This Fear the Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
Fear the Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 14
As I sat down to write this review, it suddenly occurred to me that Fear the Walking Dead is a lot like an A+ student that keeps turning in C+ work—and no amount of tutoring is going to fix the issue unless Fear starts applying itself. Until then, it looks like Fear is content to squander its potential until the end of the semester. And with only two assignments left this semester, it’s not looking like the show will be making the Honor Roll. Just to take this analogy one step further, I realize Fear has already been renewed for a sixth season. So, really, why bother swinging for the fences, when your teachers have given you a passing grade regardless of the kind of work you’ve been turning in?
Which brings us to “Today and Tomorrow,” another middling, uninspired entry in the Fear the Walking Dead canon.
Anyone who has read my ongoing coverage of this show knows that I’ve often celebrated Fear, especially in its earlier seasons. (So much so, in fact, that a reader once suggested that I was a shill for AMC.) But there have been plenty of clunkers in the mix, most notably episodes from these last two seasons. All of this is to say that Fear season 5 has been especially challenging to watch.
“Today and Tomorrow” in particular does little to move the story forward. The episode’s most notable developments are both a matter of happenstance. First, Morgan and Althea make contact with Ginny’s group of settlers, who have converted a luxury condominium complex into their newest settlement. And in the episode’s second pairing, Grace and Daniel are in the midst of a failed supply run when Grace’s health suddenly (and arbitrarily) takes a turn for the worse. Which is my cue to share some critical (and pseudo-philosophical) analysis of the episode.
For example, I could say that Althea and Morgan are looking for love in all the wrong places, and say I mean this both literally and figuratively. It’s obvious Al won’t find who she’s looking for at Paradise Ridge, simply because Isabelle’s helicopter group and Ginny’s settlers share the same world-building philosophy. And by obvious, I mean the fact that Fear’s various factions are all one-note. Isabelle’s quasi-military organization only sports modified riot gear, whereas Ginny’s group is leaning hard into the whole pioneer thing.
All this so-called “Gang of Hats” trope does is inadvertently lend the apocalypse an air of playful cosplay. Who has time to dress alike in themed garb when one’s survival is constantly at stake? This may work in movies like The Warriors, but it definitely doesn’t work here.
It’s also obvious that Grace’s condition will take a turn for the worse simply in response to Morgan finally realizing that he needs to let go of his past. Which brings to mind another trope, “Fridging,” in which a love interest exists only to be killed off as a way to motivate another character. More often than not, this character is female. While one could argue that Grace’s plight is not full-on fridging, I would argue that it’s close enough. Now that Morgan’s seen the light about Grace, Grace will soon be heading into the light.
As for the rest of “Today and Tomorrow,” all I can say is there are some questionable lines peppered throughout the episode. Like Ginny’s homespun wisdom about mending fences: “Spaghetti ain’t simple and it’s usually messy one way or another.” This is true if you like to eat spaghetti blindfolded, or without utensils, or both.
Daniel’s worldview is equally confusing: “Being a realist is not a realistic option anymore.” I’m sorry, but what? What does this really mean? This is the sort of philosophical bon mot that’s meant to sound profound, but isn’t. (Commissioner Gordon’s entire closing monologue from The Dark Knight, anyone?)
If anything, Daniel’s worldview can only be taken ironically, given how divorced Fear has become from reality. I’ll never understand how anyone could be ambushed by zombies, as happens to Daniel and Grace in this episode. Even undead ninja would raise a ruckus stumbling out of the woods.
Perhaps this is why Morgan and Al think they can somehow sneak back out of Paradise Ridge after thrashing around in the pool at the center of the complex. After all, in a world where the undead can skulk silently through underbrush, surely no one can overhear some loud splashing, either. This isn’t just silly, it’s insulting.
So where does this all leave us, with only two episodes left in season 5? As of now, it’s hard to envision the finale’s game-changing developments that showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg teased earlier this year at San Diego Comic-Con. My guess? Rick Grimes will make an appearance. Or maybe even Madison Clark. After all, Fear itself has posited that “No one’s gone until they’re gone.”
Hey, if our group can repair a plane and refine crude oil into gasoline, anything is possible, right?