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Saturday, June 17, 2023

More Time Than You Know |8x05| Fear The Walking Dead

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This episode takes a scenic route to get to what was ultimately a heart-rendering, beautifully-filmed episode. Grace Mukherjee/Karen David will be missed, Baby Mo/Zoey Merchant is killing it, and the show may reveal how many layers of Morgan Jones we can peel back before he starts seeing red.
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David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:

  • Grab our latest design based on Kirk Manley's comic book cover style tribute art to SQUAWKING DEAD, commissioned by πŸŽ–️SURVIVORS Tier Member, Aliza Jones!

  • Bridget, Obviously, we're all sad. A decent episode: not as great as last week's and not nearly as mediocre as episodes one and three of the season. The acting wasn't subpar and, going off of Dave's theory last week, the episode style continued its alternating pattern: episodes 1, 3, and now 5 mainly had the more serious and dramatic, toned-down music in the title sequence, along with being more ensemble oriented and less single-character focused.

  • This episode also paired well with the last one as a sort of spiritual sequel: Mo / Wren is going through a similar tragedy to Morgan Jones and by the end of the episode wants to clear. It's also a great opportunity to mention Bridget's funny line/moment of the week: Morgan's response to Shrike at the very end of the episode, after she trips him, "You're not gonna kill me, because you can't."
    "What makes you think that?"
    "Because I don't die! Everybody else does, but I don't."
    Dave loves Shrike's retort: why do you think that is? It's something we might find out in the next episode.
  • Rachael found this episode to be a step up from the last one and she even got emotional over Grace Mukherjee's demise. Rachael attempts to admit that there was some sort of mother-daughter connection between Grace and Mo, but Dave couldn't help but burst out laughing over her use of the words some sort of connection. Zoey Merchant's acting was noticeably good, particularly in moments when there wasn't dialogue. Dave digs a little deeper and wonders whether this might be because Mo is struggling against losing her mother and Rachael lost her father when she was young and can't deny that it might have something to do with it. Bridget calls Dave a dick and reveals that her father passed from cancer, as well.

  • To make up for making everyone feel a little uncomfortable, Dave lets everyone in on why he loves Morgan and it has a lot to do with how relatable and realistic his response is to the world and his own personal tragedy, but especially a tragedy befalling or tensions between fathers and sons, in general. The ladies, for the first time, place all Morgan jokes aside and really identify with his struggle: Bridget went crazy after her miscarriage & Rachael throws herself into her work whenever she experiences grief or stress.

  • In the midst of this, Bridget mentions TikToker @ClashedPR (CookieTWD), who mentions we actually haven't really seen clear Morgan since the early seasons of The Walking Dead, but it had left such an impression on us and spawned an infinite amount of memes that we can't help but have it on our minds the select times we've seen Morgan lose it.
    @clashedpr Replying to @DevynTheDude goofy asf #fyp #ftwd #feartwd #twd #thewalkingdead ♬ original sound - CookieTWD 🧟‍♂️
  • To add to the tragedy of Morgan Jones, @TWalkingDWorld on Twitter mentions that Duane Jones has been undead longer than he's been alive (an except he lifted off of Walking Dead Wiki), which really makes our hearts sink. Dave asks whether the show is starting to dial-in on what it means for Morgan to go clear and Bridget says that it would be really interesting since the only two times we really see it are in TWD 3x12 Clear and a little more in 6x04, Here is Not Here; however, she doesn't want it to be something we might have to experience over and over again, like a character trope. If Rachael lost her kid, though, she'd probably clear, too: like Morgan, both the living and the dead.
  • Sherrandy thought the most well done aspect of this episode was Grace's death. Everything else was sort of draggy and (Mo was) repetitive. It wasn't a terrible episode, however, and the kicker was watching Karen David play walker Grace. There were a lot of cool callbacks but one you might've missed: Shrike tripping Morgan was a lot like Morgan tripping Nick Clark in 4x03 to get away from him. Although, of course, the bone to pick with that scene was that he had no issue trying to knock out the prefects, in order to reach Mo, but fell short of taking out Shrike. Dave tries to run cover for this by saying there are indicators in the next episode that when he starts to see red, his peripheral vision (at the very least) is diminished.

