'Fear The Walking Dead' Midseason Premiere: A Storm Is Brewing (RECAP)
If the posters and trailers for the second half of AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead are to be believed, there’s “no calm after the storm.” If this episode proves anything, it’s that there’s no calm before the storm, either.
The ninth episode of the season — titled “People Like Us” — focuses on just that: the people. It gave its characters time to breathe while showing how each member of the original cast was dealing with the losses of Nick and Madison Clark. None of them are taking it well, though they’re all processing it differently.
Things Bad Begun
The episode opens with the storm already in full swing. A creaky “road may flood” sign gives way to walkers chowing down on a horse, but they can’t dine in peace. They’re yanked away from their tasty treat by some nasty strong winds.
As the camera pans over, a familiar vehicle appears: Althea’s SWAT vehicle. With that, the opening credits appear, showing walkers roaming beneath a series of grim-looking funnel clouds. Yikes.
Home on the Range
Several hours earlier, Morgan takes down a series of walkers with his wooden walking stick. On the third walker, he finds something of use: a handheld radio.
The next scene shows a few knick-knacks Morgan must have picked up on his walker-hunting spree, as he sits in the back of a wagon. He eventually takes out the radio and calls Althea. He doesn’t want to talk to her about his old home, but he can show her; he asks her to drive him back to Alexandria in the morning.
Morgan eventually makes the same offer to John Dorie, who’s recovering from his wounds in the back of a school bus. “That’s a long way from here,” John says, eventually flat-out denying Morgan’s invitation. Once he’s healed, he plans to go back to his cabin and live there with Charlie and June.
Morgan next travels to a ranch, where he nearly gets shot as he takes down a walker. This apologetic, aimless enigma is none other than Victor Strand. He appreciates the mansion’s fine wine, and when Morgan steps inside, he offers him a glass. Morgan refuses. Someone drink with Strand, please!
The ranch is Alicia, Luciana and Strand’s new home, or so it seems. Morgan extends his offer to Luciana and Strand, who decline. Luciana tells Morgan there’s “Nothing left for (her) anywhere.” Strand seems perfectly happy with the mansion and all the luxuries it has to offer.
No one knows where Alicia is, though Morgan finds her taking down walkers after searching for her in a shed near the ranch. There he found a series of notes asking for help, and assuming they’re from her, he offers her a place in Alexandria. Like all the others, she turns him down. The notes Morgan found aren’t written by her, but rather by someone else who Alicia believes needs their help.
Back in the bus, June tends to John’s injuries. She asks him if he meant what he said about the cabin. He did. This doesn’t seem to elate June, and she asks him if he thinks the cabin is “even still there.” Their conversation is interrupted when Charlie almost gets bitten by the river, but Althea saves her with seconds to spare. When Al asks, John tells her the kid hasn’t been talking much lately.
In the middle of all of this, we head back to the ranch. In one of the more genuinely humorous moments from the season, Strand takes down a walker that was heading for Luciana while she obliviously listens to music on her record player. Exhausted, he unceremoniously turns the music off. It’s time, he says, to find the breach.
There are more walkers on the way, much to John, June and Althea’s chagrin. They decide to take a trip upriver to see what’s going on. John volunteers to go, but June opts to go in his stead. Althea’s in, as well.
Morgan has returned to his wagon, and Alicia comes to see him. She’s discovered the “help” notes are coming from an overrun lumber mill, which Morgan offers to go check out for her. Alicia insists she’s going, too.
June and Althea encounter an obstacle – fallen trees. Al says she can clear them with her vehicle, but before she can, they find a mysterious box brimming with supplies. “Take what you need and leave the rest,” it says, also promising that this person would find them on the road. To me, that sounds about as ominous as “Sanctuary for all, community for all.” Althea doesn’t think so, and decides the box is worth a video. June takes this opportunity to ask what John said about her during his interview – Al points out that she’s been told about Laura and Naomi, but doesn’t know June.
At the same time, Morgan and Alicia trek toward the mill. He asks her what’ll come next for her, after they rescue whoever is trapped. Alicia deflects, saying it won’t matter to him because he’ll be gone.
We briefly focus on Luciana and Strand as they fix the fence. Luciana asks him what they’re doing, and what they’re fighting for. Strand doesn’t have an answer to that, because they’re the same questions he says he’s been asking himself.
Back in the school bus, John is making a Scrabble board from a cereal box. He convinces Charlie to play, and makes a valiant attempt to talk her into talking. Unfortunately, a walker shows up, giving Charlie the perfect opportunity to head for the hills. She takes it.
Next we see Strand, still drunk, dragging a walker out the ranch’s front door. He runs into John, who asks for help finding Charlie. Initially, Strand refuses. But John reminds him he took a bullet because of “the people at this address,” and Strand caves.
Too Little, Too Late
Morgan and Alicia make short work of the walkers at the mill, eventually taking down several by dropping logs on them. When they enter the room where Alicia’s mystery person was writing the notes, they find him already dead. Alicia is horrified. Morgan attempts to console her, but she’s not willing to listen and criticizes him for opting to leave the group.
By the bridge, June says she wants to talk. She tells Al that John fell in love with Laura, but June isn’t the idealized version John has in his head. She’s worried when they get to the cabin, John will realize he doesn’t love her. Althea, a little awkwardly, tells June she’s taking care of John while he heals and asserts that the person she is, is the person who helps him. June adds up the hints from the growing wind and the dark clouds and realizes the walkers aren’t coming from any bridge: they’re coming from a storm. She and Al hurriedly head back to the SWAT vehicle.
In the rain, John and Strand keep looking for Charlie. They talk about their lives before the turn (Strand was a millionaire!), and when John scoffs at Strand’s idea of drinking and living the high life in his mansion, he tells him about his plan to live at the cabin. Strand gets him to elaborate and finds a flaw: John doesn’t know what he’ll do after they get there.
“I’m still figuring that part out,” John stammers. “Aren’t we all,” says Strand.
It’s pouring rain when Alicia and Morgan leave the mill. The latter wants to head back, or at least find somewhere to stay until the storm passes. Alicia’s having none of it. She wants to be left alone and tells Morgan, “We’re done here,” before ditching him.
Luciana continues zoning out to her record player, but sees the door to the mansion ajar; with some searching, she discovers Charlie. Enraged, she asks the girl if she’s “done enough.” Charlie sprints into the storm, and Luciana discovers the book they gave her: The Little Prince.
John and June communicate by radio until the storm jams their transmission. June is desperate to get back to him, but Althea tells her they’re not going to make it: their ride won’t withstand the high winds. If June thought her day was going badly, it’s about to get a whole lot worse.
The pair hear a loud thunk, and realize they’re being pelted with walkers in the storm. Uh-oh.
- That box was so creepy. These shows have conditioned me to be suspicious of everything, and I suspect that "kindness" wasn't as benevolent as it seemed — and may be tied to 4B's main villain.
- When Morgan first turns on the radio, a man and a woman are talking. They didn't sound like anyone we know, but they could be the new characters shown in the SDCC trailer.
- Charlie's either depressed and attempting to commit suicide via walker, or she's morphing into Lizzie from the main show. Just look at the flowers, Charlie...
- Althea mentioning her mom makes me wonder if we'll get her backstory in 4B.
- Lots of callbacks to the main show this episode with the dead horse and Morgan's peanut butter bars. Did anyone else catch the birdcage in Alicia's shed?
See you next week for "Close Your Eyes," an Alicia-centric episode!
Fear the Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC