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Fear the Walking Dead S4E1: “What’s Your Story?”

April 16, 2018 | Posted by Wednesday Lee Friday
Fear the Walking Dead - What's Your Story
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Fear the Walking Dead S4E1: “What’s Your Story?”  

When Fear the Walking Dead began, fans clamored for a cross-over ep, and were pretty much told that the timelines were too different and that it wouldn’t be possible. That’s fair. We’d already been given an above-average zombie show, and another that promised quicker pacing and fewer love triangles. I was fully prepared to get into the adventures of Madison, Travis, Victor, and the kid that looks like Johnny Depp in old man clothes. Over time, I have to say I got bored with the repetitive nature of Fear the Walking Dead and gave up on it during that skirmish with the gang guys and the addictive drugs. Now I’m watching again, and filling in for this week’s review (your regular reviewer will be back next week). This review presumes everyone is caught up with The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, so beware of spoilers if you’re not.

When I heard they were spinning Morgan off onto this show, I was intrigued. My presumption was that Morgan must have gone out west during that time in between Dwayne dying and him showing back up in Atlanta. We know very little about his time then, and it should have fir reasonably well into the existing timeline. Remember, FTWD began just as the zombie outbreak was starting, whereas the world had already gone to hell by the time Rick Grimes woke up in the abandoned hospital. In fact, it seemed likely that if they were spinning Morgan back to an earlier time frame, that he might have died in the current TWD timeline. The lack of major losses in the finale was kind of far-fetched, right? Rick, Jesus, and Carol try to stop Morgan’s departure. They fail.

In between when I stopped watching and now, I’m told that Travis is dead (which sucks, really), and that Daniel is alive, which is pretty cool. But here’s the thing: Morgan is running away from Jadis’s old apartment, away from basically all the living people he knows. He’s running and driving and running some more, all the way out west. Why there? Why take the risk? He’s not Forrest Gump, and oughtn’t to act like he is—dashing cross country for no good reason. Soon enough, he meets John Dorie, played by Garret Dillahunt. If you enjoy television, you’ve probably seen this guy on Justified, Mindy Project, or as a complete son-of-a-bitch on FOX’s X-Men show, The Gifted. Here, he’s a lonesome cowboy looking for the woman who left him all alone. He’s got, and I am not kidding, a pearl-handled revolver to remember her by. And what the hell is a “Pecos Strawberry?” Some kind of out-west thing?

There’s a moment when Morgan is looking for a car to use, and comes across a badly injured man. For one crazy second, I thought it might be Dwight. But no, just a random dying person who doesn’t want help. We see him again at the end, as a walker. Does Morgan believe the idea that killing the undead frees the trapped soul of the living person? Is that why he chased him down and then buried the corpse after dispatching it? It’s hard to tell which of Morgan’s lessons he has discarded, and which he’s retained.

Why? Well, we meet Althea. That’s a beautiful name—just ask Larry Flint. Althea is a badass in a Furiosa kinda way. We can probably assume Liam Neeson taught her some very particular skills, right? Maggie Grace dies in a lot of things, so I’m kinda hoping she lives through this. This might also be a cool chance for her to be a serious actor and not just a beauty queen in need of saving. I’m stoked to see how this goes for Althea, and for Maggie Grace. Anyway, Althea saves people in exchange for their stories. Morgan is resistant to this, like, a lot. I hated hearing that, since he’s just said that anything that’s worth a damn in the world is about people. Stories are important. Humans crave them to entertain, to understand the world, to have experiences life doesn’t offer them. FWIW, Althea seems more like a documentarian than a journalist.

Funny, because John Dorie discusses this too—that reading and watching movies is a good way to pass the time. A cowboy reading Love Story is indicative of a man who’s short on books but still values stories. He and Althea will likely get along great. Meanwhile, during some wholly unnecessary gun-fighting, Morgan is shot in the leg and has to rely on—that’s right—other human beings for help. All the menacing and standoffs feel trite and boring at this point. And when we barely know the characters, they hold very little suspense. As such, the pacing of this premiere felt closer to that of one of those “The Walking Dead” eps where they walk through the woods for 45 minutes, occasionally stopping to spear a corpse in the noggin. Even the last minute saves from people we thought were back at camp are old news at this point.

What’s Morgan’s story? “I lose people. Then I lose myself.” Yeah, welcome to the apocalypse—where everyone has PTSD and no one can sleep for 8 hours without a sedative. Of course, Althea has follow-up questions about the King and his pet tiger, who wouldn’t? But there’s no time for that. A girl has collapsed into sobs in the middle of the road, which is clearly a trick to get hapless Samaritans to stop and help. Instead of looking for Laura, apparently this new group (John, Althea, and Morgan) now has to deal with Nick, Victor, Alicia, and Luciana. We know they’re decent people, or were the last time we were in their time line. But we have no idea how much time has passed for these people, and what they’ve had to deal with in the interim.

I’m not thrilled with this episode, especially bearing in mind how hard ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ is trying to bring in new and former viewers. While these new characters might grow on me in time, I don’t feel any particular affection for any of them. Morgan being extra standoffish is annoying. Althea’s project is inherently hopefully, so it’s going to be that much more tragic when she loses her footage or abandons it in grief. This thing with John and Laura isn’t going to end well. He’ll find her at some point, and she’ll almost certainly be undead or die immediately. That’s just how they roll.

I’ll be curious to know what viewers think about the washed out look of tonight’s episode. It was so close to black-and-white, I wondered if maybe Darabont had popped by to give some input (not likely—given how shabbily he was treated by AMC). Why so colorless? Seems like the visual is more bleak than it needs to be, that we should lead up to that level of bleakness. No real clues on the time frame, which will be a major factor in how seriously we should take this new season. I’ll give it a few more episodes and see. In the mean time, I’ll be back on Tuesday to continue Legion and to revel in the season finale of Black Lightning.

See you’s then!

The final score: review Average
The 411
It's a good thing they told us that we were watching Fear the Walking Dead, as it would have been impossible to discern for the first 67 minutes of this 68 minute episode. Been wondering how they're going to spin Morgan Jones off into this timeline? After watching tonight's ep, you still won't know.