  • Rachael acknowledges the slow, dragginess of it all, but compares it to Tyreese Williams' episode on TWD (5x09, What Happened and What's Going On), rather than Carl Grimes' death in Season 8 (in other words, more beautiful than agonizing). Sherrandy is moved to mention that at least the boat Morgan, Mo, and Grace were in to evade P.A.D.R.E. was actually moving, unlike in 4x05, Laura. Aidan Atkin also sent Sherrandy a clip of the boat ride in this episode with Kermit the Frog singing The Rainbow Connection (from The Muppet Movie) playing in the background.

  • Dave agrees, somewhat, on how this episode dragged in some spots, but mentioned that it served to complement how every scene opened with Grace opening her eyes and looking skybound. The way Grace went out was heartbreaking and beautiful, even though he knew the double-stuffed Oriole deck was stacked against her and that she would pass. What he learned from the tension between Mo and Grace - the desire to save someone at all costs versus spending the remaining days one has with grace (with relics of the pre-apocalypse) - was to have a healthy dose of both ideas and meet somewhere in the middle. Spend the remaining time you have with each other, wherever you are, right now. Bridget expands on this idea by saying that the tension could also be the way in which Grace want to live out her days versus Shrike's methods and vision for tomorrow.

  • Sherrandy disagrees: it wasn't necessarily about building a home by way of rebuilding the past but giving her child the only vision of home she knew. Her desire in the first place is a callback to Leave What You Don't (5x13), where she had been scavenging solar panels and satellite dishes with Daniel Salazar to build a home for her child. It was similar to Alpha building a baby-bird's nest for her daughter, Lydia, in Season 10 of The Walking Dead. Sherrandy reminds us that it's also a lot like Morgan's water tower in Season 6's season premiere, where he had padded the interior walls with mattresses to muffle the sound and filled it with toys and books.

  • Going back to how every scene opened with Grace opening her eyes, it reminded Rachael of In Dreams (6x12), where she does the same thing at the beginning of the episode. Just how most of us want to believe that the world of In Dreams was a construct that allowed her to spend time with her unborn child, Athena, before she would inevitably crossover, so too was her actual fever dream, in this episode, a way of connecting with Mo before she passed. Rachael believes that Grace might've been hoping that the next time she opened her eyes, she might end up in that world again so that she could spend more time with her.

  • Going back to the tension between Mo's relentless desire to save Grace and Grace's initial desire to live the remaining hours of her life in the home she tried to build for them, Dave struggled to side with Baby Mo because her motivations are altruistic, brave, and heroic. After watching TWDU for so long - and just plain getting older - one eventually breaks even and works with whatever is feasibly achievable. Bridget defines this further by explaining that it's the difference between the mindset of a child and an adult, but that doesn't mean adults can't harbor hope. Rachael, It's the hope that kills you. Still, it's hard to fault Mo because, even with her own father on his deathbed, Bridget knew that she had to do everything she could so that she wouldn't regret not having done so, later. Setting aside Mo not wanting to face the inevitable loss, had Mo succumbed to Grace's wishes, she just would've always wondered if there was anything more she could've done. A great example of stellar acting from Zoey Merchant was the look of betrayal on Mo - towards Morgan - when he was about to lead PADRE's prefects, away from Grace and Mo, towards the carnival area (from the first episode) so she and Grace could flee towards the houseboat in the marsh.

  • Will Finch make it? Bridget reiterates her difficulty in accepting the choice between having Dwight & Sherry's child die and a possible cure. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few in that she hates what it would mean for the entire if one existed (because it could be exploited, thereafter), but it's so not fair to Finch. Sherrandy says that even if it were to exist, the show has become so inconsistent, it probably wouldn't go any further anyway (or aliens will save them?). Dave takes a step back and applauds the writers on taking chances on shocking plot devices that require further explanation and examination with each episode and even Sherrandy compliments this by saying that this particular treatment might necessitate an indefinite amount of sessions to the point that it's effectively irrelevant, even if they can correctly apply each dose, 100% of the time.

