It’s Los Angeles, and so far it doesn’t look that different. But things are changing, and Daryl Dixon is nowhere to be found. (Drat!) Dorin and Heather return to their podcasting chairs to talk about the pilot episode (we call it “Walkers in LA”) of Fear the Walking Dead. With a strong cast lead by Kim […]
…In which we finally move forward with story lines that have been circling the drain for a little bit.
SPOILERS AHEAD. YE HATH BEEN WARNED.
Firstly, apologies for the delay in getting this to you. I could go on and on about AT&T and my busy life and such like, but … Suffice it to say, I got to this episode late in the week. The price of being too busy and having no Internet service for a week…
As I’ve ruminated on this episode, I’m struck by the fact that it’s a mix of good and bad. There are plenty of places where this script works well. But there are also some inconsistencies in the “artifact of the week” plot that keep bugging me.
The heart of this episode involves Steve and Claudia, taking the metronome to his home in New Jersey to see if they can break the connection. Laura Innes delivers an emotional guest turn as Steve’s mother, who just wants her boy back in her life. Turns out Jinks can’t forgive her for not pursuing the death penalty for the guy who killed Steve’s sister.
Way back in the early days of Claudia and Steve, it’s established that she’s a lot like Jinks’ sister. And we finally get a little payoff from that thread from waaay back. This thread gets picked up and almost — but not quite — beaten over the head. Mama Jinks mentions it several times as well, as she interacts with Claudia.
Claudia, for her part, is more restrained in this ep, owing to the emotional weight of the whole thing. They figure out that Jinks has to make up with Mom before anything can happen with the metronome. And while she gets a few cornball Hallmark lines, she sells it with heart. Allison Scagliotti needs more of these scenes to show off her range as a performer. Really.
And when the link to the metronome is finally broken, it’s an emotional scene to watch, made moreso by the fact that Laura Innes reacts the same way — dying along with Claudia and Steve — as the metronome releases Steve and he destroys it after realizing what it’s doing to his mother. It’s his selfless act that releases him from the artifact.
So, just in time for the mid-season break, this plot thread is nicely sewn up.
And we get a big step forward in the Brotherhood of the Black Diamond plot, as Mrs. Frederic takes matters into her own hands to wrest the future out of the jaws of evil.
Mrs. F not only plans to inform the regents and see about some kind of reconciliation with the Brotherhood through back channels, but she also conspires with H.G. Wells, who’s got plenty of time-travel fatigue to inform her attitude toward what Artie’s done. Sending H.G. off to disappear with the astrolabe is an interesting setup for what’s coming – the evil of Artie’s creation.
Given that there’s only two episodes left before the mid-season break, this story thread is now picking up steam as it takes center stage. At least, I hope that happens. Because honestly, this thread has been on hold for a while, with Artie and Brother Adrian trading barbs over and over (sometimes the same ones…) without any movement forward. Now, with Steve and Claudia unlinked and H.G. haring off to parts unknown with the astrolabe, we’re finally getting somewhere.
What Doesn’t (Quite) Work:
The “artifact of the week” plot thread works overall, but there are enough inconsistencies that left me scratching my head as I thought about them longer.
Pete and Myka have to find the artifact that’s making people rust. People are getting seriously sick, coughing up rust and losing lung function. At first, everyone thinks it’s the mill’s owner setting up an insurance scam (partially true), but then they track down one of the workers, who works out at a nearby gym, thus providing the connection to non-mill victims of the illness.
OK so far.
Turns out the artifact is inside the prize boxer, and it activated when he saved his father from an industrial accident set up by the mill owner. The artifact, under certain emotional circumstances, causes the kid’s arm to armor up in Spartan regalia and his strength intensifies.
Now here’s where the niggling starts in the back of my head.
The artifact is supposed to activate under certain conditions, but the show is inconsistent in that two of these moments don’t carry any emotional weight that’s supposed to trigger it. So two people get sick who otherwise shouldn’t. Along with that, I’m starting to get a little annoyed that Pete and Myka are so blatantly discussing artifacts out in the open so much. It happened with Deb a couple of weeks ago, and now here again.
I know the writers are taking the “season arc” approach this year, concentrating on “Artie’s Evil” and such, but right now it’s at the expense of the artifact plot thread each week, and that’s what built this show to what it is now. Not saying they need to go back to that formula, necessarily, but the artifact of the week needs a little more focused attention to make sure it holds up to scrutiny a little better.