The entire cast prepares to say farewell to Morgan and we get a glimpse of what Season 5 is going to look like.
Morgan's (Lennie James) journey comes full circle in this season finale of "Fear the Walking Dead," complete with a leg injury that has him limping at one point. And as she promised, it's crazy serial killer Martha (Tonya Pinkins) who helps him to become strong.
There was only one other loose end that needed to be wrapped up from recent events, and that was whatever happened to Althea (Maggie Grace). But the writers quickly took care of that in the cold open of the episode, following her through a quick escape from the hospital and an unfortunate run-in with Martha.
Actually, the coincidences and little connections from throughout this half of the season were all a bit much this episode. By the end, we were able to predict what needed to happen to give us the happiest of possible endings, and it pretty much played out exactly that way.
By the end of the hour, "Fear" had set up a new status quo and focus for next year's Season 5, and we have to say we're on board for it, but we'll chat about that a little later. We have to get their first.
Martha, the "Strong" Woman
Martha is an interesting character in that she has proven both a surprising threat, and also not so much of one at all. A big part of this is that she is a lone avenger, whereas most of the dangers from both shows thus far have come from large groups of malevolent people. For this half-season, though, it was one mentally deranged person.
But that's because Martha was there to help Morgan on his journey of self-discovery. She was single-minded in her obsession with weakness and strength if only to serve as a living mirror to finally help Morgan rid himself of the demons that have plagued him since the apocalypse kicked off.
And while she was strong, her single-mindedness was also a tremendous weakness. And as Morgan came upon her, she was dying in a field hoping to become strong herself by dying and rising up as a walker. She has no diabolical plan or long-term goals. She is a broken woman, and that made her unique as a villain, because as much as she _was_the villain, she was also as much a victim of this world as any of our survivors.
In fact, is she any worse than Victor (Colman Domingo), Luciana (Danay Garcia) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) when we first reconnected with them this year. Hell, Charlie (Alexa Nisenson) has been down some pretty dark roads herself, and we remember what Sarah (Mo Collins) and Wendell (Daryl Mitchell) were doing when we met them. Who -- other than probably John (Garret Dillahunt) can we say truly has not?
In that regard, she's a very successful villain, because she shows just how close it is for everyone else. They choose to do what's right... well, most of the time.
I Find People, I Find Myself?
Morgan's mantra for years has been, "I lose people, I lose myself." His mental struggles have been well documented on "The Walking Dead," and they were documented right across his forehead by Martha, only she didn't kill him outright. She saw in him the potential to break as she had, and maybe she didn't want to be alone.
Has this all just been some crazy courtship?
By flipping that mantra around, we get the theme of the episode, and really the entire season. Morgan has always tried to run away when things got too hard for him, but he's now learned that he is his strongest and best self when he is living for others.
He finds the motivation to carry on after Martha leaves him severely injured and he leaves her dying of previous injuries and handcuffed to a car. That motivation doesn't come from within, though. It comes from his new group of friends. They're at the truck stop he'd found earlier, only they're all dying. Turns out Martha had spiked the bottled water with antifreeze.
And here's where it gets a little treacly. June knows that ethanol is the antidote for what kills them, once Morgan tells her that's what they drank, but they prove unable to secure any on their own. And so it's Morgan to the rescue, and what did he find along the way? None other than an Auggie's Ale truck so that their rescuer can turn out to be the late, not-so-great Jim (Aaron Stanford).
And here they were saying their goodbyes to him via walkie-talkie. And we'll admit it looked grim and we started asking ourselves if they would really wipe everyone but Morgan out and make him start over. It's not like mass cast killings are new to this show.
Sometimes sentimentality can be forgiven, and we could almost do it here because it was nice to see the group recovering and smiling together. But it was what came next that gave us true hope for how interesting a fifth season of "Fear the Walking Dead" could be.
Immediately, Morgan abandoned the idea of going to Alexandria. Instead he decided to share what Martha taught him, in her own way. The way to be strong is to help others. So he took the group to the denim factory Polar Bear started the survival box delivery program. Here was a place that could serve as a base for an operation to continue that program and try to help people.
Alicia, representing the O.G. "FTWD" cast, who earlier had lamented they'd never get a chance to make amends for their own misdeeds, explained that they needed to make the factory into something more than that. They needed to do what her mother, Madison, tried to do. They need to build something.
We close the season on them heading out for what we assume is their first goodwill mission. They're starting with local people Al interviewed who weren't doing so great. So in a way they're like "The A-Team" or "Supernatural" or even the Scooby gang. They'r going to travel around and help those in need.
The parallel of heading out into new and interesting experiences on the road sets up the possibility of all kinds of quick-hit encounters and experiences, making for a fun-filled variety zombie show on the one hand. And then, there's the building of something akin to a community at the factory.
We assume that's what Alicia meant, as the stadium community was Madison's greatest accomplishment. So there'll be a sense of stability on one end, and growth, and the potential for absolutely anything with the traveling help brigade. Trouble won't have to find them, as they'll be heading right for it.
But if anyone can give trouble a run for its money, it's this crew. They've come together nicely in the back half of the season, and Sarah and Wendell are fun additions to the team. Plus, their brand of adventures next season will be something we've not seen on any season of either show so far, so that's fresh and exciting in and of itself.
In the meantime, "The Walking Dead" kicks off its ninth season next Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.
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