  • Bridget is frustrated all because some dumb bitch had to make a point: Dave says that these shows always have a dumb bitch that has to make a point, from Philip "The Governor" Blake, to Negan, Alpha, and even Martha, the patron saint of dumb bitches and clearing (~Bridget). Dave continues to explain that Shrike resembles a typical villain on TWD: her motivations have a measure of altruism, despite her methods and occasional propensity towards vengeance.

  • This prompts Rachael to mention how, for all Shrike knows, the shipping containers she wants to use to seed the world might be empty, which would negate all the hard work she's put into building PADRE. This prompts Dave to say how much he's starting to appreciate Shrike and how well she was able to manipulate Mo's grief to convince her - and, subsequently, all the prefects - to clear the ship yard of the walker horde. He even goes as far as to say that Shrike wanted Morgan to go clear, and received that as a bonus. Bridget continues this thought by saying weaponizing Mo was exactly what she was aiming for since she knew she was the only one who could properly motivate the children, especially after Madison Clark attempted to reveal the truth. Her private conversation with Crane in Odessa exposed desire for the children to clear the shipyard (and not the parents).

  • Rachael adds another flourish: it never mattered to Shrike who would clear the shipyards - she could always lie and claim victory, either way. Dave marries both Bridget's & Rachael's thoughts by saying she hedged her bets, but would've preferred that the children get it done because of her and Crane's conversation: the children getting the job done would further bond them to the cause.

  • Sherrandy says that even this choice is a callback to the final few episodes of Season 5, where Virginia boxed out our gang at every turn, forcing their hand to contact her for help once they reached Humbug's Gulch 1.0. To that end, she continues that thought: just like they did in Humbug's Gulch, they could've figured out a way to rid themselves of the walkers using a little ingenuity. Rachael supports this by saying all they need to do is lead them far enough away from the containers and just shoot them all with the turret that was shown on the vehicle Shrike was in.

  • Bridget's retort: Shrike is trying to prove that this batch of eggs is worth the time she put into incubating them. Dave continues this thought by saying that the purpose of leveraging the horde was to fly the coop, anyhow, and that Shrike doesn't care about the shipping containers, whatsoever: it was supposed to be a diversionary tactic to prevent the parents from reaching their children. Assuming the containers really do contain materials necessary to seed the world, Sherrandy wonders how they'd even propose delivering them to all to the right places? Madison, after all, said in the first episode, "Where are they getting the gas?" ...The Civic Republic (Military)? Dave's last response: maybe Shrike was facing the inevitable and was hoping that the parents and children would join forces to clear the shipyard and join their cause, as a result. Rachael, in response to Dave saying that she's playing Three Dimensional Chess, it's checkers, at best.

  • Sherrandy narrows down the shipyard's location to the Savannah, Georgia coast (and that the island of PADRE is located in the Atlantic Ocean, somewhere), though she's not entirely sure how they all got there since they would've had to go around Florida, by boat, to get there. Bridget jokes that Florida must've off since a big dead zone trench was eventually dug, as explained in the Tales of The Walking Dead's 4th episode, Amy/Dr. Everett. The conversation devolves into gags on Saint Andrew/Simmons/Elmo's Sound. Both sounds are near Jekyll Island, where the season premiere of The Walking Dead Season 10 was filmed. Dave mistakenly says the Norfolk Southern train car 960053 was based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, when it really ends in Port of Savannah, Georgia: which means wherever they are on the mainland, it's a safe bet that it's in Georgia, as large as the state truly is. This evokes the frustration people had with the latter seasons of Game of Thrones in which characters were fast-travelling across large swaths of land with no sense of when and where we were across the passage of time and orientation in the universe.

  • Stream the Unedited Episode to listen to our extended discussion on the (un)importance of having a sense of bearings and the passage of time in a given television universe:

  • Dave reveals a sneaking suspicion that the writers might be phoning it in because of the lack of episodes to tell Fear The Walking Dead's remaining stories, but also as evidenced in the midseason finale being bumped to a later time slot with The Walking Dead: Dead City's series premiere in its place. He sympathizes a bit with AMC and having to balance the respect towards longtime viewers with doing their best to capture as many viewers to a brand new series as possible, but doesn't completely understand why they had to air on the same night.

  • Despite it all, we're here to hold hands and accentuate the positive: it's just becoming increasingly difficult with some of the poorer decisions that have been made. It just feels like the show is wasting our investment, to a point where some of us no longer recommend Fear The Walking Dead to others, anymore. Dave reveals that it's not hard for him to continue telling people why he loves Fear The Walking Dead, given his upbringing: being an outsider means its pointless to fear explaining why you love things that nobody else loves. The real difficulty is having to explain why you love Fear TWD to folks who used to love the show.

  • An example of the many things you can love about every individual episode is the incredible less-is-more cinematography in this and the last episode. Choosing to open every scene with Grace opening her eyes in different settings was a great visual choice. Dave goes on to explain how suffocated he felt when Grace could barely see the sky in the second scene - peering through a tear in the covered truck's roof - which he compared to what some people say is how they felt near death, peering at life through the end of a long tunnel, barely able to hang on.

  • Bridget explains that she still loves the show, she just wishes that the writing would stop talking down to her and, instead, would show more and say less. If you have to explain via dialogue something that might've been more effective visually, then there's a problem with the script. However, another thing she truly appreciated was how steadfast Morgan was, saving Mo from walker Grace. Having been granted another opportunity to show that he could save his child when the chips were down showed how Morgan truly came full-circle. Between Morgan placing Grace's body down, gently, after dispatching her, Grace's phenomenal acting and walker work, Zoey Merchant stepping it up, and even those bonding moments with Dwight, Sherry, and Finch, subtle moments like these are a good example of how good these episodes can really be. After mentioning Gavin Warren's (Finch) uncanny resemblance to Dwight and Sherry, Rachael comments that he looks like Jason Riley / Nick Stahl, which inspires much laughter (and suggestions that Rachael date 30-year-old Finch or pursue someone more her type - the unavailable/dead variety - like Grace).

  • Sherrandy makes it clear, she loves the cast and crew but, just like Bridget, she's salty with the writing. Bridget gets a little emotional while attempting to apologize to the audience out of fear that we're turning into other podcasts that revel in pooping on Fear TWD and how the actors and crew deserve a whole lot better. She's going to remain optimistic that Fear TWD will wrap up the series as nicely as The Walking Dead had. Rachael suggests that perhaps A.I. Chatbots are writing this season, at which point Dave finally reveals the truth... but seriously, Dave reiterates it doesn't help that there's a lot of pressure to stick the landing, given that it's the final season, and that they could've used a longer runway. They are probably going to opt for pleasing post people since they can't possibly please everyone.
  • Rachael is already unpleased since Mo Collins was not asked to return for the final season. Our concern turns to disappointment over the feeling that we'll never receive clarity on Rabbi Jacob Kessner's, Wendell's, and Sarah Rabinowitz's whereabouts. Bridget hits on something Dave was also thinking: the less they say about it, the greater the possibility that her character could return in the proposed More Tales from The Walking Dead Universe series.
  • We dramatically shift our robot gears over to easter eggs, like the carousel painting and microscope found in Grace's repeater station roost as Dwight, Sherry, and Finch enter it for the first time. We take a moment to muse on the microscope and what Grace's pre-apocalypse (and even post-apocalypse) occupation actually was at the nuclear power plant (engineer? physicist? janitor?). We're also prompted to mention that the coordinates that Grace gives Morgan for the radio repeater station lead to the middle of the ocean, several hundred miles off the coast of Morocco.... because she's preparing a home in Atlantis, rather than Atlanta.

  • Dave asks whether Mo deciding to help the prefects clear the shipyard is a long con or whether she's all-in on PADRE after losing Grace. Sherrandy says its mostly a con, but her true motivations are to make it so that they leave her daddy alone. Bridget's reaction to Mo helping Shrike was similar to Morgan's: running away from your grief and throwing yourself into PADRE is not going to help. Rachael thinks its neither: she's just doing this because it's a lot better than feeling remorse and grief. Bridget adds to this because Mo's actions are typical of adolescent behavior: not recognizing the grave stakes, running away from these intense overwhelming feelings, and thinking you can do anything. Then Bridget and, because of this, Dave get carried away with judging her, as bullying adults. Dave's heart wants to believe that Mo's actions have a dual motivation: yes, she's running away from her feelings, but doing it only because she wants to save everyone (and it's not about PADRE's mission, at all); however, Dave's brain is concerned that the writers aren't going to make it that nuanced and that she is just running away from her grief and throwing herself into PADRE's philosophy. Whatever it is, Zoey Merchant's acting (and Heather Capiello's directing) is convincing enough to keep him guessing.

