In the penultimate episode of the season, one survivor decides to make the ultimate sacrifice to assure everyone else can escape.
The penultimate episode of "Fear the Walking Dead" saw our heroes divided and in desperate need of rescue on two fronts. But with only Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Charlie (Alexa Nisenson) free, is it too much to ask?
On top of that, Martha (Tonya Pinkins) is still out there, desperately afraid to be "weak" and determined to help all of the survivors become strong, which, you know, she accomplishes by killing them. After all, walkers don't help anyone but themselves ... to your flesh.
We're still not totally sold on this backstory revealed last week that broke Martha. No one stopped to help her and her husband so now she's a maniacal killer who writes on people's faces and uses their walker corpses as a weapon against her next hapless victim. We're just saying, girlfriend had to already be a few screws loose.
Unfortunately, that criticism of the writing is going to have to be levied again this week, and on a few points.
So, how deep wasn't this lake that had Strand (Colman Domingo) and John (Garret Dillahunt) so trapped they were ready to die? When we saw Alicia and Charlie driving the SWAT van directly into the water, we were all like, whoa, hold on! Isn't there a giant alligator in those waters? And didn't we see John and Strand forced to swim back to the island.
And yet, that water never went above the wheels on the van. We get that they're large wheels, but come on? This was a wading lake the whole time? Maybe Alicia came from the other direction, but her drive across it like it was a rain puddle deflated a lot of the despair and adrenaline from the sequences where John and Strand tried to build a boat to escape.
Stilts would have done it.
HELPFUL HELPERS HELPING
We get it, Alicia, John told you to help and so you're helping him now after he helped everyone onto that roof and then helped them escape, leaving him and Jim (Aaron Stanford) helpless up there. "You told me to help people. That's what I'm doing," Alica told Morgan (Lennie James) via walkie when the whole gang reunited to rescue him from his rooftop prison.
And by whole gang, we mean they literally each got a moment to talk to Morgan on the walkie and tell him how much he meant to them and how they all came back to rescue him and isn't it sweet and wonderful and couldn't you just die. We can't help but wonder if it was all a little too treacly for sardonic Jim and that wasn't at least a little of why he made the sacrifice he did.
Wow is that a terrible name for beer. And how did sardonic Jim get sucked up into all the saccharine sweet goodness of those closing scenes. We partially blame ourselves because we did kind of want this group to finally come together as a single unit and work together and create a sense of community.
We just didn't know the price would be this high. It felt like we were watching a cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie or something.
When Jim was standing atop the roof and giving his beer recipe to Sarah (Mo Collins), we found ourselves cringing with each ingredient. Walkers were surrounding them, death was inches away but let's make sure and get every detail. Also, would that car alarm really draw all the walkers away with live flesh in sight? Walker logic has been inconsistent across both shows.
At the end, after Morgan was rescued and sitting in the van with everyone looking at him and talking about them all going together to Alexandria, we're only a little ashamed to admit we were hoping Martha would emerge with some secret plan to make their lives hell a little longer.
"HE'LL BE THANKIN' ME"
Is it just us, or are you starting to wonder if Martha is a bit of a dud in the villain department, at least in the way they're writing her story. We get that she's crazy, but when the gang had her tied up and she defiantly said of Morgan, "He'll be thankin' me, you'll see," we found ourselves scratching our head.
If she had some greater, diabolical plan in play, it would have been more effective to have it trigger at the close of this episode. If she just meant she's going to kill Morgan and make him stronger, well that's a bit cryptic of a response to make when there's no deeper meaning.
Perhaps she's just too simplistic. She has proven powerfully effective, but knowing that she's now going to use Jim as a walker-on-a-stick means it's more of the same old, same old. We shouldn't really be surprised, though, considering she relentlessly came after Alicia and Charlie until she literally passed out from her wounds. This is not a tactician.
By all rights, she should be dead by now, but maybe that's the point. She wants to be dead so she can join her husband, but thus far, she's not found anyone "strong" enough to take her out. It kind of makes sense if you use crazy logic.
Next week, the battle comes to a head on the season finale of "Fear the Walking Dead" at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.