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Fear the Walking Dead 5.01 Review – ‘Here to Help’

June 3, 2019 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
Fear the Walking Dead S5
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Fear the Walking Dead 5.01 Review – ‘Here to Help’  

Welcome to Season 5 of Fear the Walking Dead! I hope everyone’s ready for our fifth season of summertime zombies. Let’s get into!

The plot: It hasn’t been all that long since we last left our, er, heroes. The gang has been good to their word of trying to help people and pay it forward, but things have not been going well. Everyone from Althea’s tapes has been dead, missing, or uninterested so far–until now. The group has found someone named Logan who needs help, and also found a plane to reach him! However, not having a real pilot among them, they crash land short of their destination. Luciana is badly injured, but with the help of a set of teen/tween siblings, the group gets to the truck stop they’re aiming for. The kids–Annie, Dylan, and Max–are incredibly skeptical of this whole ‘helping people’ thing, and get going once the group has been dropped off at the truck stop which is very much deserted. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew back home has set out to help them, which is all according to Logan’s real plan. He was the co-owner of the factory way back when, and now he’s going to take it back, thank you very much. Before they can all worry about retaking it, however, they’ve got other problems. The plane group is stuck in an area with few to no roads out, radiation warning signs, and some truly messes up road barriers warning them off. Strand’s group decides to focus on rescuing their friends first, but takes a moment to watch a video that Al radioed for him to watch before they ditched the plan. Lo and behold, it’s an interview the other Walking Dead man with as more lives than a cat, Daniel Salazar!

This season opener was very enjoyable. The plane crash opening, the young siblings, the creepy and mysterious area they’re stuck in, the quick twist at the factory, there’s a lot going on here to do new things and change up the would-be status quo. I like that reaching out to help people who were previously not helped has been hard and even disheartening. Like Morgan says to Alicia, this shouldn’t be easy. It’s a huge task they’re trying to accomplish, after all, and not one that easily reaps rewards. This is a world that has beaten people down and, if they’re still alive, taught them they cannot trust anyone. Especially since FTWD is not embracing the same six year time jump that TWD went for, this world is still rough, raw, less established, and more chaotic. It’s hard to put yourself out there altruistically even in the real world, so yes, it would definitely be much harder in a world like this one. The question of whether or not that’s worth it looks like it’s going to be the central theme of this season.

And we’ve already got a few crises of faith going on. Alicia, upon learning what Logan’s done, loses her cool and questions their mission. She still wants to make up for her sins, for the people she’s killed, and to hold up the vision begun and ingrained in her by her mother. But not failing but being duped as well on their first real chance is a heavy blow. It’s noteworthy that she doesn’t exactly seem to want to give up, but she is questioning the point of this and the possibility of making it work. John Dorie, meanwhile, is having a faltering moment of his own, amazed at how lucky they keep being (he and June, specifically, but their group in general, as well), and should they be trying to share that luck after all? It would be a shame not to, but all the same… but June reassures him of his own goodness and steadfastness. He didn’t give up on her until she finally believed him, so they just need to do the same for the other people out there in the world. Looks like this season, it might be June’s turn to be the strong one in this pairing.

I also like the mystery of this unknown region, which for no particular reason I keep wanting to call a valley, so I will until something proves it’s not. Anonymous helmeted figures, radiation warnings, no safe roads out, disturbed folks about setting up creepy roadblocks, and the only remotely friendly faces are three kids who are 15 or 16 at the most who refuse to trust our group of survivors. For whatever reason, this clicks a lot more for me than attempted mysteries before on this show. I was interested to know what happened to Madison, for example, but with the end result of whatever it was more or less apparent early on, it lost some of its flare, and the amount of time it was dragged out for felt draggy indeed. There was some mystery to Martha in the second half of last season, but again, not much. Maybe this set-up is working for me because it’s actually a lot more traditional than what either WD show generally does for mysteries. A band of good guys stranded in a strange place where they know nothing and no one, but something is clearly not right, and the apparent dangers are only the start of it.

The plane group being stuck and in need of rescue does mean that this can avoid one big hurdle for now, and that’s the fact that it’s going to need to keep justifying why these people don’t just up and go to Alexandria. If they can establish their own safe haven, and actually hold onto it, then that’s one thing, but running into bad circumstances like they are right now will make that question continue to come up for the viewers, even if it doesn’t onscreen. For now, at least, this isn’t even an option, but that may change when and if they need to decide if they fight with Logan and his crew for the factory or not.

Other than all that, plotwise, this was a lot of set up as usual. It had good twists such as the plane, the factory being lost to Logan (and really guys, you didn’t leave anyone behind to guard the place? No one at all?) (Also, I mean…the guy kind of has a point. It literally IS his building, he owns it. They may not like it, or him, but he does own it and did take it back without violence.), and of course, Daniel Salazar is alive! I suppose if he can survive being the middle of a burning building and living, a dam explosion is the equal and opposite of that. It’s a little ridiculous, yes, but I’ve always enjoyed Daniel, so nonetheless, I look forward to seeing him again. How will he have changed this time? And what will his reaction be to learning that Madison and Nick Clark are now counted among the dead? What will he think of Strand this time around?

But before we learn that, what is the deal with this valley they’re stuck in, and how are they going to get out? Who are these helmeted mystery people who just nabbed Althea, and may be connected to whatever caused the radiation? Are they the same people who strung walkers across the road by their innards? Or are we dealing with two different creepy mysterious groups here? And finally, hi Matt Frewer, welcome to the show!

The final score: review Good
The 411
An enjoyable first episode of the season that sets up what could be a pretty good mystery in Radiation Valley here. There are a number of new and different things here, from the plane crash opening to the untrusting siblings, to losing the factory almost as soon as they found it, and the reveal that Daniel Salazar is still out there somehow! I like that for once we haven't been shown any of what's to come, unlike many of the show's past "mysteries." I hope this one continues to pan out in interesting ways. Bonus, now Matt Frewer is on the show! That's always a win. While this one didn't wow me, I do think still think it was a little above average for this show.