In last week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead, “Close Your Eyes,” the show kept its focus on only two characters, Alicia and Charlie, as Alicia sought to forge a relationship with her brother’s killer during a hurricane. In this week’s episode, “The Code,” the focus turns to Morgan, who makes a few new frenemies on his way to and back from Virginia.
Let’s begin by at least acknowledging that Morgan — who has been contemplating his return to Virginia since the midseason premiere — doesn’t actually make a conscious decision to leave. He seeks refuge in the back of an 18-wheeler, and when he wakes up, he is in Mississippi, which must mean that he was dead tired enough to fall asleep for at least 10 hours without noticing that a semi is driving through the zombie apocalypse (was there tranquilizer in that protein bar?)
“Take what you need, leave what you don’t,” a woman tells Morgan through a CB radio inside a fully-functioning gas station (with freshly brewed coffee!) in Mississippi. This becomes our first introduction to an unknown group of people, who apparently use semi trucks to leave supplies on the side of the freeway for passersby in need. In that gas station, he meets Sarah (Mo Collins) and Wendell (Daryl Mitchell), who purport to belong to this altruistic group of truck drivers.
We soon find out, however, that Daryl and Wendell do not belong to said group; they stole a truck from one of its members because they’re looking to find a community in which they can join. They also inexplicably kidnapped a man named Jim (Aaron Stanford) because he knows how to brew beer because even in the apocalypse, there’s a premium on booze. Jim is also convinced that beer is the future, the stuff of life!
In saving Jim, however, Morgan learns the truth about Sarah and Wendell, who tie Jim and Morgan up and throw them into the back of their semi. They try to extract the location of the Alexandria community out of Morgan, but fail to do so. Meanwhile, he eventually gets trapped on top of a van surrounded by zombies that he has to navigate without their help.
Long story short: Despite their kidnapping efforts, Sarah and Wendell seem mostly harmless. In fact, after backstabbing each other, Morgan, Jim, Sarah and Wendell eventually come to an uneasy truce: Morgan will tell them how to get to Alexandria, but only if they complete the original truck driver’s supply deliveries, return to Texas to check on Alicia and the Gang, and return the truck to its original owner. The catch? The original truck driver, Pervis, has been killed by a woman who appears to have some mental problems, and she apparently plans to kill Morgan and his new friends when they find her.
So, there is a villain in the back half of season four beyond the hurricane, although we don’t yet have much in the way of details about her or her motives. Expect her to enter again into the story in a couple of weeks (I suspect that next week’s episode will cover Al and June’s whereabouts during and after the storm, while the following week will tackle Strand and John’s journey, which will leave the season with three more episodes to reunite all the Fear cast members and take care of the villain before the finale).
What’s notable about this week’s episode beyond the introduction of three new characters is how it endeavors to inject more humor into the show. It takes a few scenes to adjust to the show’s more upbeat vibe, because we are so accustomed to the more grim nature of The Walking Dead universe, but it’s there, particularly in Jim and his obsession with beer, as well as Wendell and Sarah’s determination to “keep on truckin’.”
It will be interesting to see how well these new characters get along with the existing Fear characters and how long they survive (I hope that Wendell, at least, is in it for the long haul). I think the question that’s on most viewers’ minds is whether Morgan will ever go through with his promise to take the new characters to take them back to Alexandria, and whether that is the ultimate end-game for everyone in Fear, or whether this notion of returning will pass if Morgan finally integrates into the Fear community.
It may take a while before an answer to that question comes into focus. In the meantime, Fear looks to follow a familiar pattern of following the storylines of individual groups before putting them back together in the season’s final episodes.