SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on unless you’ve seen season 2, episode 8 of “Fear the Walking Dead,” titled “Grotesque.”
After four months, AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead” is back to continue the story of the Clark, Manawa and Salazar family’s post-apocalyptic vacation through Mexico. After a season and a half of everyone spending their time together, the midseason finale shook up the status quo by splitting the group into three (Madison, Alicia, Strand and Ofelia in one, Travis and his trouble son Chris in another and Nick all by himself). If this episode is a blueprint for the second half of the season than the move to split everyone up was a great one. Rather than each character wrestling for screen time, the midseason premiere, called “Grotesque,” focuses on one group for its entirety. Nick is the first character we catch up with after the events at Abigail’s compound.
A large part of this episode is dialogue free, and thanks to actor Frank Dillane, who plays Nick, it works well. The episode opens with Nick heading off on his own after spending an undisclosed amount of time with a woman and her son. After that most of the episode plays like misadventures greatest hits. He camps out out in a building only two be woken up in the middle of the night by the original squatters of the building. A few baseball bat strikes and he leaves without any of his supplies.
After that he follows the road, runs into some gun-toting crazy he chase after him and leave him stranded in the desert far from where he started. He tries to get water from a cactus but can’t so he pulls a Bear Grylls and drinks his own urine. Another of Nick’s naps is interrupted by rabid dogs who take a few good bites out of his leg, but Luckily a helpful pack of zombies show up to deal with the them. After that he merges with the horde (“safety in numbers,” he says later in the episode). The pack he is with runs into the gun nuts again and he stays with the horde as they overrun the three men. After more walking he passes out from exhaustion and lack of water and is left in the street.
The other major part of the episode involves a flashback to when Nick was in rehab for his heroin addiction. He gets talked into seeing his parents on parent day by a girl also in the program. When the day finally comes Madison shows up and takes him into a room to break the news that his dad had died in a head-on collision.
Back in the present, Nick wakes rejuvenated thanks to a downpour and is back on his feet. He manages to find a small village and is trying to bandage up his leg when three people happen upon him, one woman and two men. The three had been watching him while he had been walking with the horde. The woman, Lucina, agrees to take him to a place where someone can help.
That someone turns out to be a doctor who works his doctor magic while asking Nick what he was doing walking alone out there for so long.
“I want to be somewhere where the dead aren’t monsters,” he replies. If the joy on his face when the zombies showed up to deal with the dogs are any indication, Nick clearly has put more faith in them than people at this point.
The doc likes the response. He gets up and opens a set of big double doors to reveal his home, a large walled-in village that has just about everything you could want. There are guard towers, food stores, even shops selling clothes. The place is apparently so safe that the kids can have a large, loud soccer game going on without any concern.
Perhaps Nick has found his new home.