Jeffrey Kopp

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Jeffrey Kopp is the Community Editor of the Niner Times. He is a senior double majoring in Communication and Political Science. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead."

TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – 210 Words Per Minute’

Spoiler Warning for Season 5, Episode 10 of “Fear the Walking Dead,” as well as all previous episodes of the series. Spoilers from “The Walking Dead” will also be discussed.

“We’re not doing careful. We’re doing right.”

After a rather shaky start to the second half of Season 5, “Fear the Walking Dead” delivers an emotional follow up that just so happens to be one of the season’s strongest episodes. By focusing on Morgan, Grace and Dwight, the story really does wonders with character development and provides some absolutely powerful moments.

This episode takes a lot of inspiration from George Romero’s 1978 film “Dawn of the Dead.” The opening scene features voice over from a survivor named Chuck (Charlie Bodin) who is trying to get in contact with Morgan’s group and explains what exactly he needs help with. He’s at a local mall and has been bitten. He wants to be put down so he isn’t left to wander the world as a walker. He states that he is wearing a red jacket and that he will likely be dead by the time anyone finds him. He just wants to be buried somewhere outside under the stars. Being that our group is on a mission to help everyone, they come to the Bridgeview Mall to fulfill a man’s dying wish. Morgan, Dwight and Grace enter the mall and find the lower levels crawling with walkers. There’s a recurring bit of humor thrown into the episode as Grace finds some stale jelly beans and calls them “candy beansies,” much to the confusion of Morgan. Coming across the security office where Chuck mentioned that he would wait at, Morgan and Grace find it empty, but definitely see that he was there at one point. There’s a chair that he likely attempted to strap himself to, along with an iPod loaded with some of Chuck’s favorite audiobooks for Grace. This is a direct nod to Grace’s explanation of her listening to audiobooks on double speed in the Mid-Season Premiere.

Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Austin Amelio as Dwight, Karen David as Grace – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

We see Grace become slightly dizzy, but she just blames it on low blood sugar. This becomes a driving point of the episode as her health wavers and causes problems. Dwight manages to find the walkers that are trapped in the mall. They’re congregated on the first floor and he wonders if it is actually worth it for them to risk their lives to put down someone who is already dead. Suddenly, Grace collapses and loses consciousness much to the concern of Morgan and Dwight. When Grace comes to, she is laying in a bed in a furniture store and the first words out of her mouth are confusion about the name of jelly beans/candy beansies. Morgan asks if her passing out has anything to do with the exposure to radiation, but she is unsure. Daniel and the caravan come across the gas station that Wes was seen at in the previous episode. Inspecting the bullet casings on the ground, Daniel and Skidmark posit that Logan’s crew already rolled through here. He orders Tess to get the caravan moving again and uses music to signal the trio at the mall without directly speaking over an open channel. Dwight has Morgan and Grace listen to the music and explains that they should leave the mall seeing as how Logan’s group might be on their way. Grace and Morgan believe they should stay to collect all of the supplies in the mall. It’s a difficult situation they find themselves in and is a sign of the growing conflict with Logan.

This is an episode that really allows Morgan and Dwight to reflect on their journey thus far. Dwight is understandably concerned with how things are going with Logan’s crew. He points out how risky it was for our group to claim the oil fields for themselves instead of turning them over. Dwight states that he has already been on the wrong side of a fight before and Morgan agrees. He knows that this may turn violent, but Morgan believes they can redirect the situation in that case. We see Dwight really break the plan and go his own way by sending a message out on the open air announcing where he is headed instead of returning to the caravan. He clearly wants Logan’s group to hear him. At the top of an escalator, Grace listens to Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” on double speed while prepping to head down to the lower level on a mission. Morgan stops her before she does and points out that Chuck wouldn’t want her to die just to fulfill his wish. That isn’t what she is doing though. She tearfully explains that there is an urgent care facility on the lower level that likely has X-ray and ultrasound machines that she can use to see if she has any physical effects from the radiation. She wants to know what awaits her, so Morgan agrees to help her get the generator going and to reach the urgent care.

Karen David as Grace – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

Morgan comes up with a smart plan to use a remote controlled car to distract the walkers on the lower level. While leading them in a different direction, Morgan and Grace sneak down and plan to head to the generator. Their plan is derailed as Grace sees a walker that she misidentifies as Chuck and proceeds to sneak up behind it. Unfortunately, she steps on debris and makes noise, turning the walkers back toward her and Morgan. The walkers begin swarming and force the two to hide it out in a health store. Inside, the two snack on protein shakes and bars while Grace tells the story of how she visited a dude ranch as a child because she wanted to ride a horse. She was too afraid and that’s part of her tendency to overthink things and not be good at anything except her job. Morgan tells her that she could find a horse one day and that he rode one in the apocalypse; this is a direct reference to his time at the Kingdom. Now, Grace is to concerned about starting something she won’t be able to finish due to her potential for radiation-caused cancer and an untimely death. Things take a really heavy emotional turn as Grace brings up Morgan’s son, asking if they used to play with RC cars. She explains that she watched his tape in which he discusses the fact that he’s working to move forward and let Jenny and Duane go. She wants to help, but he’s having a hard time with it all and can’t even really acknowledge it.

Dwight’s new mission goes according to plan as he stops by the side of the road to take a piss and is met with a gun to the back of a head by a member of Logan’s crew. His name is Rollie (Cory Hart) and he is thrown off a bit when Dwight tells him that he wanted to be tracked down. Rollie knocks Dwight unconscious to give himself time to decide how to proceed. When Dwight wakes up, he’s bound in the back of a truck and Rollie immediately points out that he has been through some shit. Dwight uses this to read Rollie and posits that the quest to find the oil fields probably was noble at first, but has since devolved; not all that dissimilar to what he himself did with the Saviors. Dwight points to the burn on his face and tells Rollie that he has faced far worse people before and made it out of it. Rollie tries to provoke Dwight by bringing up Sherry and burning one of her letters. He has seen the tape and knows how much Sherry means to Dwight. In a moment of walker-caused distraction, Dwight is able to gain control of the situation and gets the gun, but doesn’t kill Rollie. He basically freezes when seeing Sherry’s letter that tells him to live for something better. Dwight makes a bold move here and decides to let Rollie go free, stating that someone gave him a second chance and therefore he’s doing the same thing here. Paralleling the scene in which Daryl tells Dwight to go find Sherry, Dwight gives Rollie a second chance and tells him to do good with his life from now on instead of being an asshole.

Austin Amelio as Dwight, Lennie James as Morgan Jones – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

After successfully escaping from the health store via the backdoor, Morgan and Grace make their way through the hallways of the mall. There’s an extremely bizarre scene that doesn’t work at all as the two come upon a small cluster of walkers and Morgan orders Grace to turn off her headlamp. In almost complete darkness, he then charges toward the walkers and kills them off screen as Grace struggles to see. There’s one left and it’s got Morgan pinned down so Grace has to save him. What has the point of all this? As Grace works to get the generator going, Morgan decides to open up to her about Duane and shares that he got his son an RC car when he was younger. Duane made Morgan smile. Jenny made Morgan smile. This is how he knew she was the one on their first date. Grace had the chance to have a relationship with someone she worked with at the plant, but she was too afraid to let it happen. She commends Morgan for having the courage to go through with it. This makes him smile. Once the power is back up and running, they make a run for the urgent care facility, but the security gate is down. While trying to open the gate, they accidentally set off the alarm and draw the walkers to their location. With walkers surrounding them, Morgan and Grace scramble up a now powered escalator and are forced to stand their ground when the dead start following them up. Thankfully, Grace is able to flip the switch that reverses the escalator, allowing the two to flee to the security office to turn off the alarm. On the security cameras, Morgan discovers a shocking sight: Chuck is still alive.

Being bit by a walker and undergoing the transformation process is rough. Morgan and Grace are able to assure Chuck doesn’t have to go through it alone. Chuck explains that he didn’t know how long it would take Morgan and Grace to get there so he moved up to the roof while he still could so he could die under the stars. Unfortunately…it’s a cloudy night. Grace brings up a turtle shaped star projector toy and is able to give Chuck one last beautiful sight before he slips away. When morning rolls around, Morgan and Grace bury him under a tree with Grace leaving the turtle projector as a marker. Once they return inside to the urgent care, Grace has a realization. Chuck didn’t want to die in the mall and she doesn’t either. If she gets herself checked out, she might find out that her life will be ending soon. This gives her a whole new lease on life as she now wants to live for the future. A truly rewarding and fun scene plays out next as Grace rides on the carousel, finally getting to ride a horse like she always wanted to. She invites a reluctant Morgan onboard and smiles light up their faces. The caravan arrives and everyone catches up before deciding their next move as Tess suggests they stay at a nearby ranch. Inside, the survivors clear the place out of supplies while Daniel gives Dwight a much-needed shave and haircut in the barbershop. The episode comes to an end as Morgan has an emotional breakdown of sorts. He was originally planning on leaving with Grace and the others to go to the ranch, but decides to go join Althea who is on her own. He clearly is having a difficult time letting himself feel emotions toward Grace and the two tearfully go their separate ways…for now.

Karen David as Grace, Lennie James as Morgan Jones – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

The good in “210 Words Per Minute”

  • The Morgan and Grace dynamic is just perfect. They have really hit it off and regardless of if it develops into a romance, it is great to see two like-minded people get along so well in the apocalypse. Plus, they make one another smile and that’s definitely a good thing.
  • Dwight’s cross-show development from a selfish killer to someone who wants to give others the same second chance he was given.
  • Daniel being more of a comedic part of the story is an interesting and surprising choice that is a lot of fun to see.
  • The mall setting really allows for some exciting walker moments and is the perfect homage to George Romero’s classic film.
  • Morgan speaking about his past, specifically his wife and son, always makes for a powerful emotional scene.
  • Grace’s new lease of life is a really a moving lesson about not just life in the apocalypse, but in every sense.
  • The scene with Chuck is just pure FTWD/TWD goodness.

The iffy in “210 Words Per Minute”

  • The characters put themselves in such ridiculous risk for benefits that don’t always outweigh the risk.
  • The mall is the perfect place for our characters to base their operations and they could keep it if they would just deal with Logan’s crew.
  • Morgan and Dwight refusing to directly name characters and events from “The Walking Dead” is a recurring issue that makes it seem as though they are afraid of revealing spoilers for those that haven’t watched the original series.
Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Karen David as Grace – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

Top performances in “210 Words Per Minute”

  • Lennie James as Morgan Jones
  • Karen David as Grace
  • Austin Amelio as Dwight
  • Charlie Bodin as Chuck

Lingering thoughts and predictions

  • If Morgan and Grace ever do end up together, what will this do for Morgan’s mental health? He’s been in an understandably rough place since the very start of the apocalypse and this could do wonders for him.
  • The mention of this ranch immediately throws things back to the Broke Jaw Ranch of Season 3. If only the show still had the quality and feel of that season, because that was seriously some of the best material ever in the “TWD” franchise.
  • Wildly, Chuck is the first living character to die in Season 5; and it wasn’t even an on screen death. This has to be some sort of record for both shows.
  • Grace deciding to listen to the audiobook on normal speed shows that she isn’t trying to rush through what’s left of her life anymore. She’s going to make the most of each day and live for the future.

“210 Words Per Minute” is a much needed episode for the characters of Morgan, Grace and Dwight. We really learn a lot about them, their growth and their place in this world. It’s great seeing Grace, a newer character, interacting with two staples of the universe. With the next episode looking to focus in on Alicia and Strand, we’ll surely see some old school bonds.

Don’t miss new episodes of “Fear the Walking Dead” on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on AMC.

CONCERT PREVIEW: Judah & the Lion

Coming to Charlotte on Thursday, Aug. 22 is Judah & the Lion, an alternative band from Tennessee. Fans wanting to hear them live should be sure to get a ticket to their show at Charlotte Metro Credit Union at 7:30 p.m. This is one of several stops on the Pep Talks Worldwide Tour.

Since making their debut in 2011, Judah & the Lion have released one EP and three studio albums. The EP, titled “Sweet Tennessee,” was released back in 2013. Following the EP, the band released three studio albums, “Kids These Days,” “Folk Hop N’ Roll” and their newest selection of music “Pep Talks.”

The Pep Talks Worldwide Tour has featured stops in cities across Europe, including Dublin, London and Paris. During the month of August, the band has been touring around the mid-west United States as part of the North American leg of the tour. The rest of the tour will see the band all across the United States and will also include a handful of stops in Canada.

The tour will make a stop in Charlotte on Aug. 22 at Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater, which is located at the AvidXchange Music Factory in the Uptown area. Fortunately for North Carolina fans, Charlotte isn’t the only stop in the state as they will also be playing in Raleigh on Aug. 23 at the Red Hat Amphitheater.

More information about Judah & the Lion as well as their music and their Pep Talks Worldwide Tour can be found at https://judahandthelion.com/. Tickets for their various tour stops are also available for purchase on their website.

TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘Channel 4’

Spoiler Warning for the Mid-Season Premiere (Season 5, Episode 9) of “Fear the Walking Dead,” as well as all previous episodes of the series. Spoilers from “The Walking Dead” will also be discussed.

“What do you do with the time you have left? That’s the question.”

There’s a lot of stories to tell in the post-apocalyptic world. Althea’s documentation of the apocalypse serves the purpose of showing future generations what people went through when the dead walked the earth. Now, the recordings have an entirely new purpose. While extremely innovative and chock full of solid character development, this episode does suffer from an overtly positive tone that comes across as being hokey and cheesy at points. Still, there’s a lot of good here as the group tries hard to help those in need.

Some time has passed since the group successfully flew out of the radiation zone and landed safely to reunite with Sarah, Wendell and Daniel. Logan made a seedy proposition for the team to assist him in locating nearby oil fields…but the Mid-Season Premiere essentially skips past most of the drama surrounding that conflict. This episode has a unique format in that nearly the entire run is exclusively found footage, including interviews with the characters and action shots recorded by the survivors. Morgan, Alicia and the others are interviewed by Althea about their journey in the apocalypse and about why they have decided to dedicate their lives to helping others. Morgan explains that the plane flying overhead made people notice there were survivors in the area that were well-equipped. They started receiving messages over the radio from various people asking for help. Al presses Morgan about his declaration that the group also needs to start living for themselves, but Morgan is clear that they’re having a bit of a hard time with that.

Lennie James as Morgan Jones – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 9 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

Interestingly, Althea finds herself on the other end of the camera, being interviewed by Charlie and directing the other members of the group to document things themselves. She explains that the group raided a Big Spot and took the remaining cameras and batteries. Sarah shares that Polar Bear’s people provided the group with large amounts of fuel for the mission after they arrived at the oil fields. It’s revealed that Sarah and the others abandoned Logan and went to find the oil fields themselves. During Dwight’s interview, he points out that he’s essentially doing the opposite of what he used to do with the Saviors. He also reaffirms that he isn’t giving up the search for Sherry, although it isn’t his sole focus now. We see a great moment as Daniel bickers with Dwight about his reluctance to be given a haircut. In the caravan, Alicia travels with Luciana and Strand, assuring that the roads are clear and deciding what routes to take. Footage captured by Al shows Morgan training Alicia with the bo staff in the art of Aikido. She’s really picked it up quick, but obviously still has more training to do.

We learn this episode that the group has picked up several survivors and has created a convoy of sorts. They established a camp that is run by June and Grace, no longer using the denim factory as their base. During the interviews with June and John, Al questions about their upcoming marriage and they both reiterate that their love is what matters and that a ceremony isn’t necessary. We also see some focus given on Grace, as she is seen feeling her lymph nodes, explaining that she wakes up everyday wondering if she will begin to feel symptoms from radiation exposure. It’s interesting to see how the group has developed this mission that Morgan began, although it’s quite jarring when things pick up from where they left previously. There’s really no sense of time, so it’s a bit confusing when we see an established camp and system of operations already.

Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 9 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

This episode features a very specific mission to help someone in need. John and Luciana come across a house with a woman and her son trapped inside. We learn pretty quickly that the surrounding yard is filled with landmines. The woman inside is named Tess (Peggy Schott) and she explains that her husband left their house to go find an inhaler for their asthmatic son. The problem here is that she has no clue where the landmines are buried and each one that is set off brings more walkers. Tess also shares that she hasn’t left her house since the fall of society due to the house being well equipped with supplies and sustainable equipment. In order to speed of the process of Tess’ husband Ben returning, Alicia, Strand and June head over to the local pharmacy to try and find him. They collect some medicine for their caravan in addition, but do not find Ben. The group ultimately decides to split up to try to locate him, but Alicia stumbles upon something incredibly interesting. She finds a tree with the message “if you’re reading this, it means you’re still here” written on it. This is completely similar to the message found by John and Dwight prior to leaving the nuclear zone in the Mid-Season Finale. Alicia mentions how this is something that Madison would really like and appreciate. Strangely, on the recording of Alicia inspecting the tree, she freezes up when a walker approaches, leaving Strand to kill it for her. Since the plane landed, Alicia hasn’t been killing walkers. She seems to be following in the lead of Morgan a bit too much. Unfortunately, the walker that came at Alicia happened to be Ben.

