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Sunday, May 21, 2023

Remember What They Took From You |8x01| Fear The Walking Dead

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The Drab 4 reunite, under duress, to discuss #FearTheWalkingDead's #SeasonPremiere of it's 8th and final season. It is definitely not roses in SDHQ, as hosts are split about how enjoyable this episode of #FTWD actually was. With so much pressure for #IanGoldberg & #AndrewChambliss to stick the landing, is it any wonder why tensions are riding high?
You definitely want the unedited episode recording: if the final cut is medium-hot, the unedited version is so spicy, you have to sign a waiver. It's also more than twice as long. Yes, we had a LOT to say! There's only one way to stream it and that's by heading here:

David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:

  • SQUAWKING DEAD's Fear The Walking Dead Final Season Giveaway has run its course and a winner has been chosen [Editor's note: FINALLY! Due to many false starts on a winner accepting the grand prize]! Watch the full playlist containing the promos, fan questions, fan answers, and even the winner (re)spins!
  • Dave attempts to temper the impending onslaught both Rachael & Sherrandy are about to wreak on this episode by couching their ire in the fact that we haven't seen an episode of Fear The Walking Dead in almost a year, as well as all the concerns we had with regard to Madison Clark's return to the series (that we voiced across several episode discussions during our Season 7 coverage). With Season 8 being FearTWD's final season, we're having flashbacks to similar frustrations/tensions we experienced during The Walking Dead's 11th and final season.

  • The pressure we're putting on showrunners Ian Goldberg & Andrew Chambliss to stick FearTWD's landing aren't just limited to the above concerns, but related to The Walking Dead Universe on the whole: With the reboot of Tales of The Walking Dead morphing into More Tales From The Walking Dead (Universe), producers are backpedaling on providing us completely new stories and are, instead, purportedly dipping into the backgrounds and stories of characters (living or dead) who've already appeared in TWDU. This isn't 100% confirmed, but here's an interview that alludes to this move as More Tales continues to be developed:

  • Rachael's first impressions of this episode:
  • Sherrandy's first watch impressions weren't that bad, until her second watch: Seeing the episode revolve entirely around her least favorite characters - Madison & Morgan Jones - really put a bad taste in her mouth. What made it worse was how we ended off Season 7 with a Morgan/Madison episode and opened Season 8 with them, as well, after a long period without FearTWD - without seeing any of our other characters, really.

  • Dave attempts to give Sherrandy some perspective on why she feels so strongly as she does about her bad feelings towards these episodes: (along with the aforementioned reasons) it could also be the fact that this episode does, in a way, continue the anthology style episodes, too. Sherrandy had heard that it gets better, probably from Dave when he posted this tweet from Cameron Bonomolo from ComicBook Review:
  • In addition to establishing an air of mystery as to the fate of our protagonists and laying out the tone and premise of the remaining episodes of the season, the show also chose to go back to Morgan & Madison (after ending last season with them) to format the remainder of the series for audiences that aren't watching week-to-week (so it jumps straight into it as a sort of two-part continuation).

  • Continuing on the warpath, Sherrandy & Rachael illicit more than their concern about not seeing other characters: there's a valid fear that we will not see Mo Collins' Sarah Rabinowitz and Alexa Nisenson's Charlie at all this season, since their names are no longer in the opening credits. The fear is that, unlike characters(' stories) that were lost between the Season 3/Season 4 reboot/shuffle, Charlie and Sarah might not receive the same level of closure.

  • Dave takes a step back to remind everyone of his position: as much as he loves both the actors and characters of TWDU, if it makes for a better story, he'd be ok with even his favorite characters (Madison & Morgan) dying. The question really is whether losing, at least, Sarah (we knew Charlie wasn't long for this world even before the 7-year time-jump, back in Season 7) will result in paving a wider path for a better storyline for FearTWD's final season, especially in light of the declining quality of the story arcs since Season 4.

  • This takes us to really addressing the main concern over lost characters: will Madison & Morgan dominate the screen from here on out (a long held concern since the announcement of Madison's return)? Putting that fear aside, Bridget (and Dave) both hold that this episode was actually pretty descent, especially in terms of setting the stage for the remaining episodes of, at least, the first half of the season.

  • Bridget continues this thought/her first impressions by illustrating that Baby "Mo" Morgan/Wren was more of the focal point of this episode, rather than Madison & Morgan. This opens the door to what many fans have been surmising: FearTWD is setting up their next Judith Grimes. This devolves into door-ception: Rachael criticizes Zoey Merchant's casting due to the age discrepancy (a 13-year-old playing what's supposed to be an 8-year-old character). What's funny is that, with the time-skip, Alexa is finally about the same age as her character, Charlie (even though it's highly likely that she's been written off the show). Aidan Atkin (in the audience) says maybe Charlie was pregnant with Ali Mohamed's child...?

  • On a greater note, what stings the most for the majority of our hosts is having defended Fear The Walking Dead since the reboot, only to be given a terribly panned remainder of Season 7 and a Season Premiere for Season 8 that seems inconsistent with the stories leading up to it.
  • #BringBackMadison: AMC ran a social media campaign with Kim Dickens that boils down to how the fans brought Madison back to the show, which only validated everyone's fears over her character potentially dominating the storyline (hence, the vitriolic reaction, by some, towards this episode).
    Editor's Note: after this episode aired, I sounded-off in the YouTube Premiere chat that their social media campaign was merely a retcon/ploy to pander to fans longing for her return: the fans had nothing to do with it, whatsoever, since Madison's exit was was firm and final. They only sought to bring her back to fill the void Alicia Clark would leave behind after Alycia Debnam-Carey wanted to leave the show. It's a smart play for AMC but, for those who see right through it and know the truth, its arguably worse because it's rewarding rewards those who resorted to bullying others who didn't care for Madison's return.
  • Dave argues that the reason for these drastic changes may be due to Producers + AMC finally involving themselves more in the final cut of these remaining episodes, finally overriding some of the decision-making of Ian & Andrew, in order to safely ensure the most people possible praise this final season. Either way, Dave isn't willing to judge an entire season on the basis of its first episode, which is mostly an establishing episode, anyway.

  • Sherrandy's one positive note: Morgan telling Wren that Isaac & Rachel were her real parents. You would've thought Rachael would've been over the moon about that, but she notes that it's only done to push Mo away from Morgan and Grace Mukherjee. This conversation obviously devolves into whether adopting parents are real parents... but to give Rachael her due, she only has a problem with it because she doesn't want people to forget a given child's birth parents (save for Lori Grimes, for some reason, which demolishes her entire logic along with some good will).

  • In the process of laying out yet another beef with the story - how Madison & Wren even escaped P.A.D.R.E. - Rachael tosses some chum the sharks by complaining that we'll never find out how Madison survived the burning down of the Dell Diamond settlement... when the showrunners made it pretty clear that we will find out more about how she survived during many recent (and not so recent) interviews. I will believe that when I see it.

  • Sherrandy brings up a telling parallel: Madison knocking the sledgehammer against the houseboat in an attempt to allow Morgan and Wren a chance to escape looked a lot like Morgan's final scene in Season 5, after being shot by Virginia near the church doors.

  • The subtitles are wrong about the song that's being sung by Grace in Wren's headphones: It's The Dock of The Bay by Otis Reading, not Roy Orbison's In Dreams. Why that's important are the following key lyrics - Wastin time / Left my home in Georgia / Nothing to live for / Nothing's gonna change / 2,000 miles I roam, just to make this dock my home - that serve to tell where Morgan's headspace was, where its currently at, and foreshadowing where he may end up.
  • This brings up an important point: Morgan convinced himself that he did the right thing by giving up Baby Mo to PADRE and could've left at any time. What is keeping him here, at present, anyway? Just like Marlene, from The Last Of Us, he could've just walked away at this point. Does he actually believe in what PADRE is actually attempting to accomplish, from whatever he's gleaned all these years? She has to be with the right people because if I gave her away to the wrong people, then who am I?

  • After 7 years in lock-up, Madison may have come to certain realizations about what she felt she had to do for PADRE to keep her kids safe from them... and that, maybe, she should've given them more credit in their ability to defend themselves against PADRE, rather than parcel off her soul to steal the babies and children of other parents. In other words, maybe at first she was giving into the fear of PADRE harming her kids, but later on, it might've just been an excuse/routine she felt she couldn't quit after doing it for so long. It might be more of an explanation as to why she's so adamant about reuniting Wren with Morgan & Grace.

  • Is PADRE's next phase all about facing off against a greater big-bad? Could that very big-bad be Major General Beale and The Civic Republic (Military)? They are, after all, training children to kill walkers, which the CRM have weaponized against whole colonies. This devolves into who PADRE (the character) might be (maybe a woman?). Hilarity ensues.

