What Is The Significance Of The Owls On 'Fear The Walking Dead'?

Dustin Rowles
FTWD2_206_RF_0225_0171-RT
FTWD2_206_RF_0225_0171-RT

AMC

SPOILERS

After a rare bad week during an otherwise solid second season, Fear the Walking Dead got back on track with a mysterious and unusually heartbreaking episode, “Sicut Cervus.” There’s a lot to talk about after the episode, which saw the death of two characters and potentially major ramifications for a character who didn’t die. We’ll explore the entire episode on Monday morning, but I want to briefly address a recurring motif throughout this episode.

85971.original-145
85971.original-145

ABC

Owls are not a new symbol in television. Back in the early 90s, owls were a frequent presence on Twin Peaks, and viewers of that series have been trying to interpret their meaning for years. Likewise, in the Cheyenne culture, owls are an ominous sign, and are used as such in the series Longmire.

There’s little to interpret about their presence in Fear the Walking Dead. In the superstitions of many culture, including that of Mexico, owls are a symbol of imminent death, fitting for an episode like “Sicut Cervus” that ends with the death of Thomas Abigail.

In Mexico, the owl also represents witchery, and in the episode’s cold open, we see a church full of parishioners rally together to kill Luis’ mother, Celia, who the churchgoers believe possess the powers of witchcraft (notice the owl in the pattern of her skirt in the header image above). The zombies, the priest says, are not he work of God. The evil, he says referring to the zombies Celia has imprisoned in her estate, “want us to turn away from our faith.” Before the parishioners can storm the walls of Celia’s home and fight against the zombies, however, Celia poisons the communion wafers, killing them all, but not before one of the bites and infects Thomas. Note, however, the eyes of the zombified parishioners. They’re all owl-like atypical of zombies in The Walking Dead universe:

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 10.46.48 PM
Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 10.46.48 PM

AMC

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 10.48.17 PM
Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 10.48.17 PM

AMC

The communion wafers, of course, would return at the end of the episode, given to Strand so that he can kill himself and enter the zombie afterlife with Thomas. The wafer plate even looks like the face of an owl:

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 11.22.26 PM
Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 11.22.26 PM

AMC

According to the witch-like Celia, however, zombies aren’t dead, “they are what comes next.” Like Herschel did on the farm in The Walking Dead, Celia keeps zombified friends and family members locked up, believing that they’re not gone. Rather, they’ve simply moved on to the next stage of life.

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 11.11.31 PM
Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 11.11.31 PM

AMC

When told that her son, Luis, is dead, she also seems unconcerned. So long as he hasn’t been shot in the head, she believes Luis will come back and continue being a part of her family.

Celia is also craaaazy, and the owl medal that Luis gave Daniel to give to his mom suggests that Luis believes likewise.

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 10.44.17 PM
Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 10.44.17 PM

AMC

Daniel knows what’s up. He understands the owl mythology in Mexican culture, and he’s wary of Celia and her compound, refusing to pray to the dead, which are watched over by an owl.

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 11.05.23 PM
Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 11.05.23 PM

AMC

That same owl returns again in the episode when Nick is hypnotized by its eyes, triggering flashbacks to his first experience in Fear the Walking Dead’s Patient Zero. He also falls under the spell of Celia, whose influence could swing Nick to her side in next week’s Fear the Walking Dead midseason finale.

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 11.09.05 PM
Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 11.09.05 PM

AMC

Owls are all around, and so is death. We’ll find out in next week’s episode if those owls are an ominous sign of more death to come.