In all of the landmine chaos, more and more walkers are drawn to the area and more noise is made. “I don’t die” Morgan comes out as he decides to charge full steam ahead into the yard, jumping through the blown up spots to try and reach the house. Althea follows him and records, and thankfully so seeing as how Morgan accidentally steps on a landmine and is unable to move his foot lest he wishes to be blown sky high. John charges in along with Luciana, who is recording…to document Morgan’s potential death? Thankfully Al has some training with this and is able to talk Morgan through the process of defusing the landmine, although she isn’t entirely confident in her own knowledge. Tess decides to come out of the house to assist, seeing as how she watched her husband set them all up and knows how to actually diffuse them. She brings forward a pin that is used to safely release the pressure and allow Morgan to step off the plate. Before he does step off, he demands that everyone clear the area. He knows this may be the end for him, but he doesn’t seem scared. He safely makes it away from the landmine is able to reunite with his friends only to be startled when the landmine ends up going off.

Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie, Danay Garcia as Luciana – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 9 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

After the hectic day the various members of the group had, they take time to unwind a bit with a campfire meal. As explained by John, this is a sort of tradition for this group, referring back to their campfire meal at the end of “No One’s Gone.” Grace shares that the meal is a recipe she had been wanting to make long before the apocalypse, but only now just got around to it. Tess expresses her gratitude for being helped and seems to now be a member of the group. We see Morgan ask Alicia if she wants to continue training, but she has a new personal mission; she wants to find who is making the tree messages. In the middle of the celebration, we see clips from an interview with Morgan as he explains that he is going to work on letting his wife and son go. He’s been carrying the burden of their loss for so long now that he finally needs to move forward, and helping Tess made him realize and see that. The found footage part of the episode concludes with a PSA-esque montage of the characters explaining their mission and need for others to pitch it. There’s no real explanation given as to how all of these clips are edited together, but we learn that it is one large documentary that is distributed for people to find.

This recording is found by a new character named Wes (Colby Hollman), who is introduced while watching the documentary. Wes is camped out inside of a gas station and has several things left behind from our crew of characters, including one of the roadside boxes. While preparing to leave on his motorcycle, Wes is met by two cars that approach him and hold him up. It’s Logan and his gang. Logan is angry for having to walk hundreds of miles after being abandoned by Sarah and the others. He misidentifies Wes as a member of the helper brigade and even goes so far as to destroy Wes’ motorcycle in a hellfire of bullets. The episode ends rather strangely as Logan provides Wes with a walkie talkie to radio the convoy and join them to warn them of Logan’s wrath. This is clearly a furthering of Logan’s arc into villainy, although Wes’ role in it all feels rather random. Since his introduction, Logan has been a puzzling character and it’s never really been clear what his actual role in the story is. That being said, it seems as though we’re about to find out.

Colby Hollman as Wes – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 9 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

The good in “Channel 4”

  • The unique filming style that utilizes found footage over traditional storytelling allows for a different way of exploring the story. It fits with Al’s past documentation of the apocalypse.
  • Alicia training in aikido with Morgan is one of the coolest things ever and is exactly where his crossover pays off. Having this concept pass over to Alicia really solidifies their bond with one another.
  • Morgan opening up about Jenny and Duane is always emotional. It’s so painful for him to talk about, but it needs to happen.
  • There are tons of really solid comedic moments with Daniel, Dwight and Sarah this episode that help to better flesh out their characters.
  • The John and June romance continues to be just so damn heartwarming.
  • Logan is one scary dude.
  • The landmines are a fun way to add some walker action.

The iffy in “Channel 4”

  • While the mission of the characters is to help other people is an interesting direction for the show, it does start to feel repetitive and makes the series lose some of its gritty edge.
  • The opening time jump is a bit confusing, but does help to progress things forward.

The bad in “Channel 4”

  • The filming of events happening to the characters becomes painfully unbelievable at certain points in this episode. There’s a moment when all of the characters clear out of the yard, except for Luciana, who remains to get a good shot of Morgan’s death? That’s a bit ridiculous.
  • Morgan being so careless with his own life isn’t unheard of, but again, it feels forced here. Also, the tension is removed from his stepping on the landmine, because his very clearly survives as revealed by the interview clips of him talking about the day.
  • There really has to be some human death(s) soon or else the show will lose the aura of danger that needs to be present. There has to be stakes here. Killing characters, even small unnamed ones, helps establish that.
Jenna Elfman as June, Colman Domingo as Victor Strand – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 9 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

Top performances in “Channel 4”

  • Lennie James as Morgan Jones
  • Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark
  • Mo Collins as Sarah
  • Matt Frewer as Logan

Lingering thoughts and predictions

  • The reference of the Big Spot is a rewarding tie in to the larger universe. This is the store that the characters raided in “TWD’s” 4th Season Premiere. It was also mentioned by Madison in Season 4, and is referred to by a character in “The Althea Tapes,” a companion webisode series that features Al’s interviews.
  • Logan’s group being pissed off is probably not a good sign for our group. They will likely be what upends the mission to help others.
  • Morgan’s letting go of his wife and son could open the door to a future relationship with Grace or at the very least, just peace with himself.
  • Grace’s worry about suffering from symptoms of radiation exposure likely means we will see her start to experience them at some point, maybe even this season.

“Channel 4” isn’t the best return episode of the show and while it suffers from some long-standing problems of the most recent seasons of the show, it is innovative and fun. Morgan and the characters are on a mission and this episode served it’s purpose to document that.

Be sure to tune into “Fear the Walking Dead” Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on AMC.

TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘Is Anybody Out There?’

Spoiler Warning for the Mid-Season Finale (Season 5, Episode 8) of “Fear the Walking Dead,” as well as all previous episodes of the series. Spoilers from “The Walking Dead” will also be discussed.

“Since we haven’t seen a whole lot of the good lately, I think we’ve got some coming our way.”

The first half of Season 5 has had its ups and downs. There has been a ton of action and stellar character moments as the group desperately tries to escape this radiation-soaked area with crazy kids. While there has been a handful of disappointing moments, this is a step in the right direction for the series and the thrilling Mid-Season Finale is further proof of this.

The opening scene of the episode throws things back to before the start of Season 5, when the characters were still at Wittington’s Denim Company. Each of the survivors spend time on the radio trying to find someone in need of help, but they keep coming up short. Just when they start to loose hope, a voice comes over the radio, desperately asking for help. It’s Logan, the man who tricked our group into flying a plane into an area he wasn’t actually in, thus kicking off the events of the season. The narrative transitions to present time as Logan and his crew have ransacked the factory. His people are growing extremely frustrated with him seeing as they haven’t been able to find something they are looking for. They even go so far as to threaten to kill him. After being absent for nearly the entire season, it’s good to have the story of the antagonist actually progress and develop.

Cooper Dodson as Dylan, Jenna Elfman as June – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 8 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

The big shocker moment of the previous episode came as Alicia killed a walker wearing a dosimeter and accidentally splattered blood all over her face. Picking up after she reunites with Morgan and Grace, Alicia takes a decontaminating shower and we can see she is still a bit shaken up from what happened to her. Thankfully, Grace assures her that both she and her weapon are clean and will be okay. Of course, there is no way to know completely for sure, but this seems to be confirmation that Alicia won’t be dying anytime soon. The walkers that Alicia led away from the treehouse are now following the trio as the sirens at the plant ring out. Morgan radios Luciana and updates her about the walkers, noting that they will make their way to the plane as soon as they lose the herd. Morgan checks in on Alicia as they pack up Grace’s truck and she makes a humorous joke about having a hot shower as a nuclear plant melts down. Grace warns that the real danger will begin when the siren stops, and therefore they need to get away before then. At the plane, June and Dylan work on some last minute touches before take off. Dylan asks June if she thinks John will return before the plane has to leave, and she takes a moment to express that the world isn’t all bad. She explains her belief that if everything is bad all the time, then what is the point of anything? Speaking of John, he and Dwight are working hard to get back to the plane. They come across a car lot and search through all of them before coming across just one that actually starts up. Meanwhile, Alicia apologizes to Morgan for unintentionally leading the herd, stating that she just couldn’t kill any more walkers. There’s a touching moment in which Morgan offers to train Alicia in aikido once they’ve gotten away from the area. He believes that this will greatly help Alicia with all of the pain and loss she has experienced, citing how much it has helped him over the years. As part of a plan to lead the herd to the plant, Grace pulls to the side of the road and the walkers continue down toward the sound of the sirens. Unfortunately, Grace’s warning comes true as the sirens stop and the containment structure of the plant collapses. One walker bangs on the truck window, thus drawing the rest of them. Grace tries to drive away, but crashes and thus forces the trio to flee on foot. Before running away, Morgan grabs his staff, a risk that even Grace states is worth it. And with that, the clock is ticking faster than ever.

This is a BIG episode for Sarah and Wendell as they really become major players in the operation to get their people back safely. Wendell takes care of clearing a runway as Sarah returns to the factory to confront Logan. When Sarah rolls up, she notices that Logan has a black eye and she threatens to give him another one if he steps out of line. Explaining that her group crashed a plane trying to reach Logan and have since rebuilt it to return, Sarah notes that she needs help lighting up the runway so they can land. Logan refuses and Sarah decides to get really serious about her growth as a character, citing the fact that she and Wendell stole Clayton’s truck from him in a selfish move. The regret and guilt of stealing from him has stuck with Sarah every single day. It’s an impassioned speech, but Logan isn’t budging. He doesn’t care. At the same time, Dwight and John are driving down the road to return back to the plane. Unfortunately, the car breaks down and Dwight notes that this is likely because the gasoline in vehicles is starting to go bad, something he has seen before. To their left, they notice the giant cloud of radiation pillowing into the sky from the plant. June’s voice comes over the radio now that they are finally back in range, but John explains that he and Dwight might not make it back in time. June pleads with him to tell her where he’s at, but he can’t do that. In an emotional moment, John makes June promise that she and the others will take off even if he and Dwight don’t return. Repeating the line from Sherry’s note to Dwight, John tells June to find something to live for. She gave him reason to live again and he wants her to do the same. They express their love for one another, but John’s radio dies and they lose their last means of communication. Dwight apologizes to John for not being successful in getting him back to June, but a note on a nearby tree sparks life back into the gunslinger. A tree covered in blue paint has a ladder and a message with the words “if you’re reading this, it means you’re still here.” This inspires John to come up with the idea to go retrieve the car Sherry drove and use it to get to the plane, which is still several miles away. John is someone who has had hopeless moments, but he never gives up fully.

Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 8 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

Returning to the runway empty handed, Sarah is incredibly frustrated by Logan’s selfishness and the overall lack of a plan for the plane to be able to land safely. Fortunately, a familiar face returns with exactly what they need. Daniel arrives at the runway after hearing the group talk over the radio. He reunites with Skidmark and tells Sarah and Wendell to help him prepare the runway before nightfall. Back at the plane, the level of intensity rises as the radiation cloud turns direction right for the group and Morgan, Alicia and Grace arrive with a pack of walkers. In the cockpit, Strand and Al prepare the plane for takeoff, alerting everyone to the fact that they will need to leave soon seeing as how the radiation is headed their way and for the sake of having enough fuel to cross the mountains. Alicia gets the kids buckled in the back and checks in with the cockpit. Strand tells Alicia that her mother would be proud of her, and she states that Madison would also be proud of him. At the end of the makeshift runway, Morgan and several others prepare to clear the herd to provide more time for John and Dwight to get back. June puts her foot down though. She made John a promise and she’s not going to let everyone die waiting for him to return. As everyone runs to board the plane, the sound of a honk gives June and the rest of the group some much needed hope. John and Dwight drive up in Sherry’s van guns a’blazing and manage to board as walkers swarm the back of the plane. The plane speeds up down the road, but several walkers hang on and are caught in some netting. John and Morgan are able to remove the dead weight and the plane is able to lift off the ground just seconds before the radiation cloud overtakes the road. Al and Strand manage to get the plane over the deadly plume, allowing everyone to have a moment to catch their breath. As the course is set for the mountains, Al states that the view is the “second prettiest thing I’ve seen since the end of everything,” a direct reference to what Isabelle said to her in their standalone episode.

In the air, there is some time for some great character moments as the survivors find themselves in a second chance at life. Alicia agrees with Morgan’s previous sentiment that helping other people probably isn’t meant to be easy and what they just went through proves this. In a bit of a shocking move, Grace stands up and breaks the point off of Morgan’s staff, flinging it out of the plane. She claims that this makes it safe to use now. John and June catch up with one another, and we get a highly anticipated moment between the two as John pulls out a candy wrapper, turns it into a ring and proposes to the love of his life. It’s truly a rewarding moment for the two after everything they have been through together. On the ground, it is revealed that Daniel brought strings of Christmas lights to illuminate the runway. Al and Strand are overjoyed when they see they have a safe and lit up place to land. While Daniel and Sarah work on finishing up the lights on one end of the runway, Wendell fills up the generator powering the lights on the other end. A lone walker stumbles out of the woods and walks toward him, prompting Wendell to use his badass wheelchair spears to try and kill it, but the brain isn’t pierced. A struggle erupts and another walker approachs, tripping over the wire and knocking the lights out. This complicates matters greatly as Strand and Al lose visibility and are unable to know where to land. With fuel dropping quickly, Wendell makes the bold move to leap from his wheelchair and crawl to the generator. He radios Sarah to tell her that he loves her and that she makes terrible beer. In the knick of time, Wendell manages to make his way over and turn the lights back on, thus allowing the plane to land safely. It’s such a powerful badass moment for Wendell as he is literally responsible for saving the lives of everyone on board the plane. He’s brought to tears by the emotions of the moment, as are the characters on the plane.

Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie, Jenna Elfman as June, Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark, Karen David as Grace – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 8 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

Once back on land, the characters are able to reunite with their friends and plenty of great moments happen. Sarah hugs “Momo” and meets Grace before Morgan thanks Wendell for what he did. Worlds collide once again as Daniel is officially introduced to Morgan. Althea greets Sarah and Wendell, and also reunites with Daniel, who pokes fun at her for breaking her promise to never show anyone his interview. Morgan congratulates John and June on their engagement, before John heads off to throw up; that’s relatable. Dylan returns the copy of “The Little Prince” to Luciana, thanking her for letting him reading it and stating that it helped him a lot. Quite possibly the best moment of the episode comes as Alicia spots Daniel. She is stunned to see him and runs in to hug him. The last time these two saw one another was Season 2, Episode 7 (“Shiva“) in which Daniel burns down the Abigail mansion in Baja and is presumed to have died. While Daniel was around and interacted with several of the characters in Season 3, he never saw Alicia during their time at the Gonzalez Dam. In their world, it has been roughly two and a half years since they saw one another. While they haven’t spend a ton of time together, the built a bond at the start of the outbreak as they escaped from Los Angeles as a group. Daniel expresses his sorrow for what has happened to Alicia, and she returns her grief for his losses. Alicia introduces Daniel to Dwight, and there is a great callback to the first season as Daniel points out that their new friend needs a haircut; “I’m still a barber,” Daniel proudly states. Charlie also reunites with Daniel, allowing for a touching moment in which Salazar states that he has been able to let Ofelia go and is finally at peace with her death. We also see Strand and Daniel make up, something that has been a long time coming. A voice comes over the radio, asking for help after seeing the plane fly overhead. They’re interrupted by Logan’s voice as he drives up the runway. Everyone pulls their guns on him, but he has an offer to make. According to him, Clayton left a location in his journals to a solution for the fuel crisis. Logan notes that the group won’t be able to help people if they don’t have fuel. This puts the group in a tough spot as the episode concludes, setting up the plot of the second half of the season.

The good in “Is Anybody Out There?”

  • The tension. Between the takeoff and landing of the plane, there is such a feeling of doom that is present. It genuinely feels as though the characters might not actually make it out of this alive.
  • Everyone making it out of this half of the season alive. It’s rather unprecedented to have and entire half of a season without any deaths at all, but this proves that the story doesn’t have to revolve around people dying all the time.
  • Grace putting Alicia and the viewers at ease over her exposure to radiation. While it seemed like this was a fatal end for her character, it instead creates some additional fear for her character in the long run as she could experience side effects of the exposure later in life.
  • The element of radiation continues to be a fascinating new addition of realism to the story. The characters on board the plane were undoubtedly exposed slightly and are now in a similar boat to Alicia and Grace.
  • June really putting her group before her relationship shows excellent development for her character. In addition, the proposal is a touching solidification of their relationship, and is just a heart-warming moment that is desperately needed.
  • Sarah really stepping up to the plate and trying to make up for what she and Wendell did shows strong development for her character. While she brings a ton of laughs and quirky lines, she is also has a great serious side to her.
  • Wendell risking his life and showing once again that the wheelchair doesn’t define who he is. Based on what he did in this episode, it should come as no surprise whatsoever that he has survived this long.
  • Daniel’s return is welcomed massively, as is his reunions with all of the characters.
  • Reunions are always great scenes in both series and this is no exception.
  • Cars becoming a less reliable form of transportation is a great nod to the main series in which traditional vehicles have all but been abandoned due to the dwindling state of the apocalypse. While “Fear” is still several years behind in the timeline, it makes complete sense that this is beginning to happen.
  • Logan being set up to possibly be an ally or a villain in the second half. Only time will tell.
  • The performances across the board are wonderful, especially everyone in the plane. That looked like genuine fear on everyone’s faces.