  • We take a moment to truly appreciate and validate everyone's feelings towards (not only this episode, but) any given episode. We often repeat this axiom: your feelings aren't wrong. That being said, we always endeavor to peel back the underlying cause of those feelings, for a variety of reasons. It also goes hand-in-hand with what was said before, about how it's exceedingly rare that we have to wait, week-to-week, for any series on television, which only exacerbates every one of our current frustrations.
  • Bird Symbolism:
    • Wrens have mythological relevance to certain Native American tribes. Appear meek, but are more powerful than they seem. Some Pueblo tribes consider wrens a symbol of war: capturing them boosts courage. Other Pueblo tribes associate Rock Wrens with madness and dangerous magic, so they are avoided at all costs.
    • Doves are associated with peace. But they're just nicer-looking pigeons.
    • (C)Larks are associated with joy, hope, and laughter. It's not typically how we associate Madison, but it might explain her headspace, moving forward. The crescent on their breast associates them with the moon, ergo femininity, and often symbolize mythological Muses.
    • Nightingales are known for their beautiful song (cue everyone doing their worst impression of Morgan singing). Often associated with poetry. Mostly, they are a sign of coming Spring (new beginnings, renewal, or signs of life after the dead of winter).
    • What drew Bridget to FearTWD was not only the regional differences and setting from TWD, but the different names for walkers, like carrion in this season. Carrion, of course, are a type bird that feed off the carcasses of other birds.
    • Herons signify elegance, patience, wisdom, messages, self-possession, transformation, and good fortune (the opposite of  an albatross).
    • Shrike (played by Maya Eshet), also called Butcher birds, despite their diminutive stature are ferocious. They impale their prey on thorns and other sharp objects. As a totem animal, it helps us overcome our fears and see the world in a new light.
  • We take a moment to appreciate Madison's indomitable spirit: for a single parent, you could feel her codependence and resolve to keep her and her children together, especially in the zombpocalypse, yet at certain points, she has reluctantly let both Alicia & Nick Clark go their own way. Bridget describes the - at times - unhealthy/codependent, yet extremely close bond she has with her own mother which goes to why she sort of understands Madison.

  • Rachael hopes that this season continues to make use of the bird theme and that it will amount to something. Dave points out, after Rachael muses that PADRE might've been a pre-apocalypse bird-watcher, that the PADRE settlement might be nested on what was once a bird sanctuary, where scientists could study migrations and mating patterns, etc. Going off a comment Mitchell Shoemaker makes in the audience, Rachael mentions that it's possible that no one knows who PADRE really is because he's hiding in plain sight, speaking only behind glass.

  • Rachael proposes we all have bird species nicknames: hers is dodo, Bridget's husband calls her a shithawk, Rachael calls Dave an owl, and Bridget calls Sherrandy a barn owl.
  • As terrifying as PADRE is made out to be, to the point that Morgan abandons his own principles he's built over the better part of a decade, what's more terrifying is how marshal they are: between the bullet-making and effective indoctrination and training of youth from infancy, they are a tidal wave to be reckoned with.

  • Bridget finally gets to talk about her positives, thus far, and it's the color palate: it's green, y'all... praise God. The bird theme may sound hokey, but after calling the babies Madison was stealing eggs, we're leaning in. She also liked the change in title sequence music (better than the early seasons), but loved the continuation of the colorful, 2-D silhouettes in 3-D character scenes representing the episode's focal point.

  • Sherrandy notes that Bridget's only stated positives were the color palate and the title sequence, but Bridget comes back to explain that she liked the episode and even Zoey Merchant's performance as Wren: it wasn't stellar, but it wasn't bad. Sherrandy merely hated Kim Dickens' acting, especially in scenes with Zoey.

  • As much as there's lots to look forward to, the concern that even the best actors can't carry the weight of a terrible story looms over our discussion. Rachael concedes that what the first episode lays out is potentially interesting, but she's moving with trepidation through each episode watch.

  • We've mentioned this on prior recordings: casting calls were posted seeking out Troy Otto look-alikes, as well as fans pointing out that Daniel Sharman has traveled to set. Folks are saying that he's the gentleman who lets in the first walker Mo is expected to take down in the first scene, who also appears later on in two separate scenes teaching kids about military formations. Others continue on to say that Troy may even be PADRE - and if he is, it actually sort of makes sense, since he keeps Madison around. And then comes the Tobias is PADRE, shitty theory. And then all the folks who are probably not PADRE.
    Another S1-3 character rumored to be returning for season 8. He has been seen around the Savannah area and casting calls for body doubles have been posted.
    by u/Wild-Chemical1284 in FearTheWalkingDead
  • ...except for maybe the siblings, Annie, Max and Dylan. That would be a compelling theory since they disappeared without a trace. On a more serious note, though, after Dave says he doesn't care who Troy is on the show - PADRE or not - Rachael asks whether he cares who PADRE even is. His answer was, show, don't tell: The show has to make me care enough about it in order for me to want to know who PADRE is or even might be.

  • Which brings Dave to another overall positive: with Morgan & Madison catching the audience up on what's happened to them predominantly via actual dialogue, it allows them to skip a lot of the visual storytelling to clear a path for other characters to show up and shine in the present. This leads Rachael to believe that June Dorie will be the one who Madison will most-likely reveal what happened to her during The Stadium collapse in Season 4.

  • And speaking of what's to come, Dave revisits the lyrics of The Dock of the Bay within the context of the WonderCon trailer for Season 8, where it's revealed that Morgan will return to King County, GA, where The Walking Dead began.

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