It’s been a while since I posted on Fear the Walking Dead and there were a few good reasons for that, but mostly as I watched what went down in the last three episodes, it occurred to me we were really seeing a trilogy to finish up Season 4. And if AMC can do that shit, then so can I. So here you are, the end trilogy of Season 4 of Fear the Walking Dead, and let’s see if it’s a Trilogy of Terror, or a Trilogy of Bullshit.
Episode 14, MM 54
Maybe Bruce or Clark Could Have Helped:
The teaser finally shows us what we’ve wanted to see for a few episodes: what has made The Filthy Woman the way she is. And we learn her name is Martha (Tonya Pinkins) and during the early days of the zombie apocalypse her husband and she were leaving “the city”–probably Austin–and she crashed into a guardrail and skewered her husband real good. No one stopped to help and he eventually turned and died, and after Martha put him down and buried him, she stayed at the same location for the intervening time up to almost today, when one of Polar Bear’s truckers stop near her location by Mile Marker 54 (title shout out!) to drop off a box.
After Martha grammar polices the woman dropping off the box she kills her and starts the process of killing off all the truckers because, well, they’re helping people and that makes people “weak”–also, she’s fucking nuts, but we’ve figured that out. So after a montage of her killing four or five truckers she finally hears Morgan (Lennie James) on the radio and we rocket forward to the present–
RT: Can I just say that, while I am happy we get Martha’s back story, I am NOT happy with how naive everyone is in regard to her character. Especially Morgan.
CF: Oh, I’ve made my thoughts on the matter pretty well known by now.
White Line Nightmare:
The SWAT Wagon has fucked up Sarah’s (Mo Collins) truck bad, but she doesn’t finished everyone off, though Sarah and Wendell (Daryl Mitchell) took some damage. Althea (Maggie Grace) figures it’s due to the machineguns having run out of ammo and she’s right. Everyone piles out of the back of the truck while Wendell gets to the ground as Sarah and Jim (Aaron Stanford) leave the cab, which is starting to smoke and burn.
Martha comes out of the back of the SWAT Wagon and sets her zombie on June (Jenna Elfman). While Morgan is doing his “You don’t have to do this” shtick Wendell crawls to the back of the trailer with a shotgun and puts a round in Martha’s shoulder, because he knows how to take care of business. Martha eventually gets back in the wagon and takes off, leaving the others to deal with the fact that the cab exploded and torched all the shit in the trailer, and this combined with the gunfire is drawing every zombie in the area towards them. Luciana (Danay Garcia) thinks they should boogie and they down, dragging Wendell down the road ’cause his wheelchair was blasted.
Trust Me, I Know What I’m Doing:
Our Gang of Happy Assholes are heading down the road with a herd on their tail and of course Jim is pissing and moaning the whole way. Morgan figures out that their best course of action is to follow the signs to a hospital because it’ll have shit they need. Everyone’s listening to Morgan ’cause it sounds like he’s making sense, but none of them are aware he’s a near-graduate of the Rick Grimes School of Bad Plans(tm) and only Jim figures out if they follow Morgan they’re fucked. Of course they all follow Morgan to a hospital…
…And it’s there they get trapped. It doesn’t take long for Morgan to figure out they’ve got a little power–and June knows the generator rooms in hospitals are on the upper floors–so they take the elevators there, hoping to stay safe. However, the generator floor is infested and while Althea stays to clear it out, everyone else heads to the roof. Not only are their now super trapped, but June discovers that Jim’s been bitten and doesn’t have long for the world. Oh, and Morgan has no fucking idea how to get out of this mess.
Note: All of the hospital scenes–as well as the scenes filmed earlier in the season at the FEMA center–were filmed here at the abandoned Brackenridge Medical Center. And, as you can also see, the Texas state capitol is visible in the distance, where a little SFX gave it a bit of a damaged look.
Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Charlie (Alexa Nisenson) come upon Sarah’s truck and notice it’s fucked up and there’s no one around. Alicia decides to push on and look for gas after their car runs dry. Charlie eventually wants to know when they’re gonna find the others and Alicia tells her they’re gone, they won’t find her. So why are they still looking for gas? Because Alicia wants to take Charlie to the beach. She figures if she does this she’ll have done something good and the world will be okay because she’ll have given Charlie her wish.
They find water and Alicia figures they’ve run across an area that flooded due to the storm. Charlie finds something else: John’s (Garret Dillahunt) hat. Alicia looked over the stretch of water and goes, “Holy shit–”
Episode 15, I Lose People…
Across the Water:
John and Strand (Colman Domingo) speak with Alicia and Charlie. The later indicates she’ll find something so they can rescue them. They get June on the radio and find out they’re stuck in the city and also need recusing. Alicia lets June know that John is alive, but she can’t get to him–yet.
