This Fear The Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
Fear The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 10
Being a fan of Fear The Walking Dead is sort of like being a fan of your hometown team. You stick by them through their many ups and downs, weathering wins and losses as favorite players come and go. But at the end of the day, no matter what the roster looks like, you’re still a fan. This is especially true of Fear’s uneven fourth season, which has delivered some lackluster episodes. But at the same time, this season has delivered some of the series’ best episodes to date, among them “What’s Your Story?” and “Laura.” In “Close Your Eyes,” haunting cinematography, a palpable sense of dread, and what is arguably a career-defining performance from Alycia Debnam-Carey combine to create a powerful, artfully directed episode. I admit I had my doubts about this season, especially after losing Nick and Madison. But with episodes like this, season four is quickly proving to be one of Fear’s best.
The house that Alicia finds to escape the storm is just as dark as her tortured thoughts. Her long and measured walk through the rain to the front door is an arresting visual that sets the tone for the rest of the episode. “Close Your Eyes” unfolds at a similarly measured pace, allowing viewers to take in each scene’s arresting visuals. If ever there was a haunted house, Alicia has found it—or has it found her?
She goes from room to room, drawing out walkers from the dust and shadows. It’s a melancholy task, rounding up undead family members one by one, only to lay them out unceremoniously outside in the rain. Unintentional or not, they affect a pose that’s eerily similar to a family photo on the mantle. Is she moved by this coincidence? Or worse, unmoved? It’s hard to say as she tips the frame onto the floor before staring dead-eyed into nothingness. She’s essentially a zombie with a pulse, a walker with a will to live. Before long, though, pictures of the family in better, sunnier times join the dispatched walkers where they lay in the downpour. The last thing Alicia wants to be reminded of is a functioning, close-knit family—not when she’s the last survivor of her own misbegotten clan.
So, finally, Alicia has found the solitude she so desperately seeks. Or so it would seem. Because not only is she not alone, she’s forced to confront the one person who brought ruin to everything her mother sought to save.
On the face of it, making this solely an Alicia/Charlie episode is a risky choice. If it doesn’t work, the entire hour falls flat on its face. Like Alicia, I was less than thrilled to realize we’d spending the episode with Nick’s killer. Alicia is quick to make her distaste for Charlie’s presence as plain as possible. And I do mean her presence, rather than just Charlie herself. Because simply by being under the same roof with her, Alicia is forced to confront her very worst impulse for revenge. It’s not something her mother would have wanted, vengeance, but it’s something Alicia desperately wants and needs for some kind of closure. To silence her demons.
Like the comparatively straightforward “Laura” what we get in “Close Your Eyes”is an intimate character study. In this world, everyone struggles with the seemingly capricious nature of their own existence. Are they worthy of surviving, when so many others have perished? After all, it’s one thing to combat a tangible enemy like the dead. But an even more insidious enemy is the one we can never outrun—our own worst selves.
This is just as true for Charlie as it is for Alicia. She’s functioned more or less as a walking plot point this season, bringing death and destruction to those who would endeavor to save her. So it’s interesting that Charlie wants to honor the family whose home now shelters her from the storm. As much as she herself wishes to die, she wants their memory to live on in the artifacts they’ve left behind. Through them, she seeks to recapture a sunnier childhood that never was, living vicariously through their bygone experiences. She’s truly a child of the apocalypse, struggling through a debilitating trauma.
This is perhaps the episode’s biggest gamble, this humanizing of someone who robbed Fear of one of its most beloved characters. Luckily, Alexa Nisenson rises to the challenge, bringing a necessary vulnerability to her performance. This, coupled with Alicia’s struggle to first accept than protect Charlie goes a long way to pleading the case that forgiveness is a powerful reason to live. This is love at its toughest.
It’s when the pair are trapped in a quickly flooding basement that the episode truly goes for the gut. As the water rises and escape seems impossible, Charlie confesses she can no longer remember her parents’ faces before they turned. And now with death closing in, this desperate, emotionally wounded child of the apocalypse begs Alicia for the kind of mercy that only a bullet can bring. But if Charlie dies, Alicia essentially dies with her. Seeing Nick and Madison again in their final moments is both powerful and poignant, a terribly bittersweet reminder of how much Alicia has lost. By not pulling the trigger, both she and Fear itself lean heavily toward a more optimistic future.
There’s hope for lost souls like Alicia and Charlie. Indeed, there’s hope—and a quiet stretch of beach—waiting for all of us. Which, in the end, all adds up to a major win for the home team.