‘Fear The Walking Dead’ Season 2 Episode 2 Review: ‘We All Fall Down’ Is Most Chilling Episode Yet
Recap and review of Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2 Episode 2 – We All Fall Down:
After a bit of a rough start to the second season last week, Fear the Walking Dead delivered what might be the most chilling episode yet in its entire run. “We All Fall Down” is the kind of episode the show should be doing more often, an anthology-esque look into how different families, individuals, and communities are dealing with the apparent end of civilization. It’s a great episode of TV that stands on its own as a self-contained story.
Of course, it can be read as a bit of a knock on the show that the most compelling aspect of this week’s show isn’t the regular characters, but the newcomers. The boat comes across a cove which houses the Geary family: husband George, wife Melissa, eldest son Seth, and young Harry and Willa. Travis (Cliff Curtis) gets off the boat with Maddie (Kim Dickens), Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie), Nick (Frank Dillane) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) to meet the Gearys, and what we get is a family who, on the surface, appears to be as average and well-adjusted as any family could be in a situation like this. But, beneath the surface, what we really have is a family on the brink of ruin. Maddie quickly discovers that Melissa drew the boat crew to their residence on purpose, and for a very good reason: George is out of his freakin’ mind, doping them up with special pills and claiming that the living are “weeds that Mother Nature is pulling.” To make matters worse, not only is Seth completely sold on his father’s grim preaching, Melissa is suffering from MS, so she’s not long for this world either. So she wants Maddie and her group to take Harry and Willa to safety, to give them a real shot at actually making it, since George and Seth will never agree to leave their little outpost. It’s a plan Maddie is all too willing to accept, and she’s quick to rope Travis into it as well. It’s an interesting dynamic, since Maddie and Travis are weighted down with guilt about all the things they couldn’t change, whether it was Travis being unable to prevent Liza’s death, or Maddie being unable to convince Strand (Colman Domingo) to pick up the drifters. Granted, it’s hard to know whether the world they would be taking the children into would be any safer than the one they’d be leaving, since the log book Nick recovered last week revealed that their planned destination, San Diego, isn’t safe at all. But Maddie is an “act now, think later” type, which makes her one of the more compelling characters in the cast. She might not always make sound decisions, but she’s motivated by an altruistic instinct. You could argue there’s no room for such instincts in what this show’s world is becoming, but it still makes her someone who’s easy to root for. It also makes her grief feel more palpable, as she fails to save Willa.
While looking to score drugs from the Gearys, Nick discovers that the special pills are basically George’s way of slowly killing his family, similar to some kind of deranged doomsday cult. Sure enough, Willa takes one last dose of the special pills, and that’s enough to kill her. She then reanimates and kills her mother too, as if Melissa’s entire situation wasn’t tragic enough already. Strand, the ultimate pragmatist, is completely against taking Harry on-board his boat, leading to a major division within the group. However, Strand ends up not having to make the tough call here anyway, as Seth boards the Abigail and takes his brother back at gunpoint. It’s a heartbreaking defeat for Maddie and Travis, who continually find that good intentions aren’t enough to ensure success. There’s evil in the world, but there’s also confusion. Seth doesn’t know any better about this apocalypse than his father. Moreover, he just watched his mother and sister die. Why wouldn’t he risk everything to get his brother back? Maybe it is better to die at home with your family than to eventually be overrun by walkers. Perhaps there was a twisted sort of logic to what George was planning. And yet, that doesn’t make this any less heartbreaking, especially when the last thing we see of the Geary family is Seth putting his zombified mother out of her misery as the Abigail sails away. It’s just chilling to see how quickly the world has descended, and humanity along with it. It’s one of the most poignant endings to any episode in The Walking Dead universe in recent memory, for my money. Hell, this episode went a long way towards restoring my faith in the series. It’ll be hard to keep up this sort of momentum consistently, but if the show takes an anthology approach to its storytelling rather than being a more structured, serialized type of show, this could be the companion series The Walking Dead universe badly needs — and the adaptation of World War Z that the movie never got to be.
With that said, this episode does add to the serialized mystery surrounding Strand. Daniel (Ruben Blades) and Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) stay behind on the boat to make sure Strand doesn’t sail off without the others, and in the process, they discover more clues to his true intentions. For one, Daniel finds a cache of weapons and a map that appears to lead to Mexico. To add to the suspicion, he overhears Daniel accepting a phone call on the Abigail in which he’s given an ultimatum. He has until sundown to do something, but we don’t know what. At the very least, this seems to indicate we’ll start getting some answers on Strand next week, when the deadline approaches, unless we start the episode after it’s already passed. Either way, I’m guessing we’re in for some revelations. But for now, we simply get some solid development on the relationship between father and daughter: although she comes short of outright forgiving him for his actions in El Salvador, she acknowledges how a person could be changed by the decline of civilization, admitting that this new world was helping her to understand him better. It’s not a lot, but it’s something. It’s baby steps for Fear the Walking Dead, but it worked here, as the characterization is gradually getting richer. “We All Fall Down” is the kind of episode I wished the premiere had been, and I’m hoping we get to see more of how the early stages of the outbreak have shaped different communities in this world.
But what did you think of Fear the Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2, “We All Fall Down”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on Fear the Walking Dead, read our review of last week’s controversial season premiere!