Eventually, Alicia and Charlie find a cannon, but they also find Martha, who begins shooting at them. Alicia says they can help her but she doesn’t want that ’cause they’re weak, but before Alicia can get into killing mode Martha passes out ’cause seeping shoulder wound.
John and Strand are talking, with John wondering if Alicia and Charlie are coming back. While John isn’t feeling the love, Strand is suddenly feeling like shit is gonna turn out right. And the ladies do return–with Alicia driving the newly-found SWAT Wagon right across the flooded area in one of the most bad-assed things Alicia’s ever done. She’s there to pick up the guys, but they have Martha tied up in the back, which means Alicia is picking up her mother’s bad habits and has turned Crazy Ass Martha into her own personal Todd.
Up On the Roof:
The Happy Assholes Club is still stuck, with Jim not only being a mean asshole because he’s dying, but he’s also pissing off the roof because why the fuck not? He’s also getting into Morgan’s ass, saying he needs to do something because it was his fuckup that got them stuck, so he needs to make it right.
RT: Even knowing that Jim is bitten and dying, I still can’t stand this character. But, congratulations AMC for writing the most annoying character. Ever.
CF: He really was an annoying fuck from start to finish. You gotta wonder if they were having a contest among the writers to see who could come up with the biggest pain in the ass in the WD world.
Morgan suddenly figures they can use the elevators to get past all the zombies on the floor and they do, making a stop at the generator floor to pick up Althea. She’s not there, but there are a shitload of dead zombies. They find the generator room cleared out and a note from Althea telling everyone to find her Wagon and her tapes and, oh, if they find the cunt (as Sarah says, “She didn’t use the C-Word; she used the whole quesadilla.”) that took her tapes and finish her shit.
There isn’t much juice to keep the generators running, so Morgan will head back up to the roof and create a distraction for the others can leave. He goes up while everyone else goes down. His distraction is simple: he throws a body off the roof and sets off a car alarm, which gives everyone a chance to get the fuck out of Austin–and leave him alone with Jim.
Breaking Up is Hard to Do:
Morgan doesn’t wait long before everyone, sans Althea, comes back for him. Alicia found the other and they also found a big fire truck, which the SWAT Wagon towed to the hospital. The ladder is raised but Morgan’s gonna have to shimmy two floors down a drain pipe to get to where he can access the basket. A zombie breaks through a window after him, but Jim shoot’s it through the head from about 150 feet away. Morgan jumps to the basket and they lower him to the ground–
–But all the noise has attracted every zombie in the area and they’re trapped on the fire truck. Jim decides it’s time to be a hero so he radios his beer recipe to Sarah, then jumps off the roof to his death, landing on a van and setting off the alarm. Everyone gets away from the truck, loads up in the SWAT Wagon–after discovering that Martha escaped because fuck yeah, she did–and gets out of town, resolving to find Althea.
Oh, and Martha comes back and finds Jim, because the crazy bitch needs another zombie to make people strong…
Episode 16, …I Lose Myself
Live From Austin:
Althea is alive: she made her way to the basement then out into the street, where they spend the night in a car park. She finds a camera in a news truck; she also finds a radio and shotgun in a police car and gets off a message before it goes dead. She also heads back to the hospital where she runs into Martha, who has Jim on her Zombie Leash. Althea is pointing the shotgun RIGHT AT JIM’S FUCKING HEAD and she can’t pull the trigger, instead deciding to speak with Martha, who is just talking shit. Althea finally shoots Jim in the stomach and another zombie in the head before Martha knocks her out, because of COURSE that shit’s gonna happen.
RT: Really AMC? Can’t Martha just die already? Surely these people realise there are grey areas in the apocalypse. You can’t just not kill people because that’s your rule.
CF: This has been a HUGE problem with Fear in terms of keeping a protagonist around even when there’s no sense in it. Makes me wish for the Season 1 when it was all pretty cut and dried and we only worried about when Travis was going to get his shit together.
Same As it Ever Was:
But Althea isn’t dead. The Gang finds her and they also find a message Martha left for them, saying they’re all weak and she’s gonna see Morgan again and yadda, yadda, yadda, same old shit, right? While they’re spending a night out in the country John finds Morgan and tells him he thought he’d be gone already, because Morgan’s as easy to read as a first grade book. He just has to save Martha because he was once like her and he knows he can change her. Even though we know this is all bullshit, he tells John that everyone needs to get to Polar Bear’s truck stop in Mississippi and he’ll meet them there in two days, then takes off and begins looking for her by talking on the radio. And he makes contact. She’ll meet him–at Mile Marker 54.
