As I feared, it looks like Fear the Walking Dead has already walked back last week’s shock twist that suggested one character’s imminent demise. Even more frustrating, however, were the episode’s aggressive commercial breaks that cut into the middle of scenes, sometimes while the characters were still talking!
Whoever was in charge of programming the commercials at AMC this week ought to lose their job over how sloppy the cutaways were. I’m pretty sure we lost a couple minutes of footage during at least one of the mid-scene interruptions.
The episode opens with a black-and-white prologue montage amusingly played to Depeche Mode’s “Your Own Personal Jesus.” From their former factory base, all of the main characters take turns using the radio to call out, offering help to anyone who needs it. Time and again they get no response. Finally, Morgan hears a voice desperately asking for assistance. He’s thrilled that they’ll finally have a chance to do a good deed.
Unfortunately, we soon realize that the voice on the other end is Logan (Matt Frewer), and he’s just trying to lure them away so that he can take the factory back for himself.
The Present Day
Indeed, Logan now controls the factory. However, it seems that he’s not really in charge. A group of people with him scour the factory searching for something unspecified, and when they can’t find it, a stern woman is very impatient with Logan. He’s intimidated by her.
Elsewhere, Alicia catches up with Morgan and Grace and takes a shower from the back of the decontamination truck. Despite previously insisting that exposure to irradiated zombie blood is a death sentence, Grace reassures Alicia that she’ll be fine. Now their problem is that the zombies Alicia lured away from the treehouse followed her. Worse, they hear an explosion and see a giant smoke cloud rising in the distance, signaling that the power plant’s reactor has melted down. When the three of them try to drive away, their truck gets stuck and they have to abandon it. They head for the airplane by foot with a herd of zombies on their tails.
John and Dwight also make their way toward the airplane. They try multiple cars in a dealership lot until finally finding one that still runs. Sadly, it dies on them about twenty miles from their destination. Although it had a full tank of gas, that gasoline has gone bad. They can also see the smoke from the reactor and know that they won’t have enough time to get to the plane on foot. When June radios, John tells her not to come for him. If he can’t get to her on time, he wants her to get on the plane and take off without him. She grudgingly agrees, making him swear to get back to her before that happens. Although John isn’t sure he can keep that promise, he regains hope when noticing a message written on a tree. (It says something to the effect of, “If you can read this, you’re still alive.”) Suddenly, he remembers that they’re not too far from the car where Sherry left the letter for Dwight.
Sarah drives her big-rig to the factory to talk to Logan, asking for his help. He’s not convinced by her appeal. Meanwhile, Strand, Wendell, and Charlie work to clear a runway for the plane to land when it gets to them. Their efforts are interrupted by the arrival of an unexpected car speeding towards them.
A shift in the wind starts blowing the radiation cloud from the reactor toward the airplane. This is very bad news. Morgan, Alicia, and Grace arrive at the plane with the herd of zombies close behind them. Morgan asks Grace if it’s OK to use his staff, which she wrapped in plastic after it was exposed to irradiated zombie guts, and she’s fine with it now.
When Althea gets the plane’s engines running, everyone straps into the back. June makes a hard decision to leave without John. Just then, miraculously, John and Dwight drive up in Sherry’s car, shooting at zombies. They struggle with zombies but are able to get into the plane as well.
The plane has a very shaky takeoff and has to fly toward the smoke cloud to lift off, but eventually gets airborne and banks hard to turn around. It stays in one piece. They’re going to make it!
Remembering why she took it away from him in the first place, Grace grabs Morgan’s staff and snaps it in half, then chucks the dirty half off the plane. Morgan is a little put off by only having half a staff, but is glad to have it back in his hands nonetheless.
Not wanting to ever be separated from her again, John proposes to June on the plane. She of course says yes.
As night falls, the makeshift runway goes dark, which will be a big problem for landing an airplane, especially one that’s low on fuel and won’t get more than one attempt. The man who drove up earlier turns out to be Daniel Salazar. He brought a generator and a lot of strings of Christmas lights with him. That should do the trick to illuminate the landing strip.
The lights draw the attention of a couple of zombies, one of which trips over a power cord and unplugs the lights from the generator. The runway goes dark. Wendell fights the zombies and falls out of his wheelchair. With Althea on the radio begging him to turn the lights back on, Wendell crawls across the ground, pulling himself by his hands until he plugs the cord back in right at the very last second. Althea seas the runway and puts the plane on the ground for a very hairy but ultimately successful landing. Everyone rejoices.
Safe on the ground and far from the nuclear reactor, hugs are shared all around. Salazar even admits that he was wrong about Strand.
Morgan hears a voice on his walkie-talkie asking if the plane was his and begging for help. Before he can answer, another car drives up in a rush. It’s Logan, and he warns them that the voice could be another trap.
Logan says that he has a proposition. He explains that his former partner, Clayton, understood that transportation would be an essential commodity in the new world, and set up a secret gasoline refinery. The location is supposedly detailed in Clayton’s journal, which is now in Luciana’s possession. (This is what the others at the factory were looking for.) Everyone is wary of trusting Logan, but if what he’s saying it true, it could be a major breakthrough.
I’m disappointed at how quickly Alicia’s radiation exposure is hand-waived away. The treatment of radiation in this series seems to get more absurd by the episode. If Morgan’s staff was exposed to radiation, would it only stay on one half of the stick? Are we to believe that he didn’t touch the other half when he was fighting with it?
Setting that sort of ridiculousness aside, I actually enjoyed this episode quite a bit. It has some good character beats, and the plane takeoff and landing scenes are very suspenseful. The final scene sets the stage for a potentially interesting new storyline.
This episode serves as the show’s mid-season finale, though the hiatus will be fairly short. The series returns on August 11th.
On top of being poorly placed, it seemed like there were ten times more commercials in this episode than usual. Infuriating.
Plus, I kept waiting for them to kill somebody off by having them fall out the back of the plane. Surprised they didn’t.
This show would certainly never have the balls to do it, but it would have been great if about half of the annoying kids had tumbled out the back when the plane made a hard bank to the side.
At the very least, the episode seemed to set up a big exit for Grace when she unbuckled her belt and went for Morgan’s stick. Nothing came of it, though.
P.S. Rick Grimes’ return will only be in theatres?! Come on.