TV

‘Fear The Walking Dead’ Pulls Off A Twist That The ‘TWD’ Universe Hasn’t Seen In 8 Years

Somehow, someway, six episodes into the sixth season of Fear the Walking Dead, the series has only managed to get better, improving on each successive episode. Where has this show been for the last six years? If Fear had been this good since the beginning, it might have overtaken the parent series creatively and in terms of popularity around the time that Rick left TWD. Fear has now entered a stretch of six episodes that could probably rival any six-episode run in ten seasons of The Walking Dead.

I know I sound hyperbolic, but Fear really is spectacularly good this season.

The latest episode, “Bury Her Next to Jasper’s Leg,” centers primarily on June and Virginia, who hold cross-purposes but also seem to want some of the same things, namely to keep everyone safe and alive. Virginia is being confronted by the biggest threat of her reign, namely the mysterious gang of spray-painters who continue to graffiti, “The end is the beginning,” in various places around Virginia’s community as a sort of threat. It’s unnerved Ginny, who tracks down one of the spray painters in the episode’s cold open, but the woman fatally shoots herself rather than give up any information to Ginny. It’s a serious move and leaves one to wonder if Ginny’s group — the Pioneers — is the precursor to CRM, or if this spray-paint gang is the real origin of CRM?

Meanwhile, June (with Sarah as her assistant) is single-handedly running the medical operations for Ginny’s communities. Unfortunately, she’s stretched too thin and doesn’t have the necessary resources, so she keeps losing people she can’t get to in time. June wants a hospital for the community, but Ginny won’t give her one.

Ginny and June are brought together when the spray-paint gang blows up oil town, and June has to try and save as many people as possible. While Ginny also wants to save lives, she’s more interested in finding out who is responsible. She thinks that Wes (who is severely wounded) is involved, and refuses to let June care for him while she interrogates him. June eventually overrides Ginny’s wishes. However, in the chaos of a huge explosion, Ginny gets bitten by a zombie on the hand.

This is where the episode gets really interesting, because June has the ax, and if June wanted to, she could let Ginny die. It would solve a lot of problems, not least of which is John Dorie’s desire to run as far away as possible (it would also liberate Sherry’s group, which exists solely to kill Ginny). The alliances on Fear, however, are getting muddy, and that’s what’s so compelling right now. Ginny genuinely seems to believe that she is serving the greater good, and some in Morgan’s group (like Strand) seem to be leaning into that goal. Until Janice’s death, John Dorie had also bought into Ginny’s system.

Here, June has a choice: let Ginny die, or amputate her hand and save her. There hasn’t been an amputation of an infected limb in The Walking Dead universe in eight years (since Hershel’s leg was removed). Here, writer Alex Delyle pulls off a new twist: June leverages the amputation. She tells Ginny that she’ll ax off her hand, but only if Ginny builds her a hospital. Ginny agrees, and June whacks off the infected hand and saves Ginny’s life. It’s a simmering sequence full of emotional conflict. It’s also the most dramatically tense scene I can remember from the series.

The problem, however, is this: having convinced Ginny to build her a hospital, June can’t bring herself to run away with John Dorie, who is spiraling in the wake of Janice’s death. “John, the hospital is happening,” she tells him. “We can’t just leave. I don’t want to leave… every time I run, it leads me to something worse. I don’t want to run.”

John insists that June has “the wool pulled over her eyes,” and as they are heading back to their settlement, John — following behind them in his truck — pulls off, and heads away, leaving the love of his life behind because he can’t bring himself to work for Ginny any longer. Heartbreaking.

Additional Notes

— In what appears to be a good-faith gesture to June for saving her, Ginny also reunites Wendell and Sarah in a big, crowd-pleasing moment near the end of the episode.

— Colby Minifie, who just signed on as a series regular to The Boys, is the true MVP of this season. She’s got some real Negan energy: She’s a ruthless villain, but it’s hard not to root for her a little bit. I could not believe that I found myself hoping that June would save her life rather than killing her. I’m not ready for Fear to lose Minifie.

— She doesn’t figure that much into the plot, but Luciana is in the episode if only to remind us that she’s still around.

— The stand-alone episodes have been working wonders for Fear. The one downside, however, is that we haven’t seen Alicia since the second episode.

— I suspect that John will eventually run into Dwight, Al, and Morgan’s gang, so it’s not like Garrett Dillahunt is leaving the series or anything. I do expect Dorie to continue his mental slide, at least in the short term.

— The “spray-paint gang” does not sound particularly menacing, but it is the most descriptive label we have for them now.

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