Fear the Walking Dead 2×05 ‘Captive’: No place like home

Fear the Walking Dead 2x05 Cover

Shows often see plot advancement and character development as two separate entities. If you’re pushing plot forward, you’re not digging into characters. If you’re digging into character development, you’re not moving the plot forward. But there’s only so much time in one episode, in one movie, in one season, and there needs to be ways to combine things together. Exposition, characterization, plotting, everything needs to be efficient. Without efficiency, stories can come to a crawl, bringing down everything with it.

Source: AMC

Source: AMC

Fear the Walking Dead, at least in this season, is not an efficient show. There isn’t a whole lot going on, and there hasn’t been for the entirety of the season. “Captive” isn’t far different than the rest of the season so far, trying to balance plotting and characterization, succeeding in some regards and completely failing in others. It’s interesting to see the show try so hard to do everything and end us kind of failing as a result. This isn’t to say that the show is all bad; it’s just not doing enough with the time that it has, and as a result, it feels kind of dry and bland, something that a post-apocalyptic drama definitely shouldn’t be.

Source: AMC

Source: AMC

The best characterization this episode is Chris, who is struggling with a perceived internal weakness that he feels is keeping his family from being safe. While Reed (the younger brother) has a sociopathic attitude (that makes him a little bland), Chris does find himself somewhat drawn to it. It’s not because Chris feels that he should be that way, but he’s wondering why he isn’t quite as tough as he wants to be. He’s torn between wanting to be more brutal and wanting to be tough enough to take down those as brutal as Reed. It’s fairly strong characterization, all things considered, even if it’s not moving in any other direction other than the one it has been moving in all season.

Source: AMC

Source: AMC

As for the other characters, the only other character that is really emphasized is Alicia. She’s also somewhat simple in that she just wants to feel a connection with somebody, but this episode has her trying to figure out what connection is genuine and what connection is facetious. She can’t really come to a conclusion in the way she would like, as Jack seems kind but is part of a group of vicious raiders. In the end, she escapes with her family, placing her trust in them, but how much trust does she really have in them? Jack seemed to shake her trust in her family, just as Reed shook Chris’s faith in his family. All of this comes from a thick layer of insecurity, but it still shakes them all the same. Rooting the teenagers’ struggles in insecurity helps to humanize them a little more, as just making teenagers difficult can really distance an audience from them. As a result, the episode felt easier to watch.

Source: AMC

Source: AMC

Not a whole lot happened otherwise. Reed ended up dying when Chris shot him in the face (because he was “going to turn”), Madison decided to try and exchange Zombie Reed for Travis by putting a bag over his head, it works, and everybody goes home safely. There’s a commentary on family running throughout this, not only because Chris and Alicia both have their faith in family shaken, but also because Reed and Connor have this bond with each other that is unshakable, even if Reed lashes out against the idea of family. There’s a bond within family that people aren’t able to just break, and it’s something that even homicidal sociopaths have.

While “Captive” continued the trend of somewhat tedious episodes, its better attention to characterization elevates it above some of those previous episodes. But more than that, it closes off this particular storyline, promising something more interesting as the Abigail moves closer to land. Hopefully, as the show moves, on, it can get a little more exciting and a little more unpredictable. Because right now the show is way too timid and way too cookie-cutter. It’s going to have to be a lot more interesting if it wants to live up to its imperfect older brother.

What did you think of “Captive”? What do you think will happen when they get to land? Let me know in the comments!

Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.
  • George Liapes

    Well I’ll give the show points for subverting expectations as it once again took what I thought would be the Big Bad and main plot point of the season (Connor and Co.) and blew it up by the end of the episode.

    I actually do believe that Jack and Alex will meet up with them somewhere down the line before the season is up (I’m glad that the latter is still around, as her connection from the miniseries helps expand the universe ever so slightly) but for now things are pretty much back to where they were at the season’s beginning.

    I enjoyed Chris’ characterization as well, even though it contained the parent show’s sins of the antagonist being a one dimensional sociopath and the character expressing his feelings in a clumsily written speech (I couldn’t have been the only one who was inwardly sighing when he told Nick how he felt responsible for Connor’s crew hijacking them as if we couldn’t figure it out from a more concise viewpoint).

    I also thought that the scenes with Travis and Alex were also kind of tedious. I understand how Travis is the one with the most heart and the most capable of feeling guilty about things but I thought it was kinda contrived how he just took full responsibility for Strand leaving Alex and Jake to die lime that

    Alicia’s interactions with Jack were also pretty good, even though it was kind of tainted by the teased ship between them, though I doubt it’ll come to pass.

    I do hope that the issue of trust when it comes to Alicia and nick will create some interesting tension within the group.

    I’m kinda worried though with the show burning through so much plot that I wonder what the next storyline will be, even though they’ll be on land soon. Given that the jury is still out on who killed the ship full of people back in the season premiere, I can see that coming back, though hopefully in an organic way.

    So, overall I’m still interested but Right now, I’m looking at the show with less optimism that I had at the start of the season.

    • Michael St. Charles

      I feel the same way. I had a lot more optimism about this show at the beginning of the season, though I’m still interested to see how it progresses (especially considering that they renewed it for a 16-episode third season). I wish the show would give Travis more to do, or at least advance his character in the way that the first season did. By the end of the first season, Travis was my favorite character. Now? I don’t know, maybe Chris? I think Chris’s character is a little one-dimensional, but I appreciate the attempts to characterize him and deepen exactly why he feels so despondent.

      Really, I’m just looking for more Strand, haha.