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TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead - Season 4, Episode 5

05.14.2018by: Cody Hamman

Season 4, Episode 5: Laura

PLOT: A glimpse into the past reveals what happened between Naomi and John Dorie at his riverside cabin.

REVIEW: The fourth season of The Walking Dead's companion series Fear the Walking Dead is one that's being built on flashbacks, primarily because there was a substantial time jump between seasons and the show needs to fill us in on what happened with the characters we've been following for the previous three seasons. The episode Laura stands out from the pack because it has no information to give us about returning characters. None of the returning characters are even featured in this episode at all, which I found to be quite jarring. Even this season's premiere episode, which followed The Walking Dead character Morgan Jones (Lennie James) as he made his way from one show over to the other, gave returning characters a cameo in its final moments.

Laura is almost entirely a flashback story, and this time the person flashing back is John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt), the modern day cowboy introduced in the first scene of this season's first episode. I'm still tuning in to this show every week to see what's going on with the Clark family and their companions, but if we were going to have to spend an entire episode with a new character, John was certainly the most appealing choice, with his pleasant country demeanor. At the end of the previous episode, John discovered the woman he knew as Laura is the same woman the Clarks and their pals knew as Naomi (whether she's called Laura or Naomi, she's played by Jenna Elfman). He has said before that Laura/Naomi showed up at his door one day, he let her stay with him, they developed feelings for each other, then she disappeared from his life and he has been looking for her since. Her current whereabouts aren't really known (she was living at the baseball stadium the returning characters spent time in between seasons, but "didn't make it out" when they were forced to flee - that doesn't necessarily mean she was killed), and this episode had no clues to offer about that, instead focusing on what happened between John and Naomi when she showed up at his door.

Before Naomi, John's experience during the zombie apocalypse was simple and lonely. Mostly living off the land, the former police officer and Wild West show performer spent his days keeping zombies away from his riverside cabin, cleaning his revolvers, and playing Scrabble by himself. Come nightfall, he would pop some popcorn and watch a movie. He would always pick up a VHS rental during his Tuesday supply runs, keeping a record of each movie he took from McNeil's Bait & Beer and even writing down a short review of each one. "Questionable", "Too Violent", "Good Time!", "Too Long", etc. "Too Long" (which I think was his review of THE GREEN MILE) was especially amusing to me. What does a movie's length matter when you're living in the zombie apocalypse?

Then Naomi showed up, and she didn't exactly come knocking. She was wounded when she washed up on the river bank and John took her in while she convalesced.

Naomi was quite standoffish toward John during most of her time at her cabin (obviously, she didn't even tell him her name), which really made me start to question his character as this episode played out. It has seemed to this point that Naomi or "Laura" was the love of his life, but it didn't seem like it was going to go that way when we see the truth of the situation. She was too distant, she just wanted to get better and move on. She kept talking about leaving. Is John some sort of creepy stalker type who imagined a deeper connection than was really there? He's so likeable, I didn't want that to be the case, and thankfully it wasn't. Naomi was eventually charmed by him, and it made sense. Who wouldn't be charmed by John, aside from GREEN MILE superfans? Still, their relationship never reached the level I expected it to.

While I look forward to finding out more about the returning characters' time at the baseball stadium, this episode was a nice diversion that came along much earlier in the season than I would have thought it would, if we were going to get an episode like this at all. Naomi keeps her guard up, but we learn a great deal more about the person John is and what sort of life he has led. Most importantly, we learn that he's not a delusional stalker. It was a good character study of a person we haven't seen a whole lot of yet. I'm hesitant to embrace a character so new, but John is a great presence on the show.

And Naomi... we still have a lot to find out about her. 

Hopefully Fear the Walking Dead will be back to normal next week (or as close to normal as it can get this season), but I enjoyed spending time with John and Naomi this week.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: Fighting off a herd of zombies, Naomi is knocked into a ditch. Zombies tumble down on top of her, and just when all looks hopeless John grabs the revolvers he has been refusing to use and delivers multiple perfect headshots in seconds.

GORY GLORY: In addition to the ones John guns down, there are several zombies who are dispatched with bladed weapons to the head. John's refusal to use his revolvers nearly gets him killed when he's trapped in a vehicle with a zombie that has a machete stuck through one of its shoulders, but he gets out of the situation by going knife happy on the zombie's brain.

FAVORITE SCENE: I really liked the scene of John and Naomi sharing snacks during a movie night... Mainly because I'd still be watching a whole lot of movies during the zombie apocalypse, but characters in zombie movies and shows don't tend to be movie watchers.

FINAL VERDICT

Extra Tidbit: What did you think of Laura?

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