It’s a good thing I take detailed notes before writing my TV recaps, because most of what happened in this week’s very uneventful episode of Fear the Walking Dead has already fled my mind by the next day after watching it.
Are you as fascinated by the trees scrawled with inspirational graffiti as Alicia has been this season? No? Me neither. Nevertheless, that mystery is the driving force of episode You’re Still Here.
Alicia is intently studying one of these trees when a Walker lurches out of the bushes. It’s been there so long that foliage has grown through its body, and it actually tears itself apart when it lunges for her. Gross. A couple of other, normal Walkers then approach from a different direction. Because Alicia is still coping with PTSD, she can’t kill them herself. Fortunately, Strand saves her in time. He tries to remain supportive, but is growing a little impatient with Alicia’s spiritual quest.
The two receive a call on the radio from a man who watched their video. It’s the motorcycle dude we saw a couple weeks ago. His name is Wes (Colby Hollman) and he needs a ride since his bike got shot up by Logan. He tells them what happened and he seems to be a pretty nice guy. However, as soon as they drop him off at his supposed home – a state police station – he goes inside and opens fire on someone in there. A man runs out of the building clutching his stomach, hops in a truck, and drives away while Wes continues shooting at him.
Alicia and Strand are naturally a little disconcerted by this. All the commotion also draws the attention of a herd of zombies. Strand grabs some riot gear out of a police car, but the shotguns only shoot rubber bullets. One gun fires a tear gas cannister that gets lodged in a Walker’s gut. Strand has to expose himself to the gas to kill the zombie. Alicia drags him into the police station, and the three lock themselves in the building. They’re surrounded by Walkers and Strand has been blinded by the tear gas.
Wes says that the man he shot at stole something from him. He searches the building but can’t find his missing property. Alicia tries to lecture him about the serious ramifications of taking a human life, but Wes isn’t having any of it. A guy took something that was his, and now he’s gonna kill that guy, end of story. Wes turns out to be kind of a dick.
Alicia radios Althea and asks her to help find and rescue the gunshot victim. When she gets the call, Althea is with Morgan at a bank, storing her interview tapes in a safety deposit box. (She of course just happens to know the combination to the vault – another amazing skill we can add to her ever-growing list of convenient talents.)
Al and Morgan head out in the direction the man was seen driving, but soon hit a roadblock by Logan, who listened in on the conversation. He refuses to let them pass unless they tell him where the oil fields are located. They of course refuse, but can’t find an alternate route to where they’re going. When Logan taunts Morgan about his wife and son (which he knows about from watching their documentary), Morgan snaps and attacks him. Al has to drag him away before Logan’s goons shoot him.
Al radios back to Alicia and tells her that they’re stuck. Alicia is determined to help the guy Wes shot, even if it means having to kill Walkers again. She loads up a bag with guns and ammo, but Wes comes around and offers to help clear the zombies out of the way. He slips outside and shoots a bunch of them. A couple of Walkers smash into the building and come for Alicia, who almost has to fight them, but Strand regains enough eyesight to do it for her again.
Eventually, the three of them get out of the building and track down Wes’ victim. From a distance, it appears that the man died and turned. Wes struts up to him to take back a bag, but the man is actually still alive and jumps him. Wes stabs him in the side with a knife, and the man fall off him.
Wes searches the bag and pulls out a manuscript he’d written (which appears to be about five pages long, but Alicia continually refers to as a “book”). Alicia is appalled that Wes would take a life over something so trivial, but it’s clearly very important to Wes. Before he dies, the thief tells Wes that he just wanted to finish the story, and that it’s “good stuff.” After his dying breath, Wes stabs him in the head. He claims to have no remorse, but he leaves the book with the body, saying, “He died for it. He can have it.” Then he walks away.
Alicia takes a look at the pages and discovers that the last line of the manuscript is the same inspirational message painted on trees: “If you’re reading this, you’re still here.” She looks in his motorcycle sidecar and finds it filled with paint cans and brushes. Wes was the mysterious tree painter the whole time. However, he apparently turned cynical at some point and no longer cares about inspiring people.
Despite Wes’ change in attitude, this experience leads Alicia to a breakthrough. She takes up his former mission for herself, painting trees in her own way with the image of a bird and the message, “No one’s gone until they’re gone.” This helps her get past her PTSD, and she kills a Walker again without even thinking about it.
Morgan also has a heart-to-heart with Al and agrees to record another interview to tell her about his wife and son.
The episode ends with Logan using a truck to smash into the bank vault. He’d been keeping tabs on Althea and knows she’d been there. He hoped to find Clayton’s journal, but failing that, he scoops up all of Al’s tapes and orders his lackeys to start watching them to find something useful. Uh oh.
This is a big nothing of an episode. The plot twist with Wes being the tree painter is as easy to guess as it is uninteresting to watch. Now Alicia’s painting trees and I have to wonder why I’m supposed to care. The story goes nowhere and the character development isn’t particularly compelling.
The episode has a few creative zombie kills, but doesn’t offer much beyond that. It’s easily skippable.
Joshua P. Christie
I have tried to stay away from commenting because you know the saying, if you don’t have anything nice to say…? What in the world has happened to this show? To say it has hit the bottom of the barrel would be an understatement. The writing is beyond atrocious both in terms of the storytelling and with the characters. Nothing is believable. Nothing is realistic. Nothing is exciting or makes any sense. All of these really great actors by and large have been written to act and say and do the same things with no semblance of their former personalities. You would think to have an Alicia/Strand-centric episode would be a nice throwback seeing as how they are really the only backbone that is left to what Fear actually was. The way they talk and act doesn’t even feel like it is the same characters anymore. I really feel for the actors being saddled with these repetitive, nonsensical scripts every week or worse (in the case of John Dorie), going weeks on end without even being on the show. This cast is way overpopulated and for what? The showrunners cannot manage 2 or 3 characters at a time, let alone nearly a dozen ensemble that never even share screen time together. Logan may be the worst villain in Walking Dead history which saddens me because Matt Frewer is another great actor who is being given absolutely nothing to do here. I’m trying to make it through the end of this half run hoping it goes somewhere but to what end? The show has already been renewed with the same writers and showrunners in place. After a season and a half of “we are the good guys, let’s save the world”, I do not not see the MO of this show changing anytime soon. It probably doesn’t help that I just re-watched Season 3 of Fear from having gotten it for $10 on Black Friday last year. I enjoy your reviews but I’m about ready to tap out I’m afraid.