'Fear the Walking Dead' Goes to the Mall in '210 Words Per Minute' (RECAP)
[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Fear The Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 10, "210 Words Per Minute."]
This week's Fear The Walking Dead heeded the encouragement of Robin Sparkles: "Let's go to the mall today!"
Unfortunately, Morgan and his pals aren't headed out to go shopping and spend time with friends. A survivor named Chuck contacts them to ask a very important favor—he wants them to shoot him. He's been bitten but he doesn't have a gun, and he says that for their trouble, he can help: the mall has plenty of anything and everything Morgan's people might need. Sounds great, right? Wrong. When they get to the mall, walkers have infested the lower level... and Logan's men are still out there.
An Urgent Mission
Morgan, Dwight and Grace show up to answer the man's radio call, but he's not in the office where he said he'd be. They find some frayed rope and figure he already turned, so they go to look for him. On the way, they make a stop to pick up some jelly beans, and Grace suddenly faints. Morgan carries her into a department store where she's comfortable on a bed. After she wakes up, Dwight volunteers to go get the rest of the convoy so they can scavenge the mall's resources, which leaves Grace and Morgan alone.
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Grace doesn't initially seem to be shaken by her ordeal; sure, it could be radiation poisoning, or it could be a cold, or something she ate. And on that subject, she asks for her friend's help to get to the urgent care center on the lower level of the mall. There might be an x-ray or ultrasound machine there, and she says she needs to know just how serious her recent collapse was. In order to do that, they need to get the power in the mall on, so they need to get to the generator.
"A Giant, Stupid Smile"
With that, Grace and Morgan set off on their quest. It's going well enough until Grace sees a walker that matches the initial survivor's description, and she strays from the plan to kill it, as the man had requested. Turns out it wasn't him... but now the duo have a sizeable horde following them. They duck into a nutrition store to evade them, and there, they have a brief heart-to-heart. Morgan calls her brave, and at that, she balks. She tells him she's never been brave; not with her job, not with her life and not with relationships. In recounting a story about the time during her childhood when she didn't ride a horse after it pulled away from her, she aims to convince Morgan she's not strong; she's indecisive.
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Morgan doesn't seem to believe that, but they can't address the matter further because the walkers break through the windows and door. They leave and make it to the generator, where, again, they have a heart-to-heart. Morgan tells Grace about his son and wife, and he says that he knew Jenny was the one because after their first date, he "found himself smiling this giant, stupid smile all night afterward." He asks Grace if she "has anyone," and she tells him about a guy she worked with at the plant, but she was never brave enough to take things farther than friendship. On that note, they get the power working and head out to the urgent care center, only to find the gate is locked and lifting it sets off a walker-baiting alarm. Uh-oh!
A Cloudy Night
Next, they head to the office to turn off the alarm. They manage to shut it down, and Grace finds the key to the urgent care, but Morgan notices something major on the security cameras: Chuck is still alive, and he's on the roof. Grace and Morgan go to see him, and when he says he came up there to see the stars one last time ("Just my luck, a cloudy night"), Grace finds a stuffed animal that lights up with a starry pattern.
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The next morning, they bury the man... and after all the work Morgan and Grace did to clear the lower level, she decides she doesn't want to know what made her feel sick a day earlier. "You don't want to die here, in this mall," she says. "I don't want to, either. So I'm just going to believe there's more than today, Morgan." In the spirit of bravery, she decides to ride that horse by going on the carousel. She convinces Morgan to join her, and together, they laugh and laugh as the ride continues. They're interrupted by the arrival of their people, who help clear the mall. In the process Morgan returns to the carousel, still smiling.
Choosing to Be Better
Dwight, meanwhile, announces where he's going over the radio and then heads out in that direction. He's confronted by one of Logan's men, who followed him—surprise, surprise!—based on the fact that he loudly declared where he would be over the radio. Turns out, that was exactly what Dwight wanted. Unfortunately, explaining that plan to Logan's man gets him tied up in the back of a truck, where he's forced to either watch the guy burn Sherry's letters to him or tell him where the convoy is. Dwight eventually breaks free and pulls a gun on the man, but at the last moment, he refrains from pulling the trigger. Since he's still haunted by what he did when he was a member of the Saviors, instead of taking the man's life, Dwight lets him go.
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Morgan, rather than chasing that smile, seems intent on leaving it behind. When he returns to the convoy, he tells Grace he won't be riding with her (despite the fact that she got them peanut butter protein bars, which TWD fans know are Morgan's favorite). As he walks away, she grows teary-eyed, and as he drives without her, he, too, gets emotional.
- In the grand scheme of Season 5 FTWD episodes, I think this one was pretty good. It had it's not-so-great moments ("candy beansies?" Really? "We're not doing careful, we're doing right." Really? The amount of times Dwight's captor used the cringeworthy word "snatch?" Really?), but it had an early Walking Dead feel to it with the shopping mall and surviving the walkers for the night. The script wasn't as overwritten as some episodes have been, and Morgan and Grace felt like real people rather than plot devices. I could root for them. The actors have a natural chemistry, and the characters seem to understand each other and have organic reasons for developing romantic feelings.
- This thing with Grace goes one of two ways. They definitely might be setting up CRM to be the thing that cures her and Morgan and Alicia and Strand and Charlie, since they've all been exposed to radiation, or she'll die by the end of this season and Morgan will slip back into "Clear!" mode. Either of these options could make for a good Season 6 storyline.
- As pro-"Clear!" Morgan as I am, I'd really rather they didn't kill Grace to get him into that mindset. This "fridging" of female characters is a somewhat tired trend in the TWD franchise; Beth, Lori, Jessie and Denise all died to develop Rick and Daryl.
- Dwight's subplot was silly. If he knew Logan's men would be following him, why did he get out of his vehicle? And how did he tell Daniel where to go without being clear over the radio? They might have had a code, but that's the kind of thing the writing should show rather than just featuring the group conveniently and safely appearing at the mall. And it's odd that Logan's man would just turn around and accept defeat rather than trying to fight Dwight, as he had been earlier in the episode.
Fear the Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC