This Fear the Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
Fear the Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 4
I like Lennie James. He’s a serious dramatic actor who truly commits to his roles. I like Mo Collins, too. She has good comedic timing but she also knows how to tap into her darker side. Demetrius Grosse is an imposing, formidable presence, commanding the screen in almost every scene he’s in. And then there’s Rufus, a lovable, loyal bloodhound. Toss in a bunch of zombies, and you have yourselves an entertaining, must-watch episode of Fear the Walking Dead. Or, at least, you should.
Indeed, what “Breathe With Me” lacks in coherence, it makes up for with mawkish sentiment. If there’s a lesson to be gleaned from this episode, it’s that attempted murder is permissible—provided you’re sufficiently contrite afterward. No. Just…no. Considering Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg have now been at the helm longer than original showrunner Dave Erickson, you’d expect Fear to have really found its stride. Instead, the show continues to stumble its way, zombie-like, from one uneven season to the next.
I realize Fear had its share of problems under Erickson, especially in its third season (I’m looking at you, “El Matadero”). Earlier seasons had problematic characters, too (Madison in particular was very frustrating at times). But certainly Chambliss and Goldberg do the show no favors with a nonsensical episode like “Breathe With Me.”
Mostly the show’s current ills stem from questionable character motivations, and nowhere is that more frustrating than “Breathe With Me.” Never mind that Mo Collins’s Sarah is suddenly hell-bent on finding Wendell, who’s been missing for 78 days. In reality, the last time he got any screen time was 16 episodes ago in “Bury Her Next to Jasper’s Leg.” And yet it’s only now that his absence is so keenly felt by Sarah and the show’s writers?
Then there’s Sarah’s rousing speech to her fellow survivors—Daniel, Al, Charlie, Wes (and everyone else who boarded that CRM helicopter at the end of Season 6). Sure, they may have searched high and low for Wendell while she lays unconscious, but Sarah insists she will search higher and lower than they did. And by search, she means sit on a hilltop talking into a radio until its battery dies. If I were Wendell, I’d hope my sister would try a little harder than that—especially if I didn’t have my own walkie-talkie.
But it’s not until Emile’s twin brother Josiah shows up that the episode detours into an unnecessary side quest—and an unlikely agreement. Basically, Josiah will help Sarah find Wendell in exchange for her help finding Morgan. And just like that, a bargain is struck; Wendell means more to her than Morgan. Josiah is simply a means to an end for her—and if it means betraying her friend, so be it. If she and Josiah have one thing in common, they’re both trying to do right by their siblings.
Before long, though, Sarah betrays Josiah, too. After finding Wendell’s bloodied, abandoned wheelchair, Sarah is beset by panic and despair, and tries to flee the scene in Josiah’s car. Josiah is oddly okay with her attempted carjacking and almost being abandoned. He’s also okay with her crashing his car and trapping them dangerously close to an undetonated nuclear warhead. It’s just one of those things. He’s even copacetic with radioing Morgan to rescue them.
Does Morgan turn up to help them? Yes. Did he know Emile had a twin brother? No. Do he and Josiah have a violent showdown? Yes, yes they do. And it’s here that I will share my episode notes, as they capture how off the rails this scene really is:
Okay. So Morgan and Josiah come to blows. Morgan is using Emile’s own axe against his twin. Then Josiah attempts to weaponize his brother’s severed HEAD to kill Morgan; in the process, Rufus is bitten by Emile’s head before Sarah cleaves it in two with Josiah’s axe????
And now Morgan and Josiah are friends???? WHAT????????? So are we to believe that Morgan and Josiah are willing to bury the hatchet because of their mutual love for Rufus?
Yes, beans. I suppose Rufus would be happy knowing his death united two of his favorite humans? Sure, why not—let’s go with that.
In any case, by a big leap in logic, the trio deduces that Wendell must have been picked up by Strand’s people and brought back to the tower. I mean, sure, why not, let’s go with that, too. Let’s brave the deadly radiation and the undead and put our lives on the line based on nothing more than a hunch. Except, as luck would have it, Wendell is living large in Strand’s luxurious tower community.
So you think, great, mission accomplished, let’s reunite these two crazy kids. The only problem is, once someone steps outside the tower, it’s a one-way trip. Strand’s utopia, Strand’s rules. In the end, Sarah has to let Wendell go in order to save him. As far as her brother’s concerned, she was never there.
As Strand so succinctly puts it, “This new world is punishing.” And so was this episode. On the upside, things can only get better from here, right?