Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Fear the Walking Dead: Season 5

Cody pulls reviews of every episode of Fear the Walking Dead season 5 from the archives.

The following reviews originally appeared on

Season 5, Episode 1: Here to Help

PLOT: Our heroes realize that helping people in the apocalyptic wasteland isn't an easy task, and clues reveal that a mysterious group from The Walking Dead is also lurking around in Fear the Walking Dead territory.

REVIEW: The worlds of Fear the Walking Dead and its companion series The Walking Dead continue to merge in the show's season 5 premiere. The Walking Dead's Morgan Jones (Lennie James) joined the series back in the season 4 premiere, having made his way from the Washington D.C. area, where The Walking Dead is set, all the way down to Fear's current location of Texas. And as it turns out, a group he was unknowingly neighbors with in D.C. also has members in Texas. If you've been wanting to know more about the mysterious people who flew Rick Grimes off of The Walking Dead in a helicopter, it looks like Fear is going to be giving us some information.

But the tease of that information isn't until the end of Here to Help. The best parts of the episode are right up front, beginning with a Morgan-narrated recap of season 4 that I found to be reminiscent of an '80s action show. "This world can surprise you, but it's hard to know who to trust. I've got things to make up for, same as everybody else. But if you're out there on your own, we can help you. Hang on. We're coming." Fear the Walking Dead is becoming The A-Team! If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire... Morgan Jones. I really hope they keep that intro for every episode this season.

Morgan and his new friends Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey), Victor Strand (Colman Domingo), Luciana (Danay Garcia), John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt), June (Jenna Elfman), Althea (Maggie Grace), Charlie (Alexa Nisenson), Sarah (Mo Collins), and Wendell (Daryl Mitchell) started running their "we can help you" mission out of an old denim factory at the end of season 4, and when we catch up with them some time later they reveal they've been having bad luck with it. That's a major understatement, and not just because they haven't been able to help anyone because everybody's dead, missing, or in hiding. Their luck is so bad that Here to Help begins with them crashing a plane.

That's good luck for the viewer, because that plane crash kicks off an action sequence that lasts for most of the episode's first 15 minutes. A whole lot of zombies get wiped out during that action sequence - and the zombie-killing starts with the first appearance of Alicia. With her brother and mother having been killed off last season, Alicia should be the most important character on this show now, and thankfully writers/showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg seem to realize that, because Alicia is given a great hero's entrance here, emerging from the smoke of the plane crash to start hacking into zombies with a broken propeller. Alicia has grown into such a badass zombie slayer that she isn't even slowed down by the fact that the propeller is slicing into her palms while she chops zombies with it.

The bad luck continues with the arrival of Matt Frewer as a man named Logan, who was co-owner of the denim factory back before the zombie apocalypse began. I'm a fan of Frewer, but his character's story is one of two problems I had with this episode. You see, Logan wants to take back his factory and kick out our little band of heroes. This goes beyond bad luck into the realm of the ridiculous. The events of Fear the Walking Dead are now taking place sometime between seasons 8 and 9 of The Walking Dead (and that show jumped ahead more than six years during season 9, so Fear is still straggling a good distance behind). We're several years into the apocalypse, and Logan is only just now wanting to move into his factory, right after Morgan and co. have moved in? This guy has the worst timing.

My other issue with the episode is that Luciana is badly injured during the plane crash. Of all characters, why Luciana? If watching people try to help an injured Luciana in a season premiere episode gives you déjà vu, it's because this already happened in the season 3 premiere. That girl can't catch a break.

The Logan story and Luciana's injuries seem like bad decisions to me, but Here to Help makes up for it with action and mystery. The mystery of fenced-off radiated areas, a roadblock of zombies that have been strung together with their guts, severed zombie heads hanging from trees, and a zombie wearing armor. With this armor-wearing zombie comes the tease of information about the group that took Rick, because in his pocket this zombie has items bearing the same symbol of interlocked circles that was on the helicopter Rick flew away in.

I'm very curious to see what Fear is going to tell us about those people. I'm not so curious to learn more about the new characters introduced in this episode, a trio of young siblings who have been surviving on their own. Cleanliness has not been a priority for them. I'm also not that curious to see how the Logan situation is going to play out, although I do love how Alicia reacts when he calls her "sweetheart". There are good things ahead, though. Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades) is on his way back, and another Walking Dead character will be showing up soon. I was mostly impressed by Here to Help, and as of right now I'm looking forward to the rest of season 5 with great anticipation.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: The plane crash survivors work together to kick zombie ass throughout the episode's first 15 minutes.

GORY GLORY: The "guts as rope" addition to the zombie roadblock was pretty gross.

FAVORITE SCENE: Alicia emerges from the smoke with the plane propeller in hand.

Season 5, Episode 2: The Hurt That Will Happen

PLOT: Althea has gone missing in an area filled with irradiated zombies, and Strand has to seek the help of Daniel Salazar.

REVIEW: Fear the Walking Dead showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg, who took control of the show last season, really seem to have fun working with their writers to come up with unique zombie situations, cool zombie-related visuals, and ways to make the flesh-eating dead even more dangerous. Under their watch we've gotten zombies coated with oil, zombies covered with cactus needles, water park zombies, and the previous episode's zombie in riot gear, among other things. In this episode we get a new one: irradiated zombies.

On a rescue mission that turned out to be a distraction, most of the show's characters have now found themselves stranded in an area a couple miles from a nuclear power plant that recently had a meltdown. So not only do they have to avoid the contaminated areas, they also have to deal with the plant employees who died of radiation poisoning and now walk the countryside as the living dead. They're warned of this danger by Grace, played by Karen David, who used to work at the power plant herself. Smart and capable, Grace would be a solid new addition to the cast... but unfortunately, it doesn't look like she's going to be around for long.

Most of The Hurt That Will Happen follows Morgan (Lennie James), Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt), and June (Jenna Elfman) as they work with Grace to wipe out as many contaminated zombies as they can, at the same time searching for their missing pal Althea - who isn't in this episode because someone possibly involved with the group that flew Rick Grimes off of The Walking Dead in a helicopter also seemed to abduct her at the end of the previous episode. That allows for some nice action moments that are also unsettling because you don't want our heroes to soak in too much radiation themselves, but it doesn't seem like this story element is going to amount to much in the long run, especially if Grace can't stick around. The most lasting consequence may be that Morgan has to ditch his beloved bo staff because it can't be decontaminated. I don't think anyone other than Morgan is going to be upset by this turn of events, though, and I'm sure he'll have a replacement soon enough.

I thought it was lame that Luciana (Danay Garcia) was badly injured in this season's premiere, because we've already done the whole "injured Luciana" story before. Thankfully, while it's going to take her some time to heal, it doesn't seem like they're going to sideline her for too long. Although she's taking meds that make her woozy and preoccupied with the thought of accordions, Luciana is back on her feet already in this episode.

Irradiated zombies, Luciana not being treated like she's on her deathbed, that's all well and good, but the real draw of this episode is the fact that it features the return of Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades), this show's greatest and most under-used character. This guy comes and goes; he disappeared for half of season 2, he missed season 4 completely, the other pre-season 4 characters haven't seen him in years... but Daniel is still out there! His return was briefly teased in the premiere, and here he gets a few scenes. I'm glad to see that Daniel seems to be doing well. He's got a nice set-up, multiple vehicles (including a plane), a cat named Skidmark. And he still doesn't trust Victor Strand (Colman Domingo).

It was good to see Daniel and Strand exchanging dialogue again, and I really hope that we're going to see a lot more Daniel in the rest of this season. That is best thing they could possibly do with Fear season 5, fill it with badass Daniel Salazar moments. And also make sure Alicia, Strand, and Luciana survive no matter what, because I still don't want to see this show get completely taken over by the newbies.

Speaking of the newbies, we get another Morgan motivation speech here. It gets really tiring listening to this guy pontificate all the time. His speech is directed toward Alicia, though, so hopefully it will be helpful for her. That's where the title of the episode comes from, as Morgan advises Alicia she can't shut other people out, she has to open the door to them, even though connecting with someone will inevitably lead to some kind of hurt. It's good advice, even if I'm tired of hearing Morgan give advice.

The events may not all have lasting impact, but The Hurt That Will Happen is pretty well packed with stuff going on. It even manages to deepen the mystery of places being decorated with severed zombie heads and spilled guts.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: Daniel has his compound protected by parking lot wheel stops and rebar. We see a zombie walk toward the compound, trip on a wheel stop, fall forward and impale its head on rebar. This isn't 100% effective; sometimes they don't trip.

GORY GLORY: Plenty of zombies get dispatched in this episode, and some of them are quite gross looking.

FAVORITE SCENE: Daniel and Strand, reunited and neither of them feels good about it.

Season 5, Episode 3: Humbug's Gulch

PLOT: The Walking Dead's Dwight makes his Fear the Walking Dead debut while the characters search for a missing friend and a trio of children who don't want to be found.

REVIEW: If you've watched the last few seasons of AMC's The Walking Dead, you know Dwight, the burn-scarred member of the Saviors community whose wife Sherry was taken by Saviors leader Negan as one of his own wives. Sherry eventually fled the Saviors and Negan, leaving behind a note she wasn't sure Dwight would ever read, as she wasn't sure he would even attempt to find her, his time working for Negan had changed him so much. But Dwight turned against Negan, and after helping defeat his former leader he did go searching for Sherry, and he found a clue to her whereabouts. A note that had one word on it, "Honeymoon", along with the infinity symbol. In a more ideal version of the zombie apocalypse, it would have been easy for Dwight to find Sherry after that. Obviously she was going to hide out in the place where they had their honeymoon, she was going to wait for Dwight there, and when he caught up with her they'd live happily ever after.

But that's not how it went. Now we're at least a year down the line and Dwight has been tracking Sherry across the country note by note. This trail has led him from the Washington D.C. area down into Texas... and right onto the set of Fear the Walking Dead, as actor Austin Amelio reprises the role of Dwight on this episode of The Walking Dead's companion series.

It's an unbelievable coincidence that Dwight would just happen to end up in the exact same place where fellow Walking Dead character Morgan (Lennie James) also happens to be spending his time these days, but I can push aside the nonsensical aspect of all of this to just enjoy the fact that Dwight is back, and now he's on Fear the Walking Dead. That's something I never expected to happen.

Morgan isn't the first Fear cast member Dwight meets. That's John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) and June (Jenna Elfman), and their paths cross in the dirt streets of a Wild West tourist attraction where a dust storm blows in, tumbleweeds roll by, and composers Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans drop some spaghetti western style whistling into the score. This place, called Humbug's Gulch, may not be a real Wild West town - it's part of a statewide chain, and John used to work at a Humbug's Gulch with the exact same layout in a different location - but it's close enough to bring a smile to the face of anyone who (like me) likes the idea of mixing Wild West and zombie apocalypse visuals.

Since Dwight is standing at the corner of desperation and despair at this point in his search for Sherry, John Dorie and June are the perfect characters for him to bump into, as John was on his own desperate quest to find June last season. They're also a good pair to help him take down the many zombies they have to dispatch as they make their way out of Humbug's Gulch.

While those three are hanging out together, the other characters on the show are also searching. Searching for their friend Althea (Maggie Grace), who seems to have been abducted by someone else with ties to The Walking Dead, and a trio of filthy kids they met in the first episode of this season. As they make their way around the area, they have to cut through a lot of roadblocks formed out of lines of zombies tied together with their own guts. By the end of the episode, we find out who has been making all of these grotesque roadblocks, although we don't understand why just yet.

Whatever's going on with all that, I'm suddenly much more interested in seeing what's going to happen when the characters catch up with all three of those kids again. Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) tries to connect with them the way John and June connect with Dwight, but they don't seem to be as open to connecting with other people as Dwight is.

Humbug's Gulch, which was directed by Fear cast member Colman Domingo, brought us the return of Dwight, a satisfactory amount of Wild West style action, and an intriguing revelation. All that combined made this a damn good episode in my book.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: I recently watched an episode of a show called Hollywood Weapons in which the host tried to replicate a moment from X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE where Deadpool uses his sword to cut a bullet in half in mid-air, sending the two fragments into two enemies behind him. Of course, the host fired his bullet at a sword that wasn't being held by a person, but his test did prove that a sword could cut a bullet in half and send the fragments into two targets behind it. You just need some Hollywood magic to help pull off the accuracy. Since I only watched that a week or so ago, I was amused to see Fear the Walking Dead pull off its own version of that Hollywood Weapons test with a moment involving Dwight, John, an axe, and some zombies.

GORY GLORY: There wasn't a whole lot out of the ordinary here, just the usual shots of zombie heads getting destroyed. Those zombie guts roadblocks continue to be quite gross, though.

FAVORITE SCENE: The San Antonio Split.

Season 5, Episode 4: Skidmark

PLOT: Strand continues trying to "borrow" Daniel's plane while others deal with a group of forest-dwelling children.

REVIEW: If you're a fan of the character Daniel Salazar (who is played by Ruben Blades) and/or of cats, this was a special episode of Fear the Walking Dead, as Daniel and his cat Skidmark both get a good amount of screen time. I'm a fan of both, so this was a win-win for me.

Viewers seem to love seeing animals on these Walking Dead shows, judging by the reactions I saw to the addition of the dog named Dog to season 9 of The Walking Dead, and the fact that I'm already seeing fans call Skidmark their favorite character on Fear the Walking Dead. And of course Shiva the tiger was awesome back in her day. Skidmark is a pretty cool cat himself, and he's able to make his way around among flesh-hungry zombies without getting in much danger. With a bell on his collar, Skidmark distracts the zombies for Daniel during their travels, and he does his job well. As fun as it is to have animals on this show and its companions series, we fans of dogs and cats also feel intensely concerned for their well-being in every scene they have. Thankfully, I don't foresee any Shiva-esque tragedies in Skidmark's near future, because even when situations go wrong in this episode he is able to get away from zombies very easily.

For me, the presence of Blades as Daniel always elevates Fear the Walking Dead. My all-time favorite episode of the show is the season 3 episode called 100, which was all about Daniel and what he had been up to since disappearing at the end of season 2's midseason finale. This Skidmark episode is no 100, but it was great to be spending so much time with Daniel again. Fear got a major shake-up during season 4 and became very different from what it had been before, but even in the midst of this new iteration of Fear there is one major truth held over from the past: Daniel and Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) do not get along. My constant worry for this show is that characters who didn't show up until season 4 are going to completely steal it out from under characters who predate them, so I was very glad to see that the enmity between Daniel and Strand was the main focus of this episode, so much that newer characters like Charlie (Alexa Nisenson), Sarah (Mo Collins), and Wendell (Daryl Mitchell) get an important history lesson when they learn why Daniel dislikes Strand so much.

Better yet, the characters don't deal with these personal issues while sitting around having a quiet chat. This information is delivered to them while Daniel is being pursued by a large herd of zombies - a bad situation that builds up to a spectacular, crowd-pleasing bloodbath.

While Strand, Charlie, Sarah, and Wendell are trying to convince Daniel to let him use the plane he has so they can fly off and help their stranded companions, the episode also cuts away to those stranded characters... and their scenes aren't nearly as interesting as what's going on with Daniel and the others. The characters of John Dorie, June, and Dwight are absent from this episode, but we do see Morgan (Lennie James), Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), and Luciana (Danay Garcia) interacting with those filthy kids they crossed paths with in the season 5 premiere. We had previously seen that these kids are responsible for the gory zombie roadblocks our heroes keep running into, which set up the idea that they might be a bunch of little psychopaths. Unfortunately, that's not the case, so there's nothing worthwhile about them.

There is something interesting going on out in the territory those kids inhabit, though. People walking around in riot gear and flying a helicopter just like the one that flew Rick Grimes off of The Walking Dead. Could they be the same people who took Rick away? They're obviously part of the same group, but do they have fueling points that allow them to fly all over the country? If these are the same people who cross paths with Rick, we're actually seeing them here before they took him away, because the timeline of Fear the Walking Dead is still about seven months ahead of Rick's disappearance. The Walking Dead never told us anything about this helicopter group, so I am very intrigued to see what Fear might tell us about them. So far it's not telling us anything about them, either. But the group seems to have abducted Fear character Althea, and if her friends are able to get her back it's not going to be satisfying if we don't get some information about the helicopter group in the process.

Skidmark might contain another Easter egg (an Easter cigar?) connection to The Walking Dead in its final moments, but we'll see how that pans out, if it goes anywhere at all.

This episode a bit of a mixed bag overall, I just wasn't interested in what was going on with those kids, but everything with Daniel and his cat was great.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: The best zombie moment in this episode is actually the same moment that earns the "Gory Glory" award, but I'll throw the zombies a bone and name the moment where they seem to have accomplished something. When Skidmark lures a group of zombies over to the window of a store they're stuck in, it sets off a trap that they accidentally use to bust the window and escape.

GORY GLORY: Strand destroys an entire herd of zombies by luring them into the propellers of a plane, reducing the whole bunch to nothing but a pile of blood and guts.

FAVORITE SCENE: Charlie, Sarah, and Wendell learn the story of Daniel, Strand, and Ofelia.

Season 5, Episode 5: The End of Everything

PLOT: Althea gets to know someone from the group that took Rick Grimes away.

REVIEW: Here and there throughout the first four episodes of this season, Fear the Walking Dead has been teasing that it was going to give some information on the mysterious, helicopter-flying group that removed Rick Grimes from its companion series The Walking Dead. In the first episode, Althea (Maggie Grace) encountered a zombie that was wearing a riot gear-type uniform and had items in its pockets bearing the symbol that was on the side of the helicopter in The Walking Dead. Since then, we have seen a helicopter just like the one Rick rode off in, symbols and all. Along with the symbols, the items in the zombie's pockets also had the initials CRM on them, so the Walking Dead fan community has taken to calling this mystery group CRM, and I'll follow their lead in this write-up.

Althea was knocked out by another CRM soldier at the end of episode 1 and has been absent from the three episodes since. The End of Everything finally catches up to her, and in a big way: until the final minutes, the only living characters in this episode are Althea and the CRM soldier, who turns out to be a woman named Isabelle (played by Sydney Lemmon) when their helmet comes off. So here we have more than 40 minutes of nothing but Althea hanging out with a CRM soldier. How much do we learn about CRM during those 40 minutes? I'm sure most regular viewers of the Walking Dead shows could see this coming - we don't learn a whole lot.

While we wait for a minimum amount of information to be given out piece by piece, the episode does give us rock slide zombies, a rock climbing sequence (with zombies), Althea and Isabelle having a power struggle, and something of a love story. Despite only having two characters in it, it's not an uneventful episode. Just one that's not as informative as most viewers have been hoping it would be. I never would have thought that the first episode in which we get to know something about the group that took Rick (and in the timeline this is actually a prequel to his disappearance, because that won't happen for several more months) would involve an established character and a CRM soldier falling for each other.

This is one of the more unusual love stories I've seen, since Althea and Isabelle spend most of their time together making threats and pointing weapons at each other. I guess that's how some relationships work. The romantic aspect doesn't come out of nowhere, there are indications that they're warming up to each other, but it does seem laughable when Isabelle intensely reveals her feelings just seconds after holding a gun to Althea's head and then suddenly they're kissing. We want answers and they give us people making out with each other. The worst thing about it is that this reveals Isabelle to be an inept CRM soldier. We finally get to meet one of them, and it's the worst one they have. One who warns that other survivors should be afraid of anyone wearing a CRM uniform and apparently killed a friend (after some hesitation) over a breach of protocol, but goes soft and breaches protocol herself when she runs into a pretty girl with an attitude.

Isabelle shouldn't feel too bad about herself, though. When Althea decides to withhold information from her friends at the end, she proves to be just as lousy at working within a group.

The granddaughter of Jack Lemmon, Sydney Lemmon only has a few years of screen credits to her name so far, and she does a good job playing the oddly written Isabelle. The character could actually be a strong addition to the core cast if she were to leave CRM behind, as she obviously should. Grace and Lemmon carry the episode on their shoulders well enough that I wasn't feeling anxious to check in on the other characters.

So here's the gist of what we learn about CRM, making this the most SPOILERy thing you can hear about The End of Everything, since this was assumed to be the point: they're dangerous, they follow very strict rules, they execute their own members if those rules aren't followed, and they're focused on the future instead of the present or even themselves. What about a CRM base? "You don't want to go there." Yeah, we're going to have to wait for those Rick TV movies before we learn anything substantial.

I have a feeling that The End of Everything is going to be a "love it or hate it" episode for most Walking Dead fans. It will depend on whether or not the individual viewer is going to be able to buy into the drama of the Althea / Isabelle story, and if they're going to be disappointed that it doesn't tell us enough about CRM or if they'll just shrug and say, "Yeah, I figured they wouldn't tell us much." I thought it was a middle of the road episode that was saved from being a waste by the performances of Grace and Lemmon.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: To retrieve helicopter fuel, Althea and Isabelle have to do some rock climbing - and along the way have to pass a rope-secured rock climber who turned into a zombie before reaching the top.

GORY GLORY: There wasn't a lot of gore, but there were a couple nice smashed heads and some mangled zombie legs.

FAVORITE SCENE: While tied up in a vehicle, Althea calls out to a zombie that will have to walk through a barbed wire barricade to reach her so she can use that barbed wire to cut through the rope around her wrists. Then she uses the car door to crush the zombie's skull.

Season 5, Episode 6: The Little Prince

PLOT: The characters try to fix a plane so they can escape from an area where a nuclear power plant may be about to have another meltdown.

REVIEW: I feel like Thurman Merman in BAD SANTA when he peels open a new day on his messed-with, chocolate-dispensing advent calendar to find a piece of candy corn within. He expresses disappointment, and Billy Bob Thornton's character (who stuck the candy corn in there) says, "Well, they can't all be winners, can they?" That's the first thing that crossed my mind after watching the latest episode of AMC's Fear the Walking Dead - Billy Bob Thornton delivering the line, "Well, they can't all be winners, can they?" For me, this episode titled The Little Prince was not a winner. This was the least interesting episode of this season so far, in fact it feels like it was a total waste of 44 minutes.

From an opening sequence that features yet another maddening motivational speech from Morgan (Lennie James) - the zombies really need to tear this guy apart before I start projectile vomiting from all this cheese - to an ending that has goofy-looking shots of a couple characters who are meant to be flying high in a hot air balloon, The Little Prince is exceptionally lame.

What comes in between the annoying beginning and the laughable ending? A whole lot of conversations. There's good acting in the scenes, but I'm still not getting much out of these interactions. Most of them are not very interesting, many of them involve characters I just can't bring myself to care about. Morgan, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), and Luciana (Danay Garcia) are very determined to take the group of filthy kids they stumbled across under their wings, but the kids aren't having it, and I'm fine with that. Go away, kids. Do your own thing and stop dragging down the show.

There's nothing really going on in this episode aside from the attempts to convince kid group leader Annie (Bailey Gavulic, who has a strong dramatic scene near the end) that she needs to stick with the main characters. She doesn't, so that's all a waste of time. John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) and Dwight (Austin Amelio) go out searching for Dwight's missing wife Sherry, but when John finds out a major piece of information he keeps it from Dwight... so that's just set-up for something else down the line. Morgan has to deliver a piece of equipment to Grace (Karen David), a character we met a couple episodes back, and she leaves him behind so she can go try to stop another power plant meltdown on her own. She'll do that in a different episode, I guess. Not in this one. Meanwhile, people are drawing inspiration from the children's book this episode shares its title with as they try to fix a plane - but they can't finish the repairs in this episode. Nothing happens here, it's just setting the stage for things to happen in the future.

The only part of The Little Prince I cared about were the scenes involving John and Dwight's search for Sherry, and I was really bothered by the information John chooses to withhold from Dwight. This is the second episode in a row where one member of the group doesn't tell another member something they really need to know. Not only does the note John finds take the Dwight/Sherry situation in a direction I don't want it to go in, but it also seems really stupid for the Sherry character. Note by note, she has led Dwight from Washington D.C. to Texas, now after a bad experience with another person she wants Dwight to stop following her. After all this time, all this distance. It's not like they've been on a regular cross-country trip, she has been leading him through the zombie apocalypse. Now she gets worried about him following her through "all that death"? I think Negan-following, Denise-murdering Dwight can handle himself. So stop being wishy-washy, Sherry, and just let the guy catch up with you. Her telling him he should go his own way is not a resolution to their storyline, especially since John is keeping that under his hat. If this show is actually going to let the "Dwight searching for Sherry" thing get dragged on forever, I'm going to be pissed.

That's even more upset than I am over The Little Prince being such an empty episode. If you're a regular Fear the Walking Dead viewer who missed this episode, don't worry about it. There's only a few minutes of content that will actually mean anything for the next episode.

They can't all be winners, but even the losers aren't usually this dull. Did they really need to spin their wheels this much so early in the season?

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: The zombies were taking a break for most of this episode, but in the final moments there's a cool visual of the biggest "zombies tied together with their guts" roadblock yet.

GORY GLORY: That zombie roadblock is the most gross thing in the episode, but I'll also recognize the fact that Morgan replaces his irradiated staff with a mop handle and tries out his new weapon by sticking it through a zombie's head.

FAVORITE SCENE: While Sarah (Mo Collins) is working on a blood-coated plane propeller that was used to chop up a bunch of zombies, some kind of liquid drips down on her face. Collins gives an amusing delivery of the line, "That's oil. I hope."

Season 5, Episode 7: Still Standing

PLOT: Alicia tries to get the group of children to leave their treehouse base while the other characters work to get a plane repaired before a nuclear meltdown.

REVIEW: The characters of Morgan Jones (Lennie James), Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey), John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt), June (Jenna Elfman), Luciana (Danay Garcia), and Althea (Maggie Grace) crashed a plane while attempting a rescue mission in the first episode of Fear the Walking Dead's fifth season, ending up in the worst place they could have possibly landed in. Roads out have been wiped away by landslides, there's nuclear contamination in the area, some areas have been blocked off by roadblocks made of zombies tied together with their own guts, and there was a mysterious helicopter flying around... As episodes went on, it became clear that the showrunners didn't intend on getting the characters out of this situation until the mid-season finale, which will be episode 8. But when dividing a show up into half-season blocks like this, they should really entertain the idea that there's not enough story to sustain half a season. Maybe the characters could manage to fix their plane and fly out of this area a couple episodes before the mid-season finale. I don't think there's any viewer that would complain about the last episode or two before the mid-season break doing something different.

But showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg, who took control of Fear the Walking Dead last season, obviously had no interest in getting the characters out of this mess early, no matter how much filler they had to drag the story out with. Episode 6 was nearly worthless and episode 7 isn't much better, as the show continues to spin its wheels trying to get eight episodes out of this scenario.

Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) and Charlie (Alexa Nisenson) have now joined the other characters in this tough spot, having crashed their hot air balloon while trying to bring the others the replacement parts they need to fix their plane and fly out of here. They now find themselves surrounded by zombies, because the show can't let them get those parts to the plane this soon. What's going on with them is just a way to kill time, others need to get some aviation fuel to kill time, and it turns out that John's decision to withhold information from new acquaintance Dwight (Austin Amelio, crossing over from The Walking Dead like Lennie James did) was also just a way to kill time.

Dwight has been searching for his ex-wife Sherry since the end of The Walking Dead season 8 and followed her from the Walking Dead setting of Washington D.C. down to Fear's current setting of Texas. While helping him in his search, John found a letter from Sherry in which she advised Dwight to stop following her for his own safety. John decided not to tell Dwight about that letter, and spends a while in this episode having a crisis of conscience over that decision before finally giving the letter to Dwight. That's a one episode turn-around, and a waste of time. Especially since Dwight takes the news like a champ. Now we need to place our bets on whether or not there's any chance Dwight and Sherry will be having a face-to-face by the end of this season.

Nuclear power plant employee Grace (Karen David) is around to notify everybody that another meltdown is imminent, otherwise these folks would probably take until the season finale to get out of the area instead of the mid-season finale.

Alicia has some business to attend to before the meltdown, and this is the most imporant part of the episode. She's out to convince the group of children headed up by siblings Annie (Bailey Gavulic), Max (Ethan Suess), and Dylan (Cooper Dodson) that they need to vacate the area as well, and she's so determined to reach these kids that she goes walking through a wilderness full of gut-wrapped zombies to do it. She eventually reaches their base, which happens to be a large treehouse that can only be reached by a bridge. It's a hell of a set-up.

I still don't have any attachment to these kid characters, but Alicia's mission to round them up does bring a whole lot of zombie killing into the episode. Including a moment of zombie killing that could be the lead-in to something terrible happening. There have been irradiated zombies lurking around throughout this half-season, characters have been warned about them repeatedly. Morgan gives that dire warning again at the start of this episode. And then the thing that has been warned against happens. If the show goes down the road of having the worst case scenario play out after this, I'm going to be very upset. But with Morgan giving the warning at the beginning of the episode this event happens in, they have to carry it out, don't they? My interest in this show will take a plunge if they do. It would mean removing another major character who has been around since the early days of the show, and Fear needs to hold on to every remaining pre-season 4 character they have.

Still Standing has some good moments of action and more than enough moments of spinning wheels. I'm going to be glad when we get through the mid-season finale and can move on to this show doing something different in the second half of the season.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: Alicia assures the kids that she is a zombie-killing badass, and proceeds to prove it by single-handedly taking on a bunch of zombies that are advancing on their treehouse.

GORY GLORY: There are a lot of damaged zombie heads in this episode, but the biggest grossout comes when Alicia is attacked by a really messed-up zombie that has a dangling eyeball. She stabs it in the head and has trouble removing her weapon from its skull. When she does pull the weapon out, zombie blood splashes across her face.

FAVORITE SCENE: Any scene with Alicia killing zombies, whether it be in the woods at the beginning of the episode or at the treehouse near the end.

Season 5, Episode 8: Is Anybody Out There?

PLOT: Groups of characters race to catch a plane before a cloud of radiation reaches them.

REVIEW: The story that has taken up the first half of Fear the Walking Dead's fifth season, a story of a group of characters seeking to help people in the zombie apocalypse crash landing a plane in a remote area where a nuclear power plant is about to have a meltdown, could have easily been told in a few less episodes, and would have been all the better for it. As the writers were dragging this story out, we got two kinds of filler episodes: slow ones packed with chit-chat where little to nothing was accomplished (The Little Prince, for example), and ones like Is Anybody Out There?, where you barely notice how little substance there is because it's fast paced and contains a good amount of action.

Is Anybody Out There? begins with a moment of relief, as Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) has caught up with nuclear power plant worker Grace (Karen David) after catching a splash of irradiated zombie blood on her face in the previous episode. Alicia cleans off and Grace, who was already exposed to a lethal amount of radiation herself, gives her hope that she's going to be okay. It's going to suck watching Grace succumb to radiation poisoning, but we don't need to see Alicia suffer the same fate. She's the only character left on the show who has been around since the first episode. Her brother and mother used to be the leads, and with them gone Alicia must endure.

With the "is Alicia doomed or not?" question brushed aside, the episode is then able to focus on some race against the clock action. The plane that was crashed in the season premiere is now repaired and ready to take off, with Strand (Colman Domingo), Althea (Maggie Grace), Luciana (Danay Garcia), June (Jenna Elfman), Charlie (Alexa Nisenson), and the group of kids they have lured out of the wilderness waiting patiently for two separate groups of their friends to get back to the plane. While Alicia, Grace, and Morgan (Lennie James) are dealing with a herd of zombies while trying to reach the plane, John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) and Morgan's fellow crossover character from The Walking Dead Dwight (Austin Amelio) are dealing with car trouble. A few years deep into the apocalypse, gasoline is starting to go bad... And it seems like gasoline is going to be very important in the episodes ahead.

John is a guy whose life has actually improved during the apocalypse, and this episode plays up how good his luck is these days. I'm a fan of John, but when the writers throw in moments like him knowing he'll be able to start a car in a lot full of dead vehicles simply because a candy he enjoys is on the dashboard it's so irritatingly cheesy - up there with Morgan's inspirational speeches - that it makes me want to see his good luck streak come to a screeching halt. It's not happening yet, things are wonderful for him at the end of this episode.

The meltdown occurs, a cloud of radiation starts sweeping across the land. Will the plane take off in time? Just imagine if it doesn't: the only characters left on the show would be Sarah (Mo Collins) and Wendell (Daryl Mitchell), maybe with Daniel (Ruben Blades) continuing to come and go. So clearly, yes, the plane is going to take off in time.

In general I would say Sarah and Wendell are the most useless, expendable people on this show, but they actually get to step up and be heroes here. They're in charge of making sure the plane has a runway to land on in a safe area, and it takes some effort to accomplish that. They get some help from Daniel, who thankfully wasn't gone for too long after heading out at the end of the Skidmark episode. When that guy leaves, you never know if he's going to be gone for a couple episodes or for a whole season. I'm really hoping to see him throughout the second half of this season.

Is Anybody Out There? moves along quickly enough and has some exciting moments, but the best thing about it is the simple fact that it means that damn "stuck in a radiation danger zone with a bunch of dirty kids" story is over and done with. Now let's move forward and see if the story for the second half of the season can actually sustain eight episodes without too much padding.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: Some zombies get caught in netting dragging behind the cargo plane as it's rolling down the runway. The zombies have to be dealt with before the plane can lift off, so we don't get any THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS style aerial stunts, but it's the best zombie moment anyway.

GORY GLORY: There was nothing special in the gore department here, just the standard zombie head damage.

FAVORITE SCENE: Wendell saves the day by making sure the runway lights will be on for the plane, showing he has a reason to be on this show.

Season 5, Episode 9: Channel 4

PLOT: Cameras are rolling as Morgan and his team of do-gooders try to help a woman whose house is surrounded by land mines.

REVIEW: Viewers will often catch nods to classic George A. Romero films like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, DAWN OF THE DEAD, and DAY OF THE DEAD in the Walking Dead shows on AMC. When Frank Darabont started The Walking Dead nine years ago, he said the first zombie glimpsed in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD served as the template for how the show would be presenting zombies. The first episode of The Walking Dead featured one of the most direct NIGHT references ever: there was a character named Duane Jones, which was also the name of the actor who played the character Ben in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Duane was the son of Morgan Jones (Lennie James), who has gone on to become one of the lead characters on the spin-off Fear the Walking Dead, and all this time down the line we may have reached the first Walking Dead episode that pays homage to Romero's fifth "Dead" film, DIARY OF THE DEAD.

Like DIARY OF THE DEAD, the season 5 mid-season premiere of Fear the Walking Dead is presented in the "found footage" style, as almost the entire episode is a documentary that has been cut together as a way to promote the helpful endeavors Morgan and his team of fellow zombie apocalypse survivors are up to. We've seen Althea (Maggie Grace) conducting interviews before, but this time around her interviews are interspersed with some "day in the life" action that Althea has shot, with Luciana (Danay Garcia) operating a second camera. The team is now leaving copies of the resulting documentary in locations around the Texas countryside, hoping people will watch it and contact them seeking help and a place in the community they're building.

This episode reminded me not only of DIARY OF THE DEAD, but also of The Office. It was kind of jarring to put on the latest episode of Fear the Walking Dead and see that it was a post-apocalypse documentary shot and cut together by a bunch of do-gooders. It works for a single episode. Channel 4 walks a fine line and ends up being entertaining more often than cringe-inducingly cheesy, but its cheesiness does occasionally cause some cringing and I wouldn't want to see this style employed ever again.

While I'm not always on board with their storytelling decisions or the way they have handled some characters, showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian B. Goldberg, along with their writers, have proven capable of crafting interesting zombie action sequences since taking over Fear last season, and that holds true again in Channel 4. Morgan and his pals get word that a woman who's hiding in a boarded-up house with her asthmatic child may need their assistance, and when they arrive at her property they find that the front yard is full of land mines. That makes our heroes understandably hesitant to cross the yard, which is how this scenario takes most of the episode to play out, but zombies aren't so cautious. So we are treated to the sight of a bunch of zombies being taken out by land mines.

The sight of zombies blowing up is the best thing Channel 4 has to offer, because there isn't much going on with the characters here. We just get to hear them talk about their world views and why they want to help people. While there are some fun moments, like John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) mentioning that he tried caviar and thought it tasted like bait, or Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades) trying to convince Dwight (Austin Amelio) to let him give him a haircut, this episode will really work best for viewers who are tuning in to Fear for the first time, as it serves as an introduction to the show's characters.

If the situation with Logan (Matt Frewer) at the end of the mid-season finale got you excited to see what was going to happen next with him, you might be let down by how little Logan there is in this episode. And if you want to see the badass zombie killer version of Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) you'll be really bummed out, because now she's going down the disappointing path of becoming such a pacifist that she won't even kill zombies anymore. Morgan is a bad influence on her. I do get why she would be reluctant to kill zombies now, killing an irradiated zombie recently made her afraid she could have radiation poisoning, but I don't want to see Alicia declining to dispatch flesh-eaters when it's necessary. Morgan is teaching her aikido now, and I hope that she'll be using her new martial arts skills to kick more zombie ass in the future.

Channel 4 gets the second half of Fear the Walking Dead season 5 started in a serviceable, watchable way. Hopefully the remaining seven episodes will be more substantial.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: Zombies set off multiple explosions while trying to get to a house surrounded by land mines.

GORY GLORY: For an episode full of zombies being blown to bits, the gore level in this one was surprisingly low. There is some blood splatter around, and some zombies also get stabbed through the head.

FAVORITE SCENE: Morgan finds himself standing on a land mine. I would have loved the scene even if more if Morgan had actually been blown up.

Season 5, Episode 10: 210 Words Per Minute

PLOT: Grace fears she may be starting to feel the effects of her radiation poisoning during a Good Samaritan mission in a shopping mall.

REVIEW: Just one week after we got an episode of AMC's Fear the Walking Dead that felt like an homage to genre legend George A. Romero's film DIARY OF THE DEAD, since it was presented (like DIARY was) as if it were a documentary, here we have an episode of Fear that can't help but bring to mind another entry on the Romero filmography, DAWN OF THE DEAD. Of course, that's not because the episode is anywhere near the quality of DAWN OF THE DEAD, which is one of the greatest horror films ever made. It just draws comparisons to that classic because they both happen to be zombie stories that take place within shopping malls.

The mall setting isn't the only thing that might stir up extra interest in 210 Words Per Minute among horror fans. This episode also happens to have been directed by Ron Underwood. Underwood directing an episode of a TV show isn't rare, he has worked on a ton of shows over the last fifteen years, taking the helm of episodes of Reaper, Heroes, Burn Notice, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Once Upon a Time, Hawaii Five-O, Magnum P.I., and MacGyver, among many others. What makes Underwood's involvement with Fear the Walking Dead worth taking note of is the fact that he made his feature directorial debut back in 1990 with one of my all-time favorites, TREMORS. The director of TREMORS bringing us an episode of Fear the Walking Dead that's reminiscent (in a way) of DAWN OF THE DEAD, that's a special event.

The episode is primarily set in the mall because of the Good Samaritan project Morgan Jones (Lennie James) has gotten this show's characters wrapped up in. Morgan, his fellow The Walking Dead crossover character Dwight (Austin Amelio), and Morgan's new friend Grace (Karen David) are drawn to this place by a radio message from a man who has been staying in the mall but has been bitten by a zombie and wants Morgan and his cohorts to dispatch him once he turns. Trouble is, the guy proves tough to find once they infiltrate the mall, which happens to have a lot of zombies wandering around inside of it.

This mall may be the most unrealistic thing we've ever seen in a Walking Dead show, since we're a couple years into the zombie apocalypse at this point and the place hasn't already been picked clean, but okay, I'll look past that. The Fear characters pick up some supplies while they're there, but this episode doesn't use the mall for much in the way of wish fulfillment fun. Instead, the characters are mostly interested in the Urgent Care clinic that's in there, because Grace wants to use the equipment on hand to try to see what the radiation poisoning she believes she has is doing to her.

It's a shame that Grace was introduced to us this season with this terminal affliction already seemingly guaranteed to make her time on the show short, because she is a very likeable character, a good addition to the cast. 210 Words Per Minute gets its title from Grace and her tendency to listen to audiobooks at double speed (something I can relate to, since I speed up most audiobooks and podcasts I listen to), and the episode basically serves as a lamentation of her impending death.

Grace has seemed like a potential love interest for Morgan ever since some of their earliest interactions, so it's no surprise that romantic feelings the two share for each other start to come to the surface during this mall mission. But since it seems very likely that Grace is going to be dying soon, there's a heavy element of tragedy to the situation. After the death of his wife and son early in the apocalypse, Morgan might be able to build a new life with Grace... but he can't, because she's not going to be around long.

With a group headed up by Matt Frewer as a fellow named Logan rampaging through the countryside in search of oil fields Morgan's group has access to, Dwight eventually heads out on his own to set up a confrontation with one of Logan's people. Dwight knows all about being lackey to a villain, he used to murder people while following the orders of The Walking Dead bad guy Negan, so it was interesting to watch him interact with someone who is currently serving as a lackey to a villain. He lets this person know they have a choice: continue being an A-hole, or find another way.

As intriguing as the Dwight subplot was, the heart and soul of 210 Words Per Minute was what went on at the mall between Morgan and Grace. While I wish that more Fear characters from the show's early days had been present in this episode - all we got of them was a couple scenes with Daniel (Ruben Blades) - I didn't have a bad time watching it. It doesn't end with things in a happy, hopeful place, but it was nice while it lasted.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: Faced with the threat of a bunch of zombies riding up an escalator to the floor of the mall they're on, Morgan and Grace stand at the top of the escalator and kill every zombie that comes up. When Grace figures out how to reverse the escalator, Morgan is nearly pulled down into the crowd of zombies.