Danay Garcia as Luciana, Colman Domingo as Victor Strand – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 8 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

The iffy in “Is Anybody Out There?”

  • Realistically speaking, the plane taking off amidst everything unfolding is questionable, but it’s fun and thrilling nonetheless. Everyone on this show should probably be dead several times over…but then we wouldn’t have a show.

Top performances in “Is Anybody Out There?”

  • Maggie Grace as Althea
  • Colman Domingo as Victor Strand
  • Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie
  • Jenna Elfman as June
  • Mo Collins as Sarah
  • Matt Frewer as Logan

Lingering thoughts and predictions

  • Morgan has his iconic staff back, but it is now broken. This is a fitting evolution of his signature weapon. It looks as though he will be training Alicia in the second half, so will she also be given a staff much like Benjamin and Henry were on “The Walking Dead”?
  • Alicia helping all of these children has to be a major win for her and as Strand notes, Madison would be extremely proud of her.
  • Strand and Althea really proved that they make an excellent piloting team. While more flying probably shouldn’t be in their future, it would be great to have more scenes of them together.
  • Luciana and Dylan have a really interesting bond, so hopefully we get to see that furthered in the second half. Luciana really needs a close friendship with someone.
  • John and Dwight continue to make a stellar pairing. Now that they have rejoined the group, it would be fascinating to see Dwight one-on-one with other characters such as Alicia and Daniel.
  • While badass, Wendell’s struggle with the walker is a bit concerning. Is it possible that he may have been bitten in the process?
  • Will the entire second half of the season be about the group trying to help others? Or will things devolve into a conflict with Logan’s crew? Probably both.
  • Who left that message on the tree? In the trailer for the second half of the season, another tree is seen, so will the group cross paths with whomever is leaving them?
  • “Fear the Walking Dead” was officially renewed for Season 6, set to air in 2020, so this series still has a ton of life left in it!

The Mid-Season Premiere of “Fear the Walking Dead” will air on Sunday, Aug. 11 at 9 p.m. on AMC, kicking off Season 5B. Be sure to tune in!

TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘Still Standing’

Spoiler Warning for Season 5, Episode 7 of “Fear the Walking Dead,” as well as all previous episodes of the series. Spoilers from “The Walking Dead” will also be discussed.

“Everything gets a return.”

Season 5 of “Fear the Walking Dead” started to drag a bit as the characters seemed to be stuck in a plot that was retreading old ground. Thankfully, this episode injects massive stakes and threat, pushing the story in some unexpected directions that will shake things up permanently.

Things are pretty bleak right now. Last episode began rather hopeful, but that’s pretty much upended as Alicia and the others venture into dangerous territory. We see Alicia stand ready to clear out the dead that Annie and her kids group put up as she tries once again to convince them to leave this area behind. She slices and dices walkers, but quickly gets lost in a maze of the dead. She becomes lost when she spots a walker she noticed before, but thankfully Dylan arrives and shows her the way to his camp. Annie is not happy to see Alicia when she shows up at the gate of their camp. She told Alicia to stay away and Alicia did not listen. Speaking of the kids’ camp…it is insanely impressive. It’s not clear if they built it themselves, but the kids live in this unique treehouse overlooking water. The impending nuclear meltdown puts the kids at even greater risk, and Alicia points that out, but Annie still just wants her group to be left alone. Alicia doesn’t want the kids to die, but Annie points out that this is more than just her wanting to help. It’s clear that Alicia is trying to make up for the things she did in the past. She’s hurt people. She’s killed people. Annie is relentlessly stubborn and she refuses to go with Alicia or even let her leave until the walker traps have been put back up.

Bailey Gavulic as Annie, Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 7 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

Meanwhile, Strand and Charlie deal with the aftermath of crashing the giant beer balloon in a field. They radio Morgan to let him know they survived the crash, but a number of walkers quickly enter the area and threaten their safety; some of these walkers are wearing dosimeters and Morgan warns them to stay away. Knowing they’re in grave danger, Morgan rushes to their location to help out. They need to get the propellers out of the area and to the truck stop, so Morgan states that he will find a vehicle first. June and Al prepare to come help, but Morgan states that they have to finish the plane otherwise nothing they do will matter. Grace is updated on the situation as she frantically works to get the generator working at the plant. She directs Morgan to a nearby neighborhood that the plant workers used to live, and tells him to get a vehicle from there. The quick thinking of Strand and Charlie help to buy a little time for Morgan to reach them, using the deflated balloon to rig a closed off area where they hide with the propellers. The walkers scratching and pushing against the balloon wall looks straight out of “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” Back at the truck stop, there’s a concerning bit of information revealed to Al, Luciana and June as they realize the plane’s fuel tank has been leaking and is now empty. Thankfully, Al knows where to go for aviation fuel because of her excursion in “The End of Everything.” There are so many moving pieces this episode and each storyline ties together because of the shared threats.

Morgan arrives at the neighborhood and the official name of the power plant is revealed to be “Lone Star Power & Light.” He finds a HAZMAT suit which absolutely comes in handy due to the fact that he’s currently in the contaminated area. He manages to stumble into a house that is revealed to be the home of Grace as seen in photos of her from before the apocalypse. It’s interesting to see pieces of her life from before everything fell apart, something that Morgan takes note of. He radios Alicia and receives an update from her about the kids, but she’s clearly feeling down about the situation. She states that Morgan should be there instead of her, but he strongly disagrees because “they’re both exactly where they’re supposed to be.” He hasn’t lost his faith in the mission and still believes that they’re going to be totally successful. At the hot air balloon crash site, Charlie worries that the walkers will get through, but Strand is just a full of optimism. He opens up to her about the fact that he hesitated when clearing the runway for the plane to take off, noting that he likely could have rejoined Al in the cockpit. He didn’t know if he believed in the mission fully, but now he’s fully committed. It’s a great moment of character development for someone who used to be entirely selfish. Suddenly, a truck pulls up and kills the walkers, sending blood across the yellow balloon tarp. Strand and Charlie step out of their makeshift shelter to discover Morgan in his HAZMAT suit, grateful to see their friend once again. There’s no time for happy reunions, because they are in the contaminated zone and are potentially being exposed to radiation just by being there.

Colman Domingo as Victor Strand, Alexa Nisenson as Charlie – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 7 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

June and Althea arrive at the bottom of the mountain that was previously climbed by Al and Isabelle. As seen in their standalone episode, there is a refueling station at the top of the mountain. As Al prepares to climb, John comes over the radio and June warns him that he and Dwight have to get back to the truck stop immediately because of the impending meltdown. John relays this information to Dwight and urges him to come back, but he can’t give up his search for Sherry. After Al successfully retrieves the fuel tanks, we see her take June’s offer to speak confidentially about what happened when she was missing. June swears herself to secrecy and Al tells her that she met someone and felt some very strong feelings toward her. She can never see or talk to Isabelle again, and that is weighing heavily on her. It is here that June explains that leaving John at his cabin made her feel lost, but she held onto the fact that she was able to love someone again in this world after everything she had been through. “Whoever she is, you will see her again,” June positively tells Al, something she truly needed to hear in this moment. Meanwhile, John decides to tell the truth to Dwight and hand over the letter Sherry left for him. As Dwight fondles his and Sherry’s rings, John approaches him and apologizes for withholding the letter. Sherry is alive. Dwight knows that. He points out that impossible things happened to John when he decided to help others, so Dwight decides that it is time to help John’s people. It’s a rather surprising turn of events as Dwight assures himself that he will continue the search for Sherry, even if she doesn’t necessarily want to be found.

Back at the treehouse camp, Annie speaks with Max while setting up the walker traps once again, wondering why Alicia keeps coming back for them. Max seems to want to go with her, but Annie is clearly the leader here. Suddenly, a ton of the walkers break free from their intestinal bounds and chase Annie and Max straight back to the encampment. In the meantime, Alicia snoops through Dylan’s belongings and finds photos of him with his family, along with a book of his drawings that get progressively more disturbing. He catches her and explains that he drew them when the world started to end. He drew the walker traps and Annie made them real so he wouldn’t be as afraid of them. There’s a great moment as Alicia points to her weapon that he’s holding and explains that she sharpened it after her mother died. It kept her safe from walkers, but it also kept people away from her, because she became increasingly dangerous. Their conversation is interrupted by Annie and Max returning and the walkers pounding on the camp’s gate. As the walkers prepare to break through, Alicia learns from the kids that they have no ammo. She tells the kids to find an alternate exit from their camp before leaving to slaughter the intruding walkers. In a badass montage, Alicia kills each and every walker that comes for her. Alicia is thrown to the ground by a gnarly walker that lunges for her. She manages to stab it in the head, but her weapon gets stuck and when she pulls it out, blood splatters all over her face and in her mouth. The sounds of walkers are muffled as Alicia discovers a dosimeter around the dead’s neck. With the kids successfully out of the treehouse, Alicia tells them to go without her.

Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark, Bailey Gavulic as Annie – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 7 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

At the plant, Grace becomes frustrated when discovering that the generator is not strong enough to keep the plant running. She tells Morgan this and states that she will join him at the truck stop once she’s done working. Morgan sees right through what she says and decides to send Strand and Charlie back to the truck stop alone to clean themselves up and help finish the plane. Grace is surprised when Morgan shows up at the plant in his HAZMAT gear, telling her that he won’t let her act like she’s dead yet. After leaving the plant, Grace and Morgan discuss the fact that he was exposed to an unknown amount of radiation. We get an excellent moment in which Morgan actually says Eastman’s name and relays the “all life is precious” lesson that was taught to him. Using what Eastman taught him about redirection, Morgan made Grace concerned for his life by essentially forcing her hand to leave the plant. Strand and Charlie arrive at the truck stop and reunite with Luciana, going to take decontaminating showers before inspecting the work done on the plane. Things take a pretty positive turn as the van full of kids arrive. Annie shares that Alicia was quite convincing in her mission to get them on the plane. In the woods, Alicia manages to get away from a herd of walkers and is able to find water to wash the blood off of her face. She’s overcome with emotion about being potentially exposed, but she doesn’t let Morgan hear it when he radios to check in on her. Morgan explains his realization that helping other people shouldn’t be their only mission here. They have to start living for themselves also. Alicia is in agreement…but she isn’t even sure if she will live to make it back to the plane. She’s forced to keep running as more walkers find her. As Morgan and Grace drive back to the truck stop, they are alerted to the sound of disaster. A siren at the power plant rings out, announcing the beginning of the nuclear meltdown. There’s no going back now. Things are about to become extremely deadly.

The good in “Still Standing”

  • Morgan finally speaks about Eastman and actually uses his name. It was disappointing to hear Morgan and Dwight previously refer to their time on “The Walking Dead” by dancing around saying names, so this seems to be changing.
  • Alicia being an absolute walker slaying queen is just perfection. She has been racking up her kill count this season and this episode has to solidify her as being one of the deadliest characters to walkers in the franchise.
  • Alicia’s emotion after being seemingly exposed is brutally realistic and packs a heavy punch.
  • The conversation between Al and June about opening oneself up to love being the key to maintaining humanity in this world is so on point and is great progression for both characters.
  • Strand’s admission to Charlie about his hesitation is also excellent development for his character.
  • The material between John and Dwight continues to be great, and this revelation about Sherry is a surprisingly hopeful turn.
  • Grace deciding to come around and join the group after seeing Morgan risk it all is a rewarding development for her character, as well as Morgan’s.
  • The same is true for the kids. Thank god they are finally past the stage of pushing people away.
  • The threat of the radiation and the impending meltdown is downright frightening. There’s no way to see it and there’s no way to fight it.
  • The musical score this episode really stands out, much like the previous episode.

Danay Garcia as Luciana, Jenna Elfman as June – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 7 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

The iffy in “Still Standing”

  • While it does pay off, the relentlessness of Morgan and Alicia to make sure Grace and the kids are on the plane really feels overly forced. That being said, it is great that they are successful in their mission.

The bad in “Still Standing”

  • Daniel being missing for this long is disappointing. He was missing for a whole season and finally returned…only to disappear again. Where did he go?

Top performances in “Still Standing”

  • Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark
  • Lennie James as Morgan Jones
  • Colman Domingo as Victor Strand
  • Jenna Elfman as June
  • Cooper Dodson as Dylan

Lingering thoughts and predictions

  • Morgan speaking to Grace about Eastman is so surreal. Hopefully, he decides to speak to other characters about his friends in Virginia.
  • The same goes for Dwight.
  • Alicia potentially being exposed to radiation isn’t necessarily a death sentence as the walker may not have actually been infected. If she was exposed, it’s possible that she will live a long life still, but could ultimately die from the effects of the radiation.
  • The same is true for Grace. We don’t know how much she was exposed and how it is affecting her.
  • Morgan was also exposed by being at the plant, but there’s just so many unknowns when it comes to radiation.
  • This episode and season itself has major “Chernobyl” vibes.
  • Strand continues to make up for his past crimes and this episode sees him admit that he isn’t perfect.
  • Dwight isn’t giving up on Sherry, but he seems to be shifting focus for the time being. Is it still possible that we will see her later down the line?
  • Dylan acknowledging that “The Little Prince” belonged to Charlie is a callback to Season 4 and Luciana trying to pull her away from the Vultures.
  • Dylan’s drawings of the walkers are quite reminiscent to those of Sam Anderson. Funnily enough, Cooper Dodson is the young brother of Sam’s actor, Major Dodson.

“Still Standing” gets the show back on track after the previous disappointing episode. It finally feels as though the story is picking up after retreading some old ground. There’s danger and suspense that doesn’t feel forced. With the Mid-Season Finale next episode, are we in danger of losing someone?

Be sure to tune into the Mid-Season Finale of “Fear the Walking Dead” this Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘The Little Prince’

Spoiler Warning for Season 5, Episode 6 of “Fear the Walking Dead,” as well as all previous episodes of the series. Spoilers from “The Walking Dead” will also be discussed.

“As impossible as all this seems, we can do this.”

After a massively strong start to Season 5, “Fear the Walking Dead” hits a roadblock in a dud of an episode that favors ridiculous gags and retreading of played out plots over progressive storytelling. It’s not to say that this episode is bad, but the antics give the feel that the series is spinning its wheels and not progressing, forcing mistakes and conflict.

The episode begins with quite a positive tone that really makes it seem like the story is about to progress forward. The children are brought back to the truck stop and watch a movie, something that is a rarity in this world; just ask Ozzy and the Highwaymen from “The Walking Dead.” Dylan reads the copy of “The Little Prince,” while Max is stunned to see Annie has cleaned herself up and looks completely different thanks to the hot water. Morgan radios to check in and calls the kids outside to see their plan for getting out of the area. The various members of the group arrive with pieces of the crashed plane, including the fuselage, on the backs of trucks. Morgan speaks to everyone about how difficult it was for the group to get here, but they did so because they had a mission and a reason to fight. This new mission they have is to fix the plane and fly back across the mountains to their old stomping grounds…together. It’s a bold and ambitious plan, but everyone seems to agree to it. After rallying the troops, Morgan takes a moment to try and convince Grace to rethink her current plans and join the group’s effort to leave this area. Grace does hear the message, but doesn’t respond and instead ventures into the radioactive zone wearing her HAZMAT suit. We see Morgan practicing with his makeshift staff, but it just isn’t working for him. Alicia finds him trying to break off the wooden part of a mop to make a new staff, giggling at his struggle. This season has focused heavily on the Alicia and Morgan dynamic and it’s great to see a light-hearted moment between the two. It’s also great that Morgan hasn’t forgotten about his signature staff, something that has been part of his character for so long and represents so much.

Jenna Elfman as June, Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

Outside, the kids are hard at work with Althea in repairing the plane. Dylan wonders if it will work and Luciana points out that it was his idea, inspired by the plot of “The Little Prince.” Both Luciana and Dylan are extremely hopeful, but it’s clear from Al that there are several gaps in her knowledge of plane. Therefore, the group radios their friends across the mountain to get input from Sarah with Charlie acting as the communicator. Sarah is hard at work removing some of the “jerky man jerky” from the engines of Daniel’s plane and Charlie relays that it may be a little while before Sarah can help. Annie is concerned when she sees Dylan speaking with Charlie over the radio, and reminds him that they are only helping out with the plane and aren’t going to be flying back. June takes note of what Annie says and asks to take a look at her injured ankle. We see June bond with Annie over the fact that they both have run from their problems, even making a joke about it. There’s a great throwback that June makes as she references John’s survival rule about having good and clean socks. This was first pointed out by John to Morgan in “What’s Your Story?” John lets June know that he and Dwight are headed out to search for Sherry some more, and June tells Dwight to keep John out of trouble, a fun acknowledgement of their friendship. Back at the plane, Al tests the engines and everyone is overjoyed to see them working, but suddenly, one of the propellers is sent flying. This is massively disappointing as Al questions where they will be able to find another propeller. Things take an even more hopeless turn as Grace radios Morgan and Alicia asking if they have a generator at the truck stop. The level of danger raises as Grace explains that the generator is needed, otherwise the nuclear plant will have another meltdown.

