Alicia's Peril Is Rooted in Her Past on 'Fear The Walking Dead' (RECAP)
[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Fear The Walking Dead Season 5 episode 11, "You're Still Here."]
Alicia Clark has had one heck of a season so far on Fear The Walking Dead.
Thankfully, she hasn't lost more family members in the previous ten episodes: Season 4 was unrelentingly tough on her. But Alicia has lost some pretty important stuff—namely, her certainty about her health and her ability to kill walkers. As "You're Still Here" shows, both of those difficulties are tied to the same traumatic event, and it's that event the last of the Clarks is having trouble leaving in the past... but when danger corners her and Strand, she'll have to face her demons or die trying.
Meanwhile, Al and Morgan run into trouble (read: Logan and his group) on the road.
A New Way of Looking at the World
Alicia and Strand start out trying to find the artist behind those painted trees, but unfortunately, they're not seeing success in that endeavor. As it turns out, there's another way for them to be successful, since Wes radios them and says he needs their help. When they find him, he's pushing his motorcycle down the road, and he says he needs to get back to his brother.
Ever inclined to offer assistance, they load the bike into their truck and Wes climbs in the back. On the way to their destination, Alicia and Wes have a conversation that informs their different life philosophies; Wes is a stark realist, whereas Alicia's motivated to find the person painting the trees because she thinks "they see the world in a way [she] wants to see it."
Despite their differing outlooks, the group makes it to Wes' home base—a police station—just fine, but from there, things go south. Gunshots sound from inside the building, and Wes, having already injured a man, continues firing at him as he drives away with Strand and Alicia's truck and his motorcycle. In the ensuing chaos and the fight for survival against a horde of walkers, Strand fires a canister of tear gas. He makes it to safety inside, but he and Alicia both know he's not going to be much use in the fight against the dead surrounding the place.
The Way Things Are Now
That said, there is someone who could be helpful: Wes. Alicia goes to talk to him to figure out what that man took from him—apparently, Wes only fired those shots because the man had something he cared about. Wes tries to brush off her inquiries, telling her, "I don't need you people to heal my wounded soul or set me on the right path." But eventually, he reveals that although his brother died at the start of the apocalypse, that wasn't why he injured the thief. "This is the way things are now," Wes says. "We shoot, we kill."
Alicia doesn't believe that, and she goes about finding another way out of the building. She tells Strand she can get one of the cars running, and that the keys are in the armory. He's not so sure that'll work out, but thankfully, Wes walks in at just the right time and offers to help.
While he takes care of the dead outside, Alicia and Strand go find the keys... only to discover the keys are all for doors, not cars. A walker makes it through the door, and just as she's poised to strike the killing blow, Alicia freezes. She remembers killing walkers at the plane and getting the irradiated blood in her mouth. It almost seems like this could be curtains for her, but Strand manages to eliminate the threat. Wes steps through the door, and they're saved.
We're Not Ghosts
While the trio struggles with the dead at the precinct, Morgan and Al go store the latter's interview recordings in a bank vault. Then they head out to save the man Wes shot, guided by Alicia's directions. There's a problem with that, though—they run into Logan and his men. Apparently Logan wants the oil fields to "help people," too, but not in a way everyone will like. Al and Morgan are poised to take a different route when Logan references Jenny and Duane, and Morgan nearly kills him.
The duo leave, and Morgan seems to regret that so much of who he is, is tied up in the deaths of his wife and son. Al says he's wrong, and that they're "not ghosts." They keep driving.
If You're Reading This
The trio track down the man Wes shot, but when they find him, it appears from the way he's walking and making raspy noises that he already turned. He hasn't. Wes struggles with him for a few moments, fighting him as he's almost suffocated, then stabs the guy.
As the man dies, Wes recovers the thing he was searching for: A book manuscript. Alicia doesn't understand why Wes took such drastic measures, saying, "You killed him because he stole your book?" Upset, Wes says that people will always leave you wanting more, and he walks away. When Alicia reminds him he didn't take his book, Wes says the man died for it, so he can keep it.
Al and Morgan find them, and all together, they bury the man. Strand notices Alicia reading the manuscript, and based on the notes in on the last page, she figures out that Wes was the artist behind the trees. His paints are in the motorcycle's sidecar, and, inspired, she creates her own tree art: A bird emerging from flames, with the saying "No one's gone until they're gone." Morgan and Al appreciate her work later, and as a means of letting them go, Morgan asks Al to record him talking about his wife and son.
As the episode ends, Logan and his crew arrive at the bank. They break open the safe but don't find Polar Bear's journals—instead, they find Al's interviews. Determined to find the oil fields, Logan tells his people to start watching them.
- It's been three episodes, and the main conflict between Morgan and Logan hasn't gone anywhere. Sure, we've seen him threaten Morgan, but what else? There hasn't been much, if any, progression. That's a little exasperating.
- I figured the tree-painter wasn't Madison, but some of that stuff seemed a little like bait to get the fans wondering if she'd return. I mean, drawing fire? And ladders? Why would Wes be painting that stuff? That'll probably be explained later this season, but it's disappointing there wasn't more significance to the in-show symbolism on those trees.
- Last week's episode was good, largely because the dialogue felt more realistic than it had for quite some time. This week's installment went back on that. Fans and critics alike have noticed the show's tendency to speak in hollow statements and post-apocalyptic platitudes, and "You're Still Here" was stocked full of them. "People are people," "This is the way things are now"/"It doesn't have to be," and even "No one's gone until they're gone," are all either overused on TWD shows or have very little emotional weight. They sound sophisticated, sure, but they're empty and oddly circular: What does it mean for a person to be a person? Or for someone to not be gone until they're gone?
- Victor Strand deserved better than to sit out this entire episode because of tear gas. I really miss the smooth-talking man who was always several steps ahead of everyone else.
Fear the Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC