It's the kiss of death for one of the survivors as a walker bite marks the first zombie casualty of the season. But will it be the last?
We weren't sure if "Fear the Walking Dead" was going to go the way of "The Walking Dead" and only dispatch characters during its openers and closers -- which is totally lame, by the way -- but they're going old-school "TWD" with death lurking around every corner.
Kudos to the creators of "FTWD" for picking up the torch dropped by "TWD" many years ago and keeping the show exciting and unpredictable. Last week, we declared that we would be sad if anyone from this newly-assembled group of survivors bit the dust right away, which is probably why things went down the way they did.
It's a testament to the writers that they've made all of these characters endearing and intriguing in their own ways so that the loss of any of them is difficult. It definitely reminds us of the days when "TWD" was the water-cooler talk of the week because you genuinely never knew what was going to happen, or who might die at any moment.
But before we get to the heartache in the here and now, we've got to explore the heartache in the past that culminated in the "strong" woman (Tonya Pinkins), who now gets a name. In a brightly-colored flashback sequence, we meet Martha, stuck on the side of the road with her dying husband, impaled in the car with a guard rail.
We don't see how it happened, but that must have been one hell of an accident.
Martha's murderous mission these days is to not help anyone ever, but it turns out this may be a relatively new development for her. There is no clear timeline on when her husband died on her but she apparently snapped shortly after he died, lamenting to God, "I don't want to be here and I don't know why you didn't take me!"
The next moment, we see her attacking a woman leaving a box at a -4 mile marker. From then, it's a murderous rampage on both people stopping by the boxes and other people dropping them off, all on the search for the elusive "Polar Bear." We follow her all the way up until she kills a box deliverer and then picks up the CB and catches Morgan (Lennie James) in that truck stop.
It certainly seemed like she snapped in a hurry, which is similar to how Morgan has lost it in the past. So he really does understand what she's going through, even if her methods are a little extreme and a lot gross. Plus, we don't really see a path for redemption for good ol' Martha, though a final reckoning is due.
This was an explosive episode that left the majority of our survivors on foot ... or worse in Wendell's (Daryl Mitchell) case. Martha's attack on the truck culminated in her getting shot and the semi exploding in glorious fury, allowing her escape. Unfortunately, it also invited a horde of walkers, which she left to finish the work for her.
How very classic superhero villain of her, though she was honestly in no shape to take them all down. If you needed further proof she's off her rocker, she came out of the tank with just one walker on a stick to face off against half a dozen survivors. She's either extremely confident or reckless or just plain cuckoo.
And so the chase was on, with Wendell dragging everyone down after his wheelchair was destroyed. Dragging a full-grown man is tiresome work, and with a growing horde in your wake, it's also terrifying work. So when Morgan saw a hospital sign, they saw salvation.
On the one hand, it worked a bit, as June (Jenna Elfman) tried to assure Morgan. She was able to patch everyone up and Wendell got some new wheels. But the excitement kept coming, as it became a race through the hospital after the dead broke in and began to fill the floors one by one until the survivors had no recourse but to make for the roof.
It was an adrenaline-filled sequence, and the kind of thrills we need to see on these shows. The dead are still very much a threat, and especially in large numbers. It's nice to see them still a menace that needs to be dealt with, can't always just be killed off easily, and can still get their chomps in.
We were all so proud of Jim (Aaron Stanford) when he got his first-ever zombie kill in the hospital. Finally, he stepped up and took care of the danger himself. Only he didn't.
Well, he killed the walker, but he will pay the ultimate price for doing so. And he thought it wasn't so hard, after all, even getting a little smug once they finally emerged on the roof. They are a threat that should never be fully minimized, as the parent series does too often, and it was beautifully handled here.
Jim is the least capable of the group, so the most likely to succumb to a bite while grappling with a walker. He's just not going to be as careful of their reach and bite as he should. And now no one is going to get any fresh beer.
And while Jim is also the easiest character to dispatch, as he's the least developed, and the most unlikable, it still counts as a genuinely unexpected death. It's the kind of thing "Dead" shows should be doing more often. This world is dangerous and unpredictable, so the shows depicting it should be, too. It's nice to see one of them doing it, at least.
Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Charlie (Alexa Nisenson), on the other hand, had an arc that stretched plausibility so hard I can't believe it didn't snap. Sure, we don't yet know for sure who they found at the flooded lake, but we totally know who they found at the flooded lake.
After lamenting that they both needed something to go right for them -- which apparently entailed abandoning everything and everyone to make for the beach, Charlie hears the sound of water and they stumble upon the lake. Instant beach? Also, instant hope for Victor (Colman Domingo) and John (Garret Dillahunt), we can only assume.
It was easily one of the most ridiculous sequences of the season so far, but stranding the guys on a newly flooded island was a little silly, too. we then spent the better part of an episode watching them fail to leave, and now they're going to have to be rescued. Honestly, we could have done without this bizarre diversion for any of these characters.
Alicia being a quitter again is annoying and getting old, while Charlie is suddenly the one with a conscience. Victor was his usual drunken useless self. The only thing worth watching in all of it was Garret Dillahunt's inspired performance as the eternally optimistic John finally reaching his breaking point, and we didn't even get to see him in this episode.
With only two episodes left, it looks like everyone will be reuniting and we'll have a final showdown with Martha.
"Fear the Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.