This episode features quite a surprising turn of events in Dwight’s search for Sherry. While out scouring the area, the two stop to siphon fuel and John explains that he hit dead end after dead end while trying to find June, but once he linked up with the group back at the truck stop, everything fell into place. John asks Dwight how he and Sherry got split up, and while initially hesitant to say anything, the answer given is that “it’s complicated.” Trying to keep the hope alive, John shows Dwight the Scrabble pieces that June laid out for him declaring her love before she ran from him in “Laura.” Dwight admires that John has been able to hold onto his humanity and hasn’t been “burned” by this world. We do hear John refer back to his difficult time prior to the apocalypse as he states that things have gotten better since meeting his new friends. Inside a restaurant, Dwight finds the body of a man he saw once before and who seems to have been the victim of an armed robbery. Dancing around saying any specific names, Dwight tells John that Sherry had to give up her ring to save him. This is a direct reference to her deciding to become one of Negan’s wives in exchange for Dwight’s life being spared after they returned to the Sanctuary following their escape attempt. We also hear Dwight tell the story of how Daryl exiled him after the war and ordered him to go find his wife. This is because Daryl knew just how much Dwight loved Sherry, and was able to look past the bad things he had done. When Dwight finishes up his story, John locates a note from Sherry on an order slip, thus linking her directly to this location. The note from Sherry alerts him to the fact that she is switching to traveling on county roads. They eventually make their way to a house, where they find a car matching the registration that Sherry left a note on. While Dwight is searching the house, John find a note from her in the car…and it’s not exactly what anyone was expecting to hear. John reads the note, and in it, Sherry explains that she wants him to stop following her and start living for himself. She won’t be leaving any more notes for him and will be leaving the immediate area. Dwight is over the moon when he finds food and other supplies in the house, leading him to believe that this is where she is currently staying. John just doesn’t have the heart to reveal the contents of the note to him. Dwight is happy for once…but when will he find out the truth?

Austin Amelio as Dwight, Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

Via walkie talkie, Grace explains to Alicia that the cooling system of the nuclear reactor has failed and that is why the generator is needed to keep the fuel from overheating. This is only but a temporary fix and Grace warns that the group needs to fix the plane and get away from the area immediately. Just before the generator is unplugged and the truck stop loses power, Luciana radios Strand and lets him know that they are going dark. He remains positive that they will find a a way to get her and everyone else back. This optimism is really just for show as Strand slowly loses hope as he looks over a map of the area with Charlie and Sarah, searching for airports and airstrips that could house a plane. Sarah notes that both splits of the group have the necessary pieces to get the crashed plane back in the air, but it’s just a matter of putting them all together. Grabbing a beer, Strand looks at a magazine cover of Jim and claims that he had the right idea of “self-sacrifice.” Sarah calls out his hopelessness and notes that Jim still made the ultimate sacrifice to save the group by jumping from the hospital in Austin even though he wanted to just give up. Charlie stares at the magazine cover and lights up when she discovers something that Sarah and Wendell may have missed when they gathered supplies from Jim’s brewery. Back at the truck stop, Al continues working in the plane cockpit and June arrives to help out and provide company. Feeling guilty, Al expresses the fact that if she could have stopped the helicopter, the group could be headed back by now. June notes that this is a strange thing for her to say and questions if something happened during her 72 hours being MIA. There’s a really great callback to “People Like Us” as June explains that she asked to speak with Al “off the record” to open up about her relationship with John and her concern of how he viewed her. June offers Al the same thing if she wishes to talk about what she went through. This is an excellent moment for the pair’s friendship that has been slyly developed these past two seasons.

The story starts to retread old ground as once again, Annie starts rallying her siblings to leave the group and go be on their own. She is spooked by Morgan leaving with Grace, but Alicia and Luciana argue that they will be successful in getting the plane to fly; both Dylan and Max agree, but Annie is having none of it. Later, Alicia finds Annie stocking up on food and other supplies, and she asks once more why she isn’t willing to stay. We hear the story of the downfall of Camp Cackleberry, a place that was once perfect, but was eventually overrun by supply runners not being careful enough on their return. Walkers were drawn to the camp, and they just so happened to be the ones infected with radiation. The parents sent the children into the woods behind the camp and stayed behind to kill the walkers, something they were successful at. Unfortunately, they were exposed in the process and died, the aftermath of which was seen in “The Hurt That Will Happen.” Alicia speaks to her from a place of understanding, stating that she remembers the last words her mother said to her everyday; “No one’s gone until they’re gone.” She tells Annie that she understands where she is coming from, but should still make sure she’s doing what her parents would have wanted. Morgan and Grace arrive at the roadblocks marking the perimeter of the radiation zone. Grace explains that they’ll have to suit up to enter the zone and access the plant. In the back of Grace’s truck, Morgan finds his staff wrapped in plastic and holds it, explaining that the man who taught him to use it also showed him that death isn’t the only the avenue in this world. Morgan believes that Grace is “stuck,” much like Eastman thought Morgan to be stuck in his killing ways. Grace still wholly believes that she must be the one to stop the meltdown, revealing that there isn’t another suit and that she will be entering the contaminated area alone. She points out that Morgan is on a mission to make up for the things he did in the past, and she is doing the same. She’s not at all willing to let Morgan die for her.

Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Karen David as Grace – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

The ending of the episode is really the worst part as we hear Strand’s voice come over the radio, surprising Alicia and Luciana. Strand explains that they found a way to reach the truck stop and are bringing with them propellers for the plane they’re repairing. Flying over the mountain is a hot air balloon in the shape of an Augie’s Ale beer bottle. Alicia, Luciana, June and Al look up and are blown away by this feat, as does Morgan. Alicia goes to collect the kids so they can see this, hopefully to inspire them, but they’re nowhere to be found. Once again and rather than letting them go, Alicia runs away in search of the runaway children. Because things can’t just go right and there has to be more problems that arise, the balloon runs short on fuel and Strand has to begin lowering it, unable to land at the truck stop as planned. From the sky, Strand and Charlie can see the nuclear power plants and Morgan warns them from landing nearby as the area is contaminated. The balloon crash lands in a field and both Strand and Charlie are uninjured, but the crash draws several walkers to their location. Morgan warns them not to kill the walkers and announces that he is headed to come help them. The walkers approaching them have the dosimeters around their necks, creating an additional layer of danger. Rather than running away from the scene, Strand and Charlie stand and just watch the walkers as the episode cuts to black. While it isn’t ridiculous that a hot air balloon is used, it simply just feels out of place to have a giant beer bottle floating through the air on a show that maintains a mostly serious tone. This type of gag is something you would expect from a show like “Z Nation,” and not “Fear the Walking Dead.” Whatever the case may be, Jim helped the group from beyond the grave, but also put them in more danger.

The good in “The Little Prince”

  • The musical score of this episode is top notch, particularly in the opening and closing scenes. There haven’t been as many incredible uses of score in Seasons 4 and 5 like there were in the first three seasons, so hopefully it is making a comeback.
  • John and Dwight make an excellent pairing, and they have a dynamic that really serves to develop both characters in interesting ways. John lying to Dwight is a surprising move from a usually moral character, but it shows how far he is willing to go to keep Dwight’s spirits up.
  • June and Al also have a great dynamic that is highlighted this episode.
  • Morgan and Alicia continue to be the most fascinating friendship on the show, and it’s really rewarding to see them both smile and laugh a bit.
  • The dramatic turn from hope at the beginning to disaster at the end shows just how rapidly things can fall apart in this series.
  • This is an excellent episode for Sarah’s development. A character who was largely selfish in her initial few episodes is now an advocate for the group and is rallying Strand to keep a positive attitude. She’s being given dramatic work to balance out with the comedy.
  • Alicia’s past serving as a way to try and help Annie with her current struggles shows excellent growth in her character.
  • The threat of the nuclear meltdown is a unique and interesting way to make the area the characters are in a place of enhanced danger.

The iffy in “The Little Prince”

  • Dwight and Morgan referring to events and characters of the “The Walking Dead,” such as Eastman, Negan and Daryl is great, but them not naming the characters makes the writing feel odd. It’s almost as if they are dancing around saying specific names to avoid spoiling viewers who haven’t watched the original series.
  • While creative and unique, the hot air balloon sequence feels so cartoony and out of place in the usually serious tone of the franchise.

Alexa Nisenson as Charlie – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

The bad in “The Little Prince”

  • The drama with Annie and the kids is a complete retreading of old ground. The mission of the group is understandable and valiant, but continually chasing the children who do not want to be helped is getting extremely old.
  • The CGI during the hot air balloon scenes does not match the usually high quality of the series. It is incredibly reminiscent to the downright terrible CGI deer in “TWD’s” “Say Yes” and the junkyard shots in “New Best Friends.”
  • The hot air balloon crashing feels like such forced danger to create more tension. There’s enough going on in the story at the moment and this just complicates things in a way that feels unnatural. Why did Strand and Charlie not assure the balloon had enough fuel to get them where they needed to go?
  • The plot with Logan is at a complete standstill and there is has been no real mention of him or the factory since the Season Premiere.
  • Why exactly can’t the characters leave the area they are trapped in? They have stated that the roads are blocked and there is a mountain separating them from the factory, but if they are that desperate, why not travel off roads? Also, how did Dwight get into the area? How did Sherry? This is such an important part of the plot, but it isn’t explained well at all.

Top performances in “The Little Prince”

  • Bailey Gavulic as Annie
  • Lennie James as Morgan Jones
  • Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark
  • Danay Garcia as Luciana Galvez
  • Mo Collins as Sarah
  • Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie
  • Austin Amelio as Dwight
  • Cooper Dodson as Dylan

Lingering thoughts and predictions

  • Will Morgan ever be able to have his staff back? In the key art for the second half of the season that was released ahead of San Diego Comic Con, Morgan is shown holding his staff, so he could get it back.
  • Alicia really could make for a great mentor to Annie just as Morgan is a mentor of sorts for her.
  • Althea may just open up to June about her experience with Isabelle. What will happen if Al does reveal what happened?
  • John keeping the note from Dwight places him in an awkward situation. What will happen if Dwight finds out?
  • If Grace is successful in stopping the nuclear meltdown, will she end up joining the group? She’s part of the main cast, but that doesn’t guarantee one’s survival through a single season.
  • With the Mid-Season Finale quickly approaching, will the group manage to get the plane working and fly back? Will everyone be able to fit on board? If they do escape the area, what will the plot of the second half of the season be?

“The Little Prince” is the weakest episode of the season. In many ways, it feels similar to the episodes of Season 4B, which is the most scattered and flat run of the series. This season has been a step in the right direction overall, so hopefully this is just a slight misstep.

Be sure to tune into “Fear the Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘The End of Everything’

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.

Maggie Grace as Althea – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

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.

Sydney Lemmon as Soldier/Isabelle – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

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.

Sydney Lemmon as Soldier/Isabelle, Maggie Grace as Althea – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

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.

Maggie Grace as Althea, Sydney Lemmon as Soldier/Isabelle – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

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.

TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘Skidmark’

Spoiler Warning for Season 5, Episode 4 of “Fear the Walking Dead,” as well as all previous episodes of the series. Spoilers from “The Walking Dead” will also be discussed.

“Everyday brings a chance to start over…to get it right.”

Season 5 of “Fear the Walking Dead” is doing so much to tie it to the main series and also the larger expanding universe. The latest episode does just that while also delivering some excellent character moments that tie back to the original seasons. This is another strong addition to a rejuvenated season of the series.

Bringing Daniel Salazar back after being missing for a season was a smart move. Bringing Daniel Salazar back WITH a cat is an even smarter move. The opening of this episode follows Daniel going about his daily routine alongside Skidmark the cat, scavenging for supplies. It’s important to point out that Daniel is keeping track of the days with a calendar. While it may not be 100% accurate, his calendar is set to Oct. 12. Skidmark acts as a distraction while Daniel takes down several walkers nearby. On this particular day, the two are visiting a supermarket, which has a machine gun rigged to go off and kill anyone who tries to enter through the front door. Daniel has clearly seen this before and manages to set off the trap without being shot himself. With an impressive stock of supplies, Daniel returns home, burns the day’s calendar page and cooks himself and Skidmark a meal over the flame. The two eat together as music plays, hinting that while they have built a life together here at this warehouse, there is some loneliness. That lonely feeling doesn’t last for long as Daniel’s home receives a visit from some unwelcome guests. Charlie sneaks into the compound in search of the plane. Outside, Sarah worries that Daniel will catch her, but Strand assures her that this is what Charlie does, noting that she was at the Stadium for weeks before it was realized what she was actually up to. Charlie’s cover is threatened to be blown as Skidmark begins following her around, prompting her to hide in the back of an SUV. Daniel loads up the SUV with his weapons and prepares to depart, leaving Charlie to let Strand and the others know that she is unintentionally leaving with him.

Alexa Nisenson as Charlie – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

“Not my color, or my style,” Strand states upon seeing Daniel’s plane for the first time. This is a direct throwback to him saying the opposite thing in Season 3’s “The New Frontier” after being gifted a fancy car from Illene Stowe to leave the Rosarito Beach Hotel in. Victor is a man with exquisite taste. Upon investigating the cockpit, Strand finds that the navigation instruments have been removed. There’s also a note from Daniel, telling him that he already said no and directing him to a radio channel. Strand demands to know where Daniel is, and Salazar explains that he isn’t at the warehouse, but reminds him of the promise he made. Wendell questions if he and Sarah are in danger of being shot in the head by Daniel also. There’s a great moment in which Sarah speaks to Daniel over the radio and asks for the plane also, but Daniel tells her to stay away from Victor, because all he does is hurt people. Knowing Daniel, it is no surprise at all when he reveals that he is aware of Charlie being in the trunk of his vehicle. Talk about an awkward first meeting. Daniel is in no way going to hurt Charlie. Instead, he claims that he is going to save her from Strand. After hearing Daniel’s words, Strand slips into a hopeless place. Thankfully, Sarah is here to try and talk him out of it, noting that they will get Charlie back and they will get their other friends back on the plane. The three decide to search the warehouse in an attempt to find the navigation instruments hidden. In the car, Charlie looks at Daniel’s map and asks if he is the one who has been setting the traps. She also explains that Strand isn’t to blame for the mission she is on, and that she made the decision to sneak into his compound by herself. Trying to tune out Charlie’s questions, Daniel turns on his music and the two have a surprising bond over the music choice. This makes Daniel actually smile, a rarity for his character.

Back at the truck stop, Luciana brings Dylan a cup of ramen noodles and finds him looking at the copy of “The Little Prince.” She explains that he can read it and that she gave it to someone, and that it helped both her and that person, referring to Charlie. Morgan tries to radio John, but he notes that he, June and Dwight are still out of range on a search for Sherry. Alicia is eager to go out and search beyond the roadblocks for Althea, but Dylan interrupts and states that she isn’t where they think she might be. Apparently, Dylan and his siblings saw the people who allegedly took Al and Morgan asks him to point on a map where they saw them. Morgan and Alicia head out to the spot that Dylan marked while Luciana and Dylan hang back and plan to repair the radio transmitter to get back in contact with Strand. While inspecting the downed transmitter, Luciana is asked about “The Little Prince” by Dylan. She explains the plot to him, which mirrors the story of our characters this season. Dylan goes inside to retrieve some electrical tape for Luciana, but instead radios his brother and receives an update about the roadblocks. Max believes that Morgan’s crew took down one of their roadblocks, but Dylan explains that they haven’t been to that specific area. Annie and Max are terrified when they spot the mysterious soldier wearing the bizarre black uniform that was first seen in the Season 5 Premiere. They hide in bushes, but Dylan’s voice over the radio makes the soldier turn around. Luciana walks in on Dylan speaking over the radio, but doesn’t mention it.

Bailey Gavulic as Annie, Ethan Suess as Max – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

Daniel pulls up to a grocery store that is filled with walkers. He and Skidmark get out to investigate, but he tells Charlie to stay inside. Inside, another elaborate trap awaits Salazar, but Charlie ignores his direction and provides advice on how to set off the gun. She notes that she used to do stuff like this in the past and has a lot of experience. It is explained that Daniel inherited the warehouse from the person who set up all of these traps. Some of his dialogue suggests to Charlie that Daniel is feeling lonely and she turns it around by pointing out that he is turning away someone who is asking for his help. Around back, Daniel uses his knife to try and pry the door open. Skidmark seems to have other plans for the supply run as he riles up the walkers at the front windows, causing one to knock into the gun and set it off. The windows break and walkers pour out, forcing Charlie and Daniel to flee back to the car and drive away. There’s an unsaid reference to the events of Season 3 as Daniel explains that the herd of walkers that is building behind them can’t be ignored because it may hurt someone. In “Brother’s Keeper,” Troy steered a herd straight to the Broke Jaw Ranch, which resulted in Ofelia being bitten and later dying. The plan here is to lead the herd back to the warehouse, where they will pick off the walkers one by one. Charlie radios her friends at the warehouse to let them know that she and Daniel are okay and that they have the navigation instruments. Daniel warns them of the approaching herd and orders them to make sure the gates are closed, but Sarah pipes in to let him know that she drove through the gates to get the plane out of the compound. Daniel has a change of heart hearing this news and decides to put Charlie in the driver’s seat so that she can return to the warehouse with the instruments for her group to fly off with the plane. While she does that, he will lead the herd away with his music…just like what she used to do with the Vultures.

Upon making it back to the warehouse, Charlie shows Strand the instruments, prompting him to radio Daniel and apologize for trying to kill him at the Dam. This runs so much deeper than what went down at the Dam. This is about the fact that Strand kept Daniel from being able to reach Ofelia due to his lies that only served to benefit himself. It is here that Strand tells Charlie, Sarah and Wendell about how Daniel was separated from Ofelia at the Baja mansion in “Shiva,” only to be led on a fake mission to reconnect with her at the Rosarito Beach Hotel in “Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame.” Strand lied about Ofelia being at the hotel, which prevented Daniel from actually being able to search for her elsewhere. When he finally had the opportunity to reunite with his daughter, Ofelia succumbed to her bite wound just seconds before Daniel arrived at El Bazar in “El Matadero.” As a result of all of this, Daniel was not able to tell Ofelia what he wanted her to know before she died. Hearing all of this makes Charlie realize that Daniel is someone who needs help, which is the whole mission of the group right now. While driving, Strand radios Daniel and sincerely apologizes for Ofelia before Sarah enters the conversation and alerts Daniel to the fact that her brother is about to “bring down the hammer.” Daniel is confused, but the SWAT van comes barreling down the highway. Sarah tells Daniel to stand beside the truck and Wendell pulls the lever, but the guns don’t fire. Because of the malfunction, Daniel is forced to crawl under the SWAT truck as Strand and Charlie arrive in the truck carrying the plane. In a feat of insane walker slaying, Strand enters the plane and draws the walkers to the propellors, which slice and dice until there’s nothing left. Blood flings everywhere in one of the most creative walker-killing gags seen in quite some time. When all is said and done, Daniel ends his beef with Strand by stating “I’m not going to shoot you in the face.” That’s as much forgiveness from Daniel as you’re gonna get.

Alexa Nisenson as Charlie, Colman Domingo as Victor Strand, Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar, Mo Collins as Sarah – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

The game-changing information Grace provided about the radiation in “The Hurt That Will Happen” forces Morgan and the others to be extra cautious around walkers. Coming across a walker under a birdcage, Morgan checks for a dosimeter before plunging his new staff into the head. Morgan radios Luciana and lets her know that there is no camp at the location Dylan pointed them to. Dylan grabs hold of the radio and decides to reveal to Morgan and the others that Max and Annie are actually alive, and that they lied to try and scare the group away. Back at the roadblock, Annie and Max decide to venture out of their hiding place, but the entrails holding the dead together aren’t as strong as they thought and a walker lunges for Annie. Max manages to pull her away, but her ankle is twisted and they struggle to get away. The two struggle to escape from the quickly approaching walkers, but Morgan and Alicia arrive to save them from being devoured. Letting the Annie and Max know that Dylan told them the truth, Morgan and Alicia demand answers. Suddenly, an army of children armed with guns emerge from the trees and surround our heroes. The siblings are part of a larger group, which helps to explain how they were able to set up all of the roadblocks. Morgan manages to figure out that the contaminated bodies found at Camp Cackleberry were the parents of these kids. Max provides some information about the mysterious group that took Al, stating that they saw them a few week prior and that they are aware of two soldiers. There is a phenomenal conversation where Morgan opens up to Alicia about his past, telling her the story of him not being able to put down his walker wife Jenny thus leading to his son Duane being bitten and dying. Suddenly, Max yells for everyone to hit the ground as a rush of wind blows in the area. In the sky is a helicopter with the tri-circular symbol that now links the two shows. Rick…is that you?

The good in “Skidmark”

  • Seeing Daniel and Skidmark’s daily life is so fascinating. He’s very much a loner character and his lifestyle with Skidmark parallels that of Daryl Dixon and Dog at the swamp in Season 9.
  • Morgan, Luciana and Alicia’s gentle touch with Dylan really shows just how much they care. They genuinely want the make life better for him and anyone else they can help. That’s the whole theme of the season.
  • Victor showing immense growth is excellent for his character development. His relationship with Daniel is extremely complicated, but this episode shows that they are working on improving things. Having the two reference their past and Ofelia really just ties things together.
  • Daniel and Charlie’s friendship is great for both characters and serves as a unlikely but fitting pairing.
  • Charlie’s references to her past with the Vultures are also serve to show how much she has grown as a character.
  • Sarah and Wendell continue to be entertaining comedic characters who help to add levity to the story.
  • Morgan directly mentioning Jenny and Duane to Alicia further serves to bond them and tie his story between the two shows. It’s good that this major part of his life is not being pushed to the side. It’s part of him here on “Fear” just as it was on “TWD.”
  • The continuing mystery of the helicopter group just add so much intrigue and fear to the tone of the story.

Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark, Danay Garcia as Luciana, Cooper Dodson as Dylan – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

The iffy in “Skidmark”

  • Luciana, who is injured, and Dylan, who is a child, being left alone when there are many threats out is another odd decision. That being said, it does allow for the two to strike up a friendship.
  • The plane being sacrificed just to kill a handful of walkers is irritating…because planes are hard to come by. To be perfectly honest, Strand, Charlie, Daniel, Sarah and Wendell could have taken these walkers with their weapons, but this walker gag was epic to see regardless.

Top performances in “Skidmark”

  • Colman Domingo as Victor Strand
  • Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar
  • Alexa Nisenson as Charlie
  • Lennie James as Morgan Jones
  • Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark
  • Danay García as Luciana Galvez

Lingering thoughts and predictions

  • Daniel leaves the warehouse to go take care of something. What exactly is he going to do? Hopefully he isn’t gone too long especially since we JUST got him back.
  • Daniel shows off a cigar that he received from a “friend” for when times get better. It is very much possible that this cigar belonged to Abraham Ford, who was a known cigar smoker. Based on the timeline, it is very possible that Daniel met Abraham at some point after the destruction of the Dam. Also, last season, Al’s tapes hinted that she met and interviewed Abraham and Eugene, so it is reasonable to believe that they also met Daniel. If Daniel and Abraham did know each other, it might be up to Morgan to explain exactly what happened to him at the hands of Negan.
  • The mysterious helicopter group is called the CRM Organization, although that name hasn’t been used in the show officially. It isn’t clear if the helicopter from the end of the episode is the exact one that Rick and Jadis/Anne flew away on in “What Comes After.”
  • One of Grace’s bird boxes was seen this episode, but she has been missing since “The Hurt That Will Happen Here.” Karen David is a series regular this season, so she will undoubtedly appear again…but when?
  • Althea has been missing since the Season Premiere, but will return in the next episode. Was she onboard the helicopter or did she escape?

Be sure to tune into “Fear the Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC. 

TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘Humbug’s Gulch’

Spoiler Warning for Season 5, Episode 3 of “Fear the Walking Dead,” as well as all previous episodes of the series. Spoilers from “The Walking Dead” will also be discussed.

“Even when we get shot at, the wind blows us right where we need to be.”

Worlds have collided yet again on “Fear the Walking Dead” as another main character has officially crossed over from the flagship series. The latest episode finds the crew struggling to fulfill their mission only to cross paths with Dwight, who is on his very own mission. This strong episode does have a lot going for it, but there are also some blunders.

It isn’t easy to help people. The first three episodes have bluntly established that. There have been so many metaphorical and literal roadblocks keeping our group from achieving their goal. The opening scene shows the various members of the team mapping the roadblocks and killing the walkers the stand in their way. They figure out that the walker roadblocks have created some sort of perimeter, but it isn’t clear to them what or who is meant to be kept in or out. John and June drive to an area in search of more roadblocks, but lose their reception and must press forward without communication. Upon reaching one of the roadblocks, gunfire rings out and John and June must speed through into the unknown territory. A sign for Humbug’s Gulch gives John some peace of mind and he plots their destination. They arrive in a town that is straight out of Wild West films, complete with storefronts, fake horses and even tumbleweeds. This is the old stomping ground of John, a place he mentioned working at prior to the apocalypse in “Laura.” This wasn’t the exact location that John worked at, but rather one of many that we’re spread out all over Texas. John leads June into one of the buildings and they ransack the dressing and prop room for supplies. June demonstrates some impressive lock-picking skills to break into the closet containing the weapons and ammo. Thankfully, there’s a ton left for them to restock. A dust storm rolls into the area, and the two become worried for their safety as the wind wrecks havoc outside. Walkers are blown around and the visibility is extremely low. June suggests that they wait and ride it out inside the saloon building they’re in, but John thinks they should take their chances in the car. Finding a flier for Humbug’s Gulch, June asks John what his role in the reenactments was; good guy or bad guy? John explains that his main area was simply trick shooting demonstrations. They ultimately decide to head out into the storm, covered to protect themselves from the flying dirt and debris. While approaching their van, shots ring out and a standoff takes place. John warns the shooter against firing shots as the sound is drawing the dead, but shots keep ringing out. The tires of the van are punctured, but John gets off a shot at the assailant’s arm. John emerges from his hiding spot, believing he has killed or severely injured the shooter. In the middle of town, a gun is pointed at his head, revealing none other than Dwight (Austin Amelio) from “The Walking Dead” to be on the other end of the trigger. “Where is she?,” Dwight demands an answer from a confused John. The butt of June’s gun slams into the back of Dwight’s head, knocking him unconscious and calming an extremely tense situation before things get ugly. “Thank you, Junebug,” John says to the love of his life in the most swoon-worthy way.

Jenna Elfman as June, Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

John and June aren’t dumb. They know Dwight is a clear threat, but still make the decision to save him. June treats his gunshot wound while John looks through his things. He finds several notes with an infinity symbol on them, deducing that he has been looking for this woman for quite a long time. John points out the burn on Dwight’s face and wonders if it is from before the apocalypse, but June states that it most certainly isn’t. This is someone for them to help, which is the whole reason they’re out here to begin with. Dwight comes to and lambastes John for looking through his belongings and June for treating him. Dwight states that they cannot help him and that “this whole place is screwed.” As John and June barricade the front doors, Dwight points out that he has a car nearby that they can take. John ultimately decides to free Dwight from his bounds, explaining that him being separated from June also made him do some bad things. One of those things is shoot a man’s finger’s off, a callback to the Season 4 Premiere when he first met Morgan. Finding June was what kept John from slipping into a darker place, and he proposes that they all work together to help get out of this saloon and go find who Dwight is looking for. Dwight decides to tell John and June that he is looking for his wife Sherry (Christine Evangelista) and he also introduces himself by name. For the first time in a long time (maybe even ever), we actually see Dwight smile while interacting with John and June. It’s the start of what will hopefully be a very strong friendship. The trio have a pretty ingenius way of getting themselves out of the saloon. A self-playing piano distracts the walkers and pulls them into the saloon while June, John and Dwight exit through an upstairs window and walk along the overhead paneling. Dwight jumps to the ground when he realizes the weight of all three won’t be supported, but his gunshot wound causes him to struggle to get back on his feet. John jumps down after him as June snipes walkers from above. Dwight runs out of ammo and find an axe that he uses to kill walkers as June makes her way to the ground and positions herself at Dwight’s car to snipe more walkers. As John runs to the car, Dwight turns around and makes his way to the van that John and June arrived in. Once inside, he frantically searches through all of the pieces of paper as walkers surround the vehicle. He doesn’t find what he’s looking for…and just like that, he’s trapped.

Some crucial backstory about Dwight’s journey to Texas is given as he explains that Sherry has been leaving notes for him, but he has been several steps behind her. On the note is an infinity symbol, something that has been a recurring symbol of their relationship. The reason he was drawn to the van is because the last note he found from Sherry was on the car registration of this vehicle. Dwight has been traveling and looking for Sherry for nearly a year now, and he has been searching for this specific car for months, so he needs answers. John and June are hesitant to tell him where they found the van…because the answer isn’t great. They found the van at Camp Cackleberry, but there was no one alive there. Also, the people that were there died from exposure to radiation, so if she was there, she is likely dead now. Things take an exceptionally dark turn as Dwight glances down at the pistol in the passenger seat next to him. Both John and June believe fully that Sherry is still alive and that they will find her. The fact that they found each other is proof that miraculous reunions can happen in this world. A major highlight of the episode comes as June speaks to Dwight personally over the radio, linking their stories together. She understands that he doesn’t believe he deserves to find Sherry again, and Dwight explains that he has done absolutely terrible things. Even now, Dwight was fully prepared to kill John and June just to potentially get a small bit of information related to Sherry. June did the exact same thing that Dwight is doing now in the sense of distancing oneself. June’s backstory at the FEMA shelter was given in “Just in Case,” and it served to explain why she kept trying to run away from John and the others later down the line. June’s words manage to talk Dwight out of committing suicide, giving him a glimmer of hope.

Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark, Danay Garcia as Luciana – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

Meanwhile, Alicia and Luciana stop to decide their next course of action. Alicia apologizes for all that Luciana has had to go through with this injury, especially considering the fact they haven’t been able to help yet. Luciana doesn’t see things as being negative, but rather as a sign that they are still on the right path. While tuning the radio, some scattered voices come over the radio. It’s Annie and Dylan talking about finding supplies near a firework stand. Alicia pleads with them to give up their location so they can be helped, but Annie is afraid that people are listening. Having somewhat of a location of where the kids might be, Alicia jumps into action even as Morgan warns her to be careful. Suddenly, the car she and Luciana are driving spins out and crashes off the road after hitting spikes that have been placed. Morgan decides to head where they are, but Alicia decides that she and Luciana should keep walking forward to find the kids before it’s too late. Morgan ultimately catches up to Alicia and Luciana, even though the spikes were ridiculously left back in the road and not moved by our people. There is yet another incredible character driven moment as Morgan urges Alicia to speak to the kids over the radio. “I lost my mom…and my brother,” Alicia tells the kids, trying to connect with them in a way they can relate. She points out that she can understand what they’re going through because she is going through the exact same thing right now. She wants them to know they don’t have to go through all of this alone, something that brings a smile to Morgan’s face. He’s been through all of this. She offers to help them yet again, but there is no immediate response. Still, this is something Alicia needed to get off her chest, and the kids could have only heard it from her. Thankfully, the losses of Madison and Nick are still being referred to and are a massive driving point for Alicia’s character. It’s also important that she is actually being allowed to mourn instead of these deaths being brushed to the side.

Back at Humbug’s Gulch, a true Wild West scene plays out as John and June exit their vehicle and kick off a killing spree to take down the walkers that have Dwight trapped. Using their expert skills, the love birds manage to clear the area so Dwight can escape and assist in the clearing. Dwight’s wound cause him to stumble and fall, resulting in a rather strange scene where two walkers cause a panic for John and June. Rather than simply rushing to kill them with knives, an elaborate stunt is concocted. John yells at Dwight to raise his axe before shooting directly at it, causing the bullet to split in half and kill both walkers with the fragments. “That’s the San Antonio split,” John proudly comments on his ridiculously unrealistic, yet still epic walker kill. After night falls, John discovers that the registration for the van does not match the one that Sherry left her note on and therefore she did not drive it. He tells Dwight this information and also shares that he used to be a cop so his training still comes in handy. There’s yet another touching moment between John and June that solidifies just how important their relationship is to one another. John has been feeling guilty about his luck with June, but he has come to learn that doing so only takes away from what they have. Morgan, Alicia and Luciana arrive, leading to a highly anticipated reunion. Dwight emerges from the shadows, stunned to see Morgan. “We come from the same place,” Morgan tells his new friends, completely shocked to see someone from his past. The last time they saw one another (at least on screen) was the final battle of All Out War in “Wrath.” Dwight tries to explain his actions, but Morgan states that this isn’t the time and that he knows how things ended for him. Alicia asks if Dwight knows anything about the roadblocks, and he shows them some that he found. Suddenly, Max’s voice comes over the radio telling Alicia that he and his siblings are on their way to the truck stop. Alicia tells him that they are headed there also, but while traveling, they come across the van the kids were driving and it is covered in walker entrails. Inside, they find Dylan covered in blood and in shock. Cut to Annie and Max, who are revealed to be in an elaborate ploy to trick the crew. They’re setting up a walker roadblock and are using Dylan as a mole. You really can’t ever trust the children.

Austin Amelio as Dwight, Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie, Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark, Lennie James as Morgan, Danay Garcia as Luciana Galvez – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

The good in “Humbug’s Gulch”

  • Dwight’s return to the franchise just feels right. Him being on screen with the characters of “Fear” is so surreal and fascinating to see. This episode does an excellent job at establishing his connections with John, June and Morgan, which should make for interesting arcs this season and beyond.
  • Alicia’s speech to the kids is a great way of showing her growth since the deaths of Madison and Nick, while also showing that she is still in a rough place. Morgan sees himself in her as their relationship continues to be one of the best parts of the show at currently.
  • John and June’s dynamic is a much needed bit of hope and joy. They fought so hard to be together, so it’s rewarding to see them getting to fight alongside one another so much this season.
  • The parallels between Dwight and June, as well as Dwight/Sherry and John/June really helps to make Dwight fit right into the story and gives him a great connection to these characters.
  • The western vibe is a lot of fun and really helps to establish a unique tone in a franchise that always bends genres. Where else are you going to see a western town with ZOMBIES?
  • Colman Domingo’s directing! It’s great to see a cast member be able to step into a directing role. Colman can truly do it all.

