Fear The Walking Dead S02E06 “Sicut Cervus” REVIEW

Fear The Walking Dead S02E06 “Sicut Cervus” REVIEW

0 comments 📅17 May 2016, 20:49

Fear The Walking Dead S02E06 “Sicut Cervus” REVIEW


stars 3

Airing in the UK on AMC Global, Mondays 9pm
Writer: Brian Buckner
Director: Kate Dennis

Essential Plot Points:

• Communion

  • We open on a church in Mexico, in the middle of mass. As the congregation takes Holy Communion, the Priest reassures them that even in these horrific times, God is with them. He argues that the issue is not that God has abandoned them but that the plague that has brought the Undead wants us to turn away from God.

• Bleeding Eyes

  • Outside, the members of the congregation arm themselves as Thomas Abigail speeds up. He frantically tries to talk with the priest as the congregation doubles over, blood streaming from their eyes…

• Travis and Chris

  • Meanwhile the Abigail heads into the ragtag fugitive fleet of ships off the coast.
  • Chris is horrified that his family want nothing to do with him following his incompetent murder attempt last episode.
  • On the bridge, Luis is prepping to negotiate their passage. When his contact comes to them, instead of vice versa, Victor panics and orders everyone into the Engineering room.
  • Hiding out, Daniel translates the negotiations for the others when gunfire erupts. The door opens, the others come up and find the aftermath of a gun battle and a dying Luis.
  • As they make a run for it, Daniel goes outsides to finish the dead before they rise again. Luis begs Daniel not to kill him and gives them a coin he wants to be passed to his mother. Daniel throws it in the sea as the pursuing boats stop shooting and leave them for whatever’s on land…

• Team Abigail

  • What’s on land turns out to be a pile of bodies at the top of a hill. Chris is fascinated by them as Victor spots a very familiar truck and a very familiar church. He runs inside as a horde storms the rest of Team Abigail. It’s the congregation and Daniel, fending off a Walker choir boy flashes back to holding a small boy by the throat. Ofelia rescues him as Chris watches Madison get swarmed by a Walker. She’s doomed, until Alicia saves her. Both of them see Chris do nothing. In the battle, Nick kills a small girl and is very, very not okay with it.
  • They roll out in Abigail’s truck and arrive at his villa. It’s a walled paradise, complete with vineyards and a full, not even a little dead, staff.

• Cecilia

  • They’re greeted by Cecilia, Luis’ mom, who assures them Abigail is there. Strand breaks the news about Luis, and Cecilia takes it in her stride, before accepting that he will find his way back to her…
  • Strand is taken to Abigail who he finds, bitten, and reclining in his rooms. Strand loses it, realising the love of his life is dying and helps the other man into bed.

• Alicia confronts Chris

  • Elsewhere, Chris who is still awful, tries to apologise to Alicia. She calls the little psychopath on his crap and he begs her not to say anything in the same breath as claiming he was doing nothing wrong. He all but threatens her and leaves.

• nick

  • Nick chats with Cecilia and, in a remarkably gentle way, tells her Luis’ last thoughts were of her. Cecilia gently draws the kid out and Nick breaks down a little.
  • Madison interrupts them and basically shuts Cecilia down hard for putting ideas in his head.
  • Outside, Daniel’s looking at the wall of photos remembering the dead. Cecilia arrives and Daniel offers his condolences. She asks why, as he wasn’t shot in the head…

• Strand and Abigail

  • Madison brings Strand and Abigail some food. They chat and Tom asks Madison to promise him she’ll look after Strand.
  • Later, Ofelia checks in with her dad who isn’t hungry and is clearly starting to space out.
  • Madison finds Alicia asleep in front of the TV and tells her about Chris. She instantly goes to Travis and tells him about Chris. Travis, not entirely unreasonably, plays the Nick card. He points out he was there for Nick throughout his addiction and that Maddy is letting him down by not doing the same for Chris. It’s kind of a dick move but you can see his point, especially when he points out that if Chris really is off then she needs to help him. It’s actually a really well-handled conversation in which neither of them is entirely wrong and that maps the obstacles facing extended families onto the end of the world.
  • The end nears for Abigail who sobs, admitting he doesn’t want to leave Strand. Strand offers to go with him.

• Ofelia and Nick

  • Outside, Ofelia takes Nick with her to the shrine to pray to her mom. She admits she’s frightened about her father. As they watch, Nick begins to finally relax and let all the dreadful things that have happened catch up with him. He seems to find a certain kind of peace.
  • Nearby, Daniel sees a puppy being fed into a chute on the edge of a building. He investigates further and sees a young boy talking to a closed door. The boy admits that his mother is through the door and lets Daniel see her through a nearby gate;
    She’s a Walker.
  • One of at least a dozen.

• Family

  • Daniel confronts Cecilia who apologises for nothing. She explains that they’re family and deserve to be looked after. She cares for them, stops them being hunted like “monsters”.
  • As they talk she prepares two poisoned communion wafers and Daniel realises she killed the congregation so they could be “cared for”. She retorts that he was the one who killed them and takes the wafers to Strand and Abigail.
  • There she sings Abigail to sleep as he dies. She admits she never thought Strand was good enough for Thomas and is proud of him. She comforts him, assuring him it won’t take long and leaves him to sleep.

