The good news is that this week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead is a little more interesting and less frustrating than last week’s. Unfortunately, the choice of villain for this part of the season seems more and more misguided the more we see of her.
Morgan and his group are still stuck on the hospital roof. Althea isn’t responding on the walkie-talkie. June asks Morgan how they’re going to get out of this jam. He looks despondent and says he doesn’t have any more ideas. They’re screwed. That’s not what anyone wants to hear.
Jim continues to be an asshole. His impending death from the Walker bite hasn’t exactly helped his mood. Morgan catches him standing on the building ledge and tries to talk him down from jumping, but it turns out that he’s just pissing off the side of the building onto the milling zombies below. Morgan asks him to help with their escape plans, but Jim remains surly and tells him to go screw himself. Sarah then comes to talk to him and presses him to tell her his beer recipe so that his brew can live on even if he doesn’t. Jim won’t give it up.
While Jim stays behind on the roof to sulk, everyone else takes the elevator back down to the top floor of the hospital. The floor is eerily quiet, with no sign of either Althea or any Walkers. Searching carefully, they come across a section where the roof collapsed and trapped a bunch of Walkers in the rubble. (All of them on the floor, though?) They move on to the generator room and find a note from Al explaining that her walkie battery died and she left via the freight elevator to go find help. Sarah takes a look at the generator and finds that it’s just about out of gas. If they want to take that elevator, they need to do so ASAP.
Morgan volunteers to stay behind and create a distraction for the Walkers on the ground so that the others can get out of the building. When the rest of them get to the loading dock, they find the fence around the hospital swarming with Walkers. (How many hospitals are surrounded by fence like this? Are we to assume that survivors built it at some point to keep the dead out, but failed to keep the building secure?)
Morgan drags a dead Walker to the roof and, with no help from Jim, tosses it off the side of the building directly onto the top of a car with an alarm that starts blaring. What amazing luck that he precisely hit a car that not only happens to have an alarm system, but still has juice in its battery! The herd of Walkers on the ground are drawn to the noise, making enough of an opening for everybody else to run to a waiting (and still functioning) ambulance. June radios Morgan and urges him to join them, but he insists that they have to leave without him. As the car battery dies and the alarm stops, Luciana has no choice but to drive the ambulance away.
Strand and John look up and see Alicia and Charlie waving to them from across the floodwater lake that has trapped them. At virtually the same moment, Alicia hears Morgan’s voice on the walkie-talkie. (Wow, those things have great range! Aren’t they half a state away from each other?) Morgan gives her a general summary of their situation but is afraid to tell her exactly where they are in case evil Martha is listening.
Alicia and Charlie head off in search of a boat to cross the water. Formerly the optimist, John is depressed and fears they won’t come back. Strand has actually flipped roles with him and assures him that everything’s going to work out.
It doesn’t take too long before the girls find a canoe strapped to the top of a car, but as they approach it, gunshots ring out in their direction. It’s crazy Martha shooting and them and ranting about being weak. They take cover until Martha suddenly passes out, overcome by her injuries from her last battle.
Rather than bother with the canoe, Alicia steals back the S.W.A.T. truck and drives it straight across the water-logged ground. Good thing she was able to accurately judge exactly how deep the water would be. The truck charges right through without getting stuck. John and Strand are psyched. Charlie gives John his hat back. They open the rear doors to reveal Martha being held captive.
Martha eventually wakes up, pissed about the fact that they helped her, which she considers a sign of weakness. She then starts cackling about how they’ll soon see what a mistake they’ve made.
All Together Now
Just as Morgan resigns himself to his fate of being stuck on the building roof with grumpy Jim, he hears a lot of noises coming from the street. Truck noises. Then June radios to tell him she’s come back for him. Then John chimes in. They’ve reunited and he’s here too. So is everybody, and they brought a fire truck with a really long ladder! The truck is out of gas (how did they get it there?), but the ladder controls work fine.
The ladder is a little short, about two stories. Morgan finds a rope and climbs down to a landing at nearly same the height as the ladder. A Walker attacks him, but John sharpshoots that sucker right through the eyes from all the way down on the street. Morgan then leaps off the building straight into the bucket at the end of the ladder.
Nearby Walkers hear all this commotion and surround the fire truck. Everybody climbs on top as Morgan is lowered down to them, but now they’re trapped and can’t get to the S.W.A.T. truck. Somehow, nobody sees the obvious solution, which is to swing the ladder over toward the truck and walk right to it above the zombies’ heads.
Instead, as they fret about how to get out, Jim radios. Morgan has inspired him and he’s had a change of heart. He’s going to help. First, he talks to Sarah and dictates his beer recipe, ending with a secret ingredient he asks her not to share.
When that’s done, Jim climbs back on the building ledge, aims for a car below, and leaps to his death, sacrificing himself to set off another alarm and lure the Walkers away. A gap clears and everyone runs to the S.W.A.T. truck. It’s empty. Martha has escaped, but they decide not to worry about that too much.
Safely down the road a bit, everyone is in a really good mood. They debate what to name the beer once Sarah finds a way to brew it. Knowing how much it would annoy him, Sarah suggests “Jimbo’s Beerbos.”
Morgan announces a new plan. He wants to find Althea and then head back to Virginia, bringing everyone with him. They all think this is a swell idea.
Lest they get too comfortable, the episode ends by revealing that Martha found Jim’s corpse. What’s more, she was listening in on his last conversation and scrawls the beer recipe all over his face in marker. When he reanimates as a zombie, she announces, “You’re strong now.”
I started this recap by stating that this episode is better than the last one, and I indeed felt that way while watching it, but transcribing all the events makes it clear just how much the plotting is filled with really ridiculous conveniences and contrivances. What if Jim had jumped off the building and missed the car below? Or it didn’t just happen to have an alarm? Or its battery was already dead? The whole plot of this episode would fall apart. How did he know that car would have an alarm, much less one still working?
And, again, the Martha character is a huge liability to the show this season. She is utterly absurd and unbelievable as a villain. (Our reader Dave described her as an evil bag lady last week, and… yeah… that nails it.) Nothing about her makes sense, least of all how she could possibly be a threat to all these other, better, smarter characters, who have their own S.W.A.T. truck. She’s just one crazy lady. Run her down, ferchrissakes. Hell, if Alicia hadn’t decided to become a goody-two-shoes and had just left her to die, this entire storyline would have resolved itself by now.