Viewers who’ve felt that Fear the Walking Dead has lacked a compelling villain this season may be pleasantly surprised this week. Following several obvious filler entries, it’s nice to have a fairly eventful episode again.
As if in response to complaints that Logan (Matt Frewer) is an underdeveloped antagonist, episode Leave What You Don’t opens with a flashback to fill us in on a little of his backstory. Set during the time when he was still working with his partner Clayton, we find Logan dropping a charity box on the side of the road when he receives a distress call from a woman named Serena. She’s trapped in one of his truck stop depots, surrounded by zombies who are about to break into the building. Logan tries to radio Clayton, who should be closer to the woman’s location, but gets no response. He speeds off in his big rig to help her himself, only to run out of gas halfway there. He jumps out and runs the rest of the way on foot. Sadly, Serena is already dead by the time he gets to her. Logan is deeply distressed by this and collapses to his knees outside the building.
Just then, a group of people in cowboy attire trot up to him on horseback. Their leader is a woman named Virginia (Colby Minifie, recently seen in Amazon’s The Boys). She tells Logan that she’s been watching him for a while, and invites him to join what she says is a much larger operation that can help a lot more people – just not in a way he might expect.
The Oil War
We then return to the present timeline. Luciana and Wendell are in charge of the “Tanktown” operation refining oil into gasoline. The kids from the summer camp are also with them, along with a bunch of unnamed Redshirts who worked for Clayton. Wendell is sick of the place, but Luciana remains hopeful and optimistic.
They hear the sound of a truck outside the rock quarry’s main entrance and assume that Sarah has returned early, but it’s actually Logan, who smashes through the gate. The two groups have an armed standoff. Logan has more people and more guns, and points out that they probably don’t want to start a shooting match around so much gasoline. Luciana and Wendell have no choice but to surrender.
Elsewhere, John and June put two and two together and figure out Logan’s plan. They contact Alicia, who’s off painting phoenixes on trees with Strand. At the same time, Alicia receives a distress call from someone trapped in a truck stop, much as had happened to Logan previously. The timing is suspicious, but June tells Alicia to follow up on that while she and John race to the oil field in the S.W.A.T. van.
Logan finds all of Clayton’s journals, but tosses them in a fire when they don’t give explicit directions for how to make the gasoline. He demands that Luciana show him how to do it. She refuses.
Sarah and Dwight ambush a couple of Logan’s goons (including Dwight’s redneck nemesis) and steal their pickup truck. They drive right into the quarry, but don’t have much of a plan beyond that except to hop out with guns drawn and announce themselves, which seems to ruin their element of surprise. However, John and June have also arrived and have positioned themselves on a ridge overlooking the quarry. (Even this seems to waste the advantage of their S.W.A.T. van, which isn’t seen again for the rest of the episode.) John sharpshoots a zombie from a distance as a warning.
Logan calls their bluff that any of these do-gooders would ever shoot him, and he’s right about that. Sarah tries to reason with him. She’s been feeling guilt lately about how she stole Clayton’s big rig and left him to die, and warns Logan that he doesn’t want to live with that kind of regret. Logan isn’t swayed. He points out that her stealing Clayton’s truck resulted in him not being able to save the woman at the truck stop, which makes Sarah indirectly responsible for who he became and the situation they’re in right now.
Exactly as had happened to Logan in the flashback, Strand and Alicia run out of gas on their way to the truck stop and have to run the rest of the way.
Logan offers a deal. He’ll let the kids go if Luciana and Wendell work for him refining gas. They feel pressured to accept. Logan pushes them to keep a fire under an oil drum burning hotter and later than they normally would. The flames and smoke draw the attention of a herd of zombies, who stumble over the ridge and fall into the quarry. John, who seems to have an unlimited supply of bullets, snipes as many as he can, but there are too many to keep up with. Rabbi Jacob and Charlie arrive to help out a little.
Despite all this commotion, Logan refuses to leave the pump, even after henchwoman Doris abandons him. As the flames burn too hot to extinguish, he’s overcome with smoke inhalation. In the process of stealing his tanker truck to escape, Sarah turns around and goes back for Logan. She won’t do to him what she did to Clayton.
Sarah drags Logan inside a shack in the center of the quarry. A radio in there plays distress calls from the woman Alicia is trying to save. Logan recognizes that she’s calling from the same truck stop from his earlier incident. He gets on the radio, instructs her where to find a pistol with one bullet left, and suggests that she ought to shoot herself before the zombies get to her. It’s cold, but probably wise advice.
After a moment’s hesitation, the sounds of zombies grow louder and a gunshot rings out. We assume that the woman killed herself. However, this is followed by more gunfire. Wes, the former tree painter who seemed to turn into a cynical jerk, heard everything on his radio and showed up to rescue the woman. It seems that he’s not such an asshole after all.
The Morning Light
Alicia and Strand finally arrive at the truck stop. Wes tells Alicia that he likes her trees. The woman he saved says that she’s on the run from bad people. With no questions asked, Alicia invites her to join their group.
At the oil field, the fire finally burns out and most of the zombies are cleared away. More of Logan’s goons arrive as backup and Doris comes out of hiding, but he orders them to lower their weapons. Listening to Wes save the woman in the truck stop has made Logan have a major change of heart. Maybe saving people one at a time is the right thing to do after all.
A gunshot rings out and hits Logan square between the eyes. He drops the ground, dead. More shots take out Doris and some of the goons. Up on the ridge, Virginia and her cowpoke retinue have snipers on par with John Dory. They ride down to the quarry with a huge army. Our heroes are woefully outnumbered.
Virginia explains that Logan was unreliable and a liability. “We do this kind of thing for a reason,” she says. She describes her people as being like Old West pioneers or settlers, and insinuates that she’s part of an operation on a scale they can’t even comprehend. They’re going to rebuild the world, and that can be ruthless business.
Virginia says that she likes what the group has been doing and offers a deal. She’ll let them live and continue their work, but they’ll have to cook gas for her. Nobody wants to agree to this until Luciana agrees to stay and be their fuelmaster, on the condition that her friends can take a full tanker of gas with them. Virginia consents, and the episode ends with everyone parting and reluctantly leaving Luciana behind.
I have to assume that this new group (whom I’ll call the Pioneers until an official name is given) are the same helicopter people that Althea’s girlfriend worked for. I also assume that the woman in the truck stop was a defector from that group, and that Virginia won’t be pleased that she’s run away. Virginia seems pretty heartless.
This episode opens up a lot of intriguing questions. Who are these people? What are they really doing? How big is their operation? Are they the same people who kidnapped Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead prime? How is it possible that Colby Minifie is not a close blood relation to Martha Plimpton? (Seriously, she looks like she must be Plimpton’s daughter, if not a clone.)
I’m genuinely surprised by Logan’s sudden execution, and am intrigued by where this story may be heading next. With only a few episodes left this season, however, I suspect that we may have to wait until next season to get some real answers.