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Sunday, June 4, 2023

Odessa |8x03| Fear The Walking Dead

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PADRE is a LIE! …or is it? The show not only finally reunites Daniel Salazar with both June Dorie & Madison Clark, but takes a peek behind Oz's curtain on PADRE's nouveau raison d'être - and I get the feeling some of you might think the means might justify the ends.
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David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:

  • We will hopefully livestream our thoughts and feelings on our recent return from The Camp (hopefully, by the time we've all physically recovered), but we wanted to leave you with the coolest thing to have happened (besides the two panels we moderated) and that's this incredible comic book cover inspired poster of us commissioned by 🏅SURVIVORS Tier Member, Aliza Jones, created by none other than Kirk Manley! You may remember the interview we conducted with him, back when he was promoting his simultaneous return and virtual exhibition of his tribute art around the time The Walking Dead had just finished dropping the first few episodes of Season 11.
  • 🧟WALKERS Tier Member, Benjamin Scotford, weighed in on the cinematography & VFX of this episode. We managed to watch this episode together, in the hotel room, just before we had to leave the next day, which was really special - though Dave revealed his ornery side during the attempt.
  • Sherrandy thought this episode was definitely better than the 1st episode, but obviously can't compete with the second. Although we have to emphasize that she enjoyed this episode, it was hard for her to comprehend some of the more nonsensical writing/dialogue choices... especially when it makes her have to defend Madison Clark (not being her fault that Dove's/Odessa Sanderson's mother, Ava Sanderson, died) and having to put up with Shrike/Samantha Krennick blaming June Dorie for Finch being bitten.

  • On the lighter side, everyone loved the light-hearted reveal of Daniel Salazar drinking out of his yerba mate cup. In both a nonsensical/unintentionally humorous way, Sam & Ben Krennick / Crane being lost in the maze of shipping containers made them chuckle a bit. In somewhat the same fashion, Finch responding well to June's radiation therapy yields mixed reactions - for more on what this means for The Walking Dead Universe, read Kirsten Acuna's interview with the show-runners:

  • Emily thinks there should be a drinking game every time a character mentions the 7-year time-skip; however, we've noted in the previous episode how much we appreciate that they do, simply because it's easy to slip: the events of last season feel as though they had only just occurred.

  • Rachael, too, enjoyed this episode, overall. We received more information and moved the story forward. Even though the flashback to just after the zombie apocalypse was slightly hokey, it was cool to see a younger Shrike. While she thought the death of General Krennick (Sam & Ben's father) was somewhat ridiculously underwhelming, Sherrandy thought it was akin to the self-immolation of protesting Buddhist Monks.

  • Bridget thought this episode was passable, but really loved seeing Daniel (her favorite character), again. She, too, echoed Rachael's thoughts about Gen. Krennick's oddly stoic death. Although she agrees with Sherrandy's assessment that this episode had some poor writing choices, it at least properly staged future episodes. Oh yeah, and Troy Otto: you are not the PADRE. Neither is Tobias, who is not even important enough to include in WalkerWyn's tribute poster to Fear The Walking Dead.
  • Dave brings up what appears to be the theme of this episode (and perhaps the final season, or at least the first half): Madison can't bring herself to tell the children the truth about PADRE, given everything she's done over the last several years and remembering that she was the one who took Odessa from her mother. June only emphasizes these feelings by telling her that Nick Clark & Alicia Clark were never the same after Madison disappeared. Parents dealing with the loss of their children and children dealing with the loss/abandonment of their parents come to a head.

  • The main question here is - setting aside some of the more questionable decisions PADRE has made and given the fact that both Sherrandy & Rachael have both said children should be capable (like Judith Grimes, less like Aaron's daughter, Gracie) - is what PADRE doing all that bad? The main gripe seems to be that it might've been more motivational for the children to have been told that their parents died over having been abandoned. Bridget can't deny that Shrike & Crane's lived experience (losing their father in the manner they did, right at the start) is what motivated their well-intentioned decision-making. I suppose their single-parent father should've introduced spanking/corporal punishment?

  • Given the fact that PADRE doesn't take in parents, with the rare exception of Dwight / Redkite & Sherry / Starling, because they won't go along with the program, plus Daniel failing their intake procedures - along the lines of his age and ostensive usefulness - it's quite possible that Wendell, too, might've suffered the same fate as Daniel and Sarah Rabinowitz would never have never abandoned him if she could help it (and certainly would've never followed their program). The positive side, here, is that at least it's possible that neither of them died, even though they've been effectively written off the show.

  • Chris Gonzales asks how Dove couldn't remember her mother, but it wasn't until after the episode that I realized that, if Madison had snatched her from Ava right around the time she survived The Dell Diamond, she would've already had a few years on Baby Moe / Wren and would be a few years older than her, already (on top of the fact that is seems as though she was snatched-up at around age 3~5, if you look at her intake photo, above).

