Fear the Walking Dead Episode 209 Recap: Death, Faith, and Booze
This episode of AMC‘s Fear the Walking Dead was split pretty evenly between Nick’s story and Madison’s story. Let’s start with Nick.
Picking up where we left off, Nick wakes in his new community. He wanders out to the marketplace and finds it completely deserted. Wandering a bit, he finds a little girl crying for her father. Nick looks, and sees the community gathered by the gate. On the other side, the dead growl and amble. The little girl’s papa hands his knife over to Luci, who hugs him fiercely. The man gets onto a bus, which is driven through the gate. One door opens on the human side; the other opens on the zombie side. The humans are chanting, praying. Nick turns the child away; she doesn’t need to see this: her papa stands there and allows the zombies to eat him.
Later, the marketplace is bustling, and Luci pulls Nick to help her. They travel outside the safe zone, mutilate a zombie in order to camouflage themselves, and head out. She tells him she chose him for the errand because he is alone; no one will miss him. The only one who would miss Luci is already missing. As they walk, Nick asks her about the morning “ritual.” Luci is a bit oblique about their beliefs, but basically those “near death” offer themselves to the dead to protect the living. Nick challenges her, asks her what if she’s wrong. Luci bristles, and says that the dead are returning; when they are gone the world will be new. She claims that Alejandro, the pharmacist who helped save Nick, was bitten – and he survived.
Luci and Nick arrive at their destination: a superstore, controlled by a gang. Luci trades a sack of medicine for entrance into the store. She can take whatever she can fit in one shopping basket; last week it was two. They are mostly there for water, gauze, and vitamins – necessities. Nick tries to add a pack of cookies in the basket (one that surely wouldn’t have taken any room) but Luci refuses – they take only what they need. As they “shop,” Nick notices a makeshift infirmary set up in the back of the shop. The lead gangbanger is carrying for his grievously-ill sister. As the pair leave with their filled basket, Nick is tackled by the gang leader. He had stolen the cookies. Now, to pay for his misdeeds, the gang leader must cut off Nick’s hand. With Luci translating, Nick tells the gang leader that he recognized his sister’s symptoms – she is going through severe oxycontin withdrawal. He offers him some oxy in exchange for a second cart of goods – and the cookies. The gangbanger agrees hesitantly. A safe distance away, Luci yells at Nick for risking her life and the safety of her community.
Back at the community, Luci sees why Nick wanted the cookies so bad: he gave them to the little girl whose father died. She realizes he isn’t as selfish as she thought, but warns him that it isn’t going to help anything. Nick knows this; he just wanted to do something for the little girl.
Nick is called in to Alejandro’s house. He defends his decision to nearly “start a war” by saying not everything can be about death. Alejandro disagrees. “This is a test,” he declares. The dead are rising, heading to their final resting place. The faithful will outlast it. Alejandro leans down to grab some water, and beneath his shirt we get a brief glimpse of a large, rotting bite mark on his shoulder. “You are welcome to stay, but if you endanger my people again, I will feed you to the wall.” Alejandro does not share any details about the bite on his shoulder.
Alejandro gives a sermon to the community. The immense migration of the dead has begun. “But what about us?” he asks hypothetically. “We know death. It will not take us. This world is for us, the faithful. We have died once, but never will we leave.” His followers chant in unison. Nick eventually joins in, but it is unclear if he actually believes what Alejandro is preaching.
Nick’s storyline is taking things in a different direction than The Walking Dead‘s storylines. Along with Celia’s storyline from the first half of the season, we are finally seeing a different side of the zombie apocalypse. It’s not just about surviving; it is about finding meaning in the apocalypse. I don’t really understand this line of thinking, but it is interesting to see it play out.
While Nick is dealing with issues of faith, Madison’s group is dealing with pure survival.
Madison, Victor, Alicia, and Ofelia are all that are left of that group. They have been driving around, looking for Travis and (mostly) Nick, but after two days, Victor finally convinces her that it is time they return to the Abigail. When they arrive at the dock, the Abigail is gone. Alicia suggests they camp out in a seaside hotel, but Madison wants to wait for Nick. “Mom! It’s me and you now, whether you like it or not.” Instead, they spell out a message in driftwood: Abigail lost. Head north.
They watch the hotel for a while, but see no evidence of anything moving inside – alive or dead. The doors have been barricaded with chairs; Victor pries open the door easily. Someone has to be there, so they proceed with caution. A wedding reception had been abandoned in the ballroom. The kitchen is picked clean. The group ends up in the bar, and Alicia and Ofelia volunteer to go scavenge the rooms. Madison is panicked at the thought of Alicia leaving her, but Victor calms her down with some alcohol. The two get drunk – really drunk – and Madison laments over the fact that she will never see Nick alive again. She feels like he was “born lost,” that he inherited his father’s “darkness.” Madison confesses that her husband didn’t die in a car accident like she told the kids; he drove himself suicidally into oncoming traffic. In the hopes of lightening a very dark mood, Victor starts playing the (very, very out-of-tune) piano. Madison starts smashing glasses every time she finishes a shot.
Meanwhile, the girls are upstairs. They realize that someone has already “marked” the rooms with the infected, by leaving “do not disturb” signs on the doors. The rooms with “please make up the room” signs are safe to go into. They scavenge, finding little more than peanuts and clean clothes. Alicia finds a man, hanged in the shower, his zombie corpse twisting from the shower head. Alicia can’t figure out why that man gave up, but Ofelia understands – he got tired of surviving. Ofelia is clearly tired of surviving, and she doesn’t believe they are going to make it. “All we have now is hope,” Alicia reasons. “And you have me, for what it’s worth. You’re my family now.” Ofelia is not comforted by this.
There is still hot water in the hotel, so Alicia showers and changes her clothes. She comes out to give Ofelia a turn – and finds the room empty. Nervously, she moves towards the open sliding glass door. Someone flies past the window, and Alicia checks the ground. Ofelia is not down there. In other rooms throughout the hotel, Alicia sees zombies tumbling over the balcony railings, hitting the ground… and walking on. I know the dead don’t feel pain or anything, but after a ten-story fall, wouldn’t their bones be crushed? How could they walk? Anyway, Alicia runs from the room, yelling for her mom and Ofelia. Apparently this yelling has lured zombies her way, for when she goes for the stairway, it is full of zombies.
Downstairs, between the off-key piano and Madison’s glass smashing, the zombies holed up in a gift shop across the street are alerted. Their combined weight causes the doors to break and the dead pour into the street, along with the balcony jumpers. The doors are not secured and the horde floods the hotel bar.
You can watch a preview for next week’s episode, titled “Do Not Disturb” and airing on September 4, using the player below.