This Fear the Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
Fear the Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 3
I’m going to borrow a page from Teddy’s philosophy that the end is the beginning—at least as it relates to my review of “Cindy Hawkins.” Why? Because by the end of the episode, it occurred to me that viewers’ enjoyment of Fear the Walking Dead’s seventh season will rely heavily upon whether you accept Morgan and Strand as archrivals. This is an important consideration because everybody else will likely find themselves caught in the crossfire of competing ideologies. Perhaps the one thing more dangerous than Morgan and Strand’s conflicting worldviews is the outsized egos fueling a constant need to weaponize success. If I were June and John Dorie, Sr., I’d stay out of the fray, too.
Of course, June and her father-in-law aren’t privy to this power struggle, hunkered down as they’ve been for the last two-plus months in Teddy’s underground fallout shelter. It’s not a bad setup, all things considered. They have plenty to keep them busy, whether it’s generating their own electricity with a stationary bike or crafting upcycled hazmat suits. They even have a record player and board games. It was bittersweet to see June playing board games with her father-in-law; it called to mind Scrabble-filled days in John’s lakeside cabin.
They continue on in this fashion for over two months without a complaint, capping each day with a toast to “another one off the board.” Even so, the elder Dorie understands the strange circumstances in which they find themselves. “I’m sorry,” he tells his widowed daughter-in-law. “I know I’m not the Dorie you thought you’d be spending your days with.” But they are content…until they discover the awful truth about Teddy’s shelter.
Once they discover Teddy’s secret chamber of horrors, “Cindy Hawkins” come to life—literally and figuratively—as Cindy (Brittany Bradford) begins to haunt (and taunt) Dorie.
Given the dangers of going aboveground, would I continue to hunker down in a safe place that once was a scene of 23 grisly murders? Hard to say. June seems intent on staying. Indeed, her days of running are behind her now. She understands whatever atrocities occurred in that hidden embalming room are long in the past; she and Dorie can’t be hurt by any of it now. The silent killer that awaits them beyond the bunker’s crumbling walls, though? The radiation will most definitely kill them.
Dorie is keen to stay, too, albeit for different reasons. He views this unexpected discovery as a last chance for closure. And after being cooped up in the bunker for almost 70 days, what else are you going to do—play another round of Life? No, this is a chance the former detective refuses to pass up. He has many regrets; too many people died on his watch. Even Dakota’s death weighs heavily upon him.
While his motives might be noble, a bad case of delirium tremens is causing him to hallucinate. Worse still, his hands shake so badly he can barely hold his revolver. I was all in with all of this…until Dorie ventures outside into a nuclear winter. Not only are the homemade suits unproven, he leaves the bunker door wide open to all manner of contamination. I’d argue the confined space he leaves behind isn’t nearly as claustrophobic as the hazmat suit and gas mask. The camera stays tight on his face, alternating between his eyes and an incredibly narrow field of view. This tunnel vision—and being beholden to ghosts—nearly gets him killed. It nearly gets June killed, too.
And yet Dorie’s determined to play out a hunch that means venturing outside yet again. Cindy’s body is buried in an empty lot near her boyfriend’s house. No matter how good of a detective he might have been (and might still be), this is not a sound decision. Yes, fulfilling a promise to the one victim whose body he never found would bring both of them closure, but it’s also a kind of suicide.
June’s response to all of this is right on the nose: “Why do you want to run out into a world that’s going to kill you in 10 different ways?” Dorie doesn’t want to stay, June doesn’t want to leave, bringing them to an impasse.
Of course, there’s also the matter of armed people trying to get into the shelter. And the shelter is on the verge of collapse. In other words, things are going to hell quickly—so I don’t blame June for sedating Dorie. What bothers me about this, though, is that the sedative introduces a countdown into the final act, yet never comes to pass.
I do have a couple of quibbles with an otherwise good episode. In last season’s finale, we saw Dakota vaporized by the blast—and yet there was her reanimated corpse outside the bunker. Could this have been another one of Dorie’s hallucinations? Possibly. But by the same token, Teddy’s corpse somehow survived the blast, too—despite only being mere feet away from Dakota when the missile struck. Again, quibbles.
By episode’s end, June and Dorie find themselves under Strand’s care. At the tower, with its bulwark of writhing death, leaving isn’t an option. Which is just as well, really, because they have nowhere else to go. It also means we might see them try to bring down Strand’s empire from the inside…