Warning: This recap for the “Monster” episode of Fear the Walking Dead contains spoilers.
As was teased in the Season 1 finale of Fear the Walking Dead, Maddie, Travis, and their family and friends have taken up residence on Strand’s yacht. But while it’s giving them safe haven from the military bombing of Los Angeles, it certainly doesn’t promise to be safe — from zombies or the still living — for long.
The city is on fire (courtesy of those military bombings), Strand’s house is overrun with walkers, and even the beach below his fancy estate is becoming more populated by the dead with each minute — and the Clark/Manawa crew is reacting to the situation in diverse ways. Nick is acting as Strand’s right hand man, ferrying supplies to the yacht, and then returning to shore to get his family to the Abigail. And, as Strand seems to have an intuition about, Nick’s near-death experiences with drugs have left him with some survival skills that are valuable in this new world. Travis’s son Chris, on the other hand, is still not dealing with the shocking death of his mother. It’s nighttime, walkers ready to nosh on him are all around, and there’s a mad dash to get to that yacht, but all Chris can do is sit on the back, staring at his mother’s dead body. He won’t leave her corpse behind, either, so Liza’s body is among the things Nick, Travis, and Maddie quickly load onto the boat, while Maddie mostly also fends off walkers.
They make it to the Abigail safely, and look back to see their city burning.
San Diego, Ho!
Strand shares the basics of Project Abigail: the yacht has been prepared to travel 3,000 miles, possibly more. “We can survive on the Abigail for quite some time,” he tells his boatmates. Of course, there’s no promise of surviving harmoniously.
Like when Alicia, Maddie, Daniel, and some of the others spot a small boat packed with people. The people on board are yelling at the Abigailians to stop, but when Maddie asks Strand to halt and pick them up, he refuses. “I filled my mercy quota… seven people saved to date,” he tells her. “Be thankful.”
More surprisingly, Travis agrees with Strand. Travis is facing a new reality, with a new attitude, this season: he’s all about being responsible for his own loved ones before he thinks about helping anyone outside the inner circle. And while Strand reveals he’s steering them south, towards San Diego, avoiding the coasts and other boats along the way, Travis tells Alicia to get on the radio and try to scope out places that might be safe and dangerous places they should avoid.
Maddie tries to insist that Strand stop, meanwhile, but he tells her, “If I stop the boat, it’ll be to drop folks off, not take them on.”
Chris is the only one not witnessing the chaos on deck, because he’s in a room, sitting on the bed, staring at the body of his dead mother beside him. He finally comes out and shares a moment with Daniel, while the two of them fish off the side of the yacht. They give each other condolences for their losses, and Chris points out neither of them got to say goodbye.
Travis talks to Daniel about his son, and Daniel assures him one day Chris will understand that “what you did for his mother was an act of mercy… What I would not give to trade my failure for your mercy,” Daniel adds about the death of his wife.
Alicia continues to listen to the hopeless tales of others trying to survive via the radio, when she “meets” Jack, who’s trying to sail to Hawaii in a small boat with his brother and sister-in-law. Jack sounds young, maybe roughly Alicia’s age, and they bond over their state of shock at what has happened, which, for Jack, includes the death of his girlfriend, just like Alicia’s loss of Matt. Their conversation soon turns even more serious, and urgent, when Jack says his family’s boat is leaking. Alicia asks where they are, and Jack’s directions indicate he’s very close to the Abigail. She tells Jack to hang on, and goes to her family to ask if they can help. Strand overhears, and not only strikes down any thought of a rescue, but is angry with Alicia for sharing any information about the Abigail with Jack. When Nick defends his sister, Strand tells him, “Everyone here needs to contribute, or at the very least, not compromise” them.
Alicia reports back to Jack that they can’t come help him and his brother and sister-in-law. “It’s okay, Alicia,” he says. “I got you. I’ll see you soon.”
Later, after a memorial service for Liza ends with Chris pushing her corpse into the ocean, Travis tries to talk to him and is brutally rejected; Chris hits his dad. Maddie then tries to talk to him, sharing that when she was 13, she hit her dad for the first time, and it didn’t end well. She also tells him that his dad had to shoot his mom, and that if Travis hadn’t, she would have. “I will never let that happen to someone I love,” she tells him.
The Floating Dead
While the Abigail’s population gathers for a sitdown dinner, Chris walks to the edge of the yacht and jumps into the ocean. Hearing the splash, Nick goes out and jumps in after him, but Chris says he just felt like going for a swim. Both boys do, but Nick goes underwater, and far enough away, that when he pops back up, there are dead bodies floating around him. He swims further away and under and inside another big boat that has capsized. He sees a walker and gets away before it chomps him, and by this time, Travis has jumped in to try to get everyone back on the Abigail.
Just then, Strand sees on the radar that something, another boat — maybe the boat and people responsible for all the dead bodies floating on the water near them? — is heading towards the Abigail at high speed. He says they need to take off right away, and Travis, Chris, and Nick make it back on board just in time for everyone to wonder what they’ve just discovered, and what’s on their tail, trying to discover them.
— Maddie and Daniel, just as they did in Season 1, are thinking alike: they don’t know if they can or should trust Strand, but they make a pact to find out. Daniel, for instance, wonders why and how Strand was already packing to leave his big house with tall walls even before the military bombs dropped. “Maybe he has motives he’s not sharing with us,” Daniel suggests, assuring Maddie he’s already watching Strand.
— One of the coolest zombie kills in either the mothership series or the prequel: when Nick, while driving his family to the yacht in a smaller boat, thwarts a hungry walker who’s trying to hitch a ride (and get a snack) by raising the boat’s motor out of the water and, yes, motorboating the walker’s face with it.
— While listening to the radio, Alicia hears a Coast Guard message to anyone who might be counting on a rescue: “We have no assistance to provide. I repeat, there is no rescue by sea, land, or by air. They’re stopping. Forgive us.”
— Strand, when Nick asks what they’ll do if San Diego doesn’t work out: “I don’t know. The whole world is ‘I don’t know’ right now.”
— The song Jack is playing when he and Alicia first chat on the radio: David Bowie’s “Five Years,” the late artist’s tune about a future apocalyptic planet.
— Romance ahead? Nick has a little bonding moment with Ofelia when he offers her some advice about dealing with her wounds, namely to put ointment on the bandage and to use ice to numb the pain. “And vodka,” he says. “Lots of vodka.”
O.K., Dead-heads, let’s hear your reactions to “Monster,” the Season 2 premiere: are you still into the prequel series? Do you like the storyline direction, with the action apparently set to take place on Strand’s yacht for the foreseeable future? Do you think Chris will be able to forgive Travis? What’s the rest of the story for Maddie and her violent relationship with her father? Do you trust Strand? Any guesses on what his backstory and motivations are, and how and why he was able to plan ahead for the apocalypse? And what, or who, happened to that other big boat?
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.