It would appear that fans haven’t been terribly pleased with recent episodes of Fear the Walking Dead, some going so far as to demand that the network ret-con away this entire season and bring back old cast members who’ve been killed off. That seems ridiculous to me, but I suppose all those disgruntled Game of Thrones fans need somewhere to redirect their ire, and this is a convenient target.
The ending of the last episode in particular got a lot of people riled up when Morgan and crew simply gave up upon reaching the Humbug’s Gulch ranch and called Virginia for help without trying to clear out all the zombies on their own. Personally, I wasn’t bothered by that. The characters were exhausted and felt defeated, and didn’t think they had any other choice. It was a tough moment for them, and they made a rash decision.
The finale episode even addresses this. As Virginia gloats to Morgan on the radio and refuses to keep the members of their group together, he and the others realize that they may have made a bad call. Shortly afterward, Dwight returns with a half dozen domesticated horses – saddled up and everything – he found nearby. He says that the fact the horses are still alive means there must be a water source in the area, which is proof that Virginia lied about what happened to the previous occupants of the Gulch colony. His belief that “We can make it work here” changes some people’s attitudes. Alicia is optimistic that they can flush out the zombies without Virginia’s help. Others, particularly Strand, worry about what will happen if they start a war with Virginia.
Morgan formulates a plan. While the rest of their group hide, he and a few others take the horses and lead the zombie herd away from the ranch. Strand and Salazar wait in the treeline to act as spotters while Morgan, John, June, Grace, and Dwight round up the zombies like cattle and lay an ambush for Virginia near the site where the S.W.A.T. van was abandoned. Unfortunately, as soon as the convoy reaches the van, Salazar spots Luciana and radios Morgan to call off the attack. Thinking quickly, Strand rides off alone with his own idea for how to deal with Virginia.
Morgan and company soon lose control of the herd. Dwight is swarmed by zombies and falls off his horse, injuring his leg. He runs as best he can, trying to lead the zombies away from Morgan, Grace, John, and June. He expects to sacrifice himself to save his friends, but Morgan follows after him and rescues Dwight. John then leads the zombies to a river, where they’re washed away downstream. Sadly, the loss of the herd means that the group no longer has any leverage over Virginia.
Back to the Ranch
After Morgan and friends returns, Althea show them evidence she found that Virginia murdered the previous colonists. Nevertheless, she believes there’s no way they can win a war against Virginia. Everyone resigns themselves to giving up and letting Virginia split them apart. However, while they wait, they decide to make the best of their time. Alicia and Wes paint a mural on the church. John and June get married in a ceremony presided by Rabbi Jacob. When they don’t have any wedding rings, Dwight gives them his and Sherry’s. (The ring doesn’t fit on John’s finger, so he wears it on a necklace.) For a brief moment, everybody seems happy.
Then Virginia’s convoy arrives. She’s very pleased with herself for now having the S.W.A.T. van. Strand is with them. After leaving Salazar, he confessed to Virginia about the failed ambush and cut a deal so that she wouldn’t just come in and murder everybody.
Morgan insists that Virginia must take everyone, including Grace and the other sick or elderly. They have a standoff over his obstinance, but Virginia ultimately decides that it’s not worth wasting bullets on. Still, Morgan remains on edge.
Virginia gleefully revels in splitting everybody apart as she loads them onto separate trucks, presumably never to see each other again. Salazar promises Charlie that he’ll come for her, and is really pissed when one of the goons takes his cat. John vows to find June.
Althea is heartbroken when Virginia takes her camera, the one true love of her life. Virginia says that she’s very eager to find out everything Al knows about the helicopter, which suggests that Al’s girlfriend Isabelle is working for somebody else after all.
Strand tells Morgan and Alicia, “We can do more damage from the inside.” As always, Strand is working multiple angles at once.
Morgan finally blurts out his feelings to Grace just before Virginia pulls her away and sends her off with a doctor to check her out.
Everyone else drives off, leaving just Virginia and Morgan in the Gulch. He asks where she’s sending him, and Virginia pulls a gun. He’s not leaving. She’s had enough of him and his self-righteous demands.
Morgan swings his stick and hits Virginia in the head, but not before she gets off a shot that hits him in the shoulder. They both fall to the ground. Bleeding profusely, Morgan tries to crawl away. Virginia finds another gun and looms over him, taking a beat to enjoy her victory. When she tries to finish him off, the gun misfires.
Just then, Virginia’s radio crackles. The doctor called to report that Grace isn’t dying at all. In fact, she’s four months pregnant and has been so sick because she’s malnourished. Morgan is amazed.
A handful of zombies are drawn to the commotion. With a scornful “I do hope you die,” Virginia hops in her truck and drives away, leaving the wounded Morgan to fend for himself.
In too bad a shape to run or to defend himself, Morgan picks up the radio and calls out to any of his people who might be listening, urging them to stay strong. “We fought for the future. We made the hard call,” he says.
Things look really bad for Morgan as the episode closes with several zombies lurching toward him.
First off, Morgan’s going to be fine. If the writers really wanted to kill him off, they would have done so on-camera in this episode. That his fate is left on a cliffhanger makes it a certainty that he’ll either fight his way out of the situation or someone will miraculously come to rescue him at the last second. As far as that goes, the ending is a cheap stunt.
Other than that, however, I think this is a pretty strong finale for an admittedly rocky season. I like where it leaves things, with the characters in defeat and broken apart. That seems like a pretty interesting setup for the next season. I look forward to finding out more about Virginia’s group, and how they differ from the helicopter people.
On the one hand, I understand the fan backlash, because a lot of this season was very frustrating. On the other, Fear the Walking Dead has always been an uneven show. If anything, this season was slightly less ridiculous than some of the others. Let’s try to put things in perspective. Nothing this year was nearly as dumb as last season’s evil grade school teacher supervillain.