Fear The Walking Dead S03E11 “La Serpiente” REVIEW

Fear The Walking Dead S03E11 “La Serpiente” REVIEW

0 comments 📅18 September 2017, 22:01

Airing in the UK on AMC, exclusive to BT, Mondays at 2am and 9pm 
Writer: Mark Richard & Lauren Signorino
Director: Josef Wladyka

Essential Plot Points:

  • Victor, Madison and Walker are en route to the dam. Not that Victor’s actually telling them anything. This goes a touch South when they happen across both a traffic jam and a herd of Walkers. Strand uses a noise-making key chain to distract. And is just magnificently smug about that.
  • He has them park the truck in a side road, the Herd again in pursuit and locks the gates to keep them out. They’re in an improvised car park and Victor finds an entrance, concealed beneath a VW beetle, to the tunnels that will lead them to the dam.
  • Tunnels FILLED with effluent.
  • Walker is very far from okay with this. Madison’s just fine. With no choice, they enter the tunnels.
  • Victor is not as good a navigator as he thinks he is. Walker is furious but Madison points out that it’s her fault they’re here and she trusts Victor utterly. When he walks them up on a small herd, Walker leaves them in disgust. Strand admits that Daniel is at the dam and Victor…may have had a bit of a problem with him. Madison tells him Ofelia’s at the ranch and suddenly Victor’s got bargaining chips again.
  • They make their way through a just heroically disgusting sewer tunnel and suddenly come on a Walker whose bloated form is completely lodged in the tunnel. They have no choice but to remove it. One piece at a time.
  • The horrifically nasty work stops when, suddenly, they realize the Walker may have been acting as a plug. And they realize this just a little too late…
  • At the dam the latest water shipment has gone incredibly badly. A gun toting mob pursues them most of the way and one of Daniel’s guys is injured. The others are furious, adamant that Daniel started the situation but he doesn’t care. Then he sees movement…
  • Movement that turns out to be Strand, Madison and Walker. Madison levels with him and Daniel, still reluctant, tells them he needs to speak to Lola first.
  • Lola isn’t interested. Madison points out they’re under attack but Lola shuts her down. There will be no trade.
  • That night, Lola and Daniel talk. He tells her they know where Ofelia is. He tells her Madison has never lied to him. Lola tells him she’ll understand if he needs to go. Daniel tells her his daughter is safe, but Lola is not. He promises to stay and help Lola. He admits Ofelia thinks he’s dead. And that might be for the best.
  • Strand and Walker are rooming together for the night. Walker calls him on his nonsense, pointing out what Madison sacrificed for him.
  • Lola and Madison talk, one on one. Lola admits she can’t get water to the colonias so if she chooses gringos over them there’ll be violence. Madison points out there will always be violence. Lola offers Madison and her family a place at the dam. Madison isn’t interested.
  • Strand offers to help patch up the man who was injured. Efrain is angry, clearly, and Strand zeroes right in on that. He gets the man to admit he’s terrified of the power they wield at the dam and that he thinks Daniel is in the wrong.
  • In the mess, Daniel goes to see Walker. He thanks Walker for what he did for Ofelia and is horrified to find out she’s a soldier now.
  • Madison is washing clothes in the Dorm. She’s furious. Lola isn’t prepared to defend the place. And Madison admires that as much as she’s enraged by it.
  • Strand does something amazing. He talks her through what she’d want, makes her laugh, helps her see things clearly. It’s brilliant.
  • The next morning, Lola is still  adamant that they can give the city water. Daniel lays it out; without bullets and weapons he can’t defend Lola. He tells her that, sooner or later, the colonias will come in, murder them all and take the dam for themselves.
  • Lola tells him that if he disagrees he can leave and if he stays hs has to do what she says.
  • Daniel goes to see Strand on the dam wall and tells him he knows he’s planning something. If that benefits them both, he’ll make sure he’s looking the other way. If not? Well…
  • Walker leaves, telling Madison he’s going to throw the Ranchers off the land.
  • Daniel and Madison talk one last time. He tells her that Lola is in danger and his daughter, at least, is safe. Madison isn’t buying it.
  • Madison packs up and heads out. She finds Strand near the fence and he tells her to wait.
  • At which point a water truck explodes, a hole in the fence is created and they have no choice but to defend the dam against the incoming Herd.
  • An angry, very much alive, crowd follow the Herd. Daniel takes Strand and Madison up the dam to Lola’s office. It’s done, they have a trade and Efrain is heartbroken.
  • The one condition? Ofelia has to be at the trade. And Daniel is far happier about that he’s prepared to admit.
  • Madison and Strand leave in the truck. Madison asks how he did it. She thanks him and he says ‘You would have done the same for me.’ She’s not so sure and the two laugh about that as they come up on Walker, heading home. Madison grins, says ‘Thirsty?’ and he chuckles and gets in.


