Synopsis for 2×08: Nick goes on a walkabout, drinks pee, eats dog, and still manages to survive somehow.
It’s a Nick-centric premiere as we find out how he’s been faring after choosing not to follow Madison and the rest of the group back to the boat in the midseason finale. Surprise! He ended up with Sofia, the housemaid to the Abigails. But when she wants to take a young boy named Juan to find his family, Nick decides he’ll head towards Tijuana alone. He follows the familiar formula of coating himself in blood and begins his hundred mile trek.
There’s an interesting shot that mirrors Rick’s horseback ride to Atlanta with Nick walking a long straightaway into Mexico as audiences follow him on what could be one of those “finding yourself” backpacking montages – complete with flashbacks!
Sometime before the apocalypse happened, Nick was in court-mandated rehab with Gloria, who audiences may recognize as the first undead of the pilot episode. She’s encouraging him to figure out what he wants to say to his parents when they visit him to avoid extra time and eventually pushes him enough that he unloads about how his father didn’t listen to him or have time for him or teach him how to be a man.
In the present, he wanders through broken down cars and eventually finds an abandoned home to settle into for the night. Everything seems to be going well for Nick until he wakes up to a screaming woman with a bat. She hits him a few times, once in the head, and chases him out without letting him pick up any of his supplies.
Without his stuff, Nick wanders aimlessly through another stretch of car crashed road and comes across an undead woman, a water bottle, and a radio. While figuring out his next moves, the La Manas roll up in their jeep and proceed to kill a man who may have still been alive? Nick’s radio gives away his location and he’s forced to run while they shoot aimlessly at him, eventually driving him through the underbrush into a giant, sun-baked open area.
Now even worse off than before, Nick struggles to get any kind of hydration out of a cactus and then attempts to eat it. That ends in a lot of puking before he remembers that he makes liquid and yes, he does drink his own pee.
Another flashback to his days in rehab has Nick meeting with his mother. They’re ushered into a private room when Nick flippantly asks if his father was too tired to visit him. Madison takes a moment and then has a hard time explaining to Nick that his father was in a head on collision that he didn’t survive. She embraces him while he struggles to accept the news.
Waking up in the desert, Nick finds himself attacked by two dogs before he’s able to fend them off and get himself safely onto the roof of a rusted car. The dogs give up on him, after messing up his leg, when a herd of undead shamble his way. They make quick work of the dogs and are lured away in the nick of time by a car horn and gunshots.
Nick smiles at that outcome of that turn of events, jumping down from the car and eating raw dog meat as the herd moves away from him. When one straggler goes back to him, he makes quick work of covering himself in blood again and moves to join the herd. He also begins to hallucinate seeing Gloria and hearing the other undead talk to him.
Before long the source of the sound is revealed to be the La Manas again, when they roll up and begin shooting into the herd. The leader, Gael, seems to recognize Nick, which startles him into making the rookie mistake of dropping his bullets. He’s quickly cannibalized along with the other man who left the jeep. The wheelman turned the car around and high-tailed it out of there. Per Story Sync, they used to be drug runners so… karma?
Luciana, a new character for the second half of the season, is revealed to be watching Nick move through the herd. She’s looking for someone similar to Nick, who does the same thing, but when he collapses, she opts to leave him against the urgings of her friends.
One final flashback presumably shows how Gloria became the first undead that Nick encounters. He’s reading a book his dad gave him in that church while Gloria lays with him. They prepare to shoot up and it must have killed her to lead to the events in the pilot.
When Nick wakes up in the middle of the road where he collapsed, it’s raining and he’s still alive. He’s able to get to Colonia El Porvenir, where Luciana finds him and takes him to a makeshift doctor’s office. The man deftly deflects whether or not he is an actual doctor, but does patch up Nick’s leg.
The mysterious new man tells him that Luciana judged Nick to be brave, which he immediately denies. He tells the man that traveling with the dead is safer than men with guns and he only wanted to come here to be somewhere that the dead aren’t monsters. The man introduces him to a bustling, thriving community and the episode ends.
I once asked Craig Engler of Z Nation why the characters traveled hundreds of miles in a few seconds without showing any of how they managed to do that. The answer he gave me? It’s boring. And the midseason premiere of Fear The Walking Dead? It’s boring to watch Nick travel to Tijuana. He survives through some truly heinous situations and then brushes off his own interest in survival when confronted at the end of the episode.
There were few revelations regarding this character study of Nick, except that he is 100% down to Bear Grylls it with his own pee and raw dog, and there are only so many times I want to see people learning survival instincts in this new world. Start the countdown now for this exact same episode in regards to Chris, who will be terrifyingly good and Travis will be heartbroken.