Saturday, October 6, 2018

Fear the Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 16.... I Lose Myself

Althea is still alive - running from zombies, alone until she runs into Martha who has a mission for her - she wants Althea to take a message to Morgan

Althea’s not having that

So, after a scuffle, Martha knocks her out - but does safely deliver Althea (she doesn’t hate Althea because Althea doesn’t help people - she trades for their stories which isn’t the same as help) to the rest of the gang with a video of Martha saying… well the same thing she’s always been saying. Let’s face it, Martha isn’t exactly a person with multiple messages and themes.

But the gangs together and Morgan tells them all about Alexandria and it’s time to head there - but on the way they’re going to Polar Bear’s truck stop so they can pick up boxes and still help people.

Except Morgan wants to help Martha, even though she’s sick, even though she’s dying, even though she continually trying to kill them over and over and over again. Morgan wants to help her and decides to go off alone to do that. John agrees to wait with the rest at the truck stop for 2 days before coming to find him. That gives them time to reflect on moving on, building a new future, making up for the bad stuff they’ve done and for June and John to have an “awww” moment.

Morgan and Martha meet up with Morgan killing zombie James and she’s clearly very very ill, unable to stand and generally sick. He insists on trying to help and offers her medicine and she continually refuses. He forces her into a police car so he can drag her back - while she struggles and fights and resists

He rightly concludes she’s lost someone and she tells him about her dead husband Hank. He tries to tell her how it’s all not her fault she doesn’t have to do this - and Martha isn’t to blame and is who he used to be etc etc etc they’ve been saying the same words over and over since she first appeared

But drama - all of the gang at the Truck Stop are suddenly horrifically ill and awful and call Morgan to say something’s wrong. It turns out that Martha has poisoned the bottled water with antifreeze as punishment for them helping people. Morgan steps on it to try and get back as soon as possible to tell them (his walkie doesn’t have the same range as the Truck Stop’s transmitter) - and Martha drives them off the road.

After the crash Morgan has something impaled in his leg and is all woozy as Martha draws on his face as she does all her prezombies with “Lose someone lose myself” just in case we missed the oh-so-subtle message here. Morgan again tries to save her and she reveals she’s been bitten

She made sure he couldn’t help her. And now he has to kill her to help his friends. He fights her but he’s utterly terrified that if he kills her he will change back to what he was. He’s also afraid that if he loses everyone, suffers another loss, he will also go back to the evil Morgan. This was why he left Alexandria in the first place - he didn’t want to lose more people he cared about and was afraid of what he would become. He refuses to kill her and instead leaves her handcuffed to the car so when she turns she can’t hurt anyone else

Really? She has been BITTEN. This is a point where putting her out of everyone’s misery would be quite reasonable here Morgan

He then staggers off on foot (did he even try to drive the car?), fighting zombies, hobbling, desperately trying to help his friends. He does get close enough to call them and tell them what they’ve been poisoned by - and June knows ethanol is the cure. They have a tanker of that but when they all fight to recover it, working together, rescuing each other, they end up losing it when Althea has to use the Big Guns on her truck to clear out the zombies.

Or apparently lose it

Sure there’s a lot of bullet holes in the tanker but the liquid is flowing out - it’s going to take at least a few minutes for it to drain empty - go! Collect the flowing liquid!

So everyone despairs and prepares to die and Althea looks at her old tapes and there’s lots of sad bonding until Morgan arrives! And he has a truck of beer! And not just beer but it’s James’s beer! And he rides a unicorn and shoot rainbows

Yeaaah I’m cynical but this hail mary ending is a little dubious. And is there even sufficient ethanol content in beer for it to be the cure? Especially American beer? Personally I think making dying people drink American beer is just additional cruelty.

Everyone is back, Morgan wipes off the “lose someone lose yourself” written on his forehead and all is good. He even tracks down Martha’s zombie to kill and bury her

But he doesn’t want to go to Alexandria

Which I can understand because the writers have to realise they can only drag out “travel across country in a big truck” for so long.

Morgan decides that the whole reason Martha became what she was was because she needed help and no-one was going to offer her any. He wonders how many people out there need the same. Also most of the cast (not quite so much Sarah and Wendell) are seeking redemption or amends at some point. And Alicia wants to rebuild her mother’s legacy of creating a safe space for people to grow and develop - and so they take over the denim factory that Polar Bear was based from and decide to use all of Althea’s interviews to find people who need help and help them.


And looo we have the season finale and I have complex thinky thoughts about this season. I very much like where it’s going. I like that we’re seeing a dystopian zombie apocalypse that is hopeful for once - where survival isn’t going to be the be all and end all and we don’t have 8,000 reiterations of “we need to do evil stuff to survive”. I like the new positive slant and I like how they’ve massively transformed Fear the Walking Dead to tell this story - and this is a huge reboot. I want this story - I do want to see something more hopeful with help and strength going in

I also like Morgan as the protagonist and hope he stays that way - and here is where I do worry. If Fear the Walking Dead is truly rebooting then Morgan will live and this will become a whole new story with a Black protagonist and a positive, moral outlook. If this is just an interlude, then Morgan as moral centre and a Black man is going to die which is a problem.

I do like how we’ve seen Wendell who both adds to the racial diversity and brings some much needed disability representation to the show in a way that continues to uphold him as useful and capable. They didn’t bring in a disabled character for him to be a burden or problem for the group - he contributes and helps and is a valued member of the team. I also really appreciate that they have chosen an actor who actually uses a wheelchair and aren’t using an able bodied character to play disabled.

Luciana and Victor both also add to the racial diversity of the show which is a diverse cast for so few characters - but both are very much extras at this point. Luciana was pretty much an addition to Nick’s storyline and is rather in limbo now and, after the loss of his boat and his biplay with Madison, Victor has never really had a role. I also think his sexuality is at best a footnote and there’s a decent chance you could go most of this season (and the last season) and not even realise he’s gay (and I will throw Martha, John and June at anyone who says “this is a zombie movie we don’t have romance!”)

My main issue with this season is it felt forced. The whole transition was somewhat convoluted. It started before the midseason with Madison having an almost complete transformation to set her up as this moral beacon which everyone should aspire to. Morgan is see-sawing emotional back and forth to such utter extremes that it almost reaches comedy (his investment in Martha is borderline bizarre). The character of Martha herself is almost a caricature - she wasn’t a character, she was a moral lesson. It’s almost ironic that she existed as a moral lesson for Morgan when Morgan has existed almost entirely a moral lesson for Rick. John himself seems to be, again, perhaps too nice and too good. While June and Alicia have both had break neck character shifts. It all feels like… the writers had an idea where they wanted to take the show. So they’re taking the show there even if they have to force it. I like the shift but I have a feel of square pegs being forced into round holes about the whole thing