• poisoned wafers

  • Nick finds Cecilia outside and asks her if the Walkers are really dead or not. She explains that they are “what comes next”.

• Chris

  • Chris waits for his dad to fall asleep then walks into Alicia and Madison’s room and gets a knife. A gunshot rings out and they wake up, finding him standing over them.
  • Nearby, Strand drops the gun he just used to shoot Abigail in the head…


This is a difficult episode to talk about, because it does a lot of things right and one major thing… maybe not wrong but certainly in the exact same way too many other shows have done recently.

There’s an ongoing debate, reignited recently by the death of a character on The 100 (oddly played by Alycia Debnam-Carey who was written out to star on Fear The Walking Dead), about the way LGBT characters are treated on American TV. The perception, and it’s an accurate one, is that if anyone’s going to die to escalate the drama, odds are it’s going to be the LGBT character. After all, the Doc got killed towards the end of The Walking Dead last season and, if Darryl’s the one who has a date with Lucille then a character who may be bisexual will be next.

The bad thing is this keeps happening, with 10 LGBT characters dead in 2016 so far alone. The story’s made international press (see here) and it’s so common there’s a trope for it (see here).

So, killing Abigail this episode, especially after introducing him last episode, is a very sour note in an otherwise pretty good script. Yes there’s an argument, and a good one, for LGBT characters being treated no differently to anyone else, especially on a show like this. But when 10 characters have been killed in five months? That’s not a good look for anyone.

So, the death of Abigail this episode is… annoying? Tiresome? Overly familiar? All of the above? It’s a particular shame as both Dougray Scott and Colman Domingo turn in brilliant work in the maybe seven minutes they have on screen together. Domingo in particular is brilliant, clearly consumed with grief and keeping it just below the surface. His final moments here are especially heart wrenching and it’ll be interesting to see how this development changes Strand. Here’s hoping it’s in new and different ways to the last 10 shows that have gone down this route.

Elsewhere the episode does better. A huge amount of that is down to the direction and Kate Dennis gets great work out of the entire cast, especially Marlene Forte as the towering presence of Cecilia. She’s endlessly calm, endlessly kind and clearly driven in a way we don’t find out until the end of the episode. Buckner’s script refuses to make her an idiot and it’s absolutely to be applauded for that. She’s a heroine in her own house, a general who keeps her troops together, living and dead. I hope the show lands this plot because she’s arguably the most nuanced and interesting antagonist either this or the parent show have had in some time. Her scenes with Nick are especially great and Frank Dillane absolutely shines this week.

As does Lorenzo Henrie. Chris is still AWFUL, don’t get me wrong, but there’s clearly a point to it. A large stabby point. And failing that a blunt instrument or two… Chris is spinning out of control and Henrie does great work showing us his delusional view of himself even as he undermines it. Chris has embraced death in the same way Nick has recoiled from it and the conflict that hints at should make for a hell of a run. Assuming they both survive the mid-season finale…

“Sicut Cervus” continues the show’s steady flow of improvement but does so around an immense rock of predictable storytelling. There’s still definite progress but Abigail’s death is going to take some getting over. Not because of grief but because yet another show has gone down this route. Here’s hoping it at least leads somewhere interesting.


The Good:

  • “I’m just a little sick of it.” There’s so much quiet compassion in this scene. Cecilia being kind enough to let Nick be brave enough to lose it a little.
  • “He won’t make it easy.”
    “Why do you think I’m asking you?” It’s annoying that Abigail’s gone so fast but this tiny exchange is great.
  • Kate Dennis’s direction is top notch. There’s a lot of careful, small character moments here and she makes every single one work. Plus there’s real subtlety to the performances, especially the Nick and Cecilia scenes and everything with Strand and Abigail.
  • This is a subtle, interesting way of dealing with the dead and it’ll be interesting to see how long we spend at the villa. Given it’s the mid-season finale next week we’re guessing maybe two more episodes.
  • This should be a Bad because it’s Chris and he’s awful. However, the way he’s falling apart and the contradictory nature of everything he’s saying is a really well observed look at trauma and what it does to you.

The Bad:

  • Not really “bad” – more an observation. It’s entirely understandable that a story focused on a Mexican community would be so spiritually focused. However it’s also dangerously close to stereotypical and, if Nick’s wooden owl powered freak out goes one way then it will cross that line and do so at tremendous speed.
  • Yes I know Dougray Scott probably costs a lot of money but getting him for two episodes as a gay love interest who’s dead almost before you finish saying “gay love interest” is a bad plan. Especially for a show which last season swung perilously close to “Murdered/Evil/Evil then Murdered black cast member of the week”.

The Random:

  • Marlene Forte does incredible work here as Cecilia Flores. The actress/producer has a huge, storied career that’s taken in work on Nip/Tuck, CSI: Miami, Jericho, Community and Star Trek.
  • Shot of the week is Nick, exhausted and alone, surrounded by the dead.

• Shot of the week

Review by Alasdair Stuart


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