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Saturday, October 28, 2023

Anton |8x07| Fear The Walking Dead

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The reunion between Madison Clark and Victor Strand -- whoops, I mean Anton -- didn't go as smoothly as most of us would've hoped. Victor fulfilled Alicia Clark's wishes the only way he knew how: by burying his past and himself for the last 7+ years. But what will Madison do as a result of Troy Otto exhuming all her skeletons?
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David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:

  • This weekend, only! We've got a sale in our merch store: $16 classic t-shirts and up to 35% off everything else! It's a perfect opportunity to nab our latest designs covering our discussions on Fear The Walking Dead's 8th and final season and both our discussions on the inaugural series of The Walking Dead: Dead City and The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon!

  • We kick this episode off with Sherranday's first impression: she stopped watching the episode after 30 minutes into her first watch, but Dave encouraged to keep watching. June Dorie shows up in the episode, which she liked. Wanted to throttle Madison Clark. Thought Troy Otto was funny. Daniel Salazar's line about not being friends with Victor Strand made her laugh. She questions the quality of the writing in the first half of the season, suggesting it may have been written by five-year-olds or Artificial Intelligence. Dave reminds the audience that the last half of the season was written by Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg. This episode continues the trend of a lack of show, don't tell -- wanting more visual representation of events, rather than via (poor) dialogue...

  • Especially the expressly vague language Victor used to describe the possible fate of certain characters (that the wiki's have already decided are confirmed-dead). Victor may be a liar but we question why he would lie about the fate of these characters: Strand's statement about some people going to Padre and the some traveling with him may not account for the entire group.

  • Bridget was a fan of this episode, but not Madison, due to her self-sabotaging behavior. She's happy to finally see Strand this season (missing since the end of Season 7 and praises Colman Domingo's performance. Troy certainly chewed the scenery wherever he appeared. And, my stars and garters, Victor's husband, Frank, is a good-looking man.

  • Congratulations, Fear The Walking Dead! The German community didn't completely fall apart, despite the fact that they're forced to relocate. Not losing Frank and his son, Klaus, ends the ongoing trend (since Season 7) of newly introduced characters dying in the episode they were introduced. Seeing a character that resembles Sarah Rabinowitz on TWD: Daryl Dixon brings us back to Victor's line of the people who died: we're split in half on whether this specifically references her fate and the fates of Rabbi Jacob Kessner, Charlie, Maya Vazquez, and others.

  • Given that fact, since Troy being alive seems so impossible (the only noticeable damage being a change in eye color and some janky face prosthetics), it makes the absence of more prominent characters additionally insulting. Rachael didn't enjoy the episode overall, but enjoyed seeing Victor and Madison reunite. She has some issues over the possibility Madison and Alicia Clark reuniting. If Victor is specifically referencing the deaths of the aforementioned characters, it makes their roles in the series feel so meaningless: why would they choose a slow death over accepting help from Strand? We're not minimizing Strand's horrible nature throughout Season 7, only the other characters succumbing in such a nonsensical manner.

  • Turning our attention to actual filmcraft, Danay Garcia's directing and Colman's acting were fine, but the issue lies with the script and overall writing. Dave questions whether the showrunners knew how many episodes they were going to receive and had to drastically compress their vision, which could explain a lot of things (much like the final season of The Walking Dead). Many of us feel as though the last season was haphazardly cobbled together and AMC/showrunners couldn't care less about how well it would be received. The difference in quality definitely shows when stacked against the two most recent introductory series premieres into The Walking Dead Universe. Dave is still looking forward, given the sneak-peeks into the next episode and the look-ahead teasers into the remaining episodes.
  • We take a moment to discuss Madison and Strand's similarities. Though they are both characters who have more than made questionable decisions, people often side with Madison and excuse her actions, even though she should be held accountable for them. Strand is compared to Carol Peletier due to their troubled past and manipulative behavior. Frank is seen as a better match for Strand than Cole was, whom we met in Season 4 (with a brief hello-goodbye in Season 6). Rachael, who is probably the most distrustful of Strand, felt that he was being genuine about putting his past (behavior) behind him and truly finding happiness, but Madison's arrival changed everything. The turmoil over seeing Madison is really centered on what to do about her: she threatens to take away his steps toward living a meaningful life.

