This Fear The Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
Fear The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 15
While one wouldn’t describe Fear The Walking Dead as happy-go-lucky, the show as of late has veered into more optimistic territory. A lot of this can be attributed to Alicia, for making peace with her brother’s killer. In doing so, Alicia has also quelled her demons, in effect pulling her back from a mounting bloodlust that sought to consume her. Morgan, too, is a peacemaker, a warrior monk intent on pulling fellow survivors back from the brink of self-destruction. Then there’s John Dorie, the sort of silver-lining optimist who believes in the power and purity of true love. So it makes sense that this season’s back half seems to be riding an upward trend of hopefulness that is so unlike what we generally encounter in the Walking Dead universe at large. In the case of “I Lose People…”Fear walks a fine line between happy and hokey. Whichever side of this line you fall on has a lot to do with your patience for plot contrivances, of which there are many.
Indeed, suspending one’s disbelief is always key to enjoying a show like Fear. As plausible as the end times might seem to a lot of people (especially as of late), the fact of the matter is the world won’t be overrun by zombies anytime soon. That being said, I have an easier time believing the dead will roam the earth than the chances of Morgan successfully lobbing a cadaver onto a car from seven stories up. That dodgy physics could be a deal breaker says more about Fear’s off-the-charts serendipity than it does about my being fickle about this uneven season.
And while Tonya Pinkins continues to bring her A-game to a B-list baddie, the writing is falling short of her formidable talents. Martha is not the villain this show needs at the moment—nor is she the one viewers deserve. She’s more a fly in the ointment than a full-fledged antagonist. If anything, I’d argue Jim is a bigger impediment to the group’s morale. In a world gone to hell, positive morale is a kind of currency all its own—and is just as vital to survival as food and shelter.
So as we build up to the season finale, we’ve dispatched with Jim, whose unexpected self-sacrifice leaves the group to face down a villain who honestly seems like a bigger threat to herself than to anyone else. Plus, she’s suffered considerable blood loss. The way this back half of the season has played out leads me to believe that Martha’s life could be spared—all to show Fear’s would-be villain the strength and healing power of forgiveness. (And we’ll just pretend this hasn’t already played out before on The Walking Dead.)
But just because someone is deemed worthy of salvation doesn’t mean they want be saved. So if Martha doesn’t survive, she’ll be done in by her own narrow worldview, not by another survivor’s hand. This is perhaps the more likely scenario, as I can’t envision Fear bringing her back for another season.
Finale predictions aside, we bid a not-so-fond farewell to Jim, whose beer recipe will live on, thanks to the ever-practical Sarah. Aaron Stanford is a fine actor, but Jim wasn’t crafted to be sympathetic. He was engineered to be disliked, a kind of artisanal ass containing incredibly subtle notes of humanity with a very bitter aftertaste. We are meant to feel something for him in the end—his end—but Fear is probably better off by offing him.
But if “I Lose People…” is about anything, it’s not so much about Jim’s precipitous exit as it is about getting the band back together. There are reunions aplenty, which should be meaningful, but felt contrived for a variety of reasons. And it’s with these various and sundry plot contrivances that “I Lose People…” works against the overarching narrative themes of contrition and redemption.
Given the events of “Blackjack,” we’re led to believe that Strand and John Dorie are stranded by gator-patrolled floodwaters. Theirs is a do-or-die situation, their lives hanging in the balance based on John’s ability to build makeshift rafts. But this episode does away with that notion when Alicia uses Al’s SWAT truck to plow through water that’s barely deep enough to cover its wheels. This basically turns the problematic floodwaters into more of an existential obstacle than an actual one. As viewers, we should rejoice in seeing Alicia reunited with Strand and John. Instead, I felt duped by the ease of their rescue. Think of it as Deus ex SWAT truck.
We should likewise revel in June and John finally making contact, thanks to the walkie-talkies. But the show’s over-reliance on the radios strikes me as lazy writing. It shouldn’t be so easy for everyone to make and maintain contact—this is the apocalypse, after all. Just because a cynic like Strand is suddenly upbeat doesn’t mean a tidal shift whereby everything now just falls into everyone’s laps unearned. Where’s the drama or catharsis in that?
This episode’s contrivances can best be summed up by the scene with the hook and ladder truck. It’s quite fortunate for Morgan that the gang found this fire truck, luckier still that there’s enough power to fully extend the ladder. (Deus ex rescue vehicle, if you will.) I realize the ladder is short of reaching Morgan, but was there ever any doubt that he wouldn’t make the leap to safety?
All in all, “I Lose People…” doesn’t quite feel like it’s building up to something momentous. Fear has one episode left to reunite Althea with the group for a final confrontation with Martha. Let’s hope this season does the memories of Madison and Nick proud.