Spoiler Warning for Season 5, Episode 5 of “Fear the Walking Dead,” as well as all previous episodes of the series. Spoilers from “The Walking Dead” will also be discussed.
“You fall, I fall.”
“Fear the Walking Dead” has just made a bold step into the future of the franchise with an episode that truly changes the game. By introducing a character with ties to a larger organization, Althea chases a story that threatens her own life.
“Here to Help” ends with the stunning cliffhanger of Althea returning to the plane crash site and being captured by a mysterious soldier wearing a strange black uniform. Picking up immediately after she was tased, Al is dragged across the ground and in the rain, but quickly regains consciousness. The soldier uses powder and a match to set her deceased partner’s body on fire. This gives Al the opportunity to make a run for it, grabbing her camera bag and charging into the woods as the soldier follows her. She removes the tape that she filmed the soldier and crash site on and hides it. A small cluster of walkers leaves her trapped as the soldier arrives and knocks her to the ground, demanding that she turn over the tape. Althea kicks off the soldier’s mask revealing a woman with black hair (Sydney Lemmon). When morning comes around, Al finds herself bound the the back of a passenger seat in a car. She notices that the immediate area she is in is surrounded by barbed wire and a walker gets stuck on the perimeter of it. She kicks open the car door and calls over the walker, causing it to bring over part of the barbed wire with it. She repeatedly kicks at the walker, managing to get part of the wire, which she uses to cut herself free. In a badass kill, she slams the walker’s head with the car door, spewing blood everywhere. Al does some digging and finds a helicopter parked within the perimeter, downing the same three-ringed symbol on the maps Al found. It isn’t clear if this is the exact helicopter that picked Rick up, but it certainly is part of the same organization. Whatever the case may be, Al just stumbled into something BIG.
She tries to start the helicopter up, but it fails to start. Using the radio, she tries to contact her people…but a strange voice comes over the air asking for “Ground 17” to respond. Suddenly, the soldier appears and holds Al at gunpoint before forcing her out of the helicopter and responding to the urgent calls over the radio. The soldier reports that her “lead” was killed in action and that there was a breach in protocol; she also shares that she needs to refuel before she can take off. There’s a chilling notice from the voice as he states that a reclamation team is inbound. The soldier leads Al to the stream where she first escaped to, demanding her to turn over the tape, even threatening to break her legs. Al uses her negotiating skills to demand that the soldier tell her story and give Al’s friends a ride on the helicopter in exchange for the tape. She also points out that the soldier seems worried about the reclamation team that is on their way. The soldier seems to agree and decides to bring Al along to collect more fuel, returning to the helicopter and gathering supplies. The soldier points out that they are headed to a fuel drop atop a nearby mountain range. They drive together in a car and Al begins asking questions about the soldier, including about the symbol and why she was out at the plane crash site. The soldier is silent and refuses to even answer the basic questions Al asks everyone; “your name, where you’re from, what you’ve seen.” She decides to give the soldier the name “Happy” seeing as she won’t reveal her actual name. Happy wonders why any of these questions matter and Al explains that the stories of the survivors will be all that’s left when everyone is gone.
A rock slide forces Happy out of the car to go kill some walkers that tumble into the road. She tells Al to stay in the car…but this is Al we’re talking about. She doesn’t take orders from Happy. The soldier decides to remove the jacket part of her uniform to protect Al from bites. When Al refuses, Happy decides to reveal a small bit of information about her group. The entire mission of Happy is to “ensure that there is more than stories when I die.” Al complies and puts on the jacket as Happy kills the walkers with her unique bayonet-esque weapon. Another rock slide crushes the car and sends it tumbling off the road and down a ravine. “I don’t stay in the car. That rule has kept me alive, even before people were eating each other’s faces,” Al explains in response to the cascade. The two find the car buried under some rubble and dirt, reclaiming their supplies. Al puts herself in danger and is nearly bitten by a buried walker while trying to get her camera bag. Thankfully, the jacket protects her from the bite, providing an interesting bit of insight into the methods this group uses to keep themselves alive. Happy digs through the bag and finds a single tape hidden away at the bottom, labeled “The Bog #7,” but Al explains that it isn’t the tape that she is looking for. Happy watches the tape on the camera and we get a brief look at Al’s experience at the onset of the global apocalypse. The tape is Al reporting on the outbreak and ensuing chaos. She notes that a National State of Emergency has been declared. Gunfire erupts, and she explains that the National Guard and the Army are shooting at each other. It is here that Al opens up and speaks directly to someone named Jesse, apologizing for not being with him. Al tells Happy that Jesse was her brother and that instead of being with him when he died, she decided to go out and get the story. This is all she has left of him. This is one of many bits of information we learn about Althea, who has remained mostly closed off since her introduction.
