‘The End Is The Beginning’ Begins the End (Again) on ‘Fear TWD’ (RECAP)
[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Fear the Walking Dead Season 6, Episode 15, “USS Pennsylvania.”]
One apocalyptic event just wasn’t enough for the cultists in The End Is the Beginning. And in “USS Pennsylvania,” they’re determined to begin the end—again—through the use of nuclear missiles aboard a beached submarine.
Most of the episode revolves around the small group of Morgan (Lennie James), Strand (Colman Domingo), Dwight (Austin Amelio), Sherry (Christine Evangelista), June (Jenna Elfman) and John Dorie Sr. (Keith Carradine) attempting to stop The End Is the Beginning from launching the nukes. Things escalate as things always do, and Strand makes a choice reminiscent of his Seasons 1-3 self…and it all leads to a shocking final five minutes that seem destined to change the show as we know it.
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Doing This for Everyone
The group descends into the sub and starts looking around for the cultists, but all they find are walkers. Grace (Karen David) hung back to communicate via radio with the rest of Morgan’s people on the ground (they apparently found some info about the submarine on the surface), saying there were 150 crew members, so, presumably, 150 walkers. Yikes.
They start moving through the ship together, but at one point Morgan breaks off. Pursued by crew-walkers, Strand follows him. Initially, this bout of heroism stuns Morgan, but once Strand explains his motivation—he wants to be able to tell Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) he’s “doing this for everyone,” not just himself—Morgan’s suspicions dissipate. They continue their journey toward the control center to stop Teddy (John Glover), Riley (Nick Stahl), and Dakota (Zoe Colletti), but their path is blocked by a door with growling walkers on the other side as well as (this is Grace’s theory, based on the Geiger reading Morgan gives her) exposed nuclear material.
Looking Out for N0. 1
Going through that door is out of the question—not that Morgan, in true Morgan fashion, doesn’t try to sacrifice himself for his people and go through it anyway. Thankfully, Strand has another way; he says they can go up some stairs and find their way to the control center. There’s really no other option, so Morgan agrees. A few minutes later, he probably wishes he hadn’t. He and Strand wind up surrounded by walkers, and Strand pulls a classic “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you”-type move. He pins Morgan down, breaks the axe off his staff and shoves him into the dead.
This is not the type of decision Alicia would be proud of him for, but it’s consistent with his character, and it’s fun to speculate where he might go from here. Will he be able to cope with the guilt of having Morgan’s blood on his hands? What will he tell the group? What will he tell Alicia, who always believed he was better than this? We’ll never find out, because Morgan’s plot armor is too thick to be punctured by walker teeth.
Dakota runs into Strand as he attempts to get to Teddy and Riley, and she pulls a gun on him. After giving a lengthy speech over the radio about how she wants to be who she really is and not who Morgan would have turned her into, she seems ready to pull the trigger. Strand closes his eyes—he seems ready to die. And then, surprise! Morgan’s back. Dakota still pulls the trigger, but the bullet hits Strand in the arm rather than the chest, and Morgan knocks Dakota unconscious.
It’s not surprising that Morgan and Strand make it to the control room. Nor is it surprising that what gets them in is a last-minute hail Mary involving swiping ID cards Morgan took off the bodies of the dead he snuffed after Strand trapped him (why not?). It’s not even surprising that Morgan doesn’t kill Teddy and Riley. What is surprising is that Morgan is too late. Team Nuclear Zombie Apocalypse has managed to get off one nuke, which will split into 10 warheads that’ll strike all across Texas, presumably—we at least know they don’t get within striking distance of Alexandria, Virginia.
As the episode ends, Teddy and Riley have gone off to…well, wherever they’ve gone off to. The rest of the group outside the ship watches in stunned horror as the warhead soars into the sky. And Morgan sits quietly in the control center, contemplating his failure.
- I hate to say it, but the vast majority of this episode felt like filler. Apart from the last five minutes or so, nothing of lasting consequence happened: Strand’s big moment, while shocking for a time, didn’t mean much because Morgan is immortal. A comparable parallel that did have lasting impact would be Shane (Jon Bernthal) and Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince), but Fear wouldn’t go down that route with a main character. The rest of the group didn’t even really do anything, except Dad Dorie, who got to have a verbal confrontation with Teddy that I’m guessing will lead to both of them dying in the blast.
- Did everyone forget about the walker-guts trick? How many times did Strand see Nick (Frank Dillane) do that and walk through a horde? I honestly thought the group was about to slather themselves in walker blood when they killed the one at the beginning, but no one does that anymore.
- I’m think another time jump that lines Fear up with the main show is inevitable. Unless they figure out a way to strike down these nukes, which I kind of doubt, I think we’re headed for an “everyone ends up in separate bunkers” situation. Someone even mentioned another one—not the one Alicia is in—this episode, so probably most of the mains are going to end up there.
- Is Alicia all alone in her bunker?! I’m confused. Last week, I thought Teddy had intended for her to lead his people. This week, he’s leading his people to die in the blast. Does he really think Alicia’s going to be capable of being “the Beginning” if she’s been alone for years? Or are all of his people not out there with him?
- Where did Althea (Maggie Grace) go? Hopefully she’s heading to CRM, because that would be a cool story for her. Either that, or she’s going to save everyone in the finale by getting the helicopter people involved.
- Rating 3/5. “USS Pennsylvania” had a neat set and an impactful character moment for Strand, but it mostly feels like it was stalling for time to set up an explosive (ha!) finale.
Fear the Walking Dead Season 6, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC