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Fear the Walking Dead - I Lose Myself - Review - "Something Else to Do"

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And so the road doesn't lead to Alexandria. It was never going to, but it was still a relief to get that confirmation. Most season finales do one or two things, if they don't do both. They provide emotional payoff for the characters' arcs that season or they set up the conflicts and themes for next season. "I Lose Myself" focuses more on Morgan than doing either of those things. However,the episode builds to a satisfactory ending note full of promise for season five. Was it earned?

The season finale quickly resolves Al's fate. She escaped the hospital somehow and comes back looking for everyone, only to meet Martha instead. Martha is a fan and gushes to Al about all those tapes full of people whose stories she recorded but didn't help. She spares Al's life but uses the new camera Al found to record a message for Morgan. As John humorously describes it, Al was a "carrier pigeon." This conversation with Martha sparks a turnaround for Al who watches many of her tapes with tears in her eyes. Al is someone whose perspective hasn't been explored that much, so Maggie Grace has to sell this scene with her performance alone. She does so very well. (Detour though, has Morgan told Al that Shiva is dead, because Al brings up how excited she is to meet the King and his Tiger if they go to Alexandria? If he hasn't, that's rude.)

"There's some fish in this world that just won't be caught."

Morgan, of course, decides to go back and "rescue" Martha. Everyone else stays at the truck stop in Mississippi where he first met Sarah and Wendell. The entire situation with Martha is hard to get a read on. Post-apocalypse shows love to punish compassion or worse pair compassion with stupidity. The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead love an extreme villain, where killing them seems like the only sane option to the audience. Martha is a serial killer and a threat to every single character we care about. Does she deserve humane treatment? It's a moral question that the show doesn't linger on. Instead we get Morgan thinking that Martha is another version of himself. Even when Morgan was "stuck", I don't remember him becoming a serial killer of innocent people. (Did I miss that season?) His compassion is rewarded though, because going back for Martha is the only thing that keeps him from being poisoned too.

When everyone starts getting sick at the truck stop, it was a surprise. I had forgotten that Morgan gave Martha the location over the radio. June's discovery that none of the water bottles were sealed, after they had all been guzzling cupfuls, came only as everyone started to double over. One of the things that Fear the Walking Dead has steered away from this season is gory shock deaths and most deaths altogether. Instead, it has focused on building suspense with scary settings. A water park slide with the dead crowding at the bottom. A flooding basement. A dim abandoned hospital. Here the characters are basically too ill to move away from the front of the store, with nowhere to go but the bathroom anyway, as the walkers clamber against the doors and windows.
"I thought we'd get a second chance."

Martha does tell Morgan that she poisoned the water with antifreeze, but he's out of range and has to get closer to tell them over the walkie. Martha crashing the car and impaling his leg doesn't help. But she's weakened enough that he is able to handcuff her to the car. Once June hears it's antifreeze, she knows ethanol is the antidote. Good thing there is a tanker full of it standing outside. They just have to get to it in their weakened condition. This doesn't work out, because they are unable to fight off the crowd of walkers, so Al unloads her guns, striking the tanker in the process. Morgan is able to save his friends anyway, because he made a stop at Jim's brewery and picked up a truck of Augie's Ale. Beer was the true hero of the hour. Jim would have been so proud.

Afterwards, Morgan returns to put down undead Martha. (Not even going to speculate about that arm, but I think it's pretty clear what happened there.) He then tells the others that he'd like to not go back to Alexandria. The journals "Polar Bear" Clayton gave to Luciana contain directions to an old denim factory that his group operated out of. Morgan wants to keep on trucking but take it a step further and help the people they find too. Everyone else decides to stay as well.

"You're not weak."

Luciana said, "Let's find something else to do. Let's find another reason to live." Instead of focusing on finding or building a safe haven, they are going to be traveling around the country looking for people to help, looking for trouble to sort out. That is a big change for the show. It could split the core characters up too much, but it could also produce a fascinating variety of stories. We are just barely getting to know some of them, like Wendell and Sarah.

Otherwise, the season finale is chock full of feel-good moments, like Strand and Alicia's new status as drinking partners and John and June's heartfelt conversation. I would have liked to see a bit more about Luciana and Charlie's reconciliation, but that could have felt redundant too. June's development over the season was especially good. Season five must have more Strand though. Overall, however, my biggest fear for season five is that it won't follow through on all the meaningful connections this group has made with each other.

How good was season four overall? There were three different timelines: life at the stadium, between the stadium and the storm, and after the storm. The first was probably the weakest, as it mostly just rehashed the familiar "doomed peace" beats. Killing off Madison was a mistake. The only true way to course correct afterwards is to give Alicia and June way more to do in season five. And Strand too. Both the Vultures and Martha were better than average antagonists, as neither were cartoonish "bad guys". Martha was a bit akin to a walking, talking plot device, though Tonya Pinkins couldn't have been more enthralling to watch. It did feel sometimes like the show was being contorted to better fit Morgan's story, but he fit much better into this basically rebooted version of Fear than he has for a while on the other show. That being said, season four was a drastic, startling shift from season three. Next time the transition should be smoother.

Season five will also look different, as the gray palette will be gone. I hope they keep the cool title cards though.
"I know you who are. It doesn't matter what your name is."

The best part about this season was how hopeful it was, how it focused what people can do for each other. It cared more about love, forgiveness, creativity, and friendship than previous seasons have. Martha would say that made this season weak, but it actually made it strong. The Walking Dead is a show that seems to always be in countdown mode until it can pull off another graphic and sometimes pointless moment from the comics. Fear the Walking Dead has the freedom to tell a different kind of story. It didn't sacrifice walker creepiness or suspense to do it. There were amazing performances this season, that were really made possible because the show had the breathing room to focus on its characters and who they are. I hope the next season won't undo all of that.

Season Highlights:

Best Episodes of the Season: "Laura" and "Close Your Eyes"

Most Underwhelming Part: The Storm

Best Characters: Alicia Clark and John Dorie

Most Eerie Walker Locations: the high school and the water park

Most Nuanced Metaphor/Self-Commentary: Use of The Little Prince

Ickiest Walker Kill: Tire Jack

Most Tearful Moment: Alicia holding Charlie's hand the second time in "Close Your Eyes"

Biggest Takeaway: Beer Matters

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