Fear The Walking Dead S03E10 “The Diviner” REVIEW

Fear The Walking Dead S03E10 “The Diviner” REVIEW

0 comments 📅11 September 2017, 23:01

Airing in the UK on AMC, exclusive to BT, Mondays at 2am and 9pm 
Writer: Ryan Scott
Director: Paco Cabeza

Essential Plot Points:

  • Nick is in a hot box. He’s sweating, delirious and a Walker is heading towards him.
  • It’s Troy. Except he isn’t a Walker.
  • And somehow that makes it much worse.
  • Troy torments his prisoner before letting him out once Nick says the password ‘I owe you.’
  • Troy opens the door, beckons him forward and…
  • Nick is still locked in the box. This is his sentence for his role in Troy’s insurrection.

  • Walker and Madison are at the Aquifer. It’s almost empty. This is BAD. Walker mentions a trading post his scouts had found and they head off, imposing rations on the ranch while they’re away.
  • Before they leave Madison tells Alicia the truth; there’s six weeks of water and then it’s gone. If everyone finds out, it’s over. And if everyone finds out, then she and Nick need to get out, fast. Madison hugs her daughter and tells her ‘You’ve always been the strong one’ which is pretty much the nices tthing she’s ever said to anyone.
  • Nick is let out by Crazy Dog who gives him water, cuts his bonds and tells him he’ll be watching…
  • Alicia walks in on Jake being bullied by members of the ranch. She dismantles them through sheer force of will, managing to completely put Jake over as the leader of the Ranch at the same time as being in control herself. It’s positively Madisonian.
  • That night, Madison checks in with Alicia who explains the ranch is tense but holding together.
  • Madison and Walker talk. Well they actually bicker but it’s weirdly kind of sweet.
  • Nick wakes up to someone breaking into his room. He pulls a knife on them and is greeted by several militia members. They’re there to thank him for standing up. They’re ready to fight if he is. They’re ready to follow him.
  • Nick takes this about as well as you might expect. He poker faces out, tells them they need guns.
  • They give him a ‘gift’. The last free gun on the ranch. They leave him to rest.
  • At the water line the next day, Ofelia tries to give some extra water to a kid who knocks it out of her hand.
  • Further back one of the militia guys is adamant that Walker’s people have been double dipping and something has to be done…
  • Walker and Madison arrive at the trading post, in a stadium. The price to get in to trade something of worth; the only option they have is to hand over Madison’s radio, getting them two days inside.
  • The stadium is packed with vendors, traders and people. It’s weirdly comforting, a bustle of people and life and noise.
  • The ranch is dead quiet. Alicia goes to see Ofelia. Alicia tries to get out ahead of the rumour that member sof the Nation went through twice. Ofelia is adamant that isn’t the case and throws the rumour that the militia are rebuilding back at her. Alicia leaves.
  • Nick is at a militia meeting. They want war. He’s playing for time. It JUST goes in Nick’s favour.
  • Nick goes home and Alicia throws the gun at him. He tells her he’s trying to control them and points out that they are at least listening to him. He has no answer when Alicia asks what they’ll do when they find out what really happened.

  • Alicia drops the bomb. ‘We keep trying to make her love us. It’s BROKEN.’ and leaves. She tries to call Madison on the walkie, not realizing she’s traded it away.
  • At the bazaar, Madison and Walker manage to trade for half their water. The trade is going well when Madison overhears scuffle nearby. It’s Strand. Madison tries to help but the trade is off. Procter John is mad at Victor and anyone who’ll help him.
  • So, Madison knocks a guy out with a shovel and she and Walker fight their way clear with Victor.
  • They’re all set to leave until Victor points out that no one leaves without clearing their debts. Victor hides them for a night and promises to sort it out.
  • The following morning Alicia finds a woman double dipping. She tries to stop her but a fight almost breaks out.
  • At which point Alicia Clark levels with everyone. Work together or die. Live together, die alone.
  • It doesn’t work. A massive brawl ensues.

  • Until Crazy Dog seizes the well to ensure everyone gets what they need.
  • Nick refuses to move. The other ranchers join him in a human shield around the well. Crazy Dog stares him down, growls ‘I’ll keep the peace, but not at all costs. Remember that.’
  • At the bazaar the next day, a disguised Walker keeps an eye on their contact. In hiding, Strand and Madison catch up. In an just impossibly sweet moment Madison breaks a little and Victor hugs her. Then Walker is brought in, by armed guards.

  • Victor is sentenced to working off his ‘debts’ by being chained to a work crew and left outside to fight off Walkers. Madison tries to get him out but he assures her he’ll be fine.
  • At the ranch, war is being prepared for. Ranchers with tools and knives, axes and hammers preparing to kill the Nation for their water. The Nation are out dousing.
  • The militia are making bladed weapons and bound for glory. Nick has a plan; disarm the Nation and there’s no blood.
  • That night, Strand is chained to the gates as a group of Walkers approach…
  • The following morning, Walker completes the water trade. Except the pipe bombs are empty…
  • Victor has lasted the night but won’t last much longer. As he’s surrounded, the Proctor’s men open the gate, kill the Walkers and get him on hs feet. His debt is paid.
  • Walker confronts Madison. He doesn’t even bother asking if she sabotaged the pipe bombs. She responds that Victor has a permanent solution. The dam.
  • The next day at the ranch, the idiot brigade think they’re sneaking up on Ofelia and Crazy Dog. They’re distracted by Alicia helping the dousers try and dig a new well.
  • Nick watches them dig. Then hands his revolver to one of the militia and goes to joing them. A moment later, Ofelia does the same thing. As does Crazy Dog. And then, the militia members. The Ranch, united, at last.


