All the time-jumping from past to future on ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ this season is getting to be annoying, especially in this week’s episode. Somebody should tell the writers that they’re not doing ‘Westworld’. Telling the story in a regular way would be more compelling for this show.
We start in a series of brief flashbacks to John and Laura’s happier days together before landing in the black-and-white future, where John has been shot but is still alive. Laura and Morgan run to his aid and drag him behind a car while a big shootout happens in the background. Morgan introduces himself as John’s friend. Laura runs off, telling him that she’s going to get medical supplies.
Alicia and friends shoot it out with the Vultures, which amounts to a big waste of bullets as one person will pop up to shoot at another person after they’ve already ducked down behind a car, then the opponent will do the same, back and forth repeatedly. Pop up, shoot, duck, pop up, shoot, duck. Only very rarely is anyone hit.
Laura runs for an ambulance and yells to Vulture leader Mel that she needs a field kit, but he drives off without her. Then Alicia fires a grenade round (she had these the whole time?) and blows up the ambulance, Mel inside.
Althea stands to the side and videotapes this whole scene. Initially, she doesn’t want to help anyone or make herself part of the story, but Morgan guilts her into taking action.
Alicia threatens to shoot Laura for betraying them to the Vultures, but Althea drives the S.W.A.T. truck up and makes Alicia stand down by aiming the truck’s machine guns at her. Laura hops in the back of the truck with Morgan and John. Before they leave, Morgan convinces young Charlie to come with them. Laura tells Althea to drive back to the baseball stadium. When Charlie asks why Morgan would want to save her after she killed Nick, he tells her that, “This has to stop someplace.” Ah, old pacifist Morgan is back again. As she drives, Althea asks Charlie to tell her story.
In better days and full-color, Madison and crew rebuild the stadium and plant new crops. Having deterred the Vultures, their future looks bright. Then Charlie comes knocking on the gate, asking for help.
Charlie brings Madison and friends to the scene of a car accident. A badly wounded Mel lies unconscious behind the wheel. Nick doesn’t trust Charlie and is wary that this is somehow a trap, but Maddie makes the call to bring him back to the stadium. She wants to prove that she’s a better person than Mel or the Vultures are.
Back to the Future
Alicia spots Mel, still alive but barely, crawling out of the ambulance wreckage. She kneels over him for a moment, nothing but disgust on her face as he reaches up for help. Alicia shoots him in the head.
The Past Again
Mel wakes up, handcuffed to a bed in the stadium. Once he realizes where he is, he asks about Charlie and says they all need to get out of there because it’s not safe. His brother Ennis (the hipster douche that Nick will eventually murder) is planning an attack. Those numbered flags the Vultures have been hanging are counters for how many zombies they’ve herded and captured. Ennis is going to truck thousands of them in.
When Maddie is unswayed and remains convinced that they can hold their ground, Mel tries to appeal to Laura, recognizing that she’s a pragmatic survivor. He tells her that she can join his crew if she helps him escape with Charlie. Although Laura doesn’t take that deal, she does still try to convince Madison that they need to abandon the stadium. By this point, Maddie can’t be budged. She’s made up her mind. She even admits that she had Alicia pack up the Land Rover with supplies as a contingency plan, but then felt guilty about it and decided not to use it.
When she’s had enough of him, Maddie unchains Mel, puts him in the Land Rover full of supplies, and kicks him out of the stadium, knowing that this is likely a death sentence and he won’t get far. She insists that Charlie will stay at the stadium and closes the gate behind him.
Charlie is very upset when she learns that Mel is gone. Alicia left a working walkie-talkie in the car and lets the girl speak with him. He barely gets a few words out between coughing fits before he’s cut off. Charlie begs Alicia and Nick to help him. After a moment of deliberation, they agree and head out to find Mel.
Laura tells Madison that she’s decided to stay, even though it’s against her nature.
Nick and Alicia find Mel in his car, pulled off to the side of the road. Before they can do anything with him, they hear vehicles approaching. They duck and hide as Ennis leads a long convoy of trucks toward the stadium. This doesn’t look good. They radio Strand to warn him about what’s coming.
At first, just one truck drives up to the stadium, leaving a trail of gas or oil behind it. Alicia and Nick, plus an unconscious Mel, come in next but are worried that it must be a trap. After them come trucks, trucks and more trucks. The rest of the convoy parks and the Vultures unload hundreds of zombies out of them, heading first for Nick and Alicia’s car.
Before their friends can do anything, someone in the first truck tosses a Molotov cocktail and creates a wall of fire between the stadium and the car. Strand notices that the zombies are covered in oil, which will be bad news when they hit the flames. This storyline ends on a cliffhanger as Maddie, Strand and Luciana insist on going out to help Alicia and Nick.
The Future One More Time
As Althea drives the S.W.A.T. truck up to the abandoned stadium, Laura tells her that they need to go inside for medical supplies she stashed there. When asked how she knows they’ll still be there, Laura says that the Vultures picked clean everything they could from outside the walls but didn’t dare go inside. Once Althea smashes through a gate, we see why. The field is filled with countless milling zombies who are suddenly interested in all the noise the truck makes.
As I said at the outset, this episode has too much needless time-hopping. I’m interested in the details of how the stadium will fall, but already knowing the outcome undercuts the suspense. The shooting and battle scenes are also clumsily staged. After a strong start, I fear this season is falling into old ‘Walking Dead’ habits.