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TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead (Season 2, Episode 13)

Season 2, Episode 13: Date of Death

PLOT: When Travis shows up at the gates of the Rosarito Beach Hotel alone, flashbacks show what happened during his final days with Chris.

REVIEW: Usually when a piece of zombie entertainment features a horde pressing itself against the gates of a place, reaching between the bars and making a racket, that horde is a bunch of zombies hungry for human flesh. On Fear the Walking Dead, we have a horde of desperate people seeking help and being turned down because, once again, one of the main characters made a stupid decision and has endangered the lives of others because of it. Wanting to be reunited with her ratty-haired, drug-providing son Nick, Madison (Kim Dickens) switched on the lights at the Rosarito Beach Hotel, the place that she and her companions just recently took over and cleared of walkers. Nick wasn't around to see those lights, but plenty of other people were. Now they want in... and even though these people could certainly and easily fit inside the hotel, there are other things to consider before people can be let in. So these people are stuck outside the gate, pleading. Hope dangled in front of their faces and snatched away by one of our heroes.

Lest the show stir up too much (more) hate for its leads by focusing on the plight of the people outside, the episode begins to spin a different story when Madison's boyfriend Travis (Cliff Curtis) shows up at the gate. Alone. Travis and his son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) had split from Madison and the others in the mid-season finale so Travis could give Chris all his attention and try to pull his son back from the precipice of becoming a serial killer. As the episode Do Not Disturb showed, that was easier said than done - that episode ended with Chris murdering a farmer. That was the last time we saw Travis and Chris together. Where is Chris now?

Date of Death is the story of Travis and Chris's last days together, and I was shocked. Not necessarily by the events of those days, but by the fact that Travis and Chris's storyline turned out to be so interesting. Unlike Travis, I wrote Chris off a long time ago, so I didn't expect much from them once they left the original group. To my surprise, I wasn't bored and frustrated when we get glimpses of their experiences, but instead fascinated. Travis's refusal to give up on humanity, his struggle to save his son while Chris continues to pull away, was very compelling stuff to me. Chris has a view on the post-zombie-apocalypse world that is dangerous, believing that there is no right or wrong anymore and that killing is always the best option. If someone is in your way, good or bad, they're to be killed. If they're dead weight, even if just from an injury that they can heal from, they're to be killed.

Chris's viewpoint is shared by the friends he made in the Do Not Disturb episode, Brandon (Kelly Blatz) and Derek (Kenny Wormald), and might even be shared by their pal Baby James (Israel Broussard), if only he weren't the one trying to heal from a gunshot to the leg. These guys seemed okay when they were first introduced, but this episode proves them to be a bunch of scumbags. If they want to get on the road so badly, I don't understand why they couldn't just leave James behind to fend for himself as he recuperates rather than contemplate executing him. There's even an explanation given and I still don't understand, but that's something Travis doesn't understand, either. I'm on Travis's side here all the way around.

For me, Date of Death was one of the best and most interesting episodes we've gotten so far in the second season of Fear the Walking Dead. I was invested in watching the Travis and Chris story play out, interested in seeing how the situation at the Rosarito gate would be resolved, and satisfied with the conclusions. Of course, they also slipped in some information I didn't care about - I don't know how the death of Madison's ex is relevant to anything going on - but that was minor and just served to provide a dramatic moment between Madison and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey).

It's odd, this was a highlight of the season and yet there wasn't even any zombie action.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: This category is not applicable for this episode.

GORY GLORY: The gore here was provided by James's nasty leg wound and the attempt to doctor it.

FAVORITE SCENE: When Chris comes to deliver food to the barn where Travis is trying to protect James. Like the Rosarito lights coming on, there's a glimmer of hope that is then snatched away.

FINAL VERDICT

Extra Tidbit: What did you think of Date of Death?

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