It’s always good when a show keeps making smart choices. When a show and it’s characters keep making smart choices, it’s even better. Fear The Walking Dead hasn’t always done either but this episode really delivers.

The only reason this episode didn’t get full marks is because of some of the fiddlier elements of the bazaar story line. That’s a whole string of great ideas but it doesn’t quite flow properly. Even then though there’s some massively impressive world building going on. Time really has passed in this world, people have got on with things and a semblance of normality has returned. Just normality edged with blood and horror.

That new found broader world is a nice touch and gives Strand the bounce in his step again. But it’s Nick, Alicia and what they don’t do this episode that really makes it stand out. In previous seasons, the idea of Nick as the reluctant (ish) head of the militia and Alicia as the stand in Madison/Jake would have been a full season of angst. You’d have had factions form around them, one of them make some stupid decisions and one or two minor characters not make it out alive.

But this show really does seem to be past that stage of it’s development now and it’s so much better for it. Instead, we get Alicia and Nick as the leaders they’ve always threatened to be but never given the chance. Frank Dillane’s Nick has been great for a couple of seasons now but his combination of trying to steer the militia somewhere positive, and liking being in charge, is a nice shot of darkness for the character. He’s never failed to want the best for people it’s just he’s usually gone there the most direct, and violent way.

Alicia, by contrast, has been constantly overlooked and here she finally says that out loud. Alycia Debnam-Carey has incredible natural presence and the scene where she lays it all out for her brother is a season highlight. But her finest moment is the same as Nick’s. And everyone else’s.

Digging the well at the end of the episode is the most important thing anyone on this show has done to date. Not because it will lead to water, it almost certainly won’t. But because for the first time in at least a season, these are characters doing something for a reason bigger than themselves. The militia’s belligerent idiocy and the measured, justified rage of the Nation have both been interesting but they’re also both played out. The show had two options, perfectly articulated by Jack way back at the top of Lost and almost word for word by Alicia here;

Live together. Die alone.

The moment where Nick almost smiles when he hands the gun over is immensely powerful. The silent conversation with his sister is too. But what really works here is the way Ofelia, Crazy Dog and the militia join in. Not enthusiastically, not all at once. But all together. Because no one wants to die alone and they all must learn to live together. Powerful, simple, brilliant drama and another high watermark for the show.

The Good:

  • Hallucination Troy is delightful! Also terrifying.
  • That’s a lovely shot up the statue at the trading post.
  • Also the implied normality of the trading post being at a stadium is a nice touch.
  • ‘Easy mistake to make. We all look the same to you.’
  • ‘Oh that’s how you feel? There are the stairs. WALK OUT.’-This show is never better than when Alicia is flexing her leadership muscles.
  • ‘I was upset I wasn’t a part of it, how shitty is that? But then I was relieved. Because what a burden it is being mom’s favorite.’-See?
  • ‘How much trouble are you in?’-She knows him so wellllll
  • ‘People either love me or hate me, Mr Walker,never indifference. But there’s a good damn reason why I’m still here.’
  • ‘Our children are alive.’ RIGHT!IN!THE!FEELS!
  • ‘God’s a feckless thug.’-The last thing I was expecting was a West Wing reference and it’s a perfect one too! In the stunning season two finale ‘Two Cathedrals’, President Bartlet has a raging monologue at God about the misfortunes and horrors his people have endured. He refers to the deity as a ‘feckless thug’. We are completely unsurprised thatVictor is a West Wing fan.
  • ‘David bested Goliath with a sling.’
    ‘Goliath didn’t have AKs. They do.’
  • ‘Victor here has a permanent solution.’
    ‘…I do?’

The Bad:

  • Some of the timing is a little wacky. The episode plays out over two days but a lot of that time goes REALLY fast.
  • So…Victor’s secret hideaway from the men he owes a debt to is about 40 metres down a clearly accessible service corridor from them?
  • We loved the idea of the ‘debt’ being paid by working a night on the fence. But given that Victor has at most one other person out there with him and no supervision that’s a pretty impractical system.

And the Random:

  • Paco Cabeza has directed movies such as The Appeared and Neon Flesh, as well as Mr Right, based on a Max Landis script and starring Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell. His TV work includes Penny Dreadful and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.
  • Ryan Scott has written for The Bastard Executioner. Revenge, Graceland and Torchwood: Miracle Day as well as Fear The Walking Dead.
  • Justin Rain has been in the genre neck of the woods before as Quentin McCawley in the fondly remembered Defiance.
Review by Alasdair Stuart

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