Thursday, October 4, 2018

Fear the Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 14: MM54

It’s time for some history for Martha (i.e. muddy woman) - which is pretty necessary when you create a character that is pretty much “frothing psychopath” which is both problematic and really really really damn lazy.

So way back in presumably the early days of the apocalypse (I presume by the number of cars since you won’t see so many of them in current stage apocalypse) Martha and her partner where in a car when they had a terribad accident in which he is badly impaled. He is suffering and dying slowly and she tragically, tearfully reassures him someone will stop and help them. She tries to flag down several cars

None stop

In a truly tragic scene he dies and he turns into a zombie - and Martha has to kill him. She then buries him and has a complete breakdown lying on his grave getting steadily muddier. When she leaves she finds a woman leaving one of the boxes and Martha corrects her spelling (she was an English teacher. Also it’s clear these box deliverers are really really uber hippies because she even thanks Martha for nitpicking her spelling in the Apocalypse) and then kills her - for the crime of helping and suggest Martha helps

Martha then goes from box to box, killing helper after helper, turning them into zombies and then using said zombie to kill the next helper. She wants to find the person who started this - Polar Bear, ranting that people who are helped don’t learn to take care of themselves.

And she hears Morgan on the radio

To the present when she has used Althea’s truck to unleash a hail of bullets against our heroes. And miraculously while everyone’s a little beat up no-one is actually dead or seriously injured. She stops the truck to try and finish them off - but Wendall gets out of the truck and shoots her (laying on the floor since his wheelchair was destroyed) - bird shot - but he does shoot her. This has her hiding in her truck and driving off mid rant. Not necessarily because she’s given up - but because a horde is arriving. And the truck - with all the boxes in it - explodes. An ever increasing number of zombies has gathered and the gang has no choice but to try and run and keep ahead of it.

They stagger down the road, kind of injured conscious of the fact that the zombies are following and they’re kind of beaten up. Morgan sees a sign for a hospital and thinks it’s a good place to hide and hold up and have June check their injuries

I mean… he’s kinda not exactly wrong with this reasoning. But in the zombie apocalypse I can think of few places more likely to be full of zombies: hospitals, residential homes, prisons.

James starts having a tantrum about how Morgan has led them astray and caused all these problems and no-one else is especially thrilled with this - Sarah in particular is quick to speak up in Morgan’s defence and demand James kind of get in line.

They arrive at the hospital and find that they do have something of a sanctuary for a little time, long enough for June to confirm no-one is that badly hurt and to get Morgan a wheelchair. We also have some character exploration: Althea, the journalist of eternal questions, asks Wendell what caused him to need a wheelchair (which… look “journalist” doesn’t justify intrusive unnecessary questions). He was hurt as a 10 year old child saving another child. This actually gave him a drive to help people - enough to join the marines who laughed him out without even looking at his application. Wendell is not entirely unsympathetic to to Martha’s point - helping people gets you hurt. (Which isn’t entirely Martha’s philosophy since she thinks helping people hurts them). This is also why Sarah left the Marines - not agreeing how they treated and devalued Wendell.

James starts to make nice to Morgan because he’s kind of spineless - until; the barricade holding back the zombies starts to collapse - and James turns back to snarling at Morgan. With Sarah, again, stepping up to tell him to get in line and get with the programme. They all look to Morgan for answers and he leads them in climbing up the hospital to try and escape the horde while finding numerous other stairwells and corridors full of zombies barricaded.

Eventually they have to flee to the roof - which means turning on the power for the lifts. Althea and Sarah do that - but Althea insists she can do it alone since whoever does this is likely to be trapped and Sarah needs to spend as much time with her brother as she can: clearly hinting at the family Althea has lost. Morgan and Jamie fight some zombies and Jamie finally kills one

With the power back on they make it to the roof - except for Althea who also falls out of touch on the walkie-talkies. And on the roof June discovers James has been bitten. Which surprises me, I thought this actor would get far more run time than this.

Morgan doesn’t know what to do next - but everyone turns to him to lead and June wants to know what he will do next. Morgan doesn’t know and seems to be having a crisis of confidence - but June has an almost creepy level of faith in him

To other characters - Alicia and Charlie. They find the wrecked truck with everyone missing and don’t know how to help - because they don’t know where to go. Alicia seems more than a little frazzled by this and she seems to pick a random direction to go in.

Eventually she gives up all pretence of trying to find them and instead decides to take Charlie to the beach - because she’s always wanted to go and never has. Charlie seems confused by this, especially not looking for the missing people in favour of a beach visit… but then Alicia is clearly hanging on a threat. She doesn’t want to look for them when she doesn’t know where they are, when she may never find them, when they may already be dead when they may kill themselves trying to rescue them. But going to the beach is something she can do. One good thing she can do. And she needs that good thing

It’s a powerful idea that Alicia is so broken down, so trying to reclaim her mother’s legacy that she needs a WIN. No matter how easy, no matter how simple, she needs a sure thing because another defeat may be just too much

And they find a lake - the new lake where Victor and John are

Wendell is such a rare character as a disabled character in general, a disabled Black character and a disabled character in a dystopian. And I really like him - he is capable but they don’t use some kind of woo-woo or technology or convoluted circumstances to remove his disability. He and the party has to make necessary adaptations around his disability (but crucially do not present him as a burden because of it) but he still shows skill and capacity - and I especially like how Sarah has not the slightest doubt about him, confidently telling James that Wendell’s “got this.” She has every confidence in his ability to help and contribute.

I also quite like how June and Sarah have adapted towards Morgan… they both seem to be very loyal to him but I can see it. Over the last few episodes Morgan has been, frankly, impressive. His charisma, his compassion, his dedication to his ideals, even his fighting skill: Morgan is an impressive man. I like how Sarah and June have both become very invested in him.

At the same time it’s complicated by the fact, even though Morgan has been telling them what to do, he has done so to make people do the right thing, for the right thing. He’s morally doing his best  to help people but not really seeing himself as a leader trying to lead or even want to lead. He wants to do the right thing, inspire others to do the right thing even make them do the right thing but he doesn’t even seem to want to be a leader: and he never has been a leader before, never someone who is actually responsible for other people. It’ll be interesting to see what he will do from here and how he will embrace - or resist - this role.