Fear The Walking Dead has really got the split narrative approach down now. The way Ofelia’s plot dovetailed into the Ranch and, in turn, was used as a springboard to introduce the Nation shows just how good they are at this now. Likewise, the way Strand’s reintroduction last week was used to remind us of the dam, and use that to tie back to the water problem at the Ranch. This is smart, tightly constructed stuff.

It’s also brave enough to take an episode to lay things out. This is not an incident heavy hour of TV but a lot happens within it. Madison and Walker’s partnership is cemented, Strand and Daniel make a form of peace, the water problem is solved and the Dam starts to be knitted into the complex web of survivor communities the show is exploring. On top of that we get the best work so far from Colman Domingo and Ruben Blades and the slightest hint of some form of romance between Strand and Madison. A romance which, astonishingly, feels not just earned but actually necessary. That’s all really impressive, not to mention ambitious. It’s also worth noting this show has never felt more cohesive and purposeful than it does this season. The level of writing is extraordinarily high and the show is rapidly developing a very specific feel all of it’s own.

The one down side to that is, from time to time, characters are badly served and unfortunately that’s the case three different times here. The most obvious is Walker, who grouches his way through the entire episode and does very little other than complain about how bad Victor is. That should at least be done now but it’s a shame one of the show’s most interesting new characters didn’t have more to do this week. Likewise Efrain, who was so central, and interesting, in ‘100’ is reduced to little more than what Daniel isn’t here. We really hope he’s not on the way out of the show because he’s great but it’s certainly starting to look that way.

The interesting one here is Lola because she’s failed by the episode but has to be. Lola is an idealist, a fundamentally decent woman who still believes the systems of order the old world were built on are there.

They aren’t.

That’s why the pseudo-coup that takes place here presents as kind. Victor takes care (or is lucky) not to hurt anyone, Daniel wants to protect Lola and Madison wants water for the Ranch. The narrative they construct is a victimless crime, or as victimless as it can get, and Lola loses no agency or strength for buying into it. She’s still fundamentally good, and it’s worth noting Madison in particular seems both envious of and relieved by that. Lola’s badly served by the episode but that, unlike the way Walker and Efrain are treated, serves a higher purpose.

And that’s really what the whole episode feels like. Madison, Daniel and Strand especially are all explored in detail here using the microcosm of the water problem and it makes for gripping, character driven TV that even includes arguably the most horrific Walker kill the show has had this season. It’s not fast paced but it’s never dull and continues season 3b’s strong run and the show’s overall massive improvement.

The Good:

  • All new, all bolshie, flamboyant post-apocalyptic Victor is brilliant and we love him.
  • The Procter symbol code is a fun piece of world building. I hope we get to find out more about them. Especially as alst week it was just Procter John…
  • ‘You have a LAKE.’
  • ‘You’re trying to save your children. I’m trying to save my city.’
  • ‘It’s rare a leader does right by everyone.’
    ‘It’s not rare. It’s impossible.’
  • ‘You not wanting Daniel to be right does not make him wrong.’
  • We love a bit of ick every now and then and boy did the Walker in the pipe deliver. EWWWWWWWWW.

The Bad:

  • Poor Efrain is very badly served here. We hope the show isn’t en route to turning him into a figurehead to oppose Daniel and get horribly killed.
  • The pacing is perhaps a little slow.

And the Random:

  • Josef Wladyka has directed for Narcos and Outcast, among others.
  • Mark Richard & Lauren Signorino have written for Hell on Wheels and in Richard’s case Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior.
  • Some excellent music this week. The opening scene is scored by M.T.M.E by Alexandra Savior while the end sequence is set to Palaces of Montezuma by Grinderman, Nick Cave’s side project.
  • So Daniel’s back, Strand’s back and Ofelia’s back. Bets on Luciana before the end of the month?
Review by Alasdair Stuart

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