‘Fear the Walking Dead’: O Brother, Where Art Thou? (RECAP)
Breathe With Me
Season 7 • Episode 4
With all the nuclear commotion on Fear the Walking Dead, you could be forgiven for forgetting one key character was until recently unaccounted for: Wendell (Daryl Mitchell). But his “twin” sister, Sarah (Mo Collins) certainly hasn’t forgotten — and in fact, her search for him is the main story in “Breathe With Me.”
As the episode opens, Sarah awakens in a mansion-type safe house with Al (Maggie Grace), Daniel (Ruben Blades), and everyone else who was on the Civic Republic Military helicopter that ferried them to safety back in the Season 6 finale. There’s some confusion about how a walker got into the house, but Sarah’s more confused about where her brother is. Al tells her they searched for Wendell, but they never found him.
Of course, Sarah doesn’t just take their word for it, or this wouldn’t be an entire episode’s plotline. Over the course of a few days, she goes out and looks for him and finds nothing — her radio transmissions eventually reach Morgan (Lennie James), but that’s about it. Until, one day, she runs into Rufus the bloodhound… and his owner, Josiah (Demetrius Grosse). They make a deal: He uses his skills in finding people to track down Wendell, she hands over Morgan. What could go wrong?
A great deal, unfortunately. Rufus leads them to one of the people who are stripping the dead for clothes, and it turns out he has Wendell’s bandana; they get the guy to take them to where he found the bandana, and Sarah finds her brother’s wheelchair covered in walker guts. Distraught, she steals one of the place’s cars and tries to leave without Josiah, but he fights his way into the car, reminding her they had a deal. As just happened two episodes earlier, a fight in a car equals unexpected and awful consequences, and they wind up stranded in a field only feet from one of the warheads (as is explained earlier in the episode, one warhead was a “dud” and didn’t explode. That doesn’t mean it’s not giving off tons of radiation, though).
Here’s where we get part of the title of the episode. As they’re contemplating the possibility of imminent death, Sarah tells Josiah about why she calls Wendell her brother. She was born premature and her mother died giving birth to her, and Sarah couldn’t breathe on her own… except for when she was with the other baby in the care unit, Wendell. That experience bonded them for life… she can’t breathe without him.
Well, Josiah suggests they call in Morgan to help get them out of their walker-surrounded car in the radiation field, and lo and behold, Morgan shows up. (Was he just, hanging out there in case someone needed his help?) This devolves into an all-out brawl between Morgan and Josiah, which devolves further into Josiah accidentally killing Rufus, not Morgan. Josiah then makes the switch from villain to semi-hero, self-reflecting and realizing his fixation on revenge was what killed his beloved dog. So, from there on out, he’s a good guy. And he doesn’t want Morgan dead anymore.
Morgan suggests that Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) might have Wendell, so they all head over to the outskirts of his tower, where they find a hilarious little platform with a phone rigged up to it, which presumably rings through to Strand’s office. How does this work? Who set it up? Unclear, but it, and the sign that sits next to it — reading “history begins with a single step, will you take it?” — are so classically Strand that it’s hard not to love them.
Strand then pulls a surprise sneak attack and emerges from behind them, saying he knew they were coming. Oh, and he has Wendell, but he has no interest in bringing Sarah into the tower, so she can either walk away or Wendell can come down to be with her, but that, as Strand puts it, is a “one-way trip.” Sarah, realizing that Wendell is better off in the tower than he is trying to survive outside, simply asks Strand not to tell her brother that she was there, lest he come looking for her. Strand agrees, and that’s that.
In the aftermath, Sarah has a breathing problem/anxiety attack, which Josiah helps her through by telling her to “breathe with [him].” Morgan offers them both a place with him and Grace, and while it seems Sarah accepts, Josiah has to go be by himself for reasons that will probably be integral to the plot later. And as the episode ends, the people who are stripping the dead have a meeting with another group of people who we’ve never seen before, and they say they have something they need to show to “Arno”… the warhead from earlier. So, that’s probably not good.
- I wish Fear wasn’t so reliant on its “one storyline per episode” structure. It was great to see Al and the rest of that group again, but they were only on screen for a couple of minutes, and who knows when we’ll see them again. Having to wait half a season to see certain characters (like Alicia?!) is getting old, fast.
- I’m not totally clear on what happened to Rufus, probably because they didn’t want to show it in detail on-screen, but — it looked to me like Josiah’s brother’s zombified head bit him, and Josiah had to put him down because otherwise, Rufus would’ve become a walker. At any rate, I was really hoping Rufus would stick around; didn’t even occur to me to be worried for him.
- Now I’m wondering where the heck Skidmark went and if we’re ever going to see him again.
- This show shouldn’t have started the amnesia storyline with Daniel if it wasn’t going to follow through on it or commit to it with any regularity. Last season it seemed like it was going to be a key component of his character, but here it’s mentioned briefly, with a few characters saying they’re helping him “work on it.” That’s fine, but show me, don’t just tell me! Another casualty, it seems, of the episodic structure. Every character only gets 41 minutes of development in a half-season, if even that.
- Rating: 3/5. Josiah’s a decent character and it was nice that Sarah got some development, but, as with many of the other episodes in Season 7 so far, it feels like the show is stalling for time.
Fear the Walking Dead Season 7, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC