There were a number of stunning images in Sunday's episode of Fear The Walking Dead, "Los Muertos," but one quick flash of skin from Alejandro (Paul Calderon) may have completely changed how zombies work in the Walking Dead universe.
Spoilers for Fear the Walking Dead past this point.
While the previous episode, "Grotesque," focused squarely on Nick (Frank Dillane), "Los Muertos" had two trains running: exploring Nick's new home in Tijuana Hilltop (note: not the actual name of the community); and Madison (Kim Dickens) and company having the worst Tijuana hotel experience of all time (which is saying a lot).
The Madison track was certainly exciting. Happening upon a seemingly abandoned hotel while searching for Nick, Madison and Strand (Colman Domingo) end up getting totally drunk at the bar and bonding, proving again why their unlikely friendship is the show's current secret weapon. Meanwhile, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) search the hotel for supplies, including the requisite "Oh my god, there's a working shower in the apocalypse" scene. By the end of their hotel stay: Ofelia is missing; Alicia is terrified while watching zombies plummet from balconies to the ground, only to get up and walk again; and Madison and Strand are totally wasted while surrounded by a herd of hungry walkers.
Someone give this hotel a terrible Yelp rating.
The Nick plotline is far more intriguing (though lacking in suicide zombies), and closer to the heart of what continues to make Fear unique from its Atlanta-based cousin. Plot-wise, Nick ends up palling around with Luciana (Danay Garcia), a community leader with a chip on her shoulder, as she picks up supplies for their encampment. He discovers that this new Tijuana is even more ruled by drug dealers than usual — which naturally leads him to use his drug-based knowledge superpower to get leverage over the dealers.
It's what happens before and after the deal that contains a surprising new piece of info about walkers/the infected. The episode opens with Nick witnessing a man sent out by the community to die in a herd of zombies, but of his own will. By the end of the episode, he learns why: Alejandro the pharmacist claims to have been bitten by a walker and survived. Not only that, but Luciana swears she saw it happen.
Doubtful, right? We've seen people survive bites before, but only because of quick thinking to cut their leg or arm off. So does Alejandro have a fake limb?
Nope: after confronting Nick about his actions with the dealer (tangentially), Alejandro's shirt slips off his shoulder and we see that a huge chunk of flesh has been bitten out. He hastily pulls his shirt back on, and we then see him lead the populace of Tijuana Hilltop in a chant, repeating in Spanish, over and over, their true name: The Children of the Resurrection. He talks about how they've all died and come back. And with the dead taking over the Earth, once everything is washed clean, they (meaning the CotR) will take over as the true heirs of the planet.
What, exactly, is going on here? Is Alejandro actually immune to zombie bites? Are other people? We know from The Walking Dead that becoming a walker isn't just about bites: everyone is infected, and whether you die from getting chomped on or of natural causes, you're coming back.
But something changed on Earth to cause this. ... So is it possible that some people, like Alejandro, weren't affected? Or are we still early enough in the zombie apocalypse (Fear is now about even in the timeline with Rick waking up over on Walking) that not everyone is infected yet?
There's the in-show question, too, of what Alejandro meant by saying that everyone in the community had died and returned. There seems to be a lot of sick people in Tijuana Hilltop, but did they really die? Or is he speaking metaphorically?
Either way, what's happening here goes back to what will continue to keep Fear unique, and that's playing with the extra word in its title. All season long, we've met different groups who don't fear the walking dead,
sometimes often to their own detriment. But as Nick continues to explore why this world filled with death and destruction leaves him numb, what better foil than a man who has faced that death, and come out the other side?
And if what he's saying is true — that you can survive a zombie bite — what does this mean for both Fear, and The Walking Dead going forward? At least in the case of Fear, it probably means Nick is about to try something very, very stupid.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.