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Home Articles TV Recaps FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Review: “Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame”

FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Review: “Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame”

BY The Screen Spy Team

Published 4 years ago

By Jaylyn Cook

One thing you have to give Fear the Walking Dead credit for is its willingness to differentiate itself from its source series. 

FTWD is way more cinematic in terms of artistic choices, and has so far taken a lot of interesting plot and character turns as season three continues to roll on. It’s way less dependent on zombie violence in comparison to The Walking Dead, which may be a turn-off for some people. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a chance to watch the story unfold if you haven’t already. 

Tonight’s story features a lot of unfolding. And a lot of zombies. So really, everyone wins. 

“Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame” coincidentally begins with a fire. A fire that was started after an elderly man kills himself and his walker wife in the late hours of the night. Troy and his men try to put out the fire, but Otto steps in and tells them to stop and save the water. It’s too late. 

The next morning, Madison leaves with Troy and his platoon to go search for their chopper that was shot down back in episode two and bring the survivors of the crash back to the ranch. Nick and Alicia try to get her to change her mind, as well as a couple of Troy’s flunkies, but Madison can’t be fazed. She feels that the more that she understands Troy and the rest of the Ottos, the safer they’ll ultimately be. 

Since Travis’ death, Madison has wasted no time in stepping in as the rock for her family. Not that she hasn’t been game to make tough decisions before, but these past few episodes have shown her willingness to follow through with whatever decision she makes without second-guessing herself. If the issue surrounds around the safety of her family, she’ll no longer take the backseat to anyone. 

Madison shows her confidence and will to survive multiple times during the expedition with Troy and the homies – often putting her at odds with the nearly one-eyed Otto. They did agree once, though. The convoy came upon an overturned Department of Corrections bus on the side of the road. All of the inmates that were inside of it have turned into walkers. Troy wants to stop and take them out, for both preventative reasons and because he thinks it’s all a fun game. His second-in-command says they should carry on. Madison sides with Troy, so they all get out of their Jeeps and kill them all with hatchets and bows and arrows. 

Can we talk about how bold these kinds of shows are getting with the amount of violence they show? Like, I am consistently shocked at how bloody these cable shows are getting these days. Absolutely SHOOK. Understandably, any show about the zombie apocalypse is probably going to feature a little more of the red stuff than others, but whatever. I digress. 

Back on the ranch, Nick and Otto spend some quality time together cleaning up the wreckage of the house that burned down the night before. Otto wistfully tells Nick stories of Russell and Martha, the couple that died in the fire. How they were one of the founding families of the ranch, and how the house they stayed in had been there since the land belonged to the Native Americans. (This is important. Remember this.)

They also discuss a bit about finding the beauty in things that are typically considered ugly. Like the burned down house, or the revolver that Russell used to take the lives of both he and his wife. Nick doesn’t think guns are beautiful, and wonders if that philosophy is the reason Troy is the way he is. Otto tells him that he saw from an early age that Troy had some issues, but he failed to do anything due to his drinking problem. Now that he’s given all of that up, he swears that he won’t let his son down again. 

Before they part ways, Otto tells Nick that he should consider what he wants to do regarding the situation he and his family are in now. Should he leave the ranch like Luciana desperately wants to, or should they stay and make the best of it? Ultimately, it’s up to him. He makes his case to stay to Luci, who is doing much better than she was in the premiere, during a romantic nighttime picnic. Luci appears to go with it – for now. The next day, Otto gives him an old-fashioned revolver, just like the one he gave Russell and Martha had when they first moved on the ranch. 

Meanwhile, Alicia is still having some trouble adjusting to life on the ranch. She now spends most of her time at “Bible Study” with a group of kids her age, but the reality is all they’re doing is getting high in a bunker. Both demoralized by the recent events that brought them to the ranch and a little hungover, she has a terse conversation with Jake while getting coffee. While she frets about her situation, she doesn’t realize that Jake is also hurting because of Russell and Martha’s deaths. Alicia later goes to Jake’s room, and in a charged moment hooks up with him him. 

Later, when they’re putting their clothes on, Jake gives Alicia a copy of a collection of Charles Bukowski poems (Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame, of course), but she doesn’t see the point in indulging in art and stuff like that. Jake encourages her to reevaluate her mindset during a quick excursion to the lake a little while later. He stresses the importance of not only art, but finding a purpose in life. She walks away from the conversation in thought, later leading up to her having a life-affirming moment at the end of the episode when she dives off of a cliff into the cooling waters of the lake. 

It’s an exhilarating moment, but it’s short lived, as the gravity of the world they live in once again forces her to crash back down to Earth. 

Back to Madison and the group. They ultimately find the chopper crew, but they’ve all been burned to death. After a little more exploring, they stumble upon Phil, another member of the lost group. He’s tied to a chair, reciting the same verse of a poem over and over again because a crow is feasting off of his exposed brain (Again, SHOOK). This is the doing of a man named Walker (sigh), a Native American who is doing whatever he can to take his land back. The land that the Ottos turned into their sprawling ranch. 

Surrounded by armed men hiding in plain sight, the group has no choice but to give in to Walker. He takes their guns and their shoes, and vows to take back what’s his. Madison, who has no stake in the battle for the Otto ranch, tells Walker that he made this personal since he and his group shot down the chopper and killed Travis. Later, while they shoelessly trek into the night, Madison and Troy get into an argument on whether or not they should stop and rest. She ultimately undermines him and forces him to stop and set up camp until morning. Humiliated and enraged, he almost kills Madison in her sleep, but decides against it. 

If we’re going to be honest, this does not bode well for the rest of their journey back home. Like, I would not be surprised if one of them ends up dead before they even make it back to the ranch. If Walker doesn’t kill them both by then, that is. 

Finally, we should probably check in with Daniel and Victor, a.k.a. The New Odd Couple. After the showdown on the dam in last week’s episode, Victor and Daniel set out to meet up with Ofelia and the rest of Daniel’s group back at the hotel Victor says they’re at. Obviously, they are not there. Daniel is very suspicious of Victor’s claims that he can take him to them, and the two butt heads during a majority of their road trip. 

Daniel ultimately calls Victor’s bluff and leaves him for dead at the abandoned hotel where his group is supposed to be at. Victor pleads with Daniel, trying hard to convince him that he really does know where they are, but Daniel’s not buying it. He draws the attention of a horde of walkers and leaves Victor behind in the blackness of the night. 

As Victor runs off and tries to fight for his life, we can only wonder what will happen when he and Daniel meet again? Probably nothing good. We’ll have to stay tuned to find out. 

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