The second bit of information that is revealed about Happy’s group comes as Al walks away from her. “If you see someone wearing this jacket, you should be afraid. We are a force who are not living for ourselves or for now,” she yells at Al. It is clear that this group is all about the future. Happy ultimately catches up with Al at a massive car pile up. Inside one of the vehicles is a collection of climbing equipment, and Al explains that her group entered the area via plane because the roads were blocked; the owners of these cars likely tried to climb out to escape the area. Happy makes an executive decision for the two to camp overnight before making the climb at night. They sleep in a suspended tent, a smart move to avoid being eaten by walkers in the middle of the night. Al opens up about the fact that she hasn’t told anyone about her brother. Happy apologizes for interrupting Al’s job because she was doing her own job. The climb up the mountain isn’t easy at all. Happy goes up first and Al is attached to her line. There’s a walker dangling in his harness; a climber who died and reanimated, possibly at the start of the apocalypse. There’s a few bumps in the road as Happy falls, but Al manages to get them to the top successfully. At the top, Happy explains that it was she who killed who friend, named Beckett. The plan was to land in the area, get supplies for purifying water, and then leave. They were aware of the nuclear power plant, but Beckett was still exposed to radiation. Beckett wanted to go to this cabin he had and abandon the mission, but Happy couldn’t allow that because of her group’s protocol to “extinguish threats to operational security.” He also carried maps that she could not get out to anyone else; these were seen by Al when she found his body. Al realizes that she herself is a threat to operational security and will also have to be killed.
At the fuel drop, Al and Happy find another walker in climbing gear, who was likely the partner to the one they found dangling. When Happy goes to kill the walker, Al knocks her to the ground and takes her weapon. The plan is to take two jugs of fuel, fly the helicopter back up to this drop and take the rest. Al worries that Happy won’t hold up her end of the bargain, and threatens to leave her atop the mountain. Happy warns that if Al and her people are anywhere near the helicopter when the reclamation team arrives, they won’t be okay. Night falls, and Happy decides to give Al the interview she asked for. She states very clearly that she won’t tell Al where her group is from or what they’re called. She does share that the group is bigger than either of them or any one at all, and that they are the past and it is the future. Al wants to see it, but Happy states that she doesn’t. The tape and maps put the mission of the group in a vulnerable position. There’s mention of rebuilding what once was, a plot that Happy claims she will die for. Happy has tears in her eyes talking about how stories will matter if there are people around to hear them one day. Opening up a supply box, Happy brings a beer and the two share it while looking up at the stars. Al mentions that her group has someone trying to be a brewer, referring to Sarah taking over Jim’s operations. This is really a beautiful bonding moment between two people who are on seemingly different sides. Al takes note of how “ugly” the world is, but how this is nice. In this world, you can have your gun pointed at someone only to be civil with them and share a beer together moments later.