The iffy in “Humbug’s Gulch”

  • The San Antonio Split, while a real move, is completely ridiculous in the sense that it would have been far more practical for John and June just to run up and kill the walkers. Also, the bullet fragments hitting and killing the walkers directly is quite out there. Still, John’s shooting skills do serve to help explain how he could do this.
  • The reveal that the kids are responsible for the walker roadblocks is a bit anticlimactic. It’s a bit absurd if they are the ones who set all of them up, including the billboard heads. There’s hopefully more that will be explained, so this could evolve into something more unexpected. Also, the franchise really needs to break the cliche of kids being untrustworthy.
  • It’s rather odd that the Logan story is pretty much completely on hold.

The bad in “Humbug’s Gulch”

  • Why for the love of all things is Luciana out with everyone instead of back at the truck stop resting? Girl, we need for that wound to heal up.

Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark, Danay Garcia as Luciana, Austin Amelio as Dwight, Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie, Jenna Elfman as June – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

Top performances in “Humbug’s Gulch”

  • Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark
  • Lennie James as Morgan Jones
  • Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie
  • Jenna Elfman as June
  • Danay García as Luciana Galvez
  • Austin Amelio as Dwight

Lingering thoughts and predictions

  • Hopefully Dwight and Morgan discuss their past and refer to the events of “The Walking Dead.” Morgan really hasn’t told his “Fear” crew much about where he comes from, so this could be an opportunity for them to hear about Rick, Negan, All Out War and so much more.
  • Dwight taking a few steps back is a great nod to the fact that Morgan was in “Clear” mode the last time they saw one another.
  • Sherry hasn’t been seen on screen since Season 7, Episode 7 “Sing Me a Song,” but this episode confirms that she left Virginia, made it to Georgia and eventually Texas. Will she actually appear in “Fear” after being missing all these years?
  • Althea is still missing, and there haven’t been any new clues about where she was taken. When will we see her again?

“Humbug’s Gulch” is yet another strong episode that serves to further merge the two shows and highlight the commonalities between our groups of survivors. Based on his first episode here, Dwight will fit right in and will be an interesting component to the story.

Be sure to tune into “Fear the Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC. 

TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘The Hurt That Will Happen’

Spoiler Warning for Season 5, Episode 2 of “Fear the Walking Dead,” as well as all previous episodes of the series. Spoilers from “The Walking Dead” will also be discussed.

“You can’t put a weapon between you and losing people, and you can’t even run away from them either.”

After a thrilling return episode, “Fear the Walking Dead” keeps the momentum going by furthering the mysteries presented last episode. With a plethora of new threats and moving pieces, this season is already quite impressive.

The cold open is a tape recording of Strand, warning that he may not survive much longer. He urges Sarah, Wendell and Charlie to finish what he started, and save the rest of the group. He leaves the SWAT truck on the side of the road and begins walking toward what seems to be El Paso. He ultimately arrives at a complex with a series of walker traps outside, quite similar to those Morgan utilized during his “Clear” days. He’s welcomed by a cat, a walker and the sound of a gun cocking. Worried for his life, Strand urges the person pointing the gun at him to take a breath and not act on the Pavlovian response to fire. “You still talk too much, Victor,” Daniel states. The cat is named Skidmark and Daniel says that he likes Strand, but he also “licks his own ass,” so there’s that. After killing a walker that comes close, Daniel invites Strand inside to talk where it’s safe. It is revealed that Daniel has a warehouse of many different vehicles, something that Strand asks about. Strand also asks about the plane and states that Althea told him about it, letting Daniel know that they have a mutual friend. Daniel asks who is still alive that he used to know, and Strand notes that they lost Madison and Nick, but that Alicia is still alive. Just like their dynamic in Season 3, Daniel refuses to believe that Strand is actually trying to help others. Daniel does allow Strand to use his radio to contact the truck stop, but there is no response. There’s further questioning of Strand’s actions, and Daniel throws it back to the Gonzalez Dam exploding and him being shot in the face. Strand manages to make contact with Luciana and they update one another on what they’ve been through. Mentioning that he and Alicia both know Daniel, Strand guarantees that he will get the plane to them. Rather than give Strand the plane, Daniel kicks him out to prevent him from making the situation worse. He notes that Alicia and Althea are both survivors and will be fine without his help. And just like that Strand is left without a plan or way to help his friends.

Karen David as Grace, Lennie James as Morgan Jones – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

John and Alicia return to the crash site, along with Morgan. John is confused when he can’t find the walker that Althea was so curious about. They’re also suspicious about the fact that the weapons they brought along with them are now missing. Deciding to take back supplies, John heads to the truck stop while Alicia and Morgan keep looking. Alicia feels regret for not being able to predict that Al would do this, but Morgan states that they can’t play the blame game here. While venturing away from the crash site, Alicia and Morgan come across a roadblock warning of radiation. The possibility of Al being on the other side of the roadblock causes Alicia to further doubt her leadership. They spot a truck that Alicia notes is still warm and was running recently before hearing the noise of birds cawing. They walk into the woods to investigate before splitting off to cover more ground. There’s a creepy scene that Morgan wanders into involving two crows trapped in a box with walkers snarling and reaching for them below. Morgan kills one, but his legs are suddenly lassoed and bound causing him to impale the other with his stick and struggle to not be bitten. A mysterious figure wearing a full hazmat suit arrives and shoots the walker in the head before turning her gun on Morgan and ordering him to remove his clothes. The woman, later revealed to be named Grace (Karen David), lowers her gun and tells Morgan to try and not speak or breath much while untying himself and slowly moving away from the body. Grace grabs Morgan’s stick and tosses it as he asks for it back, prompting her to pull the gun on him again. Suddenly, Alicia tackles her to the ground, removes her mask and demands to know where Al is. It is here that the some answers are given about the radiation mystery…and it’s just as dangerous as it seems.

A piece of vital information regarding the show environment is revealed. Grace explains that one of two pressurized water reactors 13 miles away had a meltdown. The meltdown killed several people and radiation is now being carried by their walkers, and may have just gotten on Morgan. Back at Grace’s truck, Morgan is given a decontamination shower to remove any radioactive particles that may be attached to him. Grace gives him careful instructions on how to clean himself, including the fact that he needs to remove his wedding ring and clean under it. There’s a solemn moment in which Morgan removes the ring, seeming to take a moment to think back on his wife Jenny. Alicia asks about objects that Grace is removing from the dead, to which she explains are dosimeters used to measure radiation. She also asks about the walker roadblocks, but Grace isn’t the one who set those up. At the truck stop, June tends to Luciana’s wound and gives her painkillers. Luciana is concerned because she can’t feel her fingers, but June explains that it is normal and that her recovery period will be long. In a rather strange question, Luciana wonders when she will be able to play the accordion, something she is wanting to learn. John arrives with two surviving notebooks from Polar Bear, as well as the copy of “The Little Prince,” that survived both a hurricane and a plane crash. It is decided that John and June will head in the opposite direction of where Alicia and Morgan are going. Luciana will stay at the truck stop…alone, which is an especially odd decision. John gives Luciana one of his pistols for her just in case; she plans on trying to radio Strand to see if he got Al’s previous message.

Jenna Elfman as June, Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

Alicia radios John to let him know to be careful about the walkers with the dosimeters on them. This news is a bit defeating to John, but June notes that this only stands to reason that they should keep their mission going. The two end up making it to Camp Cackleberry, which was seen on the side of the van Annie drove the group in the last episode. John posits that the children most likely don’t want to be found, but June points out that when she ran away, she hoped that he would find her. They find bullets inside the camp and deduce that some sort of battle for the locale erupted and they likely won due to the fence seeming to have been repaired. They hear banging noises and go to investigate, finding several walkers locked in the cabins with warning signs written on the outside. Grace asks to be brought back to the crash site to investigate the walker bodies that Alicia and the others killed. Morgan asks if he will ever be able to get his stick back, but Grace explains that the wood is porous and therefore cannot be cleaned. After a full inspection of the walkers, Grace notes that the ones killed are clean, but the fence she put up to keep them from venturing away from contaminated area was knocked down by the crash.

A collection of walkers stumble out of the trees and one of them is radioactive. Grace prepares to go through her protocol of safely killing it, but Alicia is prepared to stand her ground and take them all down. The walkers stumble into a pit of mud and become covered as Morgan and Grace collect her killing supplies. Alicia kills several before Grace suits up and uses a geiger counter to check the remaining three. Not wanting to get potentially contaminated blood on her, Alicia struggles to hold off one of the walkers as Grace does her work. It’s a tense standoff, but Grace finds the infected walker and shoots it, forcing it to land on a tarp; Alicia is able to kill the walker in front of her. As night falls and the site is cleaned up, Grace lambastes Alicia for being so reckless. We learn more about Grace as she explains that she ran operations at the plant and when things started falling apart, she called in all the shifts and eventually their families to hunker down and keep things running. When cities started falling, the plant’s power was no longer needed and the plant melted down. According to Grace, there are 63 radioactive walkers still out there. She believes it is her responsibility to take care of those she couldn’t protect when they were alive.

Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark, Karen David as Grace – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

John radios Alicia to let her know that he and June have found a collection of walkers with the dosimeters, although they are corpses burned in a pile. Grace, Alicia and Morgan head over to Camp Cackleberry and they come to find out that these bodies are in fact radioactive. By burning the corpses, the particles were simply released into the air and June points out that the walkers locked in the cabins are probably the ones who burned them. The additional dead that are found just add to Grace’s guilt as the radiation keeps spreading and killing people via her walker coworkers. After successfully radioing Strand, Luciana ventures outside of the truck stop after hearing noises. Outside, she notices that the long-range antennae has been knocked down by “wind” and she radios John and June to let them know. A number of walkers emerge from the trees and Luciana suddenly becomes dizzy, attempting to fire John’s pistols but missing. She manages to make it inside as the walkers close in and bang on the doors.

As John and June head back to the truck stop, Morgan and Alicia wait for Grace to finish up at the camp. We get an excellent moment between the two characters as Morgan opens up to Alicia about his past, specifically the time in which all he did was kill. She feels that her contribution to the greater good is killing as many walkers as possible. “You are not locked in. A door opens. There is a way out,” Morgan tells Alicia, echoing precisely what Eastman told him in “Here’s Not Here.” Morgan tried to run away from people on many different occasions, and at the time, it seemed like the best move, but it wasn’t. He needs people. And so does Alicia. The pain that they experience comes as a result of them opening themselves up. It hurts, but it is part of life. Morgan’s life started over again because he found the door and went through it. This is exactly what Alicia needed to hear right now. Outside, they find Grace packing up her truck, preparing to leave to go to caverns near the plant to dispose of the bodies…and Morgan’s stick. Morgan and Alicia offer to help and invite her to join the rest of the group at the denim factory, but Grace explains that she can’t do that. When the plant was melting down, she went inside for days to look for survivors and was exposed to massive amounts of radiation. They part ways, but keep open the line of communication via radio. Everyone returns to the truck stop and finds Luciana. Outside, they discover a grim sight: the heads of the walkers that chased Luciana are now hanging from a billboard next to the truck stop, similar to the roadblock. The group believes that they are getting close to something, and that whoever is doing this, is trying to scare them away.

Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

The good in “The Hurt That Will Happen”

  • Daniel Salazar being back…and having scenes with Strand right off the bat. Plus, he has a cat!
  • Morgan acting as a mentor of sorts to Alicia. This is especially important, given the pasts of both characters. They have shared trauma and both have piles of loss.
  • Alicia being in a dark place, similar to how Morgan used to be, shows that she is still deeply affected by the deaths of Nick and Madison. She is allowed to mourn, which is sometimes skipped over in this franchise.
  • Strand pleading with Daniel, trying to show that he has in fact changed, but not being believed because of his lies in the past.
  • Luciana’s drug induced humor is a welcome break from the gloom and doom.
  • More John and June time is always welcomed, especially with the references to their spectacular standalone “Laura.”
  • Grace is a strong new character right out of the gate, providing fascinating backstory and context for the exciting environmental changes. Her radiation mission is something unique and has the potential to shake things up a lot.
  • The tone and cinematography is both eerie and frightening.

The iffy in “The Hurt That Will Happen Here”

  • Morgan not naming Eastman, Rick or any of the people from his past. This feels a bit like the writers are trying to avoid directly referring to characters and events from “The Walking Dead,” and simply want viewers to know who is being talked about. It would be epic to have Morgan talk to Alicia about Eastman and Rick directly by name.

The bad in “The Hurt That Will Happen Here”

  • Luciana’s skirmish with the walkers outside of the truck stop is such manufactured tension. She has survived long and is far smarter than to just wander outside alone like this when she is fully aware that there are mysterious threats all around. Also, the fact that she suddenly becomes dizzy as walkers approach her feels like more drama to create tension.

Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

Top performances in “The Hurt That Will Happen”

  • Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark
  • Lennie James as Morgan Jones
  • Danay García as Luciana Galvez
  • Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar

Lingering thoughts and predictions

  • The fact that one nuclear reactor melted down is concerning. The fact that there is another that hasn’t melted down is even more concerning. Could our group have to avert a nuclear disaster this season?
  • Is Grace being totally truthful about what happened? Is it worse than what she is saying? For some reason, her story feels like it has shades of Father Gabriel locking his parishioners out of his church. Did she actually do something similar?
  • The plant was equipped to survive terrorists attacks and other disasters similarly to the CDC as described by Dr. Jenner. No one could have predicted a walker apocalypse though.
  • This episode has a tone that feels similar to “Friday the 13th,” mostly because of the creepy summer camp.
  • What happened to Daniel since the last time we saw him? Will we get flashbacks or a bottle episode dedicated to showing his time after the Dam explosion?
  • Morgan makes several clear references to the analogies made by Eastman, specifically “opening the door.” Will there be more references later in the season?
  • Has Morgan really lost his stick forever? It has been with his character since the start of Season 5 of “The Walking Dead,” so it would be a massive gut punch to lose it all these years later.
  • Morgan’s taking a moment to look at his wedding ring while taking it off shows that he still carries his love for Jenny. It would be touching to have him talk about her and Duane to someone at some point.

“The Hurt That Will Happen” is a solid follow up to an excellent start to the season. There are a ton of moving pieces in the story, which is precisely what was needed after Season 4. Hopefully, the season can keep this momentum as the mysteries unfold.

Be sure to tune into “Fear the Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m.

TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘Here to Help’

Spoiler Warning for the Season 5 Premiere (Season 5, Episode 1) of “Fear the Walking Dead,” as well as all previous episodes of the series. Spoilers from “The Walking Dead” will also be discussed.

“You’re trying to help other people. Now…looks like you’re gonna have to help yourselves.”

The world of “The Walking Dead” is always evolving. The fifth Season Premiere of “Fear the Walking Dead” is further proof of this as the series universe expands and also shrinks. It’s an exceptionally strong return after a rather lackluster and disappointing previous season. The hiatus is over and the dead are finally back!

The opening scene follows two young brothers named Dylan (Cooper Dodson) and Max (Ethan Suess) hunting a deer. Max teaches his younger brother how to fire a gun in a scene that parallel’s the main series’ episode “The Grove” in which Carol instructs Mika in the art of hunting. Unlike that moment, the duo is actually successful and manage to bag a deer. A new name for walkers is added to the ever-growing list as a “growler” stumbles forward at the brothers. Max attempts to fire his gun, but it jams. Suddenly, an airplane flies overhead, crashing through trees and slamming into the ground nearby. The walker is sliced in half as the boys rush to see where the plane crashed. They wander through a field of flaming wreckage, a location that becomes ever more dangerous as walkers file into the area. Once again, Max’s gun jams, but fortunately for the brothers, a heroic figure appears from the smoke with a broken plane propeller in hand to save the day. It’s Alicia Clark and she is ready to take down some walkers. Dylan and Max enter the plane fuselage and find Morgan dangling upside down and still strapped in his seat. He regains consciousness and is immediately forced to fight off a walker, thankfully being saved by a quick gunshot by John. Luciana calls Morgan’s name, and he discovers her with a metal pipe impaled in her shoulder. Talk about jumping right into the action. This opening scene hits the ground running and throws us right back into the chaos of the world.

Cooper Dodson as Dylan, Ethan Suess as Max – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

It isn’t entirely clear from this episode as to how the group found this plane, but we do see that Althea was the pilot and June rode shotgun in the cockpit. The plane is on it’s side after crashing and both June and Althea are knocked unconscious as walkers bang on the windows and try to get inside. They both regain consciousness and unstrap themselves from their seats as John comes through and kills the walkers that are attempting to get in the cockpit. With June now exiting through the door, John is grabbed by some walkers, but June takes a page out of her boyfriend’s book and uses one of his guns to save him. Inside the fuselage, Morgan tries to comfort Luciana, but realizes Alicia needs help with the walkers and puts Dylan in charge of applying pressure to the wound; he orders Max to stand guard and kill any walkers that get inside. Joining walker-slayer Alicia outside, Morgan notes that she has a bloody cut on her arm from slicing and dicing so much. A static ridden voice comes over the radio, asking Morgan where he and his group are. It’s a man named Logan (Matt Frewer), who the group is attempting to help, but Morgan explains that they’re running a little late. Walkers continue to pour into the area due to the sound and fire, so Alicia and Morgan come up with a way to kill them more efficiently. They set up a metal cable that causes the walkers to trip before they stab them in the heads. Still in the cockpit, Althea tries to radio Strand and alerts him to their crash. She tells him that he needs to find one of her tapes labeled “Skidmark,” because the person on that tape has a plane he can use to come pick up their group. What is going on? Where did all these planes come from?

