Fear the Walking Dead gives us a few more details about the mysterious new antagonist group introduced last week, some of which may actually cause more confusion. The show also finds time for a musical number, if you can believe it.
Not yet aware of what transpired at Tanktown, Morgan and Althea are out on a relief mission to drop off charity boxes when they encounter a man named Tom trying to steal some of their gas. Tom panics at the sound of horse hooves coming toward them, and the three all hide in a car while a group of armed Cowboys (or Pioneers, or Settlers, or whatever you want to call them) search for him. Morgan and Al have no reason to know who these people are, but they certainly seem threatening.
After the riders leave, Tom explains that he had been living with a settlement in a condo complex called Paradise Ridge. As the situation there deteriorated, the Pioneers arrived offering to help. However, it soon became clear that they weren’t good people. Tom escaped, but his sister Janice is still trapped at the complex and he wants to rescue her.
Althea recognizes details in Tom’s story that sound an awful lot like the group her girlfriend Isabelle worked for. She plans to sneak into the condo complex, allegedly to rescue Janice, but really hoping to find Isabelle. Morgan won’t let her go alone and insists on tagging along. Using a Walker as a distraction, they slip past the guard at the gate and snoop around. While they’re inside, a gas truck arrives that they recognize from Tanktown. Al and Morgan split up to search.
Althea discovers a map with key symbols marked on it and an inventory list written on a whiteboard. She videotapes both of them. Morgan finds no sign of Janice, but does run into a Walker locked in an apartment bedroom. He accidentally sets it free, and the zombie falls off the balcony onto the ground below, where it attacks Al and pushes her into a swimming pool. As Al struggles with it underwater, Morgan dives in to save her.
As soon as they surface, floodlights turn on around the pool. With a coterie of armed guards by her side, Virginia (Colby Minifie) stands over them, laughing, “You two sure know how to make an entrance.”
Virginia doesn’t kill them. She knows who they are from watching Al’s documentary (which seems more and more like a very stupid idea). She lets them towel off and tells them that their friends from the oil field are all fine… unless they were friends with Logan, in which case, not so much. When they ask about Janice, Virginia claims that the woman ran off.
Virginia gives them a pitch about how her people are doing the same thing their group is, just on a bigger scale and much better at it. Morgan and Al are of course wary. Al asks if they have any helicopters, but Virginia dismisses the idea. She says they barely have enough gas for their trucks, which is why they needed to take the oil field.
Eventually, Virginia lets Morgan and Al go. She returns their weapons and Al’s camera. She even had a woodworker repair Morgan’s stick by grafting on a new half onto the broken end. She tells Al to keep the videos of what she saw. In fact, she’d appreciate it if she could spread the word about what they’re doing. Neither Morgan nor Al buy into what she’s selling, but they’re glad to walk away unharmed.
After they return to him, Tom is apologetic about putting them in danger. Morgan promises that they’ll help to find his sister.
End of the Line
Grace and Salazar receive word about Tanktown while out on a supply run to an old strip mall. They load a truck with useful items, and Salazar is very pleased to find a record store with a decent selection of albums on vinyl. Unfortunately, their truck breaks down on the way to the convoy rendezvous, and they’re attacked by Walkers who trash most of Salazar’s vinyl collection. Salazar is bummed. He’d hoped to share some of his favorite albums with Charlie.
The two take refuge for the night in an abandoned bar, where they discover a guitar. Grace knows how to play and suggests that she can teach Charlie. Salazar finds it encouraging that Grace is making plans for the future. She says that she has to take things day-by-day but tries not to think about her mortality. She picks up the guitar and the pair have a nice moment doing an impromptu performance of a Traveling Willburys song. The lyrics seem perhaps a little on-the-nose:
Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze
Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please
Well it’s all right, doing the best you can
Well it’s all right, as long as you lend a hand
Following his encounter with Virginia, Morgan has a breakthrough and realizes how dumb he’s been to keep his feelings for Grace bottled up. He tries to radio her. Sadly, Salazar answers and reports that her health took a sudden turn for the worse. Things don’t look too good for her.
The big question at the end of this episode is whether Virginia was telling the truth about not having a helicopter. Everything else about her group sure sounds like they must be the mysterious organization that Isabelle worked for, but now we perhaps have the possibility of more than one faction trying to rebuild the world. If so, are they aware of each other? Are they at war with each other? Frankly, it’d probably be a lot simpler to just assume that Virginia lied.
That takeaway provides a lot of food for thought. The rest of the episode leading up to it is fine but not exactly groundbreaking. It has some decent suspense and character work, but mostly it feels like an excuse to give screen time to some characters who were inexplicably absent from the big showdown last week.