Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Fear the Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 8: No One's Gone

Did I ever mention how much I’m not a fan of shows playing with their timelines? Because I’m not a fan. I’d really really really like stories to be told in order; alas it never is

So in one timeline we have Madison trying to steal an awesome truck by holding Althea at gun point

That’s not a typo - Madison and Althea met. It wasn’t exactly all that friendly. Madison wants the SWAT mobile and is willing to threaten murder to get it. Althea is unwilling to give up the SWATmobile and there’s lots of threats and stubbornness. Althea tries to jump Madison which doesn’t go well, because, well, Madison.

Madison does learn about Althea’s little interview tapes and while she can’t steal the SWATmobile, she can steal them in the hope Althea has run across Nick or Alicia. Althea manages to catch up with her when she’s all despairing to get her tapes back and hold Madison at gunpoint

But, in her own way, Althea is as impossibly good as John is. She has an excellent story of why she cares so very much about the truth and how as a reporter she once did an improbable amount of good by simply revealing the truth. She is convinced that everyone’s story will matter one day and I really like her. Honestly it’s wonderful to see a character that is this passionate about something other than survival in a zombie apocalypse, someone who is inherently hopeful

 She just wants Madison’s story - which Madison tells with a fake name. She speaks about wanting to create a place for her children, somewhere safe: the Stadium. Not just because it has walls but so they can all live without having to make these brutal choices. She even has a beautiful story of how kind and caring her kids where when they were children - and how much she wants them to stay that way.

Althea sends her on her way - with supplies.

Which convinces Madison that, yes, people can be good and she wanted to help people. So when she reunites with Nick et al she creates the Stadium

Yes, she met Althea after the last season but before creating the Stadium - and it was Althea who inspired her to become all kinds of good and kind which is the Madison we’ve come to identify

Now to the present with Althea, the devil child Charlie, Morgan, an injured John and Naomi all looking for medical care for John. Naomi insists they need to get the bullet out

Aaaargh this is a pet hate of mine. If you are shot you generally don’t need to remove the bullet (unless it’s pressing against something that you really don’t want it to press against). And if you’re only option for removing it is amature surgery in the back of a SWAT wagon without antiseptic or anaesthetic or surgical tools? Leave the bullet alone. Seriously. Let it be. Call yourself a cyborg. Give it a cute name. Just refrain from mutilating your body to remove a sterile, inert piece of metal.

Unfortunately while Morgan and Naomi are exploring the zombie infested ruins for medicine, Alicia, Lucinda and Victor arrive. And Alicia has an RPG:

Althea: Hah my SWAT vehicle is like a tank!!!!
Alicia: BOOOOM
Swat vehicle: door falls off.

Oops. This means we have another held-at-gun-point moment and a whole lot more fighting back and forth as Alicia is determined to kill all the things… until she sees Madison’s code name for her interview tape


No, really, they kind of stop and Althea puts on her sad understanding eyes as Alicia hears her mother’s hope for her to live a life without having to kill all the things.

She still decides to go confront Naomi at gunpoint - but Morgan stands in the way. He’s willing to die to save a woman he just met

Yes everyone on this show is impossibly good

Morgan has an epic speech about his own lessons, how he tried to flee other people but he inevitably found another group. How he changed and became peaceful - and he knows Alicia could still be this good, peaceful person. Alicia protests she isn’t that person any more, but Morgan counters that she is - because if she wasn’t he’d already be dead, she’d have shot him

She ends up crying and he hugs her while Naomi goes to heal John. And reveals her real name - June.

Despite the whole RPG thing, this has brought everyone together in peaceful harmony and not murdering each other. All that attempted murdering has been put behind them.

And Alicia finishes Madison’s heroic story

The gang was stuck in a car surrounded by zombies but Madison and Vincent charged out and saved them. The problem is that, without Madison to reassure them, everyone else in the Stadium lost faith in the walls keeping them safe. They ran in a caravan (which June managed to escape from -as did Mel and Charlie) and were duly surrounded and massacred. All the people Madison had brought to the Stadium to live died surrounded by zombies. Madison and the gang were also trapped - until Madison uses a flare. Drawing attention to herself, she goes inside the Stadium walls and traps the zombies inside with her to burn - saving Alicia, Nick, Victor and Lucinda by drawing the horde with her… but dooming herself.

I’m not entirely sure how this ended up with everyone hating/blaming June beyond the fact she didn’t die at the Stadium because I don’t see why anyone would assume she did something wrong here? I can get Alicia loathing the Vultures - but hating Mel and June seems… dubious? Unless it’s because June then allied herself with the very people who destroyed them - but survivors gotta survive.

While this story is somewhat bleak in many ways, this is really setting up Fear the Walking Dead to be a relatively hopeful series. We have Morgan, John and Althea who are, in their own ways, impossibly good with everyone else pretty much inspired by Madison who is, again, impossibly good. In addition to not being focused on one character like The Walking Dead, I think this different focus may mean we’re not going to get a series of “we have to do terrible things to survive” and more “we’re going to do our utmost to do good things for the future” which honestly I’d much rather see. If I want to see wall to wall bleakness I’d watch The 100. Even Madison’s heroic sacrifice is a level of epic above what you normally get in a dystopia

And it sets everyone up to be together… because bygones?