He finds her and gets her story. He also doesn’t get much shit from her as she’s pretty much dying from the infected shotgun wound she got the day before, so it’s easy for Morgan to load her up in a car and take her with to the truck stop. You know what would have been easier, Morgan? Jamming your pole through her eye and putting an end to this bullshit. But no: it’s Todd Time again, and we need to make a lot of bad decisions…
RT: This is EXACTLY what I was thinking too at this point! Morgan, you have a pokey stick, just use it already!
CF: Seriously, it took all I had to keep from screaming. She’s dying, fucking do her already! They were really dragging this shit out.
The New Sickness:
Everyone makes it to the truck stop and they start living large, making coffee and cleaning up as best they can. They get a message out to Morgan and let him know all is well–oh wait: it isn’t. Everyone’s coming down with some bad-ass illness and it isn’t long before June realizes they may be dying. And they’re surrounded by zombies as well, so shit is doubly bad.
Morgan hears this over the radio and starts speeding to Mississippi. It’s right about this time that Martha lets Morgan know she’ll take the antibiotics he’s been offering for the last fifty or sixty miles, Which means that the second he opens the partition in the cop car he’s driving to give Martha the pills she grabs his arm and makes him wreck hard. Because Morgan’s a dumbass and we’ve haven’t suffered enough.
RT: Seriously Morgan? Have you learned nothing under the tutorship of Crazy Rick and his hare-brained ideas?
CF: He learned all the shit from Rick we make fun of him doing. Really: he’s just become Grimes of the West.
It’s In the Water:
So here we are, Morgan with a hunk of metal in his leg and Martha dying and he’s trying to figure out what she did while she’s telling him he’ll have to kill her. This bullshit goes back and forth a few times before June realizes that so many bottles of water have broken seals, so whatever it was that poisoned them was in the water. What was it? After what seems like a few years Martha finally tells Morgan it’s antifreeze. He gets this message back to June and continues this bullshit back and forth with Martha, so that all we need to make this a complete shit parade is for Rick Grimes to show up in a RV…
Somehow Morgan pulls the metal out of his leg and handcuffs Martha to the cop car, saying he won’t let her kill anymore, alive or dead. Really, asshole? You couldn’t have fucking killed her at any point in the last thirty minutes? No. He leaves her and begins walking with a bad leg to Mississippi–
The rest of the gang isn’t doing well. June knows they just need ethanol to counteract the poison and it turns out there’s a tanker full of it out in the parking lot, but there are zombies as well. With John’s shooting and help from Alicia, Althea, Strand, and Luciana get out. Strand and Luciana can’t open up the necessary connection to get to the ethanol and Althea decides to machinegun all the zombies, which not only eliminates that problem but drills a few holes in the tanker. We hear later that they weren’t able to get much ethanol, but with those fucking holes in the tanker they couldn’t have filled up that five gallon can with what was pouring out? Apparently not. About this time Althea leaves a recording of her own, telling whomever finds her tapes to take care of them because the people on them are important.
Never fear, because just when it seems like all is over Morgan shows up and kills the remaining zombies. Oh, and he’s driving a beer truck ’cause there’s ethanol in alcohol, everyone breaks into the booze and gets cured–even Charlie, who is warned by John that she’s not allowed to “get poisoned” again until she’s twenty-one. (Strand also had a good line before Morgan shows up: “Just when I’d stop trying to drink myself to death, I succeed.” He also mentions to Alicia that he was wrong: he does have someone to drink with.)
The Road Back:
So everyone goes back for Martha and she’s not only dead and turned, but her arm ripped off and she’s walking down the road. Morgan finally puts her down and buries her in a cairn. The question comes up: we heading for Alexandra? Nope. Morgan has finally decides that the people who Althea interviewed may still be out there along with plenty of others, so they should stay and help if possible. He asks Luciana if she still has Polar Bear’s journals and she does–
–And they find his main stash, kept in an abandoned denim factory. Everyone decides at this point that while there are people in need where they’re at, they should continue Polar Bear’s work and get help to people. And maybe in the process of helping, they continue Madison’s work…
And make a new home for everyone.
RT: I am really excited about this ending. I would like to see AMC turn Fear the Walking Dead into an anthology of sorts. Maybe, next season, they could do self-contained episodes where they main group visits and helps those on Althea’s tapes. After all, AMC is very bloody good at self-contained episodes.
CF: I really do hope it goes in that direction. You know there are assholes out there who’ll want to take it down, but it’s still a good idea to show them trying to help as many people as they can and some of the individual stories they can get from those people.
I would also like to point out the obvious: the two best people for this season were John and June. When I first saw the images of John I was terribly worried we were gonna get some bad stereotype “Shoot first, fuck questions” Texan–and I’m glad to say I was horribly wrong. John has been an incredible character and Garret Dillahunt gets all the credit for breathing life into this person. And June? You don’t know who she is at first and then you get the wrong idea about her, and then… it all comes out slowly that she’s this scared, broken woman who is ready to run so she doesn’t get close to anyone, and Jenna Elfman makes you believe every second of her journey. I want to see more of this people in Season 5.
And one last thing: going back to what you said, Rachel, the two best episode of Season 4 were, in my opinion, Laura and Close Your Eyes, which were both character studies dealing with just two people in close, personal quarters, and the actors involved–Jenna Elfman and Garret Dillahunt in Laura and Alycia Debnam-Carey and Alexa Nisenson in Close Your Eyes–put everything they had into those episodes in order for us to understand their characters better. If we could get a full slate of Season 5 episodes like that, Fear could really set the bar in terms of character drama on TV. I so hope this happens.
Note: The above scene, as well as the location of Morgan’s car crash, were filmed below Wirtz Dam near Horseshoe Bay, about 40 mi/66 km northwest of Austin. Below is an aerial shot of the dam and below that is the area where shooting occurred, along South Wirtz Dam Road.
Personal Note: So, what did I think of the final episodes of Season 4? MM 54 was incredible, a great character piece. It might not have presented the characters in the best light–Alicia was really bent on doing something nice for Charlie because she figured they’d die soon and Morgan’s problem handling skills weren’t the best–but it was an episode on par with some of the best already aired.
I found myself drifting during I Lose People… because I didn’t find it all that interesting. It was really forty-five minutes of filler, because you knew Morgan wasn’t going to die on the roof and everyone would get back together somehow. And since we saw Martha at the end, you knew we were going to have to deal with her bullshit–
–Which happened in the next episode …I Lose Myself. We had to deal with no one dealing with Martha’s shit for about thirty minutes and even when she was dealt with, it involved leaving her to die while handcuffed to a cop car. What the fuck? So many times people could have killed her and she was still allowed to live, even though everyone involved FUCKING KNEW she was a stone psycho and should be taking a dirt nap.
This was the same shit the show did with Todd during the last season and as infuriating as it was to keep him around then, it was even more infuriating to keep Martha around. She’s killing all these people ’cause she needs zombies to make people “strong”? Let her live. She steals the SWAT Wagon and unloads the two .50 machineguns into a truck trying to kill everyone? Let her live. You know she’s dangerous and making no effort not to kill anyone? Let her live. You know she poisoned all your friends and she tried killing you in a car wreck? Let her live–okay, maybe handcuff her and come back for her later ’cause she may not be dead when you return.
Each of the last three season of Fear the Walking Dead have ended with strong episodes, but that string broke Sunday night. And you want to know why? Because instead of focusing on the group, we focused on Morgan and his goofy “she can be taught not to kill” bullshit. The last ten minutes of the episode were the best, where everyone made the decision to stay in Texas and continue doing what was started at the beginning of the season, but in order to get there we had to deal with a whole lot of crap. Which means this season finale is right up there with The Walking Dead’s The Last Day on Earth, which was little more than a meandering pile of shit. I guess the only thing we can say that makes …I Lose Myself better than The Last Day on Earth is that it wasn’t ninety minutes long.
I do like where we’re going for Season 5 of Fear, which some people are saying will likely be the last. We do have interesting character and we have a reason for them to restart society in Texas. But if we gotta deal with more idiot ball handling of bad people as have happened with Todd and Martha, Season 5 of Fear could end up being a bad one. Let’s hope that’s not the case, because I’d really love to see some of the characters from Fear decide to leave Texas behind and head for Virginia, where those people are gonna need some strong leaders in the near future…
And that’s it for this season of Fear the Walking Dead. While I had a personal bobble or two here and there, I’ve made it through all sixteen episodes and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my recaps as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. Next week Rachel starts up with Season 9 of The Walking Dead and we’ll both have things to say about the Rick Grimes Death Watch, which should be fun in of itself. Come for the recaps, stay for the snark.
See you later!
As always, leave us a comment and tell us what you think!
Morgan Jones — Lennie James
Alicia Clark — Alycia Debnam-Carey
Victor Strand — Colman Domingo
Luciana Galvez — Danay Garcia
John Dorie — Garret Dillahunt
June — Jenna Elfman
Althea — Maggie Grace
Charlie — Alexa Nisenson
Sarah — Mo Collins
Wendell — Daryl Mitchell
Jim — Aaron Stanford
Martha — Tonya Pinkins
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sunday on AMC, 9 PM EDT.