  • Dave offers a different perspective on the show's writing, thus far: it feels as though the show is attempting to give us as much information as possible in the short span of time we have to tell the story. The end result, really, feels like sides are changing too rapidly and twists lose their impact. We're not given enough time to feel the weight of the story bearing out. In other words, less would've been more. As the ladies say, it reads a lot like the improv game, Yes, and?

  • The end result of all this is that, in truly unprecedented fashion (because, as bad as the writing can sometimes be, the twists were always pretty surprising), we all predicted that at least Shrike was PADRE: the fact that they went into her backstory with Ben and her father only confirmed our suspicions, so the reveal was pretty lackluster rather than mind-blowing.

  • Keeping in mind that PADRE's raison d'être is motivated from childhood trauma, Shrike's lies frustrate Bridget & Sherrandy the most, specifically the claim that PADRE saved Finch (after placing his life in jeopardy to begin with). What justifies the sacrifice, to them, is that they are now one step closer to making it possible for these children to reunite with their parents; therefore, in their own minds, they saved all the Finches.

  • Dave mentions how, when you see the Krennick family in the flashback, you are supposed to see them as a mirror to The Clark family: similar family structure, different background and circumstances. It's all meant to illustrate that the fall and the tragedies that subsequently occur will shape the individual family members in different ways. So when it was revealed that Sam & Ben were, essentially, PADRE, and that their primary motivation was to prevent children from losing their parents, Dave felt super sad for them: they too are trying to recreate the the conditions that went wrong in their lives in order to right them, much in the way our protagonists have - not only in this season, but in seasons past.
  • Dave mistakenly used the wrong word, nitpick, in trying to explain how we always do our best to see what the writers of the show are trying to do, which is what tripped up the ladies: it brings up some of the arguments we went through in the first episode, mostly how stupid we feel, now that the writing seems lackluster, having defended the show when (we thought) the writing wasn't as bad as everyone was saying. God bless the actors: they're doing the best they can with what they have.

  • Bridget moves on to focus on how really good the walkers have looked in general, this season - not just the horde during the end scene or the fresh walkers in the 12 year old flashback. Save for the Walker Adrian head in the last episode, the show has been marvelous in terms of cinematography and VFX - as Ben had said, earlier - but it also managed to make walkers feel dangerous again, evoking the horror element that The Walking Dead had done in the last season with the introduction of variants. Most people either laughed or thought the walker head under the burlap sack was a little of an unusual choice, but Dave liked it: it had this whimsical creepiness to it that reminded him of Black Mirror's logo.

  • Going back to Daniel, Dave loves the part where he mentions to Madison how hard he was trying to, but ultimately couldn't keep is promise to stay with Charlie (until the end) & Luciana Galvez, just like he tried to do with Ofelia Salazar. It really highlights the common thread that all of our protagonists seem to have with the stacks of losses they've endured, losing both actual and found-family. It would pain Sherrandy not to mention the fact that Madison reuniting with Naomi was pretty underwhelming. And we would all be remis if we failed to mention the nod to how it all went down when Ben mentions, in the flashback, how both Atlanta, Georgia & Los Angeles, California were bombed (a la Project Cobalt).

  • Even though June seems fine, we know that she's not fine, especially by the end of the last episode and definitely after it's revealed that Shrike and Crane are PADRE. How much darker might June get? What will she cut off next, Shrike's hair, perhaps? Which leads to the ridiculous wig Dave wore during both parties at The Camp and how he sort of looked like Shrike. (which is interesting because Maya Eshet, who plays Shrike, is Israeli). But anyway, who wore it better?

  • So Madison claims that both she and Daniel can't be the leader they need, much to the disbelief of many a viewer. Upon further examination, it's not about leading the parents to victory (which Daniel is more than capable of doing) but what comes after: being the bridge between the parents and their children. Sure, Morgan Jones, since he only took children who were either left to their own devices or whose parents lacked the resources to take care of them, but why not Wren/Mo? She really stood out, this episode, and even managed to win over Rachael.

  • Sherrandy had mentioned that since June's right index/trigger finger was cut off, she'd be shooting with her right middle finger, instead. As skeptical as Dave was about that and how she might opt to shoot southpaw, the show does, in fact, show Jenna Elfman shooting the PADRE goons with her middle finger. Dayum, June.

  • More than just June's bad-assery, we love that she continues to listen and absorb, rather than react. It falls in line with where her character is at, in the present moment. On the other side, we kind of like that Madison is feeling the weight of everything that's led her up to this point, which shows growth. Neither have really changed from the core of their being, but there's a richness to where they are presently at, mentally and emotionally. And, of course, the look both these characters have when they learn that Daniel is leading the parents resistance is priceless. Worth noting: the resistance might just benefit from the 5-finger-sale of weapons June confiscated from all the PADRE goons she nabbed trigger fingers from all these years.

