“Red Dirt” continues Fear the Walking Dead’s vast improvement over its previous seasons as Broke Jaw Ranch is thrown into a panic in response to news that the show’s latest villain, Walker, is coming to claim the land by force. That’s some great material for the show to start exploring, leaving the walking dead out of it for the moment and just examining how survivors of this doomsday-prepped ranch react in the face of fear. It’s handled quite well for the most part, lifting certain characters even further as we start to really uncover the complexity behind people like Troy and Jeremiah who, in their own ways, struggle to maintain control after some people start planning to abandon the ranch.
This is similar territory to what we’ve already dealt with over at The Walking Dead, and Alexandria’s reaction to threats by Negan. Except this feels more grounded, and it gives ample space for Daniel Sharman, who plays Troy, to dig deeper into his character’s complex arc. Compared to his brother, Troy seems to be shaped as somewhat of an anti-hero, clearly unhinged as his approach to keeping people inside of the ranch, while hostile, comes from a real place of vulnerability as we see in the scene between him and Madison where he explains his hurt over childhood friend Mike choosing to leave the ranch with his family.
Luciana choosing to leave the ranch last episode leaves Nick feeling a little despondent with not much to do in “Red Dirt” but follow his mother around, taking a back seat to watch Madison ramp up her clever play, taking advantage of a situation to ensure that the ranch stays protected. For all Madison’s talk about other people having “command”, she sure has started to break through as both a capable survivor and protector.
The situation she takes advantage of is of course the murder of Mike and his family (which includes Alicia’s sort-of friend Gretchen) despite correctly suspecting that Troy had something to do with it. She attributes the brutal scene to Walker in order to scare other people into staying on the ranch, thereby ensuring that the safe-zone – and her children – are protected. In a similar way to what they did with Daniel two weeks ago, the writers are starting to introduce interesting dilemmas and morally complex decisions which is a big reason why “Fear” is finally starting to pick up and stand apart from it’s dominant sister as a show well-worth watching.
Review Score: THREE AND A HALF (OUT OF FIVE)
You can catch Fear the Walking Dead in Australia express from the U.S on FX, Foxtel, Mondays at 7:30pm AEST.
Feature Image: Michael Desmond/AMC.