GORY GLORY: A lot of zombies get exterminated in this episode, but there's a memorable moment up front when Dwight axes a zombie through a door. He doesn't axe it in the head, though. His axe hooks it in the shoulder, allowing him to pull the zombie forward and repeatedly bash its face into the door frame and boards holding the door closed.

FAVORITE SCENE: TREMORS director Ron Underwood got to shoot a sequence where a character uses a monster-luring method pioneered in TREMORS II when Morgan uses a remote control car to lead the mall zombies in the direction he wants them to go.

Season 5, Episode 11: You're Still Here

PLOT: Alicia goes on a spiritual journey while a stranded motorist causes trouble.

REVIEW: After two episodes that brought to mind George A. Romero movies - DIARY OF THE DEAD with Channel 4, DAWN OF THE DEAD with 210 Words Per Minute (from the director of TREMORS!) - here we reach an episode that is thoroughly, uniquely Fear the Walking Dead. Specifically the show that Fear has become since the new showrunners took over last season, as You're Still Here dives into what the villainous Logan (Matt Frewer) would call "kumbaya horseshit".

Logan is lurking around in this episode and has a tense confrontation with Althea (Maggie Grace) and The Walking Dead crossover character Morgan (Lennie James), but the main focus here is the spiritual journey Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) has been on ever since getting splattered with irradiated zombie blood in episode 7 of this season. After that happened, she swore off killing zombies, has been taking aikido lessons from Morgan, and has become fascinated by the sight of painted trees that someone has written "If you're reading this, you are still here" on. Now she's on a mission to find the person who paints these trees, which would seem to me like a hopeless endeavor in the zombie-filled apocalypse, but Alicia thinks it's possible and she has dragged Strand (Colman Domingo) along on her road trip so he can kill zombies for her. Alicia's goal here is to get this painter to show her how to have such a beautiful, hopeful view of the world.

It has been disappointing to watch the character who was the show's most badass zombie killer turn into a pacifist who's obsessed with tree paintings, especially since it has rendered her so helpless that she has to call out for Strand to save her from a couple zombies at the beginning of the episode. I consider Alicia to be the most important character on this show, since she has been around since the beginning and the characters who I previously thought were the most important - her mom Madison and brother Nick - made their exits in season 4. But this is not the Alicia I want to see. I want her to be a strong, zombie destroying leader, not a flower child in distress.

There has been some speculation that Madison could still be alive and be the person who is out there painting trees, but I never gave that thought much consideration. Painting fancy messages on trees doesn't seem like an activity that she would get up to. I would understand Alicia's quest more if she seemed convinced that it was Madison doing all this, but that isn't the purpose she states.

As Alicia and Strand wander the countryside hoping to bump into this tree painter, they cross paths with Wes (Colby Hollman), a young man who has found himself stranded on the road after a run-in with Logan and his lackeys, who thought he was part of Morgan's group. Wes is an interesting, complicated character with his own agenda and a cynical view of the world. The opposite of what Alicia is looking for. Alicia and Strand meet him early on, and spend the majority of the episode dealing with the tough situation he gets them caught up in.

Thankfully, this complicated situation involves a lot of zombies, as the characters end up trapped inside a police station that's surrounded by the flesh-eaters. Which is a bigger problem for Alicia than ever before now that she relies on other people to do all the zombie killing for her. Even with Alicia stepping back this episode did still have some cool action moments, including one in which Strand causes himself some trouble when he accidentally fires a tear gas canister into a zombie's guts, and another where Wes gets to act like a hero. Something this character doesn't seem to do very often. In fact, toward the end of the episode he's the cause of a scene that was actually quite sad.

While it's frustrating to watch Alicia be a lesser character than she used to be, You're Still Here held my attention with its examination of who Wes is and the moments of zombie action. I don't have high hopes for the rest of this season because I have no interest at all in what's going on with Logan and his search for the oil fields that Morgan and company have access to, but this was a decent episode when taken on its own.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: Unfortunately for the zombies, the best zombie moments in these Walking Dead shows often involve zombies being taken out of this world. Such is the case for You're Still Here, where my favorite zombie moment involves Wes showing off his shooting skills by wiping out the flesh-eaters that have Alicia and Strand trapped in the police station.

GORY GLORY: There were some gross sights to behold in this one, like the moment where a zombie gets wrapped in vines and pulls itself apart while trying to reach some fresh meat, and another where a bunch of zombies are seen feasting on an animal carcass. But my favorite display of gore comes when Strand impales a zombie through the head, then manages to rip its off head off its shoulders when he pulls his weapon away.

FAVORITE SCENE: At the end of the episode, Alicia sets aside the "I can't kill zombies anymore" mindset and stabs a zombie in the head.

Season 5, Episode 12: Ner Tamid

PLOT: Seeking a home for a caravan of survivors, Charlie finds hope at a synagogue.

REVIEW: I enjoyed watching the twelfth episode of Fear the Walking Dead's fifth season, but I also have mixed feelings about it. For me, it's bad news whenever an episode of this show doesn't feature one of the characters we've been following since before the current showrunners took over with season 4. At this point, those characters have been whittled down to just Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), Strand (Colman Domingo), Luciana (Danay Garcia), and Daniel (Ruben Blades) - and not one of them is present for Ner Tamid. Instead, this show is continuing to add new characters, as if we need more people to draw attention away from the few original Fear stars we have left.

The good news is that I liked the character who gets added into the show in this episode, Rabbi Jacob Kessner (played by the prolific Peter Jacobson). It's season 4 addition Charlie (Alexa Nisenson) who brings Kessner into the show, drawn to his synagogue by the glow of the "Ner Tamid" - the "everlasting light" that hangs in the synagogue and is meant to represent the presence of God. Kessner is keeping that light running with a dying car battery, but it's still enough to catch Charlie's attention.

Some could interpret that to mean that it was God who brought Charlie to the synagogue, and Kessner's religion does play heavily into the episode. Charlie clearly likes the idea of being directly guided by God, and finds it endearing that Kessner is upholding tradition by continuing to stick to all his duties as a rabbi even though he doesn't have a congregation anymore. I found that aspect of the character to be endearing myself. Kessner is alone in this synagogue, and we'll find out that he has a tragic back story involving the fate of his congregation. It's not quite on the level of Father Gabriel's back story with his congregation on The Walking Dead, but they have similar outcomes anyway, and both have something to do with religious figures failing to be strong leaders for their people.

Charlie and the other characters we follow on this show are now traveling around with a caravan of thirty-six people, and Charlie wants to find a place for them where they can all settle down. Before she even brings the idea up to Kessner, she's already convinced that the synagogue could be everyone's new home. Charlie's determination to make that happen even though there's nothing to indicate that Kessner would be happy to get thirty-six roommates is quite naive, but at least she also has an interesting reason for wanting to find everyone a home. Traveling in this caravan reminds her too much of the time she spent traveling with the group known as "The Vultures", a group whose bad influence even caused her to kill one of the show's most important characters early in season 4.

Viewers who aren't into the "getting to know you" stuff with Kessner and/or don't care about Charlie's motivation for wanting to find a home will be glad to know that this episode also features plenty of zombie action. We see Kessner taking down zombies on a couple different occasions, but it's when Charlie's fellow season 4 additions John (Garret Dillahunt) and June (Jenna Elfman) join her at the synagogue that the episode really shifts gears. Barricades fail, zombies surround the synagogue, and the characters have to figure out how to escape from this mess.

This is basically the same thing that happened with Alicia and Strand in the previous episode; they met a new character and ended up getting stuck in a zombie-surrounded location with them (in that case it was a police station). And yes, Kessner plays a major role in getting the regulars out of this jam just like Wes (Colby Hollman) saved Alicia and Strand. But the action sequence that ensues here isn't really about the new character being a hero. Instead, it focuses on John and June as they try to reach the vehicle they parked just outside the synagogue fence - and to cross the zombie-filled parking lot, they use a ladder to make a bridge between the cars parked there.

Several minutes of this episode are primarily focused on John and June's parking lot adventure, and even though there were moments when I found it a little tough to believe that the zombies wouldn't quickly and easily knock the ladder out from under the characters, there were also moments that I found to be legitimately thrilling. John and June might be luckier than they should be, but they still run into some trouble. I don't say a lot of positive things about the changes the current showrunners brought to Fear the Walking Dead, but I do appreciate that they added cooler zombie action sequences into the mix.