  • Everybody deserves a second chance is a line that Victor introduced to this community, which they wholeheartedly adopt - including the way they greet visitors and potential residents - but it's one that's been said by Althea Szewczyk-Przygocki to Madison after giving her a second chance in episode 4x08. Dave suggests that, if there's even a little part of the old Victor left, he was merely planting the seed of his own redemption by emphasizing this principle, in the event any of them discover their past. Everyone is bothered by Madison's negative attitude towards Victor and how little she knows of his (windy road and complex) love for Alicia. Mostly, we were all aghast at Madison threatening to take away happiness from her old friend without knowing the whole story. We thought her negative hostility towards Strand was because she knows what happened at the tower and assumes he will ruin this community, eventually, but the conversation they have at the end of the episode shows how little she actually knew. Mostly though, it was her lack of faith in Victor's ability to change, considering her own past actions.

  • It was recently announced that the final two episodes of the season would air on the same night (Nov 19th) to avoid competing with the Super Bowl the following weekend. This was frustrating because we were thinking of throwing a final episode viewing party, which now occurs on a weekend where no one would be able to travel. But it goes deeper than that: given the poor writing, important characters missing from the show, in addition to the final episode date change, it validates our concern that the powers-that-be can't wait to bury FearTWD and don't care how it's received.
  • Anton, short for (the latin) Antonius, means priceless or praiseworthy, which says a lot about how badly Strand wishes to finally find acceptance (be it with others or with himself). Sherrandy managed to spot the title of one of the box in a stack in the library scene: Still Life with Breadcrumbs by Anna Quindlen. Summary of the novel's plot: seizing control of one's life. Victor Strand's voice is different from Coleman Domingo's real voice and that has never been more evident than the difference in the way Victor speaks as Anton. The way Victor's full name is being used when others are speaking about him already lends a sense of notoriety: as if one ought to already know who this person is.

  • Frustrations are expressed with characters not turning off lanterns at night while Troy's army is searching for them. This jumps us directly to the name of the German tour bus, Marsh Light Tours, which is a tongue-in-cheek reference to will-o'-wisps. These ghost lights are basically gaseous compounds combining, which produce energy in the form of photons. They've willed fishermen astray, thinking they were heading towards the shore. It could represent these German tourist's voyage and subsequent proverbial running aground in The U.S., but it can also be a cheeky nod to Victor misleading them, as well. Regarding the bus itself, it is being used as the only point of entry from the street side of the hotel, much in the way the school bus was the only point of entry to La Colonia in the show's second season. The hotel, itself, feels like a nod to The Rosario Beach Hotel, which was also in the second season. We took a moment to explain that Victor's Tower might've also represented this, considering the lights at the top are turned off and on to lead (undead) travelers to it.

  • Sherrandy questions why producers decided on introducing the German language to the show, as it doesn't seem to serve a real purpose in the story. Being stranded in a foreign country forever is extra terrifying for these tourists, as it was for Daryl Dixon in France. We take a moment to acknowledge the words of Warrant Officer Anne "Jadis" Stokes, who said (on The Walking Dead: World Beyond) that (creating a) language binds a people.

  • It was frustrating watching Strand refuse to reveal his true identity. It brings us to why Madison may have narrow-mindedly revealed Victor's identity: hating in others what you hate in yourself. Madison just resents Victor's ability to reinvent himself, since she is having a hard time doing that for herself, not having the option of (or having chosen the truth over) hiding behind a well-constructed lie. It should be noted that Victor and Madison haven't seen each other since the fall of the Dell Diamond, which has to be over 9 years - longer than they've known each other.

  • Dave initially thought that Victor held onto the raft he sailed in on in the event this new community found out who he was so that he could bug out with supplies, much in the way he had prepared to do so at the Dell Diamond, but it turns out that it really was just remnants of his past that he shed to form a new version of himself. We remind the audience that Madison adopted Victor's just in case strategy after chewing him out (back in Season 4). We dive a little deeper on what Morgan Jones exactly informed Madison on about Victor's shenanigans in Season 7. We converge on the idea that he not have relayed that much, given how sensitive Morgan tends to handle situations involving Alicia: he may have given Madison a clue, but not enough to paint enough of a detailed portrait of how horrible Victor really was.

  • We also dive a little deeper on how pissed off some of us are about Madison, given a lot of her behavior throughout this season (and the final episode of last season). On top of that, her ability to constantly engage in self-sabotaging behavior throughout the series doesn't help her case. It's certainly true that people tolerate her given that she was the main protagonist from the onset of the series, so it certainly feels like a Stanley Milgram (shock) experiment: how much more unpalatable can you make your protagonist until the audience is finally forced to reject them?