Al decides that she must hold up her end of the bargain and leads Happy back to the stream where they had their chase in the opening scene. We know Al is resourceful and quick-thinking, so it comes as no surprise when she reveals that she hid the tape on a walker she killed. Without even watching it, Happy destroys the tape by burning it before telling Al that the mission she is on is so fragile that no one is even supposed to see her. She demands that Al turn around before puttingm a gun to the back of her head. In a strange way, Al is almost at peace, knowing that for once, she chose something other than pursuing a story. Still, she hands over the tape of her apologizing to her brother, pleading for Happy to make sure all that’s left of her brother survives. After a few moments of silence, Happy lowers her gun and tells Al to never speak of what happened between them again. “My name is Isabelle, I’m from Indiana, and I got to see the prettiest thing I’ve seen since the end of everything,” Happy (now Isabelle) tearfully tells Al before going in for a kiss. There had been romantic tension between the two all episode, but this moment seals the deal. They ultimately go their separate ways as Isabelle returns to the helicopter, refuels, alerts her group via radio and takes off. Al spots the helicopter flying off and radios Morgan and Alicia, setting a spot for them to reunite. When they finally meet up, Morgan and Alicia embrace Al with hugs and smiles. When asked about the walker she went to investigate and the helicopter that just flew over, Al lies and doesn’t tell them about her previous 72 hours with Isabelle. Max and Annie show up with the other children, and Al is surprised to see more new people; this is a throwback to her one of her very first lines in the series in “What’s Your Story?” While walking to return back to the truck stop, Al reveals her last name to Alicia and Morgan as “Szewcyk-Przygocki,” a combination of her parent’s Polish surnames. This is yet another part of Al’s character that was completely unknown until this episode when she finally opens up. And just like that, some balance is restored to the group as Al is back with her family.
The good in “The End of Everything”
- The episode reveals just enough information about the CRM, which is more than what was known previously. It doesn’t give too specific of details, but does allow for “Fear” to command the franchise and steer the narrative of the whole Universe.
- Backstory being revealed for Althea is excellent as not much at all was known about her character. It’s also great that she was canonically confirmed to be queer on the final day of Pride Month.
- Isabelle is a fascinating character, who is both rugged and emotional. She has fantastic chemistry with Al, as do Maggie Grace and Sydney Lemmon.
- Al being reunited with Morgan and Alicia helps to move the story forward as the characters can now work on returning to the Denim Factory.
- The cinematography and use of the environment to take the characters on a journey is really impressive, particularly the rock climbing and mountain scenes.
- The level of intensity is extremely high this episode. Not only is Althea is clear danger all throughout, but tiny bits of information are dropped that make Rick’s situation even more worrisome.
The iffy in “The End of Everything”
- It’s rather unfortunate that Al chose to lie to her people about her experience with Isabelle, especially considering she will likely never see her again. That being said, this is a major development for Al’s character and she is trying to put people ahead of her stories.
Top performances in “The End of Everything”
- Maggie Grace as Althea
- Sydney Lemmon as Isabelle
Lingering thoughts and predictions
- When the helicopter first appeared in Season 8’s “The Big Scary U,” no one would have guessed that Rick would be picked up and flown off to star in a film trilogy. No one could have guessed that the same organization would appear in “Fear the Walking Dead” in such a prominent role.
- The tape containing Al’s reporting on the initial outbreak is an important glimpse into her experience at the fall of society. With just Alicia, Strand and Daniel left alive from the first season, these are the only characters we actually saw transition from the pre-apocalpyse to the apocalypse.
- The supplies that Isabelle carries seem to be part of a branded collection of supplies that her organization distributes to their people. Jadis/Anne was also seen with supplies that with the same symbol on them.
- Speaking of Jadis/Anne, Isabelle bears a striking resemblance to the former leader of the Scavengers. Is it possible that they’re related…or at least have the same hairstylist?
- It would be quite fitting if Isabelle happened to be on the helicopter when Rick is picked up. Additionally, it doesn’t seem like she will appear in “Fear” again anytime soon, so perhaps she will be part of the film trilogy.
“The End of Everything” is an exceptionally strong character study of Althea and Isabelle. Two characters joined together in a rather unique situation with heavy stakes. With strong development and stunning world building, this is episode stands to prove once again that Season 5 is taking the series in the right direction.