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TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead - Season 4, Episode 9

Season 4, Episode 9: People Like Us

PLOT: Characters struggle with their guilty consciences while Morgan Jones tries to plan a road trip back to the Alexandria Safe Zone. 

REVIEW: Some time has passed between Fear the Walking Dead season 4's mid-season finale and this mid-season premiere, but not enough time for the characters to have been able to move on beyond the events of the first half of the season. Sure, they have set up new living situations since then, but their minds are dwelling in the past, and it makes sense: those first eight episodes really shook things up for all of these people, while changing the show from what it was before to something that's almost completely new. Fear has lost its two most prominent characters, characters most viewers would have bet would have been around for the long run. The surviving characters from previous seasons still have to find their bearings without them, and the new additions to the cast have to continue finding their place.

Most of People Like Us is spent digging into the existential crises of the characters while also teasing a huge crossover with Fear's companion series The Walking Dead that isn't likely to happen any time soon, if it ever happens at all. Back in the first episode of this season, crossover character Morgan Jones (Lennie James) chose to leave the characters of The Walking Dead behind in Virginia, having been rattled by things that occurred during that show's eighth season. He headed down to Fear's current setting of Texas, now after spending several episodes hanging out with Fear characters new and old he's ready to move back to Virginia and see his buddy Rick Grimes again. (And if Morgan wants to talk to Rick he needs to move quick, because Rick is leaving The Walking Dead during its upcoming ninth season.) The thing is, Morgan wants to take his Fear friends back to Virginia with him.

It's pretty obvious that Morgan's road trip plan isn't going to pan out. How could The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead both continue to exist if the characters of the two shows are living in the same place at the same time? So of course Morgan has trouble getting anyone to agree to go with him - in fact, the only person who does agree to the road trip is recent addition Althea (Maggie Grace), who would drive Morgan back to Virginia in her SWAT truck. Maybe we could believe we'll be seeing Morgan and Althea roll into the Alexandria Safe Zone sometime during The Walking Dead season 9, but not anybody else. Definitely not pre-Fear-season-4 characters like Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), Victor Strand (Colman Domingo), or Luciana (Danay Garcia).

Alicia, Strand, and Luciana have found a gated mansion to hole up in, where they have to figure out how they're going to make their way through post-apocalyptic life without the major characters they've lost - and in the meantime Strand is making his way through the place's stock of wine while Luciana listens to music and Alicia plots a rescue mission. It's Alicia who has an idea on how they can move forward without her mother and brother, and it's an idea that will put the expected kibosh on the road trip plan. 

Meanwhile, John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) has put together a pretty nice set-up with the woman he risked his life for, June (Jenna Elfman), and the orphaned Charlie (Alexa Nisenson), but nothing's perfect. June is having an identity crisis, which you'd expect from a character who has used three different names over the course of nine episodes, while Charlie is weighed down with guilt for the part she played in the deaths of Alicia's mother and brother. 

There was a lot of grief and regret packed into this episode, which aren't the most exciting things to watch people deal with, but I was glad to see them here. Fear can't just lose characters like Madison and Nick in the first half of the season and then come back for the second half without addressing those losses. I was concerned that there would be a flippancy to the remaining episodes of this season, that the show would just carry on with the surviving characters like this was the new normal. But it's not normal to not have Madison and Nick around, the characters have to deal with that, and I appreciate the fact that the showrunners didn't just brush their mental and emotional anguish aside.

Showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg just joined Fear the Walking Dead this season, and one thing they have made very clear is that they know the value of a good zombie scene. They've included a good amount of zombie action in the season so far, and that continues in this episode - even though People Like Us is mainly about people being sad, these people still have several encounters with zombies while being sad.

Overall, People Like Us wasn't the greatest episode, but it earns points for how heavily it dealt with the ramifications of the first half of the season. Even with Morgan on the show and all the new characters, I still feel that Alicia, Strand, and Luciana should remain this show's top priority while everything changes around them, and I want to see the show do right by them in the absence of Madison and Nick. So far it still is.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: Luciana doesn't notice that a zombie has gotten inside her home because she's busy listening to "Baby I've Got It" by King George & The Fabulous Souls at a high volume, so Strand has to take care of things. I like how the song overwhelmed any other sound that was being made in the house.

GORY GLORY: Fear the Walking Dead is very lacking in the gore department. The best kill in the episode comes when Alicia drops a load of wood onto a group of zombies, but there's no gore to be seen. Other than that, we just get the usual zombie head impalements.

FAVORITE SCENE: John Dorie talks to Charlie about the pain of guilt and the hope of being able to forgive yourself.

FINAL VERDICT

Extra Tidbit: What did you think of People Like Us?

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