This Fear the Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
Fear the Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 6
What is there to say really about this week’s Fear the Walking Dead? After a strong run of episodes that stumbled with last week’s “Honey,” season 6 completely face plants with “Bury Her Next to Jasper’s Leg.” If I were John Dorie, I’d cut and run back to a lakeside cabin, too. But it didn’t have to be this way.
There are a few things that work in this episode’s favor. Garret Dillahunt is very good, as always. I truly felt John’s pain as he confessed his fears to June (Jenna Elfman). If he wants to cut and run, he must have a damn good reason for risking everything to abandon their friends. That he has their escape all mapped out says how desperately he needs to be free of Ginny. I also liked the irony of June being the one who doesn’t want to leave. To her mind, how can she save lives if she bails? Fair enough, I suppose. June is already feeling low after losing a patient in the field—to acute appendicitis of all things.
Still, the fact that John has to plead with June to run off with him made me question why June simply doesn’t trust his reason for leaving. If she trusts and loves him, that should be enough, right? It’s not until John tells her she’d be saving him by joining him that June finally understands his survival hinges on their escape. But their plans are put on hold when Ginny conveniently dispatches both of them to Tank Town, where a catastrophic accident has injured dozens of workers and jeopardizes the settlements’ crucial fuel supply. Calling in a field medic to help the injured is straightforward enough, even if June and her modest resources are being stretched too thin. After all, there’s only so much she can do with a makeshift mobile hospital but she’s ready to do her best.
Things only get complicated when Ginny herself shows up at Tank Town to survey the damage. Unlike June, her main concern is salvaging equipment, not saving lives. She’s quick to accuse Luciana of sabotage—until she sees THE END IS THE BEGINNING spray-painted on a tower. Suddenly, what’s meant to be a rescue mission turns into an interrogation as workers lay injured or dying. Wes is among those in need of immediate medical attention, but Ginny is having none of it.
This is something else about “Jasper’s Leg” that works, Ginny and June working at cross-purposes as Tank Town burns around them. As a former trauma nurse, June is sworn to do no harm. But Ginny wants answers, and she now believes Wes is part of this meddlesome group of Enders. She’s even willing to prolong his suffering to get him to confess to something that he isn’t guilty of. We’ve certainly seen this sort of scenario play out repeatedly in the real world, and it’s quite a chilling moment here in “Jasper’s Leg.” Luckily for Wes, June can’t stand idly by as he needlessly suffers Ginny’s taunts.
Yet the way Ginny justifies her interrogation to June is almost laughable: “I never let anybody die for no reason!” Which, honestly, is pretty ridiculous on the face of it, especially when you consider that such a game-changing confession seemingly falls on deaf ears.
When an explosion rips through Tank Town, Ginny is bitten on the hand by a walker. This marks a major turning point for the season. Finally, there’s a way to take Ginny out without raising suspicion among her loyal rangers. So when Ginny beseeches June to amputate her hand to save her, you hope June will do the right thing. Of course, it’s here that the episode takes a turn for the worse when June saves Ginny’s life.
June knows Ginny isn’t a good person—she’s seen firsthand how she treats Tank Town’s workers as expendable resources. And she sees it in the way she tortures Wes. June also sees what being one of Ginny’s rangers has done to poor John. And yet, June still allows Ginny’s sob story about her sister to cloud her better judgment. This isn’t just a potentially fatal mistake for the settlements under Ginny’s rule, it’s a major misstep for Fear itself.
One could argue Fear would never kill off its big bad so early, and you’d be right. But on the other hand, why present such a choice if her death is never really on the table? Because what this succeeds in doing is turning the audience against June. Worse still, Fear doubles down on June’s poor judgment by using a critical bargaining chip to finally get her hospital funded. This would seem like a noble cause until you consider June’s primary motivation is to save lives. Doesn’t it stand to reason that taking Ginny out would save far more lives than a hospital would in the long run?
But what’s most egregious to me is that by choosing the hospital, she’s choosing to stay. And by staying, she’s completely ignoring how John’s survival hinges on their escape. Honestly, if Fear is so keen to shoot itself in the foot, I can hardly mount a reasonable defense for why anyone should see past these flawed narrative decisions. So maybe it’s for the best that AMC is wrapping up the first half of the season an episode early. Yes, because of the pandemic, we’re only getting seven episodes for now, with next week’s “Damage from the Inside” serving as the mid-season finale. (And yes, I realize the potential irony of episode 7’s title.)
Just to be clear, my issue with “Jasper’s Leg” isn’t with the acting, as Jenna Elfman brings a lot of depth to what is otherwise a thankless role. But because of this episode, she’s been cast in an unflattering light that may prove difficult to overcome. Honestly, while I’ve rooted for June and John to be together (and remain together), “Jasper’s Leg” left me hoping for him to follow through on his plan. In an hour filled with questionable choices, leaving June behind definitely wasn’t one of them.
Godspeed, John Dorie.