When bad plotting meets worse writing, nonsensical characterization, ridiculous motivations and the dumbest death sequence ever shot for any "Walking Dead" episode.
We're already in the lull between premieres and finales on "Fear the Walking Dead" and this week's episode got a really, really bad case of the stupids.
There was just so much bad about it, even the promising final moments couldn't wash the taste of stupid out of our eyes and ears.
The bulk of the action was split between two factions of heroes. As the parent series did throughout its run, "FTWD" is saving money by breaking up the cast and only showing us a few people each week.
This week we got the pairings of Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Victor (Colman Domingo) on a quest to find out who's painting messages on trees and we got Al (Maggie Grace) and Morgan (Lennie James) trying to find a safe hiding place for her tapes.
Stupid Is as Stupid Does
"If you're reading this, you are still here." This phrase was set up to be a poignant and meaningful message to Alicia that motivated her enough to try and find its writer. But then, trying to wrap your brain around the characterization of the person revealed to have been its author and creator is enough to make you feel as stupid as everything the guy did.
Turns out it was Wes who left the message. And as with everyone else on the show, Wes is not that great of a guy, though he certainly gives off a friendly enough first impression. First, he lies to Alicia and Victor to get them to take him to some guy's house so he can get something back. But that backfires.
The guy runs, steals a truck and gets shot by Wes for his troubles. And then he comes clean. He won't tell them what the guy stole, but he will help them clear walkers so they can go and try to save the guy. Only when they find him, he looks like he's already dead. Except he's not. He's just wandering off from the truck for no reason.
And when confronted he turns and lunges at Wes and starts trying to strangle him to death. In the end, Wes gets the upper hand and stabs the guy and all of this almost makes sense until you find out what it was all about. See, Wes wrote a manuscript and the guy liked it. And he wanted to finish reading it.
That's what all of that was about. The guy looked like an absolute maniac trying to strangle Wes and it was over a manuscript. Also, how was he so strong and capable at that moment when we just saw him wandering like he had a concussion? Was he bit? Was he injured? Was he really going to kill Wes so he could finish the manuscript? Couldn't he have just asked?
And then his dying words are to tell the man that killed him that his manuscript is good. "It's good stuff." WTF? Are you kidding us right now? Clearly Wes did not write this episode, because it is definitely not good.
And then ... and then ... Wes decides that since the guy died for the manuscript, he didn't want it anymore. We get it. It's his first kill. He is shook. But really? He's just going to walk away from the manuscript he killed and lied for? The manuscript that is a connection to his brother?
Oh, and we now have to reconcile this guy we just met who did all of these things and imagine him taking the time to paint that message on trees in beautiful script. Why would he do that? He just talked about how he is basically a nihilist and has no faith in humanity. Anyone who feels that way wouldn't paint those messages. Was he lying to Alicia? Or is that just more bad writing.
Not as bad as the guy strangling him like Gollum trying to take out Frodo so he can get his "precious" back, only in this case the precious is basically a short story. Also, that manuscript was 20 pages at the most. He hadn't finished it? Come on, man!
Logan Is Weak
Every time Logan (Matt Frewer) is confronted or challenged, he cowers. And even though he's got a whole bunch of henchmen, they seem to have little loyalty to him and they certainly never do anything to lift a hand to help him. His whole arc has been incredibly stupid.
He steals the warehouse only to abandon it without a fight. He then tries to work with them only to get dumped on the side of the road. Now, he's messing with them but seems afraid of confrontation or playing dirty. The dirty woman was more of a threat and she was just one lunatic.
He had Morgan and Al dead to rights when his convoy stopped them. And yet, he not only let them walk back and forth to their car and ultimately leave, he let Morgan nearly kill him after Logan mentioned Morgan's wife and son.
Yes, all of this is character development for Morgan so we can finally have him process and grieve his losses, but how is Logan going to allow himself to be disrespected like that?
This was two members of a large group, so all he would have had to do was kidnap them, threaten them, maybe torture them, send word to the convoy that he has them. Remember when "Fear the Walking Dead" took chances and did the same kind of awful things "The Walking Dead" does in creating actual danger for its characters?
Where is the danger? These guys weren't afraid of Logan because he's not scary at all. And he's perhaps being a little too cryptic about this larger mission he's on regarding the oil fields.
"TWD" managed to make its larger questions enticing like when Jadis contacted the three-circle group and talked about A's and B's. That was intriguing and mysterious. All Logan keeps saying is that it's bigger than anyone realizes, what he's working on, but we need to see something to make us believe that. Give us a reason to care about what he cares about, even if it's just a tease.
If we're not going to have any conflict or drama within our group of survivors, can we at least have some villains that bring some with them? Now that Alicia got some closure and is killing again and Morgan is on the cusp of his, everyone is one group hug away from being Care Bears ... except we think they had more conflict among them. So much for character depth and individuality.
Logan keeps saying this is bigger than anyone realizes; his obsession with the oil fields and whatever he's working on. His henchmen are definitely not in the know, as evidenced by the woman asking here and the one Dwight confronted last week. But we also want to know how he found the safe Al put her tapes in.
We know he's listening in on their radio communications, but how would he know where she and Morgan were earlier that day? Does he have tracking devices on their vehicles? A spy who's infiltrated the group (that would at least be interesting)? Miss Cleo and the Psychic Readers Network?
Also, why didn't she lock the door they were in and take the key? We get it, the entire safe was effectively hers, but better safe than sorry, right?
Also, are we done with Wes now? Can we be? After what a dud he turned out to be as a character, we kind of hope so. He had a promising debut last week but everything that happened this week was just so very terrible, we're already over him.
Next week, it looks like we're going to be introduced to another new character, so is this going to become the procedural "Walking Dead" show? New faces show up long enough for our heroes to help them, like a new case on a legal or cop show, and then vanish into the ether never to appear again?
Is there a long-term plan here or a vision for what "Fear the Walking Dead" is going to be? They seem to be shifting gears every half season or so. If this episode is an example of what kind of show they now think this spinoff should be, can we vote no?
The only interesting thing going on right now is whatever Logan is working on with the oil fields. Who is he working with? What is their goals that he doesn't think Morgan or Al will like, but is going to help people? Does it connect back to the people who have Rick?
And why, as this is the most interesting part of the episode, is Logan such a terrible character? Our link to something we care about we couldn't care less about. That's not great.
"Fear the Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.
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