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TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead - Season 4, Episode 16

Season 4, Episode 16: ... I Lose Myself

PLOT: Characters are stricken with a mystery illness while Morgan tries to save Martha from her own madness.

REVIEW: AMC has high hopes for the future of their The Walking Dead franchise, expecting to tell another decade of stories set in this post-zombie-apocalypse world, stories that will be told through more television spin-offs and companion shows like Fear the Walking Dead, and ones that will be told through other types of media. It seems like someone behind the scenes thought that one interesting idea for a new chapter in the Walking Dead franchise would be a spin-off centered on Morgan Jones (Lennie James), a character who was first introduced way back in the premiere episode of The Walking Dead. I'm not sure why, because I think Morgan is kind of a drag with his off-kilter, back and forth, "I don't die", "I don't kill", "Maybe I do kill", "I lose people, I lose myself" stuff. But sure, give him his own limited series or web series, that's fine. That's not what they did. For some reason, they chose to re-shape the existing series Fear the Walking Dead into the Morgan Jones spin-off show, killing off Fear's main characters and letting Morgan take charge while the remaining returning characters sink into the background. It's a frustrating decision, and while things were working okay in the first half of Fear the Walking Dead season 4 / Fear the Morgan Jones season 1, the second half of this season has been a bust.

The season ended with an episode titled ... I Lose Myself, which of course is a Morgan-inspired title, an elongated finale all about Morgan trying to be a hero while the other characters are sidelined with a mystery illness. ... I Lose Myself really didn't need to run 18 minutes later than the average episode, but I guess they wanted to fill it out will bonus scenes of Morgan walking around the countryside and shots of the other characters slowly succumbing to antifreeze poisoning.

New showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg tried to liven up the lackluster second half of this season with the addition of a human villain, a woman named Martha (Tonya Pinkins) who's on a mission to tear the characters apart because she doesn't like that they try to help people. She was an interesting wild card at first, running around making deadly mischief, but at this point she's just a time waster, spewing nonsensical attempts at "deep thoughts" and bawling. I got zero entertainment out of watching the show spend so much of this episode seeing her off. At least it did see her off for good. We don't have to worry about Martha in the inevitable season 5.

While Morgan and Martha were off making the opposite of riveting television, the others were trying to score some ethanol, the antidote to their antifreeze poisoning. Luckily, they were at a truck stop where there happened to be a tanker truck sitting right out front. They managed to puncture the tank while fighting off zombies, though, and apparently that was an unlucky turn of events... And I didn't get that at all. Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) and Luciana Galvez (Danay Garcia) had a container they were going to fill with ethanol (returning characters from previous seasons actually getting something meaningful to do!), but they couldn't get the valve open. That's a problem. So when Althea (Maggie Grace) opens fire on the zombies advancing toward them with her SWAT truck guns and causes the tanker to spring a leak... how is that not the solution to the problem? Ethanol is now pouring out of the tanker, put your container under the leak and fill it up that way. Instead, the characters don't move to do that at all, they just stare at the leak like it's the worst thing that could happen. It was baffling to me.

In the end, though, everyone except Martha made it out of the episode just fine, and Morgan decided he's going to lead the survivors on a humanitarian mission, which I guess is supposed to get us excited to watch another season of the Morgan Jones show next year. At least Strand, Luciana, and Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey) will still be around, so there will still be some trace of what this show used to be. Even then, season 4 has changed Fear the Walking Dead more drastically than any other show I've been a regular viewer of has changed before, aside from anthologies that tell different stories with different characters all the time. As far as I'm concerned, the change hasn't been for the better.

Fear the Walking Dead season 4 could have been so much more interesting than this if it had just picked up from the ending of season 3 and continued on from there, instead of jumping ahead a couple years and making Morgan the new star. I wanted to see the story of Strand, Luciana, and the Clarks dealing with season 3 villain Proctor John in Texas, a story that would have allowed for the return of characters like Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades) - who was one of the best things this show ever had going for it - and Qaletaqa Walker (Michael Greyeyes). Fear should have remained earlier in the apocalyptic timeline than The Walking Dead instead of catching up with it, and if anyone from The Walking Dead was going to show up on this series it should have been the Texas-based Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), encountering these characters before he moved on to the other show. That story doesn't exist, though.

While I like some of the new characters who were introduced on Fear the Walking Dead this season, I'm not happy with what has become of the show overall. It's something different now, and even when Fear was maddeningly slow and frustrating in the past, at least it was telling a better story than this.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: When zombies are approaching a weakened Althea, the only one who can save her is Alicia, who blasts the walkers down real quick. It was a nice hero moment for a returning Fear character, the character who should be the lead of the show now.

GORY GLORY: The sight of Martha's severed arm late in the episode was pretty gross, but my favorite bit of gore came when Althea shoots a zombie in the face with a shotgun. This CG gore isn't nearly as cool as the practical FX Tom Savini gave us back in the day, but the zombie's exploding head did remind me of the original DAWN OF THE DEAD.

FAVORITE SCENE: My favorite new character, John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt), and his girlfriend June (Jenna Elfman) get past the identity crisis she's been having all season. "I know who you are. Doesn't matter what your name is. I know you. Doesn't take a whole day to recognize sunshine."

FINAL VERDICT

Source: JoBlo

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