- SPOILERS AHEAD … AND HEROIC ACTS AND SWARMS O’ ZOMBIES …
There are a couple of things, among many, that you’re unlikely to hear in the midst of the zombie apocalypse.
One is “Everything is Awesome!”, the theme for 2014’s The Lego Movie by Tegan and Sara (feat, Lonely Island) – (a) no electricity but more relevantly (b) it’s a thematic downer if ever there was one at the end of the world – and the other is Tony Robbins-esque inspirational catchphrases such as “Everything is possible!”
And yet in the midst of a host of impossible situations in “I Lose People … ” – yeah, yeah, I know they’re always in the last place you look – “everything is possible” makes a surprise appearance, right when you would be expecting everyone to down tools and throw in the proverbial towel. (Or throw zombies bodies, and a dying Jim played by Aaron Stanford, off the building onto cars which have remarkable intact and functional car alarm systems. Glory be, everything is possible!)
Fear the Walking Dead continues to impress with its willingness to entertain the idea, one very much in vogue in apocalyptic literature that a positive attitude and mindset still have a place in human affairs even when the world around us has completely and utterly to crap on a great, through a zombie’s head (or neck) stick.
Far from looking simplistic or gleefully twee, the show’s propensity to promote the idea of community and togetherness, possibility and hope, something its parent show has largely recoiled from in its first eight seasons – this may be changing in season 9 but don’t hold your breath – is refreshing and much more in line with the way most people, and I stress most and not all, react in the middle of a cataclysmic event, which is by helping each other.
Sure there are some nasty people who either selfishly or madly – for the latter, I give Exhibit A, Martha (Tonya Pinkins) who possesses an amazing ability to keep on keeping on when lesser saner souls might just give up – will look after themselves at the expense of all others, but most people will rise to the occasion and help their fellow man, woman and/or child.
So Fear the Walking Dead, and especially “I Lose Myself …” feels very real in this regard.
It presents us with a very muscular belief in the possible too; after all in this zombie-filled, action-packed and yet thoughtful episode, Morgan aka Mo-mo (Lennie James), Laura/Naomi/June aka LNJ (Jenna Elfman), Sarah (Mo Collins), Wendell (Daryl Mitchell), Luciana (Danay García) and a carping and complaining Jim who is not going quietly, or happily, into that good night, are trapped on the roof of a hospital in what looks like Austin, Texas.
There are zombies filling the streets, the little fuel left in the generators is almost gone meaning the lifts will soon stop working, and options are feeling few and far between.
Kind of a bummer huh?
Indeed it is, and at first, Mo-mo rises, or rather falls to the occasion, by luxurating in a deliciously futile and pointless rendition of “Woe is me”; it’s one of the maddening things about this morose character whose moods swing up and down like a swing on speed. (Let’s leave aside whether inanimate objects are affected by drugs shall we? It’s a great mental image and we shall leave it at that.)
But slowly he comes up with a plan, urged by the others, and especially LNJ, who rather oddly seemed manifestly unable to come up with a plan of their own.
While you can see Fear the Walking Dead positioning Morgan as the Apocalyptic Saviour of the Moment – honestly Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) should have that honour – it beggars belief that all these other people, who have survived the zombie-saturated end of the world just fine thank you very much, are incapable of brainstorming some sort of escape strategy.
And why in god’s name, is Morgan the object of a spirited rescue attempt later on when everything else is safe and sound-ish – yeah not so much but everything relative in the apocalypse right? – but Al (Maggie Grace) is all but forgotten, save for a throwaway line about finding by Mo-mo as they speed away from Austin?
They’re two missteps in an episode which uses only a few narrative contrivances – car alarms still working? Tick! Perfectly-position for the throwing of bodies alive and dead off the rooftop? Tick! – and some damn find writing to reaffirm the idea that sticking your neck to help others isn’t just laudable but downright doable.
Also falling into the “Everything is possible!” camp is Jim’s late conversion to noble saintly soul – he spends much of the episode being a grade A asshat only to recant and help out in the end, even giving up his precious beer recipe to Sarah before he dies and becomes Martha’s latest “strong zombie” pet – and Alicia and Charlie (Alexa Nisenson) stumbling across John (Garret Dillahunt) and Victor (Colman Domingo on their alligator-surrounded island.
Even better, Alicia and Charlie find a way to the island which is, and this is little laughable, surrounded by a very shallow body of non-alligator hiding water, using Al’s recovered SWAT vehicle – they also capture a wounded Martha but she manages to escape again, the better to taunt everyone in the season finale “… I Lose Myself” – to spirit John to LNJ ( they are the sweetest thing going on honestly and I hope they live long and prosper; yes, I know that’s a whole other franchise) and Victor to whatever wine bottles are waiting for him.
Having everyone bar Al – remember her? Anyone, anyone? Bueller? – back together again at the end is a joy, since they’ve had to work damn hard to be together again, the result of believing that good things are possible even when everything around screams, mostly Martha to be honest, that it’s not.
This is a hope in the best parts of each other and sound belief in a better future that has survived a thousand trenchant obstacles, pretty much all undead or Jim being a whingeing so-and-so, and means something pretty powerful because of that.
Whether it’s strong enough to overcome to madness of Martha and a no doubt irresistible urge to fashion the undead mother of all season-ending finales is another thing entirely but I hope so since Fear the Walking Dead has shown remarkable courage in celebrating what is best and not worst in humanity, even in a cataclysmic situation and I can only hope they hold their nerve and keep celebrating this all the way to the very end.
- Next week on the Fear the Walking Dead season 4 finale, “… I Lose Myself”