This is a very active scene with many different moving parts. While Morgan and Alicia kills walkers outside, June rushes to Luciana’s side and commends Dylan for doing an excellent job at applying pressure. Frighteningly, Alicia falls onto a mangled fence with a sign that reads “high radiation area.” What exactly this means for the future is unclear, but it seems to be a tease of a threat for the season. June explains that the pipe will have to be cut so Luciana can be removed from the plane. John and Althea rush out to the debris trail in search of one of the hacksaws that was left in the supplies boxes. Thankfully, Althea’s tapes and camera survived the crash, and she manages to find them in the wreckage. This is most certainly a story that needs to be told. A bizarre walker wearing an all black uniform and a helmet attacks Al, causing her to struggle to stab it in the head before throwing it onto a piece of rebar in a shot that is quite reminiscent to another scene that now directly ties to this one. Al documents the strange walker, because it really stands out to her as being unusual and unlike anything she’s seen before. With the hacksaw, Luciana is safely removed from the plane, although a large metal pipe is still sticking out of her shoulder. With everyone out of the plane and Luciana being carried on a makeshift stretcher, Al hands Alicia her signature weapon before the last standing Clark takes charge and leads her people. Suddenly, a van pulls up to the team and a young girl yells for them to get it. Her names is Annie (Bailey Gavulic) and she is Dylan and Max’s sister. Just in the knick of time, help arrives.

Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie, Jenna Elfman as June, Danay Garcia as Luciana, Maggie Grace as Althea – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

While driving away from the crash sight, Annie issues several eerie warnings about the danger of this area. Alicia asks about the radiation signs, and while Annie doesn’t know exactly what they mean, she does note that there are more of them in the area. Dylan asks if Al is a pilot and she states that she is a journalist, something that Max states is likely the reason they crashed. Some information is provided as Al explains that one of the engines was lost and that she was supposed to have a co-pilot, who was presumably Strand. Luciana groans as the van hits a bump, but she proclaims that they cannot stop because Logan’s group needs their help. Max wonders how they know Logan, and the group explains that they got in contact with him over the radio and that their location is surrounded by the dead. The fact that they are headed to a place filled with walkers causes Annie to slam on the breaks and for Dylan to angrily question why they are just going around and helping random people. Morgan states that the siblings helped people they didn’t know by protecting Luciana and evacuating them from the crash site. Annie ultimately continues driving and pulls up to an eerie sight that has been seen before in the franchise. It’s a roadblock of walkers, strung together by rope and guts, not all that different from the Savior roadblocks seen in “Last Day on Earth.” Morgan, Alicia, Al, John and Annie exit the vehicle to inspect, and notice several walker heads that are dangling from an above tree. Annie states that she isn’t sure who created this, but that there are several others all around the area. She is not willing to drive through the roadblock, and questions Morgan as to why they are so determined to help Logan. The group has been trying to help people for a good while now, but hasn’t had any real luck at all. Alicia explains that everyone is either dead, missing or simply doesn’t want help, and Logan’s crew is the first who are reachable. Alicia and Al clear the walker roadblock as the journey continues forward…and the chattering heads continue to chatter.

There’s a worrying shift in tone as the group arrives at the truck stop that Logan’s crew directed them to. It isn’t surrounded by walkers like he stated. Alicia goes to inspect and see if any of the dead are inside before giving the all clear sign for the crew to enter. Luciana is carried in by Morgan and June while John does a sweep of the perimeter outside. Alicia finds a generator and manages to get it running, providing power to the truck stop. Morgan uses the radio to try and get in contact with Logan, but there is no response. June and John gather supplies and prepare to remove the pole from Luciana’s shoulder. Noticing that she is in pain, Dylan tries to distract Luciana by asking about a toy truck he finds. It is here that Luciana explains the story of Clayton AKA Polar Bear and his system of distributing boxes to help people. Morgan adds to the conversation by inviting Dylan, Max and Annie to come live at the denim factory. It doesn’t sound like the best place to live, but John points out that they have movie nights. Annie simply doesn’t believe safe places exist anymore, and June shares in her apprehension, but explains that she has seen that good places do in fact exist. Alicia returns from the backroom and alerts everyone to the fact that the generator hasn’t been used in a long time, and therefore no one has likely been at the truck stop in some time. This update causes Annie and Max to panic and they decide to leave, even pulling a gun on the group as they gather supplies. They don’t want to stay around to find out what’s happening, and can you blame them? There’s no time to stop the siblings from leaving as June tells everyone that the emergency operation on Luciana needs to happen NOW. The group gathers around Luci and holds her down while Alicia comforts her and June pulls out the pole. OUCH.

Matt Frewer as Logan – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

The Premiere seems to introduce the new big bad. A grey-haired man walks from the treeline and sets his sights on the Wittington Denim Company, the homebase of our characters. He walks to the gate and enters lock combination to gain access to the factory. He strolls through the premises and discovers one of the supply boxes with the phrase “take what you need, leave what you don’t” scribed on it. He also comes across a room that has been repurposed into a brewery where Sarah is making Jim’s beer recipe. We see some other parts of this home that the characters have built, including a movie request sheet, Althea’s tapes and a list of people that the group has tried to help. This episode also follows the members of the group that were not on the plane. Strand and Charlie drive the SWAT truck while Sarah and Wendell drive the C & L Freight semi truck. It turns out that Strand actually did hear Althea’s radio message about the Skidmark tape. Sarah and Wendell question if Victor is ready to fly an actual plane, something that he seems to be confident about.

While fortifying the gates of the truck stop, Alicia claims that the siblings are the same as everyone else they’ve attempted to help, but Althea points out that the kids are at least still living. Morgan continues to try and contact Logan, but Alicia reiterates her fear that something is very wrong. Suddenly, Logan’s voice comes over the air and everyone realizes that Alicia was 100% right. Logan explains that his crew is currently looking at Morgan’s crew, referring to Strand, Charlie, Sarah and Wendell. He himself has an amazing view of the river. Logan is the man that entered the factory. He mentions the C & L name on the semi truck the group is driving; Clayton was the “C” and Logan is the “L.” The entire call for help was just a way for Logan to regain control of his factory without any violence. In addition to not harming our survivors, Logan even gives back nearly all of the group’s belongings. Alicia absolutely snaps and threatens to kill Logan when he refers to her as “sweetheart,” but he reiterates that he doesn’t want to see them dead at all. He just wants his property back. It isn’t an entirely unreasonable move, and while he is clearly being set up to be the villain, he hasn’t harmed anyone just yet.

Alexa Nisenson as Charlie, Daryl Mitchell as Wendell- Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

Following being kicked out from the denim factory, the survivors that didn’t leave on the plane must now reassess what to do next. While drinking a beer she brewed, Sarah talks to a beer magazine cover with Jim’s face on it. Her and Wendell talk about their anger at Logan for kicking them out, prompting Charlie to step forward and state that she can sneak and find a way in. Strand finds the tape that Al told her to watch, telling the group that they will get the mill back after they get their people back. While sitting alone, Strand watches the “Skidmark” interview tape and sees none other than Daniel Salazar on the screen before him. The look on Victor’s face is nothing short of shock and fear. They did NOT end on good terms the last they saw one another. At the truck stop, Al watches the recording from the crash site. She focuses in on the strange walker wearing a black uniform that she impaled through a pole. Morgan finds her and tells her to go get a cut on her head looked at, simultaneously stating that it isn’t her fault that the tapes haven’t helped much in their mission. She notes that what she recorded today may change that though. Meanwhile, June and John have a heart to heart about a VHS movie that was found. Feeling somewhat hopeless about their mission, John wants to wait until later to watch the film, but June remains totally hopeful that they will be successful. She points to herself as clear proof that he and the others are able to help people find their way again. A similar conversation happens between Morgan and Alicia, who have different takes on whether or not the risk they are taking is worth it. Alicia is angry about the fact that the group risked their lives and Luci nearly died. She points out the sacrifice Madison made to keep her standing, but Morgan turns around and questions why that matters if Alicia isn’t doing something important with her life. Morgan thinks that this mission should be difficult, because it is the group making up for the things they’ve done. They ultimately don’t agree entirely, but Alicia seems to agree to keep the mission going.

The ending of the episode is a complete game-changer for the entire franchise. Against the word of Morgan, Al returns to the plane crash site and relocates the impaled walker. She removes the helmet of the walker and kills it before inspecting it closely as rain pours down hard. Recording, she notices a strange wire sticking out of the uniform. She also finds a zipped baggie on the body, which she opens and sees that it contains a map with the word “CRM” written on it. In addition, there is a clear booklet with shapes on each page, possibly states or counties. On the map and booklet is a tri-circle symbol that viewers may have seen before elsewhere. She radios Morgan and lets him know that her suspicions were founded. Suddenly, a mysterious figure dressed in the same creepy uniform appears behind her and tases before turning the camera to his/her’s covered face. Who are these mysterious people? What is that symbol? Where have you seen it before? It’s rather missable, but the symbol actually appears on the helicopter that Rick Grimes is evacuated in after blowing up the bridge in “What Comes After.” Yes, the two shows are now connected even more by a mysterious group that rescued and/or kidnapped the protagonist of “The Walking Dead.” This goes to show that the helicopter organization has hands across multiple parts of the country. The mystery of where exactly Rick was taken is going to be unfolding partially here on “Fear.” It’s a shocking move that further links the two stories and potentially sets up future crossovers that may spill into the upcoming Rick film trilogy. Things are changing…and it is exciting.

Maggie Grace as Althea – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

The good in “Here to Help”

  • The tone is an excellent mix of mystery, bleakness and hope. There are a ton of moving parts in this episode that serve to balance the various moods.
  • The opening plane crash sequence is the perfect way to kickstart the season and provide some thrilling action right out of the gate.
  • Alicia taking charge and getting to be a leader is exactly what she deserves after four seasons of stellar development.
  • The new characters are interesting additions to the story and will surely provide some unique perspectives to things, especially the children.
  • Luciana being injured raises the stakes and adds an additional layer of danger to the episode.
  • Morgan and Alicia’s dynamic continues to be fascinating and their varying viewpoints helps to create tension.
  • Morgan needing to make up for the things he’s done in the past is a fitting culmination of his past on both shows.
  • John and June’s relationship is a warm and moving bit of hope and heart that the story desperately needs.
  • The “surprise” return of Daniel via Al’s tapes is an exciting way to bring back a fan favorite while also teasing his reunion with Victor.
  • The radiation signs teases a possibly large threat that could shift the environments into some really terrifying and interesting ways.
  • The introduction of the helicopter into the “Fear” canon further links the two shows while also setting the stage for the Rick trilogy.

Top performances in “Here to Help”

  • Lennie James as Morgan Jones
  • Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark
  • Danay García as Luciana Galvez
  • Jenna Elfman as June
  • Matt Frewer as Logan
  • Cooper Dodson as Dylan

Colman Domingo as Victor Strand, Daryl Mitchell as Wendell  – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

Lingering thoughts and predictions

  • With the introduction of the helicopter crew in “Fear,” it could be possible that Season 5 is setting Morgan up to depart the series for the Rick film trilogy. It would be extremely fitting for him to reunite with his day one friend as Rick’s story comes to an end once and for all.
  • The placement of the impaled walker on the piece of debris directly mirrors Rick’s near fatal injury in Season 9.
  • Alicia doesn’t seem to be in the best mental state, and after Season 4, you can’t blame her. Hopefully, she continues to mention Madison and Nick, so their losses are still felt.
  • Althea going out into the world to get her story shows her dedication to being a storyteller, even in this world. Could she also be taken out of the “Fear” story to transition to the Rick film trilogy?
  • It was teased last season that Al interviewed Daniel. In addition to him, one of her tapes hints that she also interviewed Abraham Ford and Eugene Porter. Will we see their interviews ever?
  • Victor’s reunion with Daniel is going to certainly be bumpy. The last time they saw one another was in Season 3’s “Things Bad Begun” in which Strand shoots Daniel in the face while facilitating the Proctor invasion of the Gonzalez Dam.
  • Luciana is injured once again, something that seems to be a recurring element of her character. This is similar to Tara in “The Walking Dead.”
  • Charlie offering to sneak into the mill is something that is very much in line with her character as seen in Season 4 when she tricked the residents of the Dell Diamond Stadium so the Vultures could gain information.
  • Logan is an interesting character who will surely devolve into violence as our crew pushes back against his takeover.

“Here to Help” is an exceptionally strong season premiere and episode overall. It feels great to jump back into this world, which is now more connected with the main series than ever. There are a ton of solid character moments and bits of intrigue that will surely help to drive the story this season. Cheers to Season 5!

Be sure to tune into “Fear the Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Making an Impact

Elissa Miller

If I’ve spoken to you in the past two years, there is a 99% chance I have mentioned the television show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” to you. It tells the story of Rebecca Bunch, an unfulfilled attorney in New York City who happens to run into her first boyfriend on the street. She subsequently quits her job and moves to the suburban mecca of West Covina, CA in an attempt to win his heart. However, that doesn’t even begin to grasp the emotional depth and skill behind this masterpiece of television. I’ve completely fallen in love with it and was nervous to see how it would pull off its fourth — and final — season this year. Operating at such a high level and finding a satisfying conclusion can be hard.

Image courtesy of The CW

However, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” completely nailed it. Its final season was just as funny, heartfelt, musically-gifted and special as before. Its final two episodes left me utterly speechless. Over the course of four seasons, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” tackled a number of story-lines and themes, from coming out to abortion to mental illness to women’s sexuality. All were treated with incredible empathy and respect. I’ve never seen a show that featured a character coming out as bisexual in the form of a massive song and dance number. I’ve never seen a show that focused, essentially, on the main character’s journey to loving herself and overcoming mental illness (especially one that told her “Anti-Depressants Are So Not a Big Deal”). I’ve never seen a show that was so obviously created by (and understanding of) women. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” also truly nailed the concept of character growth. The show built a city and a cast that I completely cared about; it gave even the smallest of characters a personality and a story-line (and often, a song as well).

“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” was a unique, special and innovative show. I feel lucky to have even been able to witness it. I’ll miss you, Rebecca Bunch. I hope you’re thriving out there.

Image courtesy of Nintendo

Noah Howell

Since its full reveal at E3 in 2018, “Super Smash Bros Ultimate” was at the forefront of my hype up until its release in December. Despite releasing at the halfway mark of the school year, much of my first semester was spent speculating over who would be added as newcomers which made me keep up with the Nintendo Directs that showed off all the new stuff coming. “Smash” is a culmination of some of gaming’s biggest and longest running franchises, and not just Nintendo’s either. The game is great both as a party game with friends and as a title to be competitive in. Through my classes in computer science and at some of the school’s tournaments and meet-ups, I have met a lot of cool people through “Smash” as well. Even as I dove deep into the competitive scene at UNC Charlotte with some intense singles tournaments, I am continually reminded each time I’m hanging out with friends that “Smash” is at its best when simply played as a group.

Image courtesy of BANDAI NAMCO

Aaron Febre

As a long time fan of the “Tales of” series, I was looking forward to buying this new remaster of “Tales of Vesperia.” I finally got around to buying it during Spring Break and I was glad I played it this semester. Playing this game was a reminder of an amazing time period of JRPGs (Japanese Role-Playing Games) in the 2000s. This was the same era of games such as “Tales of the Abyss,” “Kingdom Hearts II,” and “Persona 4.” Yuri Lowell is one of the best protagonists in the series. His snide yet caring personality was relatable that complemented an amazing cast. Combined with a solid story, a great combat system and the iconic art style from Kōsuke Fujishima‎, “Tales of Vesperia” has quickly become one of my favorite video games of all time.

Image courtesy of Heist or Hit Records

Tyler Trudeau

While I could’ve just as easily put something like “Avengers: Endgame” as one of the most impactful things I witnessed this semester (as it surely was), the first thing that came to mind was the band “Her’s”. With the Liverpool-based pop duo of Stephen Fitzpatrick and Audun Laading first piquing my interest last year when I stumbled upon their vibrant 2016 singles, “Marcel” and “What Once Was,” I was introduced to yet another phenomenally dreamy pop group to follow along. It was in March of this year unfortunately that the duo’s musical talents were cut short, as both Fitzpatrick and Laading, as well as tour manager, Trevor Engelbrektson, were killed in a head-on traffic collision in Arizona. With their sudden deaths, I was encouraged to turn my ear to their music again. As their 2018 sophomore album “Invitation to Her’s” perfectly encapsulated the duo’s love for peculiar, sardonic lyricism and off-kilter craftsmanship, Her’s represents yet another budding talent taken from this world much too soon. Some of my favorite tracks include “Harvey,” “Breathing Easy” and “Speed Racer.”

Arik Miguel

Image courtesy of Warp Records

Every once in a while, some piece of media will come along that stops me in my tracks and forces me to reassess my understanding of music or cinema. Yves Tumor’s 2018 release, “Safe in the Hands of Love,” is a series of experimental songs that are fluid but at the same time incredibly abrasive. These songs are tied together by elegantly crafted threads, but at the same time, these songs are often decorated with ugliness. The first time I listened to this album I was left gasping for air, I had never heard anything like this before. All of my preconceptions about music were ripped to shreds, doused in gasoline, and set aflame. Thematically, the album deals with the concept of freedom, but it is the albums freedom from music norms that has brought me back to it again and again, and changed my understanding of what music can and should be.

Image courtesy of Netflix

Jeffrey Kopp

The zombie genre is nothing new. There have been countless takes on the un-dead over the years, but people are still fascinated and moved by the dead rising and taking over the world. Back in January, Netflix released “Kingdom,” a zombie outbreak story set in Korea during the Joseon dynasty. As someone who loves history, politics and zombies, this was right up my fit and quickly became my favorite discovery of the year. It is terrifying, gripping and emotionally powerful, and is definitely worth a binge.

TV REVIEW: ‘Game of Thrones’ – ‘The Long Night’

Spoiler Warning for the Season 8, Episode 3 of “Game of Thrones,” as well as all previous episodes of the series.

“What do we say to the God of Death? Not today.”

It has all been building up to this. The first episode teased the power and mystery of the White Walkers, but this episode culminates their threat into one epic battle that will define the scale of this series forever. Problems are present, but this is an episode for the ages.

Winterfell

Fear. That’s the general feeling in Winterfell as the fighters prepare for what very may be their final battle. Sam’s hands shake as he walks into the center of the bustling town. Unsullied march and those not fighting head down to the Crypt. Lady Mormont orders her men into their positions as Theon pushes Bran’s wheelchair toward the godswood. Davos, Arya and Sansa stand ready at the battlements, looking toward the horizon for the approaching army. Drogon and Rhagael fly overhead with Daenerys and Jon riding them away from Winterfell as part of their plan. The Dothraki are on the front lines with trebuchets lined behind them, and the Unsullied following suit. Brienne leads the flank with Podrick, Jaime and many others under her command. Tormund, Beric, The Hound, Gendry, Edd and Sam stand on the frontlines of another flank; Jorah and Ghost stand alongside the Dothraki. A mysterious horseback rider crosses the no man’s land and approaches the Winterfell front line. It is none other than Melisandre, who approaches Jorah and asks him to order the Dothraki to raise their swords. Stepping forward to one Dothraki rider, Melisandre places her hands around his sword and recites a spell. This causes the swords of the Dothraki fighters to ignite in a wave of flames that lights up the battleground. Melisandre then enters the gates of Winterfell and reunites with Davos, telling him that there is no need to carry out his promise to execute her seeing as how she will be dead by dawn. The intensity and feeling of dread present in these opening minutes is nothing short of incredible. This is a series that is no stranger to battle sequences, but these first few minutes are proof that this will be no ordinary battle.

There’s no going back at all. The Dothraki charge forward onto the battlefield, their lighted swords and battle cries breaking through the darkness. From atop a ridge, Jon and Dany watch as a vast swarm of light sweeps across the field before colliding with a force of darkness. Those remaining at Winterfell see a truly eerie sight as the lighted swords die out one by one on the horizon until there is nothing but darkness and silence. A handful of surviving horses and fighters charge back, including Jorah. The terrifying moans and screeches of the wights can be heard as they charge forward toward the new frontline. A literal wave of undead collide with the Unsullied and the two flanks, leaving all of the soldiers overwhelmed and many dead. Brienne is tackled to the ground, but Jaime manages to kill the wights stacked on her as a flood of fire envelopes across the screen. It’s Drogon and Dany unleashing hellfire on the Army of the Dead. Jon and Rhaegal do the same, creating a chaotic mess of death and fire. Jon and Rhaegal charge toward the opposite end of the battlefield where the White Walkers stand, attempting to wipe out the command. A gigantic blizzard tears in from the treeline, leaving Jon and his dragon lost in the wind and snow. This also creates problems for Dany and her dragon, and Arya notices this. She orders a reluctant Sansa down to the Crypt, handing over a dragonglass dagger and telling her to “stick ’em with the pointy end.” The blizzard overtakes the battle on the ground, creating visibility problems for those fighting, but not the dead obviously. This was all part of their plan.

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark and Maisie Williams as Arya Stark.

This episode is chaotic in the sense that there is literally so much happening at once that it is almost impossible to recap it all. Jorah is tackled from his horse by a pair of wights, but he doesn’t miss any beats as he continues fighting. There are numerous characters also being tackled, including Sam who is saved at the last minute by Edd. Sadly, a knife of a wight plunges right through Edd’s throat and mouth. The insanity above ground is juxtaposed by the relative calm in the Crypt as Sansa joins those trying to ride out the storm. She doesn’t need to say anything at all. Everyone knows how hopeless things are. Tyrion chugs wine, feeling that his life is about to come to an end. Things are also hectic in the air as Jon and Rhaegal struggle to fly through the blizzard, eventually colliding with Dany and Drogon. Back on the ground, orders are given for the fighters to retreat back inside Winterfell and Lady Mormont commands that the gate be opened. A flood of terrified soldiers rush into the center of Wintefell as Grey Worm and the Unsullied protect the retreat. Once the retreat is completed, Grey Worm and a small number of Unsullied retreat also, but most stand their ground. It is here that Grey Worm gives the order to light the trench, prompting Davos to signal for Dany. With almost no visibility, Dany doesn’t see the signal, so Davos orders the archers to fire their burning arrows to light the trench. This is completely unsuccessful, so a plan is hatched that includes the Unsullied creating a path for Melisandre to step forward to the trench. The Red Woman recites her spell, but it doesn’t seem to be working and as the undead grow closer, she becomes visibly worried that the Lord of Light will not come through. Suddenly, the trench engulfs in flames, surrounding Winterfell entirely and keeping the Army of the Dead from reaching the castle walls. Melisandre did THAT.

This isn’t really a respite from the battle, but the dead are kept back for a moment; their blue eyes stare down those in Winterfell from across the burning trench. As the last few retreat inside, those in the Crypt are left totally in the dark as to what’s happening. Tyrion wishes to be upstairs helping in the fight, but both Sansa and Varys posit that he would be dead if that were the case. Sansa notes that everyone in the Crypt is there because they would be a liability in the fight. Tyrion gets nostalgic and points out that perhaps he and Sansa should have remained married. She points out that Tyrion was certainly the best of her relationships, but that it wouldn’t have worked out between them because of his allegiance to Daenerys. Missandei pipes in and states that Dany is the reason they’re all not dead already. In the godswood, Theon attempts to apologize for all the things he did to Bran, but the Three-Eye Raven states that “everything you did, brought you to where you are now…where you belong, home.” If that isn’t the perfect line to encapsulate the arc of Theon and the overall story itself. Bran then lets Theon know it is time for him to go, and he wargs into some ravens that fly over the mess unfolding at Winterfell. Bran finds the Night King and Viserion hovering high up in the sky. The brief break in battle comes to an end as the Night King raises his hand and silently commands his army. One by one, a few lone wights throw themselves onto a single spot on the lighted trench, creating a bridge of sorts as the fire dies down. This rare phenomenon where wights interact with fire occurs all along the trench, allowing the army to flood over and reach the walls. And just like that, the Battle of Winterfell returns to chaos.

Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark.

With Winterfell having the high ground, it would seem that they would have the advantage, but the wights are relentless. Evoking a feel similar to “World War Z” and “The Walking Dead,” the wights slam against the wall and begin climbing. Those positioned on the wall must slice and dice, knocking bodies back down into the climbing horde. Once a few wights make it through the line of defense, everything falls apart. Brienne comes to the rescue of Jaime, who is being overwhelmed by undead, giving the two the advantage to fight back to back. Arya swings into battle mode with her handy new weapon, and slices and stabs invaders. While trying to flee away from a cluster, Arya slams her head against a doorpost. A dead giant storms through the gate and slams Lady Mormont with his hand. In a final act of heroism, Lady Mormont stands, raises her weapon and charges straight for the giant, letting out a battle cry. The giant picks the young warrior up and squeezes her, crushing her bones, but Lady Mormont isn’t done fighting; she plunges her weapon straight in the eye of the giant, killing it before the behemoth drops to the ground. Hiding behind a wall, the Hound freezes up as he realizes how hopeless the situation is. Beric tries to rally him to continue fighting, pointing at Arya as a lead they should be following. Above the clouds, Jon, Dany and the dragons hover as they try to get a sense of their location. Viserion’s blue flame sparks a dizzying aerial battle that catches the living dragons off guard completely. There is seriously so much happening that mini battles break out in various locations, adding to the overall scale.

Through and through, this is Arya Stark’s defining hour. Managing to make her way inside, Arya silently creeps through the halls of Winterfell before finding her way into the library. A number of docile wights wander around, leaving Arya to maneuver around shelves in a scene that feels reminiscent to “The Last of Us” and other zombie video games. Using her quick thinking and ingenuity, Arya manages to escape the library, but finds herself on the run from an entirely different collective of wights. Down below in the Crypt, those hiding can hear the scattering of undead and men just above. Some of the soldiers desperately try to enter the Crypt, but that just isn’t going to happen. The Hound and Beric wander the halls and eventually cross paths with Arya being attacked by numerous wights. Beric throws his sword to save Arya, but is stabbed multiple times. Knowing his time is likely running out, Beric throws himself at a handful of wights and is stabbed more times as he fights to give Arya an opening to get away. The Hound has to pick Arya up and pull her away, knowing that Beric is on his way out. Holding back the wights, Beric blocks a doorway and is stabbed even more times, but manages to rejoin Arya and the Hound as they lock themselves in the dining hall. Before he can say any final words, Beric slips away, dying a true heroic death. Melisandre appears and states that the Lord of Light brought Beric back to serve a purpose, and it has been served. Arya recognizes the Red Woman from their encounter in Season 3. The prophecy that Melisandre told Arya she would fulfill is coming true; Arya will “shut many eyes forever”: “brown eyes, green eyes, and blue eyes.” As Melisandre recites Syrio Forel’s old saying, Arya knows exactly what she must do and she leaves to do it.

Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarion.

The fight comes to the godswood as Theon and the Iron Born are forced to fight off the wights; “make every shot count,” Theon commands. Meanwhile, the aerial battle rages on as the Night King charges toward the wall of Winterfell and has Viserion unleash blue fire, creating an opening for his army. Jon and Rhaegal collide with the attacking dragon and the siblings engage in a fury of bites and thrashes. Drogon and Dany arrive and manage to throw the Night King from his dragon, sending him falling to the ground. Rhaegal crash lands to the ground, throwing Jon tumbling across the snow. Dany spots the Night King standing on the ground and utters “Dracarys” giving Drogon the order to unleash hellfire on this sinister force. Emerging from the flames with a creepy grin is the Night King, unharmed and immune to the fire. He picks up a spear and throws it at Dany, missing narrowly as Drogon flies away. After that little showdown, the Night King walks toward Winterfell, passing through the piles and piles of corpses left in wake of the battle. Jon charges at his rear, but the Night King catches onto his plan and slowly turns around, raising his arms in a power move that adds all of the deceased to his army. Those fighting inside Winterfell take note of what is happening, seeing the dead rise up. The eyes of Lady Mormont, Qhono, Edd, and many others open up as they rise from the dead. An especially terrifying turn of events unfolds in the Crypt as the coffins housing those buried begin to move. There’s mass panic in the Crypt as the dead reanimate and break free of their final resting places, forcing those seeking shelter to run through the darkness. This was a popular fan theory of many, and it just so happened to come true. The Crypt is NOT safe.

Jon has already died once, and just when it seems he might die once more, Dany swoops in with Drogon and burns some undead pricks. As Jon charges to the godswood to save Bran, Dany strangely leaves Drogon parked, allowing dozens of wights to climb on board and attack. It’s a rather contrived scene that REALLY makes it seem like Dany and/or Drogon will meet their end here. This is especially true as Dany tumbles to the ground and Drogon struggles to take off and shake the wights off him. With no melee battle experience, Dany is defenseless as wights charge toward her, but fortunately, her saving grace is there for her as always. Jorah defends his Khaleesi just as he has done sine day one. Jon fights his way through the castle, seeing countless wights toppling in as his friends make their final stands, barely holding on. He can’t stop to help them. His mission to help Bran is the priority here. At the godswood, Theon becomes the final human left alive to defend Bran; he doesn’t even have any more flaming arrows left. It’s here that the episode takes its most hopeless shift into the final act.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen and Iain Glen as Jorah Mormont.

The final act is some of the most beautiful material “Game of Thrones” has ever produced. Set to a musical score called “The Night King” by Ramin Djawadi, the characters fight for their lives in what seems to be their last moments. Sansa and Tyrion hold their weapons in their hands and embrace for a moment while hiding behind a coffin before charging out into the madness. They’re ready to die together. Viserion recklessly burns the remnants of Winterfell. Jorah is stabbed multiple times as he defends his Queen, but Dany uses a weapon to fight by his side. Jon hides from attacking wights while simultaneously dodging the blue flames that shoot at him. At the godswood, Bran returns from warging as the Night King and his White Walkers make their final approach. Theon realizes they are surrounded and he sees the Night King step out of the snowy haze. The silence is broken by Bran telling Theon, “you’re a good man. Thank you.” He needed to hear this. Turning to face the Night King, Theon makes his last stand and charges straight at the invader with his spear. It’s a hopeless act, but surrender is not an option here. Theon has to try. The Night King uses Theon’s spear to stab him through the stomach, dropping his body to the ground. In his usual dramatic fashion, the Night King walks toward Bran and the two lock eyes. The Night King reaches for his weapon, ready to extinguish the Three-Eyed Raven forever. Suddenly and silently, a girl named Arya Stark flies into frame behind the King and is grabbed by the neck. She drops the iconic Valryian steel dagger and grabs it with her other hand, plunging it straight into the cold heart of the enemy before her. The Night King shatters into a cascade of ice, followed suit by his White Walkers. En mass, the wights fall to the ground. Viserion, just seconds away from burning Jon, dies in a final screech. It’s over. The threat is put to rest after eight seasons of terror.

The aftermath of all of this isn’t easy. This was a hard fought battle that no one really expected to win. Those in the Crypt emerge from their hiding places, surprised to still be alive. Brienne, Jaime, Podrick, Grey Worm and the other fighters take their first breath after fighting nonstop. Dany holds Jorah in her arms as he slowly bleeds to death, but not before attempting to utter a final word to his queen. She cries over his body as Drogon arrives and shelters his mother and her sworn protector. Melisandre exits the castle, walking through the pile of bodies into the field of snow. Davos watches from behind as she takes off her necklace and drops it on the ground. She ages drastically as she stumbles and collapses in the snow in a bundle of bones. She served her purpose and just as she stated at the start of the episode, she died before dawn. The Lord of Light used her to help win the battle before ending her time in this world. In an episode of fitting character deaths, this ends an epic episode with one final conclusion to a long-standing character’s story.

Kit Harington as Jon Snow.

The good in “The Long Night”

  • The scale. Prior to this episode, this battle was teased to be the biggest battle in cinema history…and it sure was. Nothing like this has ever been seen.
  • The cinematography. Pretty much ever shot is beautiful and looks like a painting.
  • The musical score is simply so powerful and is on the same level as that of “The Winds of Winter.”
  • Characters dying heroic deaths. Each of the main and recurring characters went down fighting and had fitting deaths entirely.
  • The hopelessness. Seeing these characters at their lowest point ever shows just how relentless and deadly the Army of the Dead is.
  • Arya killing the Night King is shocking, but totally fitting of her overall character arc.

The iffy in “The Long Night”

  • Characters have extremely THICK plot armor and surviving this battle when they realistically shouldn’t have. To be fair, there has always been plot armor for characters on this show and many others.

The bad in “The Long Night”

  • The Night King and the Army of the Dead being destroyed this earlier into the season. After being the looming and impossible threat since the opening scene of the first episode, one battle in one episode is the full extent of their role in the final season. It feels almost too easy and anti-climactic for them to be wiped out here.
  • Ghost charging full steam ahead at the wights…only to survive? What is the point in having him on the frontlines?
  • Daenerys parking Drogon in the middle of the wight mass…for her to fall off and be saved by Jorah.

Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister.

Top performances in “The Long Night”

  • Maisie Williams as Arya Stark
  • Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen
  • Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister
  • Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark
  • Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy
  • Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm
  • Iain Glen as Jorah Mormont
  • Carice van Houten as Melisandre
  • Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion
  • Bella Ramsey as Lady Lyanna Mormont

Lingering thoughts

  • How the hell was all of this filmed?
  • Jorah died protecting his queen. Theon died protecting Bran. Their characters had exceptionally fitting conclusions. This is character development done right.
  • All of Arya’s training built up to THIS. She did THAT.
  • HOW WILL IT ALL END?

“The Long Night” is simply incredible. Sure, it does have some small issues and the end of the White Walker threat is strange. That being said, this is a television episod that needs to be watched by everyone, even those that don’t even watch “Game of Thrones.” Give this episode all the awards.

Be sure to tune into “Game of Thrones” Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on HBO.