This Fear the Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
Fear the Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 2
Fear the Walking Dead follows up its promising season 5 premiere with another busy episode. But unlike the more ambitious “Here to Help,” “The Hurt That Will Happen” is short on action (not necessarily a bad thing) and long on questionable character motivations (which can be a bad thing). But more on that in a bit.
In the meantime, as much as I tried to remain invested in this episode, at times I found my mind wandering—specifically when Alicia single-handedly faced down a possibly irradiate group of walkers. It occurred to me that Alicia and Morgan are almost too proficient at dispatching the dead. Their ruthless efficiency essentially mitigates the zombie threat if walkers can be taken out with a single well-placed blow to the head. And yes, I understand that people like Alicia and Morgan should be adept zombie-killing machines this far into the apocalypse. But this merely reinforces a Walking Dead trope that the living are a bigger impediment to survival than the dead could ever be. After one too many big bads and several seasons too many of people behaving badly, we get it: Surviving the apocalypse is a drag. No one disputes how arduous it must be to constantly fight tooth and nail to eke out an existence in a world overrun by mindless killing machines.
But this merely begs the question as to how much creative fuel is left in either show’s tank—with yet another TWD spin-off series and the Rick Grimes movies in the works. I used to think one couldn’t get enough of The Walking Dead, once upon a time, much in the same way I never knew Star Wars fatigue could be a thing. And yet here we are.
This isn’t to say the zombie genre itself is running on empty, because recent outings like Train to Busan and Netflix’s Black Summer definitely prove otherwise. There are still novel ways to tell zombie-themed stories—I just don’t know if Fear’s 5th season is up to the challenge.
So where does that leave us, two episodes into the new season, especially after last week’s strong start?
Well, Morgan comes across as a bit of a mentor to Alicia in how to manage a redemptive story arc—but to me this only reinforces the redundancy inherent in their reluctance not only to lead, but to abandon anyone in need. That sort of chronic selflessness works for one character in a given show, but not for two.
Three, actually, if you count this season’s newest addition, Grace, who Alicia and Morgan encounter in the woods inside the danger zone.
Like any flawed but decent leader in TWD universe, Karen David’s Grace bears the burden of being able to save the very people she was sworn to protect. In Grace’s case, she’s now driven to do right by the plant’s workers she couldn’t save before the reactor’s meltdown—and who are now radioactive zombies roaming the area. And Grace herself has been exposed to unhealthy levels of radiation, so she’s living on borrowed time.
As compelling as Grace’s story is, it feels shoehorned into a season already brimming with conflict: What happened to the three kids? Who kidnapped Althea, and how are they connected to Rick Grimes’ disappearance on TWD? And, perhaps most importantly, will Luciana ever learn to play the accordion?
But in all seriousness, the scenes I cared most about belonged to Strand’s unlikely—and incredibly awkward—reunion with the wayward Daniel Salazar. If you’ll recall, the last time anyone saw Daniel (Rubén Blades) was before the dam collapsed at the end of season 3. Oh, and of course, Strand also shot him in the face and left him for dead, so there’s that, too.
Daniel has always been a survivor, though—an enterprising, resourceful sort who makes himself truly indispensable when the world is falling apart around him. It immediately becomes clear to Strand that Daniel is doing rather well for himself, having amassed a small fortune in the years since their inauspicious parting.
Daniel is right to doubt Strand’s motives—he assumes Victor only wants the plane for his own selfish purposes. And who could blame him, really. Strand excels at two things—self-preservation and duplicity. He has no reason to believe Strand is capable of change. Daniel is right about Strand: Every time he tries to help people, he ends up hurting them.
That Strand is now compelled to prove himself worthy feeds directly into this season’s redemption arc. I guess what remains to be seen, both for this group of flawed survivors and for Fear itself is whether or not anyone is truly worth saving—aside from John Dorie, of course.
For now, we have to assume that Alicia will find her way, that Grace will find peace, and that Althea will be found. Otherwise, Fear will find itself lost in the weeds.