I don’t like how AMC started this whole trend where shows take a three to six month break right in the middle of their season, effectively making two season finales and two season openers. I feel cheated. I understand that it’s good for business and stretches their seasons out a little (like Agents of SHIELD is 22 episodes long this season, but feels like it’s on almost every week), but it still sucks. I mean, Fear the Walking Dead had a finale three months ago, and it wasn’t even the end of the season! Rude, I say. Rude.
Anyway, now that we’re finally back, we can continue on like normal. I mean, what could possibly have happened in the last three months that would keep us away from this lovely place? What are all these damn moving trucks doing blocking my parking space? WHO WAS THAT FAMILY NICK WAS HANGING OUT WITH AT THE BEGINNING OF THE EPISODE?
It took me until the first commercial break to realize we had never met this mom and son before. I spent the entire time trying to remember who they were, and what their significance was. Only after the first commercial did I realize we did not meet them before. Nick left our wondrously dysfunctional family after Daniel burned everything drugs built to the ground. But that was something that this episode did very well: It didn’t matter, because this was Nick’s story, picking up (sometime) after he left the gang.
1. Anonymom gave Nick a backpack and a jug of water, and pointed him South. There was some talk about dangerous men with nothing left to keep them in check, but Nick was on a mission. To somewhere. Not here? I guess that works. Who knows how long Nick walked this episode, but he did cover about 100 miles, so a few days I’m guessing.
But this episode wasn’t about the walk: It was about Nick. Through flashbacks, we saw Nick in rehab with Gloria, who we know would have a very bad trip in the very near future. Gloria convinced Nick to talk about his dad, who was “there” but not there, you know? Nick was mad at him because dads are supposed to show their sons how to be men in the world, and Nick’s dad failed in that regard. We saw Nick get the news that his dad died in an accident, and saw the beginning of the Series where Nick and Gloria relapsed in that Church of Sanitary Saints.
Now, Nick is out in the wild, on his own, learning how to survive and be a man in this new world. That was the point of the episode, not Nick meeting Lucille or finding his Dogmeat or paying hide and seek with armed gunmen (more on that later).
Nick is finally in his element, too. Before, Nick was a junkie who knew how to survive on the streets and how to score his next fix. Since the world went to shit, Nick hasn’t had drugs to rely on, and is being forced to survive without them. Nick is flourishing. The entire first part of the episode with Nick walking just taking in all the sights (not many) and smells (too many) showed how free he finally was. Drugs were Nick’s way of coping with society and his life. Now that society is gone, Nick is free to choose his own life, and he’s embracing it.
Another interesting thing about Nick is his lack of fear of the dead. Nick was practically dead long before the dead started not being so dead, and he’s leaning on his survival skills as a junkie to make it. That scene where the gunman froze and was eaten Zamboni style wasn’t to show how stupid he was (oh God was he stupid), but was meant to show how fearless Nick was in comparison. Those were three dudes with guns and a Jeep and not a fuck to give, and Nick was the fearless one.
(Side note: That guy froze when he saw the hoard coming close and he all of a sudden got a case of the oopsie-dropsies, but it felt like he froze because he saw Nick and recognized him from the earlier game of hide and seek. Am I mistaken, or was it just interesting editing choices?)
Nick may be fearless, but he isn’t completely prepared for this life, though. I mean, he lost all of his supplies to a lady with a metal bat. All because he chose the wrong house to sleep in. Then, he fell asleep next to an old van, and woke up to a pack of dogs ready to eat him. If Nick learned anything from those two nights, it should be to PICK BETTER SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS. God damn.
But, with both of those instances, Nick also showed flares of survival skills. In the first episode, Nick found Gloria
reading his book eating a man’s face and he did the smartest thing anyone has done in a horror movie/show to date: He got the fuck out of there. In this episode, when confronted by a crazy lady with a bat, Nick did the smart thing: he got the fuck out of there. I’ve maintained since the beginning that Nick has the best survival skills of the show, because he doesn’t stick around to find out what’s going on. He’s OUT at the first sign of trouble. (Don’t believe me? What did he do when that radio made noise? BYE!)
And then, after Nick got bit by future Dogmeat, he used his belt as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. Where did he learn that technique? Shootin’ Up! That’s where. We caught a quick glimpse of Gloria getting ready for 8 oz. of sweet Mexican black tar heroin, and wrapping a belt around her arm for maximum intake. See, drugs aren’t all bad, kids (they so are). Nick is a scrappy fellow.
3. There was another interesting idea this episode, that made me think: Those
three two dudes shooting walkers for sport had to be from a cartel, right? Earlier, Anonymom warned Nick about bad men without the restraints of society holding them back. Then these fools show up and kill an old man and immediately start shooting at Nick for the inexcusable crime of running away. Those guys made me think: Cartels would be very well prepared for the world to end. They operate mostly outside of society as it is, and are very self sufficient. They have networks and money and soldiers and leadership and operate off the grid - assets that would not disappear if the world stopped on Thursday. The only change would be the police would be off their back, so they would have more time and resources to survive and thrive.
In The Walking Dead, we see how the apocalypse made ordinary people show their true selves: The Governor worked an office job before he was able to go full crazy. Those kids at Terminus were just regular dudes, until someone tried to kill them. Hell, Negan was a used car salesman and a coach before the apocalypse started. I’m sure he’s completely level headed, though.
But that’s the thing: So far, we’ve only seen situations where people show their true colors after the world ends. What about people that know their true colors, but now don’t have to worry about society trying to jail them?
season DAMMIT it’s the second half of the second season, damn you AMC is going to be pretty interesting.