As Morgan and Al come face-to-face with the biggest threat their group has faced yet, Daniel and Grace face a whole different kind of danger.
And just like that, "Fear the Walking Dead" proves it can turn out a solid episode in the middle of a bad run, though we're not fully stoked by the closing minutes.
This week, our focus shifted to the two halves of the season's sweetest burgeoning romance. That meant following Grace and Daniel as they try to make their way back to the convoy, and touching base with Morgan and Al, who are woefully out of touch with what's been going on.
And yet they still managed to step right into the middle of everything when they stumble across another new face in need of their help. This time it's a dude named Tom who's hiding from ... you guessed it ... people on horseback.
It's interesting that the cast of "The Walking Dead" has embraced horseback, while on "Fear" they've become a symbol of the enemy as everyone desperately tries to cling to gasoline. As Morgan said, clinging to the past. Even Virginia and her horseback posse are all about securing the oil fields so they can "help," though we're still not clear what that means.
That's Mighty Condo You
Tom was apparently fleeing from Virginia's people, who wanted to kill him for failing his condominium community. We've already seen with Logan and his people that they don't take what they perceive as failure well, so this isn't a huge surprise. Apparently in Virginia's future, only those worthy of survival make it. For now, that does seem to include our intrepid heroes.
In fact, even after they broke into the compound looking for Tom's sister -- and Al looking for her chopper pilot would-be lover Isabelle -- Virginia still showed them kindness. And she remained cryptic as to what she means by helping people if it's so different than what Morgan and his friends are trying to do.
We know she kills people who aren't up to her standards, but what exactly are her standards? Are they really improving the living quality of the condominiums? We only really saw her people there, so where were the people under Tom's care there? What exactly is Virginia doing to bring "good" into the world, as she promises.
And what does she mean that she's working for tomorrow and not today. And how can she say that and seemingly have no connection or idea about the helicopter people? Either she lied when Al asked about a helicopter, or she genuinely has no idea, and so has no connection to those people. Or if she does, she's not privy to all of what they're doing.
Perhaps, just as Logan was her toadie, she is someone else's. Virginia could be classic middle management, which would explain why she's so obsessed with efficiency and brutality. Still, as villains go she's a huge question mark.
And honestly, we don't mind. With a little meatier of a role this week, Colby Minifie seems to have settled down into the role a bit, coming off as far less cartoonish. Dishing out morsels about her group and what they're up to and what they think of Morgan's group and how they intend to work with or against them creates a sense of tension, if not outright danger yet.
We expect danger soon enough, if only because our heroes are not likely to simply walk away from the oil fields. And considering they never did find a place to call home (thanks, June!), now they're going to be in big trouble when they runt out of gas. In other words, there's a confrontation coming out of desperation, and we're actually intrigued where it goes.
By the Grace of a Plot Device
We really, really hope we're wrong, but it really looks like they're setting Grace up to be a plot device for Morgan's growth and development as a character and that's such a tired trope. Grace is a strong and interesting woman on her own and someone who's really grown on us this season. Please don't have her introduced just to create more heartache for Morgan.
But it looks like that's exactly what's happening. Grace's storyline wasn't really essential at all, other than showing her getting closer with Daniel so he can tell her she did help Morgan. And then, the dramatic turn.
A dramatic turn that took place just as Morgan was telling Al he's ready to stop living in the past. He's ready to shake off the shadow of his wife and son and move into the present, where Grace had already expressed her feelings for him. So of course when he contacts her to try and start talking to her, she falls ill.
If Grace dies and this was her purpose on the show, it will be so disappointing. Women don't need to exist to prop up men's storylines, and they shouldn't have to die to propel them forward. It's not fair to the character of Grace, and it's incredibly laze and cliche.
Hopefully, we're wrong. We'd rather have egg on our face that we jumped to such a terrible conclusion than have to deal with the fact that we were right and it was the show that was just that terrible. It is possible to have Morgan grow and evolve emotionally without creating a woman to be a love interest so you can kill her as soon as he's ready to accept that affection.
That said, hopefully Grace is just suddenly sick with something else, or even if it is the radiation sickness, this isn't the part where she dies. Morgan doesn't need that kind of character development. Getting over Jenny and Duane is enough, as it leaves him in a stronger place to make better connections with the family he has now.
"Fear the Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.