‘Fear The Walking Dead’: Comin’ at Ya Like a Dark Horse (RECAP)
Season 7 • Episode 5
Dark horses, actually. Plural.
That’s the new name Dwight (Austin Amelio) and Sherry (Christine Evangelista) have given themselves in the 70-plus days since the nuclear bomb dropped. They’ve become “outlaws with a code” — so not really outlaws then, huh? — and they’re trying to show people the “right way to live,” because everyone’s mission is now the same as Morgan’s (Lennie James), even when they haven’t known him for all that long in the scheme of things. Anyway, here’s how it happens.
Basically, the episode boils down to the fact that Strand (Colman Domingo, excellent as ever) needed the “Dark Horses” to track down a woman who’d escaped his tower. He had Howard (Omid Abtahi, also excellent, and I wish he had more to do) bring them in, without knowing who they were. “What delicious irony,” Strand proclaims upon realizing they’re his friends — and, as he’s done to literally everyone who isn’t Morgan, he offers them a place in the tower. Seeing eerie parallels between that place and the Sanctuary, Sherry declines. But they decide to go after the woman anyway and help her find her husband, in hopes that she can also lead them to the mysterious “Padre.”
This is where the episode, like many other Fear the Walking Dead episodes this season, slides into the ditch and can’t get out. Of course, Dwight and Sherry find Mickey (Aisha Tyler), and of course, they help her. They both flirt with the idea of joining Strand at different times, but neither do. And, also somewhat predictably, Sherry and Dwight return to the cellar where they rode out the worst of the blast to find the sweet, innocent family they’d been staying with has been killed. Gee, I wonder who could’ve done that…? (Spoiler alert: It rhymes with “band!”)
There’s some drama after Sherry and Dwight discover their zombified friends and Sherry goes off on her own with Mickey. Sadly, although predictably, Mickey and Sherry discover — after shoving through a horde of walkers outside Mickey and her boyfriend’s gym — that her love was among the dead. In the end, though, Dwight shows up just in the nick of time with artillery to spare (where did he get it?!), the group takes down the walkers, Mickey reads a heartfelt note from her partner aloud, and, as the episode ends, they all ride away… only to be cornered by people in dozens of layers of clothes and gas masks who also want to find Padre.
- This episode felt off to me, tonally. I didn’t have a huge issue with the walker-wrestling fight at the end, but turning Dwight and Sherry into pseudo-superheroes “with a code!” and a cute nickname doesn’t feel realistic for the characters or for the universe in which they live. Fear and The Walking Dead and World Beyond are all supposed to take place in the same world. But lately, it’s hard to look at Fear and not think (with Strand excepted) that it’s taking a frustratingly sugar-coated approach to a setting that should be far darker and more complex than the show makes it.
- Lately every episode is back to having a “moral” (this one’s was: don’t wait to live your life; last week’s was not to let your anger harm innocent people or dogs) and almost every character either “just wants to help” or makes a turn for the greater good by the end of the episode, like Josiah (Demetrius Grosse) last week. Four seasons ago, main characters were getting high off walker brainstems, drenching themselves in guts and parading through hordes — and they hadn’t even been through a nuclear apocalypse! They were doing it just for fun!
- The show is continuing to spin its wheels. Other than a few more mentions of Padre, the plot did not move forward a single inch until the final minutes. Last season’s story had an arc; Season 7 has felt like it’s moving in a flat line.
- Mickey and her partner being former wresting stars and Dwight being a fan of theirs was a fun twist, but it wasn’t enough to save this episode. Neither, unfortunately, is the fact that Lennie James directed it — my issues, as outlined above, were more with the writing.
- I doubt Strand will survive this season. I don’t think there’s a path to redemption for him now that he’s ordered a child killed.
- Rating: 1.5/5. Other than Strand, “Till Death” had very few recommendable qualities for me. But I’m excited to see Althea (Maggie Grace) again next week, and CRM’s inclusion will perhaps make for a more intriguing episode.
Fear The Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC