Eleven episodes into the fifth season of Fear the Walking Dead, and the series has hit a weird new low in terms of storylines appropriate to the zombie apocalypse. Again, not all of the storylines on Fear are necessarily bad in and of themselves — although this week’s definitely was — it’s that they often seem ill-suited to a show about civilization being overrun with zombies. Fear has evolved into what feels like the YA sister series to The Walking Dead, a deadly zombie series for viewers who don’t like death or intensity or fear.
To its credit, however, Fear has managed to draw a huge distinction with itself and The Walking Dead. The Walking Dead is about survival, about maintaining society while warding off enemies. Fear is about helping people, finding love, and spreading goodwill in the zombie apocalypse. Despite the existence of zombies and two crossover characters, the two shows could not be more different.
The A-plot in this week’s episode, “You’re Still Here,” is a doozy. Wes, the guy whose motorcycle was shot up by Logan in a previous episode, returns this week and asks Alicia and Strand for help, which they are happy to offer. Wes remains cynical of their motives, however, but reluctantly accepts their help in driving him to an abandoned police station to meet his brother. However, we quickly learn that Wes has an ulterior motive: He’s not meeting his brother. He is trying to retrieve something from a stranger who stole it from him. An altercation breaks out, the guy is shot in the stomach, and he flees in Alicia and Strand’s truck, leaving Alicia, Strand, and Wes pinned inside the police station. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that Strand inadvertently uses tear gas to confront a small horde of zombies and is temporarily blinded (why Strand seems to run toward the tear gas is another of the show’s many mysteries) . This is also a particularly inopportune time for Strand to lose his eyesight because Alicia is still suffering from PTSD after being splashed by the radioactive blood of an infected zombie, and she cannot bring herself to kill zombies.
Wes, Strand, and Alicia, however, do eventually escape, although a blind Strand has to be directed by Alicia to kill zombies (she can’t kill them herself, but has no problem directing someone else to do so). They track down the man who stole something valuable from Wes, and the man and Wes struggle over the stolen property until Wes eventually kills the man. “I just wanted to finish it,” the man says seconds before he dies. “It’s good stuff. It’s really good stuff.”
As it turns out, Wes killed a man because he stole his book. It must have been a really good book, because the man died so that he could read the end. And YET, after all of that, Wes decides NOT to take his book. “He died for it,” he tells Alicia. “He can keep it.” Except that he’s dead, and dead people can’t read (whether the man finished the book before Wes killed him remains a mystery).
Alicia, meanwhile, flips through the book and goes straight to the end, which is not how one is supposed to read a book, and sees the final words on the page. “You’re still here.” Alicia puts two and two together and realizes that Wes has been the person painting messages on trees. What does Alicia do with this information? Nothing, really, but she does decide to paint trees herself, and with her first work of art, she paints the message “No one’s gone until they’re gone,” which is the last thing that Madison said to her before she (probably) died. Painting that tree mural, meanwhile, somehow gives Alicia the emotional power to kill zombies again, which may be one of the silliest logical jumps ever committed on this show.
Meanwhile, the Morgan and Althea storyline is barely worth mentioning, save for how it sets up next week. The two try to get to the guy with Wes’ book before he dies, but Logan erects a roadblock. Morgan and Logan exchange words — Logan wants to know where Tank Town is, and Morgan doesn’t want to tell him — and Morgan eventually departs along with Althea to find an alternate route. Morgan does feel a sting when Logan mentions his wife and kid, which is this week’s obligatory nod to Morgan’s season-long attempt to get over the death of his family, nevermind the fact that Alicia has also lost her entire family, June also lost a kid, Luciana lost an entire community, and Grace is dying. But what about Morgan!?
The episode ends, however, with Logan breaking into the room where Althea keeps all of her videotapes, which Logan decides to use in order to find Tank Town. “Start watching these things,” Logan says. “Someone must have messed up while recording them. Adios yesterday. Hello tomorrow.” What does that even men? Logan remains the worst.
— Based on Logan’s motivation to get the gas, there is a possibility that Logan is connected to the CRM helicopter group. I actually hope that’s not the case, because I honestly wouldn’t want the Rick Grimes movies to be tainted by Logan.
— The tree murals pretty much rule out any possibility that Madison will return. It was all a tease.
— Eleven episodes into the season, and no major character deaths. In fact, there hasn’t been a major character death since Madison, midway through the fourth season.
— Next week’s episode appears to feature another clash with Logan. Mostly, I’m just happy to see Sarah and John Dorie involved, because even when everything else is bad, they’re usually able to provide some comic relief.