Ner Tamid is mostly about Charlie dragging Kessner into the cast, but it also nudges the story about the villain Logan (Matt Frewer) and his search for oil fields forward a bit, and contains some nice moments with The Walking Dead crossover character Dwight (Austin Amelio) and season 4 addition Sarah (Mo Collins). It was a fine episode... but I'm still annoyed that it didn't feature Alicia, Strand, Luciana, or Daniel.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: A whole lot of zombies try to get their hands and mouths on John and June as they cross the synagogue parking lot with their ladder.

GORY GLORY: A truck hits a zombie, which gets crushed under the truck's wheels. Since that truck was leading a caravan, several more vehicles come along to run over the zombie's body as well, flattening it to the ground.

FAVORITE SCENE: John and June's time in the parking lot is tops, but I also found the last scene with Logan to be promising, since I'm tired of his storyline, which is getting dragged out while also not getting a lot of attention.

Season 5, Episode 13: Leave What You Don't

PLOT: Logan finds the oil field Morgan's team inherited from his former business partner, and so does a herd of zombies.

REVIEW: Fear the Walking Dead actually shocked me with the thirteenth episode of its fifth season, because this was one of the rare occasions where a Walking Dead show wrapped up a storyline in an episode that wasn't either a mid-season finale or a season finale. Of course, while resolving this storyline the show actually revealed that there's a lot more going on here than we knew about, but the fact that Logan (Matt Frewer) is no longer a threat to our heroes with three episodes remaining in the season is surprising to me anyway.

Another unexpected element of this episode was the amount of serious drama the Sarah character was given to handle. Played by Mad TV alum Mo Collins, Sarah has largely been a comic relief presence up to this point, but this episode allows her to display some depth, digging into the regret she feels over the things she did in the past. It's a bit awkward that she expresses this regret by basically saying the same thing twice in scenes that were very close together, but it's nice to see Sarah do something other than drop laugh lines. The laugh lines are present as well, though, and my favorite one included the phrase "poop chute". Leave What You Don't also reveals that, much like a superhero (especially if that superhero happens to be named Tony Stark), Sarah has created her own enemy through her past actions. We find out exactly what happened to Logan that caused him to lose the helpful, hopeful attitude he had at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, and Sarah is responsible for it.

The showdown between Logan and Sarah occurs at the oil field that Logan has been searching for this whole season, and even though the oil pump is hidden within a quarry it's tough to understand why Logan and his crew had so much trouble locating it. We're shown that the process of turning oil into gasoline requires a fire that sends a stream of black smoke into the air. This oil field was set up by Logan's former business partner, but instead of searching through his old buddy's stuff or the videos that have been shot by Althea (Maggie Grace), Logan could have just been looking for the source of the black smoke drifting into the sky.

Logan is a different sort of villain than we usually see on Walking Dead shows, there's a strong sense that this guy could be pulled over to the right side of the issue. If that were to happen, I certainly wouldn't mind seeing Frewer as a regular cast member on this show. But as it turns out, I don't think we're going to be seeing him on Fear again. Logan is so ineffective as a bad guy, maybe I shouldn't have been surprised that he's leaving the show before the end of the season.

The best thing about Leave What You Don't for me wasn't the insight we get into Logan's character or Sarah's seriousness, it was - as is often the case on this show - the spectacle of the zombie action. Logan finds the oil field, and so does a herd of zombies. The zombies just aren't clever enough to figure out where the entrance is. Instead, they come tumbling down into the quarry, some of them bursting like blood-filled water balloons when they hit the ground. Sharpshooter John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) tries to pick off as many as he can before they fall in, but there are still a lot of zombies dropping into the quarry where characters like Logan, his lackeys, Sarah, Wendell (Daryl Mitchell), Luciana (Danay Garcia), Dwight (Austin Amelio), and the kids from the first half of the season are hanging out. It's a fun set-up.

I appreciate that Leave What You Don't brought the Logan standoff to an early conclusion. Then it brings in something new that I'm not quite sure of yet... And it's interesting that just a few episodes after Grace (Karen David) scoffed at the idea of riding horses in the zombie apocalypse, figuring that all of the horses that were around have become zombie chow, we're now introduced to a group that has Old West style and gets around on horseback. They want to take over the oil field so they can produce gasoline, so they don't seem to be entirely dedicated to this whole horse riding thing, but they still bring a bunch of horses into the final scenes of this episode.

The leader of this pack is Ginny, played by Colby Minifie, and I really don't get what she's up to. She says she and her group help people, that's why they need the oil, but in that case why do she and her pals have to behave like such violent, threatening dicks? It feels like the Walking Dead shows are running out of good excuses for people to fight each other. Why does there always have to be a "group vs. group" scenario in play? After the situation with Negan and his group of Saviors was dragged out and run into the ground on The Walking Dead, I can't help but roll my eyes every time another antagonistic group shows up on these shows. Ginny and her posse are going to have be fascinating to win me over, and I really don't see that happening. But that's an issue for future episodes.

Leave What You Don't I thought was a solid episode, right up until the moment Ginny arrived at the quarry. Then it ended on a troubling note, partly because I'm wary of Ginny and her group but also because it puts a pre-season 4 character's status on the show in jeopardy, and if you've read many of my Fear the Walking Dead episode write-ups you'll know that the pre-season 4 characters are the ones that are most important to me. We don't have any left to spare.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: The zombies falling into the quarry get most of the attention, but there are a few zombies in here who are making themselves useful. Tricked into trying to reach for rodents in cages hanging in front of them, these zombies mindlessly walk in a circle, not even realizing that they're turning a wheel that helps with the oil pumping.

GORY GLORY: While the zombies that burst like balloons when they hit the ground are an awesome sight, my pick for the best gore effect comes when one of Logan's lackeys bashes a zombie's head in with a rifle butt.

FAVORITE SCENE: As Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Strand (Colman Domingo) rush to help a fellow survivor who's trapped in a situation just like one Logan couldn't rescue someone else from earlier in the apocalypse, Logan is in walkie talkie contact with the survivor, encouraging them to just give up. Then we find out whether or not history is going to repeat itself.

Season 5, Episode 14: Today and Tomorrow

PLOT: Morgan and Althea infiltrate a condo complex occupied by Ginny's people while Grace and Daniel run out of gas.

REVIEW: The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead are basically soap operas that happen to have zombies in them. Sometimes we can be distracted from this fact by the action, gore, and confrontations between groups of humans... and sometimes there are episodes like Today and Tomorrow, where the soap opera aspect is quite apparent. The episode does have its share of zombies, action, and people with opposing agendas, but at its core it's all about characters seeking love and emotional connections in the post-apocalypse.

A few episodes back, it became clear that Morgan (Lennie James) would like to pursue a relationship with Grace (Karen David), but he buried his emotions and went off on a supply-distributing mission with Althea (Maggie Grace) because he's still hurting too much over the loss of his wife and son to open himself up to being with a woman who probably only has a short time left, since it's believed that Grace has radiation poisoning. Meanwhile Althea has a troubled heart herself because a woman she fell for flew out of her life in a helicopter - a helicopter just like the one that carried Rick Grimes away on The Walking Dead. Morgan and Althea are forced to admit these matters of the heart when they find out the group of equestrians led by Ginny (Colby Minifie), questionable characters we were introduced to in the previous episode, have taken over a condo complex and are forcing the former HOA prez's sister to stay there with them.

Morgan and Althea sneak into the complex not just to rescue the man's sister, but also so Althea can find out whether or not Ginny's group is associated with her potential girlfriend's community.

Meanwhile Grace and Daniel (Ruben Blades) - accompanied by Daniel's cat Skidmark - are off bonding on a mission of their own. Although Morgan is pushing Grace away because of her ailment, she's still the character on this show who does the most smiling and laughing and she's allowing herself to look forward to the future. Daniel had no one but Skidmark for a while, but now he's an active member of a group, making friends and taking young Charlie (Alexa Nisenson) under his wing. It's a good thing Daniel is in this episode, or else Today and Tomorrow would have been another episode that annoyed me by not including a character that has been on the show since before the new showrunners took over in season 4. Regardless of whether or not I like Morgan, Althea, or Grace, I need that connection to the pre-4 era of the show. Daniel has been coming and going since the beginning and he's one of my favorite characters who has ever been on Fear, so his presence in this episode was very welcome.

Not only is Daniel present and adding some fun into the mix by giving a haul of vinyl records top priority on their supply run, but the guy also gets to show off his singing abilities. In addition to being an actor and a politician, Ruben Blades is also a musician, so I knew he could do some singing, but I certainly never expected Daniel to sing a duet with Grace, who also proves to have some singing skills. It's surprising and a bit cheesy, but Fear the Walking Dead is a soap opera, so I wasn't put off by Daniel and Grace's musical interlude.