  • But on top of the poor storytelling this season (let alone the last season), that the series couldn't concoct a new villain and had to resurrect an old one from the dead feels even more lazy: yes, even lazier than the visual conception that went into Troy's discolored eye and lack of facial disfigurement. There's also the question of Troy's level of aggression towards Madison and why it has persisted for over a decade. Dave thinks that this may be attributed to brain damage: a direct result of the injuries Madison inflicted on him. Bridget doesn't think so, considering her own recovery from brain damage: the brain is a miraculous organ that can reroute neural pathways when clusters of them are damaged.

  • We discuss the kitchen sequence that is shown in the beginning, as the old man with the infected wound is brought into the community. It is a shot-for-shot reconstruction from The Holding (episode 6x11). It was so convincing, there was a debate on whether it was just a callback or whether they literally reused the footage and applied some visual tweaks. Another interesting visual note that pairs nicely with this scene: one of the other books in the stack found in the library is a cookbook.

  • Rachael takes us to her initial thoughts as she witnessed the opening scenes: how did Strand make it to Germany?!

  • We all expresses disappointment that Troy's return was spoiled, musing on how mind-blowing his reveal would've been. This is no different than any other time a character's return or introduction is promoted, rather than revealed organically. Speaking of spoilers, key points in the latter half of the season were spoiled for Dave by someone in entertainment journalism (who had already seen the final episodes of the season). Many on our show stopped watching the sneak-peeks and promotional materials for FearTWD because of how much they've actually spoiled their episode watches. That being said, Dave is a little relieved that some of the spoilers he received he can finally talk about, now that Troy's army has finally been introduced (revealed to him several months ago by a background actor on the show).

  • Troy killing Alicia? BS. Right? Troy's motives are strong and his weird infatuation with Madison have probably twisted itself into making revenge his life's sole ambition. But why or even how when so much time has passed? Sherrandy brings up how vengeance was the driving force behind the protagonist's will to survive in the movie The Revenant. We recap some of Troy's psychopathy seen in Season 3 of the show and how he was mostly responsible for both Broke Jaw Ranch's and The Otto family's demise. While Sherrandy and Bridget try to explain how people like Troy often try to shift blame onto others to avoid feeling responsibility for their actions, Dave explains that Troy is incapable of feeling guilt because he's a psychopath: it's just a way for him to rally a faction of parents whose children were kidnapped in PADRE's name and don't believe Madison has changed. Troy will say whatever it takes to get them to join his army, even if it means burying some of the truth within his lies.

  • But in spite of the vitriol some of us have towards Madison, intentions really do matter: Troy reuniting these parents with their children is only important to him in as much as they serve his malicious purpose. Misguided or not, Madison has only ever done what she's done to protect her children and (most of the time) the people in her charge. Still, some folks prefer Troy's story over Madison's: after reflecting on the poor storyline, it's easy to see why.

  • Troy using what he did to Ophelia Salazar as a prop to infuriate Daniel created a massive amount of delicious tension. This line prompted us to recap her demise and though it's true that the herd Troy unleashed contributed greatly to her being bitten, it was also her use of anthrax in the coffee drunk by TEOTWAWKI's residents, killing and reanimating them, provided by Qaletaqa Walker and his people at Black Hat Reservation.

  • But what we all might've liked most about this episode are the similarities among some the characters who have committed more heinous acts on the show: Victor, Madison, and Troy. Victor is the first character we see who, in recent memory, inflicted extremely horrible acts on people he once considered friends. Madison jumps in and attempts to upend the new life he had been living for the past 7 years, which irks us greatly and adds to her pile of misguided deeds. But if you thought that was bad, enter Troy: who's intentions, at best, were nebulous or, at worst, were bereft of any measure of redemption. The tension his mere appearance creates only accelerates the binding of Madison and Strand.

  • But we all believe Strand has changed and now genuinely cares about people and their value. We compare his love for his husband, Frank, and his son, Klaus to something we said about the potential of Daryl having a relationship with Isabelle Carriere and Laurent Carriere: the fear was that having someone to lose would mess with Victor's/Daryl's risk assessment, but it may motivate them to take bolder and more decisive action than before.

  • Putting the interrogation lamp on Dave, he expresses how much he loves Madison, but criticizes how her character is being written; however, it's possible that the writers are highlighting Madison's flaws, intentionally, to force the audience to understand the uphill battle she is facing against the parents of kidnapped children at PADRE: that we, too, should feel that disgust that they must be feeling. Our hope is that these children don't meet the same (possible?) fate as the Camp Cackleberry kids (Annie, Max, and Dylan).

  • Dave tries to assure the audience that they aren't always be as spicy in their episode discussions... or at least he isn't. Hopefully, this series will pick up some momentum and it will end with quite the bang, despite the fact that it will never end the way we want it to without characters like Sarah & Wendell in tow.

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