'Fear the Walking Dead' Finds Its Own Father Gabriel in 'Ner Tamid' (RECAP)
[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Fear The Walking Dead Season 5 episode 11, "Ner Tamid."]
Gabriel who? Fear The Walking Dead has found its tortured religious soul—but he's a whole lot more bada** than Gabe was back in Season 5 of the main show.
"Ner Tamid" introduces rabbi Jacob Kessler (Peter Jacobson), who has largely continued preaching his faith even though he's preaching to empty chambers. As fate would have it, he runs into Charlie (Alexa Nisenson), who, after lengthy stretches of time spent on the road, thinks his synagogue could be the place the convoy calls home. That's a bad idea for several reasons, one of which puts her and her friends' lives in danger before the episode ends.
Meanwhile, Dwight and Sara are forced to flee from Logan's goons.
Something You Need
The episode opens with Jacob at prayer. He's interrupted by the dead, and he goes outside to take care of them and fix the broken fence around his synagogue. When he notices the walkers congregating around a car, he goes to investigate... and lo and behold, Charlie's inside.
He takes her inside the temple and tells her to make herself at home. The next day, he seems to confirm what she already hopes: that she can make the temple a home for herself and her people. "Maybe there's something you need here," he tells her. "Maybe you're here because you're finally going to find it." In everything, the rabbi seems rather traditional. Even though the world ended, he's still practicing his faith to an empty congregation hall.
It might be better to have loved and lost than never loved at all... but in the case of these pairings, some never even really loved.
Speaking of finding things, John (Garret Dillahunt) and June (Jenna Elfman) get upset when they realize Charlie's not with the convoy. Before they can set out to locate her, she radios them to tell them to visit the temple—and to bring a battery. Meanwhile, Jacob leaves the temple to check out the source of the walker problem that's been plaguing him, and from the way he presses his hands against the glass of the building and prays, it appears likely he has a connection to the people they once were.
When the duo arrive at the temple, they help the rabbi, but they tell Charlie they need to get going back to the convoy. Charlie pushes back, maintaining that the temple could be the group's new home. As June tells her later, there are a myriad of issues with that plan; the temple isn't near a water source, it's too small for their entire group, etc. Nonetheless, Charlie stubbornly believes—and she keeps believing even when Sarah radios them to tell them Logan's men are hot on the convoy's heels.
The show has made a definitive statement about Alicia's strength and her ability to be a leader.
As bad luck would have it, the walkers in the other building choose that moment to break free. The courtyard is littered with the dead, who—in a plot twist that might not be much of a plot twist, for TWD fans—are Jacob's deceased congregation. The rabbi tells Charlie he no longer believes in God, at least partially because when he left his people to re-establish his connection with the Almighty and returned weeks later, they were all dead. So, why does he carry on performing the duties of a rabbi? Old habits, quite literally, die hard.
While John and June's plan of using a ladder to bridge the gaps between cars works well, it falters at the last second and leaves them stranded on top of a vehicle. They're left with no way out, and Charlie and Jacob have no choice but to lure the dead into the temple in order to save their friends from a grisly fate.
The Promised Land
While Charlie and friends are fighting the dead, Dwight (Austin Amelio) and Sarah (Mo Collins) are on a different mission. Under attack from Logan's men, they send the rest of their group to a meeting point, and then they continue on until the tanker runs out of gas. All hope seems lost, until—surprise!—John, June, Charlie and Jacob arrive in the nick of time with Al's SWAT tank. That gets the Loganites to head for the hills, though Dwight later notes that there was something odd about their hasty departure. "From what I've seen of Logan so far, these guys don't do anything by accident," he says.
Dwight was right. Logan's people weren't leaving because they were chased away... they were leaving because far from there, the boss found what he was looking for. The whole thing was a way to lead Morgan's people away from Logan, who, by the end of this episode, has both snagged Al's tapes and (presumably) found those all-important oil fields. As he drives up to a place called "Lonesome Quarry," he tells one of his pals, "We're about to buy ourselves a ticket to the promised land."
- Just once, I was hoping the walkers had no connection to the religious entity on the show. We already trod this ground with Father Gabriel and his guilt about his congregation, and with Celia in Season 2. Though Jacob was interesting enough as a character, I couldn't help feeling he was this show's version of Gabe. After all, they're both religious figures who are somewhat responsible for the deaths of their congregations.
- Everything with Logan has left me with more questions than answers. Sure, it wouldn't matter if they burned gas if Logan finds the oil fields. But there are a few problems with this plan. One—what if the oil fields aren't producing anymore, or Polar Bear was misinformed? Then the group would've been out of gas, and out of luck. Two—how did they find their way there? Did someone on Al's tapes go through the journal line by line? It's hard to believe she would've interviewed someone who said exactly where to find the fields: If she had, one would think Morgan and friends would've gone there already.
If Dwight and Morgan can make it to Texas, why can't these characters find their way to Virginia?
- I'm so tired of Sarah's "humor." It was neat that she got a little development this episode what with the reveal that she's Jewish, but that would've resonated so much better if her lines weren't largely cringeworthy. Mo Collins deserves a better script.
- Much like the previous episode, I felt like a whole lot of nothing really happened until the last five minutes, and then we got a weird reveal with Logan that didn't feel earned. What was the point of going to the temple? Is Jacob going to be a major character from here on out? If not, the whole storyline with Charlie could've played out somewhere else, or even could've just been a conversation. And Sarah and Dwight's storyline, while important-ish in the end, didn't exactly make for riveting viewing.
Fear the Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC