Surf’s up, and so are the spoilers. Surf at your own risk.
The episode opened with, predictably, the survivors the yacht crew would encounter later in the episode. New characters usually bring in a breath of fresh air, but we already know how this will end. We’ve seen this dance before between Madison and Strand. There is no reason to keep dragging new survivors out if they’re only going to kick the bucket. Save the budget for guest stars and hire a few new writers to call them on rubbish plot management. This episode has no real plot, by the way. It’s a pit stop sponsored by deus ex machina. They needed to buy time for Madison to get good and riled about Strand’s Mexico secret, so the boat broke. Then when they needed to make a quick getaway, suddenly an all-day repair took two minutes. There’s no tension in the plot. The group gets in trouble, finds survivors they’ll leave for death, and magically survive to screw up someone else’s life the following week. The only variation is location.
Madison, Strand, Ofelia, and Travis stayed on the stalled boat during repairs, the kids and Daniel hit the beach to salvage supplies from a plane wreck. While searching, Nick ended up in a pit with not one, but two infected. Chris wanders off from the group and finds the lone survivor from the wreck. The man’s spine is shattered. Chris gives him a brutal mercy killing. Before Travis finishes finding the hand lodged in the water cooling system, the beach crew are greeted with Alex—the woman from the first scene—and a lot of infected. They grab what they found in the wreckage and bail, snagging Alex’s life boat and her injured friend Jake. There’s another predictable fight amongst everyone, with Strand firmly on the “No” side. They reach a compromise; Alex and Jake will be towed after the yacht until San Diego with some food and water. Before they made it a mile, Strand doubled back and cut the life boat free.
Madison is insufferable. I could go on for days about how flat her character is. She only has an opinion to differ Strand’s. The character doesn’t even make sense to Travis, who has been downgraded to an indentured servant’s social level given how little choice Madison gives him while she wants to save the world with nothing but a boat and friggin’ rainbows. Madison becomes the perfect pawn for writer’s to manipulate. Someone’s gotta be nosey and bitchy? Better send Madison. What about Daniel? He’s the Old Wise Man, shouldn’t some of these mental battles be between him and Strand? Hershel and Dale weren’t ones to pass the buck, let alone to a woman, when group tensions rode high. Why is Daniel any different? Oh. Wait. They don’t want to make a minority character “problematic.” Instead they use Madison as women tend to be used in post-apocalyptic fiction, only there to make matters worse. Diversity is the one thing they got right for FtWD. It’s also something they keep toeing around, leaving Madison to be the bothersome one for fear of backlash. Just write people. Come on. You can do that, guys. No more stereotypes, please.
I feel like I’m losing my mind when it comes to the dialog on this show. There were several instances where conversations had no resolution, yet the characters moved on with the plot as though they’d actually said something in the previous scene. When Madison confronts Strand about Mexico, there’s grandstanding about putting family first—probably a red herring about Stand having family—and threats thrown around, but I never felt like they agreed on what to do about the house in Baja. Later in the episode, it’s like they sat there and negotiated a cohabitation plan. The conversation was nothing near that. Then there’s the virtually incoherent conversation with Alicia and Nick on the beach when Nick puts on the captain’s shirt. I was on board with Alicia marveling that her brother is actually with the family, but it took a metaphor turn which didn’t pan out with the performances. Do you know why? It’s a horrible bit of dialog. When dialog doesn’t make sense, actor’s more often than not cannot salvage it for the performance. Instead of the director and writers finding something which fit for Nick and Alicia, they kept the clunky line and killed—yet again—the relationship between brother and sister. The love the writers put on the page is as warm as the crabs crawling from that one infected guy. These people could all be total strangers and it wouldn’t change the relationship dynamics on the yacht one bit.
This is the song that doesn’t end . . . There is nothing unique or original about this show. Finally, I said it. They rehash things done by other shows—even their own mother show—put it near water, and call it new. The episode title fits the entire show so well; a creature eating its own tail, creating an unending cycle. In the show’s case, the cycle is driven by poor writing. They sit at their computers to scribble an episode and pat themselves on the back for being so creative, drowning out any who say their writing isn’t the bee’s knees.
On to next week. I predict more water, more fighting, and clowns juggling chainsaws.
This is one character who will always be made the butt of the joke. Just when things get serious, she finds herself in a strip club white girl bouncing her butt at Peyton in hopes of sparking a vision. Why not, you know, go to the dead woman’s house to trigger something? Track down the ex-boyfriend and talk to him? Surely the dead woman wasn’t a walking, disrobing, stereotype.
Oops, cat’s out of the bag. Yes, Peyton makes another return to the show, filling her place as Liv’s roommate. There’s a change in their relationship now that Peyton knows about zombies. I’m not sure I like it. Cassidy, the dead stripper, was ready to turn in her boyfriend Nick. He just so happens to work for Boss, and she just so happens to have accidentally found a stash house where the empire bags drugs. A lot of drugs. Peyton needs the information in her bashed-in head. Liv is the only key to unlock it. Their interactions after Liv goes dumb on stripper brains turns from friends to boss and underling. Liv didn’t even want to eat the brain. She’d picked out another, safer, brain for lunch. I get Liv pushing herself to be useful and utilizing the powers she’s gained to remain relevant, but why would Peyton use her friend like she’s one of those psychic quarter machines? Yes, she’s desperate. If Boss isn’t put away soon, he’ll send someone after Peyton. But that is no excuse to use a friend with no regard to her motivation behind constantly exposing herself to brains which make her completely looney. Solving murders is what makes Liv tick post-zombiehood. Peyton isn’t concerned with the murder at all, just the information she can pry from Liv and Cassidy’s brain. They do eventually figure out who did it thanks in part to actual police work—running credit cards and known customers through the system with a vehicle description—and help from our favorite weatherman, Johnny Frost. Liv’s big help for the murder case was a vision leading them to the sole eye witness capable of IDing the vehicle.
Things aren’t looking up for Blaine after taking the emergency-only cure Ravi provided. Sure, it made Blaine human again, but he can’t remember anything. Seriously. Tell him a color and two minutes later, he has no clue you even spoke. Don E. and Chief try to keep it under wraps. They pass off his odd behavior when Liv and Peyton visit to discuss his missed meetings as him being confused because he’s out of the loop or tired. Eventually when Blaine doesn’t recover himself, they take him to Ravi to run tests. There’s a glorious moment where David Anders is utterly brilliant, showing how terrified Blaine is not having a memory to solidify his identity. His goon squad will not help matters. Don E. and Chief see a gap in the drug trade—Blaine buried their business, literally, and Boss just lost a major stash house thanks to Liv’s visions. It’s a gap they want to fill. Don E. even goes so far as to turn zombie as insurance policy against assassination. Not the pair’s brightest move. They’re rats sinking a sinking ship. If Ravi can’t reverse the cure’s effects, they’ll need a way to make a living anyway.
The huge news for the show is what’s going on with Ravi and Major. It all ties back to that freaking dog. The morning newspaper has a story charting the Chaos Killer’s victims. One photo is the dog and its owner, which triggers another round of, “Where did you get him? Where did he go?” Which leads to Major failing to convince Ravi that the dog they once housed and the dog in the picture are different. At some point, Major had to consider Ravi’s access to the police and his ability to charm anyone. Bothered by their morning talk, Ravi asks Bozzio about the dog. In return, she asks if he can ID the man in a surveillance picture from Blaine’s. Ravi lies, of course. He won’t say anything until he can find proof. First stop? Breaking into his roommate’s safe. It takes a while, but Ravi uncovers Major’s Chaos Killer kit. Later, he confronts Major with the evidence. Still, Major cannot tell anyone about his link to Max Rager. Pushed to the brink of panic, the adrenaline rush triggers Major’s reversion to zombie. Before he attacks, Ravi doses him with the same injector gun he uses as the Chaos Killer. I’m elated someone finally can call Major on his bull dung Long Ranger idea. Instead of alerting Liv to danger, he hid it from her. In doing so, he put everyone in danger. If Du Clark learns that Ravi has been testing zombies on his own, Ravi will either end up working in an underground bunker until he’s no longer useful or he’ll be murdered to keep the zombie information zipped tight. Either way, exposing Max Rager’s schemes to Team Zombie personnel means everyone in their little friends circle has a target on their forehead. Du Clark sent Janko to nab his own daughter. He won’t hesitate to take out the team.
I am growing tired of our Big Bads for the season. Boss is a tiny man with anger issues and not much substance other than freaky. Du Clark’s threats have been so vague when it comes to the core characters, each time he orders a new death, it’s not surprising and lacks the impact death should have. My hope is these last episodes will wipe out both problems, introduce a few new ones, and finally let Clive in on Team Zombie’s existence.