the Infected in a previous episode still crying.  Nick appears to want to comfort her again, but an elder member of the community steps in and he carries on to see Alejandro.  Believing he’s found a way to make-up for his previous screwup with that drug cartel running the grocery store Nick offers to cut the OxyContin they have, give the weaker form to the cartel, and thus make their own supplies last longer while keeping the cartel off their back longer as well.  …Not sure how long this scheme will last, but at least Nick can put his previous druggie skills to use.  Maybe he can become the Heisenberg of the zombie apocalypse?  (Probably not, but an interesting idea nevertheless.)

Before leaving to trade using the new, weakened, Oxy supply Nick and Luciana play a nice game of soccer with a group children.  During the game a man covered in blood runs over to Alejandro stating that he doesn’t know what happened, but “he was in pieces”, before Luciana heads over to find out what’s going on.  Generally speaking, this is not a good sign; one can usually tell if someone was attacked by an Infected, so what exactly happened to this guy?  While the cause remains a mystery Luciana explains to Nick that the “he” was Pablo, her brother and last living relative.  Her usually hard outer shell cracks a touch in discussing her family, then more later that night when she goes to Nick’s (according to Alejandro) well-earned trailer-home.  As she shares more, so does Nick, and eventually sharing develops into kissing…and that’s where the episode ends.

Interesting Asides

I’m still not sure why Luciana suddenly decided Nick was worthy of her attention, let alone sleeping with.  Sure, he’s attractive enough and the dating pool has been severely limited thanks to the apocalypse, but not much has changed from when she called him reckless after he almost got them killed by the drug cartel.  I’m hoping her actions have more to do with her grieving process – and we’ll get a follow-up and/or explanation next episode – than just shoddy character development on the writers’ part.

Alejandro’s story of how he was bitten and survived doesn’t have any glaring logic problems, but it’s still hard to believe.  What a coincidence that Alejandro tells the former drug addict that he was trying to save a drug addict while bitten…that said, Nick can easily compare the story to Luciana’s version if he wants to.  Of course it’s not completely impossible the man was bitten and survived – there are records of people who got, but survived, The Black Plague too – but if that’s the case then what does that mean for The Walking Dead universe as a whole?  Will we ever meet more bite-survivors?

I doubt the mother of the bride and/or Elena will last much longer…there’s no way those two women can stay in that hotel at the same time.  I’m leaning towards Mother of the Bride, but that’s only because the show’s actually spent time letting us get to know Elena and Hector (her nephew).

So…seems like Ofelia took the truck.  On the plus, it implies she’s alive and intends to remain so for the foreseeable future.  On the minus, she took their truck and we still have no idea where she went.

No Chris, Travis, or Dude-Bros this episode; I imagine we’ll pick up where we left off with them next episode…at least I hope so, I’m curious about the fallout of Chris’s actions across the board.

Speaking of no Travis, Madison still has yet to even mention the man…Apparently he doesn’t register as a lost loved one, which is pretty telling.

From next week’s promo it looks like Strand gets shot or stabbed, which worries me if only because it implies a decided end to that tentative peace everyone at the hotel agreed upon.  (I’d be legitimately shocked and enraged if Strand died.)  It looks like Madison lays down the law though – anyone who hurts another person is out of the hotel – and the drug cartel is about to make trouble for the Colonia so Alejandro might end up laying down the law there as well.  Things could ugly, but then ugly is interesting…