Zombies are destroyed; a condo complex surrounded by armed guards is infiltrated; there are tense exchanges between Morgan, Althea, and Ginny; Daniel and Grace play a tune. There is plenty going on in Today and Tomorrow, but it's all built around the question of, "Can Morgan move on from his past and embrace his feelings for Grace?" And the secondary question of, "How much time does Morgan have to pull his head out of his ass before Grace passes away?"

This is an episode where the soap opera of it all distracts from the action, but I thought it was a fine way to spend 45 minutes. I find Ginny and her group to be pretty underwhelming, but I do care about some of these characters and would like to see Morgan and Grace have some happiness before she has to go.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: When Morgan and Althea run into some zombie trouble at the condo complex, Althea ends up tumbling into the swimming pool with the flesh-eater. Fighting off the zombie while underwater proves to be quite a challenge.

GORY GLORY: Some zombies get the standard head bashing and spearing in this episode. One of them gets dispatched by a guard at the condo complex, who tries to drag the body away by one of its arms. The zombie is too decomposed for that and its arm pops off.

FAVORITE SCENE: Early in the episode Morgan and Althea dive into a van to hide from some of Ginny's riders. The men on horseback are presented as being such a threat that a shot of a horse breathing on a van window while our heroes cower inside the vehicle reminded me of a dinosaur in a JURASSIC PARK movie.

Season 5, Episode 15: Channel 5

PLOT: Morgan and his convoy of survivors have philosophical disagreements with Ginny and her group while searching for a safe place to settle down in.

REVIEW: Earlier in this season of Fear the Walking Dead, the Channel 4 episode was largely shot in "found footage" style because we were seeing the action through cameras the characters were using to film a documentary, the purpose of that documentary being to advertise their helpful endeavors. Now The Walking Dead crossover character Morgan (Lennie James) and his group of do-gooders have run into another group of survivors that claims they can help others, a group headed up by Ginny (Colby Minifie), whose occasionally murderous, always cold methods Morgan and company don't agree with. Channel 5 starts off with the revelation that the rivalry between these two "helpful" groups has gotten to a point where Ginny has made her own documentary to advertise the services she can provide. Morgan and his pals can't have that, so a good chunk of Channel 5 is shot "found footage" documentary style as the show's lead characters shoot a second documentary in response to Ginny's documentary.

Yes, now we have dueling documentaries in the zombie apocalypse, an idea so ridiculous that I'm hoping everyone's cameras are going to get smashed so we can move on from this nonsense for good.

Morgan and his pals are shooting this second documentary while desperately seeking a home where their convoy of survivors - a group that consists of over 30 people - can settle down. Since Ginny's people have taken over the oil field they were using to get gasoline from, the convoy is running out of time. Their vehicles are going to be sputtering out very soon, and the episode as a whole feels like it's running on fumes. There is very little that feels worthwhile going on in Channel 5.

The convoy has a destination in mind and they do their best to get there, on wheels or by foot, all the while making sure to demonstrate to the camera that they are better and more kindhearted than Ginny and her people. So caring that they're even willing to make a slight detour to try to get supplies for their member Grace (Karen David), who may be succumbing to radiation poisoning. In addition to being a sort of "ticking time bomb" character, since it's possible she could die at any moment, Grace is also something of a love interest for Morgan. Everyone knows a relationship between them would be short and sad, though, so there's nothing really happening in that department. That storyline, along with Grace's general demeanor, has gotten me to care for this character who probably won't be around for long. I will be disappointed with Grace's story finally reaches its tragic conclusion.

Channel 5 isn't all walking and talking. There's also a zombie attack sequence along the way that once again proves that the folks at Fear the Walking Dead are capable of brainstorming interesting and entertaining zombie sequences even when the stories between the characters aren't so great.

This episode successfully gets us one step closer to the season finale and has a notable zombie sequence, but it was underwhelming overall. I find the documentary stuff to be really dopey, and the whole Ginny situation stirs up absolutely nothing within me. I don't find her group interesting or threatening, they're just an excuse for Fear to cover the same ground the Walking Dead shows can't seem to get away from, the tired "community vs. community" scenario.

With one episode left in season 5, I hope Grace survives the season and Ginny doesn't.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: A herd of zombies try to feast on our convoy of heroes as they cross a crumbling wooden bridge. The zombies don't have any success, but there's so many of them moving together that they're able to push parked cars out of their way, which was a cool sight.

GORY GLORY: There really wasn't any glorious gore to speak of in this episode. The best we got was the standard bashing and stabbing of zombie heads. No matter how many zombies fall from these blows, they still don't amount to much.

FAVORITE SCENE: The zombies on the crumbling wooden bridge was the highlight of this episode. It was a fun set-up that came to a great conclusion... and even though the zombies didn't get to eat anybody, the situation still managed to remove a dull new character from the show.

Season 5, Episode 16: End of the Line

PLOT: Morgan's group has to decide whether to surrender to Ginny's people or to fight back.

REVIEW: The title End of the Line is a very fitting one for this episode of Fear the Walking Dead, not only because it's the season 5 finale but also because this review marks the end of Walking Dead series of reviews here on Arrow in the Head. I've had fun taking the journey through the world of these Dead shows with you readers over the last few years, but you're on your own from here on out.

Thankfully, these reviews don't have to end on a negative note, because I enjoyed End of the Line, which starts with a bit of fan service aimed directly at saps like me who said they'd be disappointed if Dwight (Austin Amelio) didn't make some kind of contact with his long lost wife Sherry by the end of this season. They know just how to drag things out, aware that certain viewers will be satisfied with Sherry's voice breaking through static on a walkie talkie - so it's probably not even the voice of Sherry actress Christine Evangelista - and will hold on in hopes of seeing a real reunion next year.

Dwight and Sherry isn't the only relationship drama that gets some attention in this season finale, as the John (Garret Dillahunt) and June (Jenna Elfman) relationship takes a heartwarming step forward and even the Morgan (Lennie James) and Grace (Karen David) "will they or won't they?" situation makes some progress... in fact, that one branches off into directions I didn't see coming at all.

I can't complain about Fear taking some time for the love stories, partly because I understand that it comes with the territory of the Walking Dead shows being soap operas that happen to have zombies with them, and also because the performances of the actors have made me care about these characters, so I want to see them be happy together. I care about Dwight and Sherry, I want John and June to have a "happily ever after", I want to see Grace overcome the radiation poisoning she suspects she has but hopefully doesn't. Okay, so I don't care about Morgan so much, but that guy has been getting on my nerves for years at this point. If Grace likes him, I give my blessing.

While all this love is flying around, a good portion of the episode is focused on action carried out by desperate characters. Finding that the Humbug's Gulch Old West town he intended to move his convoy of 40 people into is infested with 263 zombies, give or take, Morgan has had to call the annoying villain Ginny (Colby Minifie) for help, despite the fear that Ginny will split his people up when she adds them to the group of 817 that are already under her care. But almost immediately after Morgan has made the call, some of his companions start having second thoughts and a plan is put into motion that could clear out Humbug's Gulch and get Ginny off their backs at the same time.

I can't say things go the way I wanted them to when this plan was set into motion, but there is a satisfying conclusion involving a river that I found fun to watch.

End of the Line begins with desperation, spikes up into hope for a while, and then falls back down into despair near the end, as things take a turn that only serves to guarantee that I will be watching season 6 of Fear the Walking Dead even though I won't be reviewing it here. These Walking Dead shows may not be as popular, exciting, or engaging as they once were, but I'm on the hook to watch them, and any further spin-offs that may come along, until the bitter end.

The end of this episode is quite bitter itself, and it goes out on a moment that appears to be rather final but is surely a cliffhanger due to the character involved. I'll be tuning in on premiere night to see how that cliffhanger is resolved in season 6.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: Best zombie moments rarely have anything to do with zombies accomplishing anything good, and the best zombie moment in End of the Line was not their time to shine. Instead, the best moment involves a herd of zombies getting duped into wading into a river, where they're swept away in the current.

GORY GLORY: I've said it many times that the makers of Fear the Walking Dead are great at coming up with cool, unique zombie scenarios, but unfortunately they seem to have very little interest in gore. Once again the best we get in the gore department in this episode are the usual shots of multiple zombie heads getting damaged.

FAVORITE SCENE: The final scene. Whether it's a character's demise or a cliffhanger, it's a great moment either way.

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