TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead - Season 4, Episode 14

Season 4, Episode 14: MM 54

PLOT: After an encounter with a homicidal stranger, survivors are trapped at a zombie-filled hospital.

REVIEW: After a few episodes of build-up, Fear the Walking Dead has finally given us some information on the homicidal "Filthy Woman" (Tonya Pinkins) who has been stalking the show's characters, killing people to make them zombies and keeping those zombies as pets. As it turns out, her name is Martha, and she's out to murder anyone who dares to attempt to help others survive the zombie apocalypse because she didn't get help when she needed it. Back when the dead were just first starting to rise, she and her husband were in a car accident (which occurred at mile marker 54, thus the title of the episode). Martha begged passing motorists to help her wounded husband, but everyone passed her by. Her husband died, became a zombie, and she had to kill him.

For some people, that tragedy might have made them determined to make sure others wouldn't be let down like they were. For Martha, it's a "if I couldn't get help, no one should get help" situation. Killing helpful people makes sense in her cracked mind, and having a wild card villain like her lurking around does liven up the show a bit.

Aside from Martha's back story and the explanation for her behavior, the most fascinating thing about MM 54 to me was the director's credit, which revealed that actor Lou Diamond Phillips, who hasn't had any association with the Walking Dead franchise before this point, was at the helm of this episode. Just the idea of Phillips directing zombie action is awesome to me, and Fear's showrunners made sure to hand him an episode that had plenty of zombies in it - whether those zombies were being used by Martha for her nefarious purposes, or if they were part of a herd pursuing the stranded Morgan (Lennie James), Luciana (Danay Garcia), Althea (Maggie Grace), Jim (Aaron Stanford), June (Jenna Elfman), Wendell (Daryl Mitchell), and Sarah (Mo Collins).

One of the highlights of this episode was a slow chase in which the characters make their way down the road, hindered by the fact that Wendell's wheelchair has been busted, with a zombie herd walking toward them in the distance.

With Martha running away early on so she can live to fight another day, MM 54 shifts its focus to zombie attacks in an abandoned hospital, where a recently introduced character receives a death sentence... And even though I'm all for this season's new characters being whittled down to ensure that Fear will continue to center on its returning characters Luciana, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), and the absent-from-this-episode Victor Strand (Colman Domingo), the one they have chosen to kill off is not one I wanted to see die soon. That was disappointing.

That was one of the few disappointments with MM 54, which I found to be a nice step up from the last few episodes overall. The second half of this season hasn't been very interesting to me, but this episode brought some appreciated action and answers. It was also good that it would cut away from the harrowing ordeal Morgan, Luciana, and their pals were enduring to a side story with Alicia and Charlie (Alexa Nisenson), a pair who made amends in one of the best episodes of this half-season, Close Your Eyes. Alicia is truly the character who should take over the show since her brother and mother were killed off earlier in the season, so she needs to be present.

Plus this was a zombie story directed by Lou Diamond Phillips. The guy who played Ritchie Valens! Chavez y Chavez! Henry Standing Bear! Over 130 other characters! That's just cool.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: The characters walking down the highway with the herd of zombies following them was a great, creepy idea and visual.

GORY GLORY: Jim has a fight with a zombie that has a bandage wrapped around its head. During their tussle, Jim pulls the bandage off, revealing that the zombie had brain surgery before its death, as a chunk of scalp is now flapping around and the skull is visible underneath.

FAVORITE SCENE: With a pet zombie on a pole and the Eddie Kendricks song "Keep on Truckin'" playing on the soundtrack, Martha goes on a killing spree.


Extra Tidbit: What did you think of MM 54?



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