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TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead - Season 4, Episode 13

Season 4, Episode 13: Blackjack

PLOT: Zombies, severe storms, alligators, and homicidal maniacs aren't enough to keep these characters apart for long. After episodes apart, they're gradually being reunited.

REVIEW: This second half of Fear the Walking Dead's fourth season just isn't working for me. The first half was intriguing, telling stories in past and present timelines while shaking this show to its core by killing off its two most important characters. The events that occurred between the third and fourth seasons no longer an issue, the series is now free to just keep moving forward without those two characters... and it has yet to figure out what it really is without them. 

The second half of the season has separated the characters with a storm and left them to wander the countryside. The last two episodes haven't even featured returning characters, opting instead to focus on Morgan Jones (Lennie James), the crossover character who has come over to Fear from its companion show The Walking Dead, and a bunch of new additions. After two Morgan-heavy episodes in a row, the last thing I wanted to see in Blackjack was more Morgan, but there he was in the opening scene, hanging out with newbies and dragging down my expectations for the episode.

Thankfully, Fear did remember the show's returning characters in this episode, which gave us a look at what Luciana (Danay Garcia) and Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) - along with recent addition John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) - have been dealing with since the storm cut them off from the others several episodes ago. It was also kind enough to give us an update on Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Charlie (Alexa Nisenson), the two who carried the best episode of this second half a few weeks ago. The presence of returning characters alone was enough to make Blackjack an improvement over the previous two episodes, but it still wasn't enough to make it a great one.

Luciana was given a decent dramatic storyline about her attempt to grant a wish for Clayton (Stephen Henderson), a dying man she finds trapped in a vehicle. Meanwhile, Strand and John Dorie were given a more adventurous story involving their quest to get across a body of water inhabited by a hungry alligator. It was kind of fun to see an alligator causing trouble for people in the zombie apocalypse; I don't think I've ever seen people have to deal with an alligator and zombies simultaneously before.

There has been a feeling hanging over the recent episodes of this show that everything happening is utterly pointless. The season started off with big new ideas and a mission to give a series an overhaul, but now that the major changes have been made, it's like the show doesn't know where to go anymore. It's spinning its wheels.

The only promising thing the second half of this season has going for it is the inclusion of a mysterious "Filthy Woman" (Tonya Pinkins), who has been stalking and sabotaging the characters, killing people and keeping their zombified corpses as pets. She's lurking around in this episode as well, presenting herself as a Morgan groupie and gearing up for an assault that I hope will whittle down the number of new characters a little. Beer-loving Jim (Aaron Stanford) is fun, but I'm willing to lose any one of Althea (Maggie Grace), Wendell (Daryl Mitchell), and Sarah (Mo Collins). I'm not a big fan of June (Jenna Elfman), either, but I don't want her to die because it would upset John Dorie. Charlie can stick around, too.

The most interesting thing about Blackjack is seeing just how uninteresting Fear the Walking Dead can be after the new showrunners have shifted the focus of the series away from Madison and Nick Clark. They were so determined to change the show so drastically in the first half, I would have thought they had bigger plans in mind than what's been going on in the second half.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: Strand risks his life to retrieve a bottle of booze from a dangerously positioned vehicle that has a zombie sitting behind the wheel. Even better than the action this moment provided is when Strand drinks that alcohol while thinking of (and trying to forget) his lost drinking buddy Madison.

GORY GLORY: Wendell demonstrates his wheelchair's security measures when a zombie comes stumbling up behind him: blades pop up from the back of the chair to impale the flesh-eater. Sarah then comes along to finish it off.

FAVORITE SCENE: In the episode's last scene, Filthy Woman uses Althea's SWAT truck to attack the truck containing Morgan, Jim, June, Wendell, Sarah, Althea, and Luciana. Hopefully this attack will lead into a better episode.

FINAL VERDICT

Source: JoBlo

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