  • It was mentioned that the Series Premiere of The Walking Dead: Dead City would take the time slot of what would've been the Midseason Finale of Fear The Walking Dead. We don't know what this exactly means for the latter, at all, for now (different air date? time?).

  • Along with cool callbacks and walkers, the flashback to 12 years ago also showed us a little more about PADRE's original mission, which was to rebuild not only The United States, but probably the world, given that a few of the shipping containers we see were marked Polar and Desert. Editor's Note: upon further examination, these were also callbacks to both seasons 4 & 5, as well - the callsigns for both Clayton and Logan were Polar Bear and Desert Fox, respectively.

  • Bridget notes the irony of Gen. Krennick's children doing the opposite of PADRE's intended mission, breaking apart families rather than getting the world back on track. Sherrandy notes the Buster Bluth (from Arrested Development) nature of Ben, attempting to get his father's binoculars back to him, having at least some knowledge of the dangers that are out there.

  • It's time to talk about the meaning and symbolism of the birds, this episode:
    • (Midspotted) Woodpecker: represented in different mythologies: Norse, Roman, Celtic, and even Native American. Norse: the sound Thor's hammer, Mjölnir, makes; Roman: The God of War, Mars, and the use of manure in fertilization; Celtic: sign of rain; Native American: friendship and happiness. The last one brings up the tale of an unlikely pairing with specifically the midspotted woodpecker, with its fiery red head, and a coyote. In the Native American Zodiac, woodpeckers are caretakers and kindhearted. In the bible, it represents God's existence and might, due to the nature of the woodpecker using it's head and beak to peck wood to get at burrowing inspects without causing it injury.
    • Crane: First off, it behooves us to mention that the etymology of the last name Krennick comes from the German root surname Kron, meaning Crane. Grace: recovering from tragedy gracefully; Devotion/Faithfulness to PADRE, or at least the spirit of it; Travel: maybe they will somehow find a way to honor the intended vision of PADRE; Open-mindedness: well, maybe Ben or Sam will somehow change course; Aspiration: maybe goes off the heels of open-mindedness and perhaps they might find new purpose; Longevity: perhaps referring to what seems to be this new lease on zombie apocalypse life, with the ability to neutralize walker bites; Immortality: well, technically, the walkers do shuffle on indefinitely; Transformation: this brings up the question of whether Ben, like our protagonists, might find a way to take a step forward, out of the shadow of tragedy, to be something else? Regardless of the reason why Sam, he, and their father ended up surrounded by walkers, it's possible that their father would've died, regardless, and the fact that they were there when he died was a grace.
    • Hawk: Intelligence: they use tools and strategy; Independence: though they mate for life, they will part to hunt for food and will leave the nest once the chics are old enough; Adaptability: they will hunt anywhere and eat anything; Messages: They have the ability to see the big picture by way of decompartmentalizing; Clairvoyance/Spiritual Awareness: hawks have incredible eyesight, which has been mythologized in that they can see beyond the material into the spirit realm. As far as what this means for PADRE's (teenage) Prefects, who knows?
  • On the note of whether Ben might find a means towards some sort of transformation, Sherrandy has her doubts that the show will even bother exploring it. Lately, the villains on both The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead haven't had as much depth to them. We explore their depths, as a podcast, but the show doesn't dig as deep to discover them - and their potential - as much as we do. Speaking of, this conversation brought up these two incredible companion podcasts exploring both The Dakota Dilemma and what could've been an excellent Ginny origin story in Finding John Dorie Sr. We highly recommend checking them out!

  • We note an upsetting similarity to The Civic Republic Military in the way Shrike is willing to, yet again, place the children under her care in danger - to prove a point and stop the parents of these children from getting to them - by way of releasing thousands of Carrion they've collected over the years onto the island. In the realm of odd haircuts, it makes sense that Shrike and Warrant Officer Anne "Jadis" Stokes are at least very similar, if not in cahoots.

  • At the beginning of the episode, June repeats to Madison something similar to what Morgan had said to Alicia, in Season 4, when she was trying to kill June, "I left you once at the stadium and you saved us all. I will not leave you now."
    Morgan, "I stepped aside for your brother. I will not step aside for you."
    All of this is beautiful enough: to not step aside and give up on someone when they are about to make the biggest mistake of their life. But Dave uses it as a way to bring up Morgan's and Madison's regret over stepping aside for Ava, after warning her that going after PADRE to retrieve Odessa will mean certain death. Though there is a lot of blame for Ava's death to go around, it may be another brick in Madison's knapsack of guilt when she decides to stay silent and not tell the truth about PADRE to the children.

  • The audience has spoken: Emily & David Carranza both love it when Dave monologues/goes off on a yarn. Suck it, again, Bridget!
  • It's possible that the issue of Daniel's memory problems will return or be further explored but, just like some of characters who typically disappear on this show, it's possible they won't take the time out to properly resolve one of the more tragic sub-plots that appeared in both Season 6 and Season 7.

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