  • Rachael turns her attention to the shipping containers themselves and that they may not be all that they are cracked up to be. Sherrandy is concerned that, if these containers aren't climate controlled in some fashion, all the food and supplies will have spoiled or disintegrated in the southern climate and saltwater atmosphere. Rachael will be disappointed, regardless, if anything less than Sarah has been tucked away, all this time, in one of them, brewing beer throughout. But on a serious note, Dave enjoys the thought that there may actually be nothing of worth in these containers, which would mean that even Shrike would have to deal with the possibility that everything she believed in was for nothing. Sherrandy takes this further by saying walker Gen. Krennick should emerge out of the horde and bite her, which would have a tremendous symmetry between many of our beloved characters' struggles. Rachael wants the past to the past repeat itself and walker dad could bite Crane like the shipyard walkers were supposed to in the flashback in Odessa.

  • Sherrandy mentions a spiritual callback: Just like June Dorie not making it in time to see John Dorie before he turned, Morgan doesn't make it in time to say a last goodbye to Grace. She brightens our mood a little by pointing out the hug between Daniel & Dwight, which brings us back to their relationship in Season 5 and the shave-and-a-haircut Daniel gives to Dwight's (to quote Sarah) face pubes. It also brings us right back to Daniel's relationship with Grace in Season 5 and how hard that must've been for him to let her down by not allowing the parents to put themselves in danger for her.

  • After taking in all this emotional information, Dave reiterates that this was a bold and necessary episode: confronting death and grief while also taking out a main character was something The Walking Dead barely did in the final season and, when they did, it wasn't until the last episode. So the question must be asked: will this be the last main character death? Bridget immediately says No. Sherrandy says it will be Morgan. Rachael agrees with Dave and that deaths shouldn't be about pure shock value and for the sake of having deaths (to fill a quota). Dave thinks whoever it is, it doesn't have to have meaning or purpose, but the end result drives the characters toward a more fulfilling story. Rachael admits that she's emotional at the possibility that it could be Dwight, which would be surprisingly impactful. Sherrandy is holding out hope that he ends up in France (only for Dwight to kill him, a la Morales). Bridget fears it might be Victor Strand and it would be to make up for so many of his missteps, finally show that he's grown, and kept his promise to Alicia Clark. Sherrandy & Rachael both agree that Madison should die, but Dave thinks that it would be rote since they already did that in Season 4.

  • More than anything else, the show can't hold back since it's the final season: take more chances than ever. The way Grace leaves the show - amidst the tension of doing everything to save her life and accepting the way things are to spend as much time together as possible - was a best case scenario. At the end of the day, even though Grace didn't get to spend as much time as she wanted with Morgan, she got what she wanted (perhaps a la In Dreams) by spending more time with Mo: seeing her daughter be fierce, relentless, and brave is everything a dying mother could hope for before she passes.

  • The meaning and symbolism behind the bird callsigns mentioned in this episode, starting with Magpie:

    • Helps you master the art of persuasion, while avoiding superficiality. They communicate clearly, prominently, and with eloquence. It can even learn to speak human words. Teaches you to be mindful of the words you use when interacting with others. It helps you strike the right balance between idle-chatter and accurate self-expression. The magpie's affinity for shiny, lovely things teaches humans to not let appearances lead you astray.
    • Magpies may mate for life. Male feeds the female whilst she incubates her eggs and one month after the brood hatches, after which the female brings the food while the male watches. Magpie illustrates equal partnership and devotion in marriage.
  • Kingfisher:

    • Helps you adapt to new terrain with bold determination. Fortitude and perseverance. Helps you to transition to change.
    • Among Northwest Native American Tribes, it represents abundance, prosperity, and love. It's speed & agility in hunting makes it a symbol of prowess and proficiency. Also a symbol of fertility.
    • Dreams of a Kingfisher mean you have rightfully stepped into your place of authority - the weight, of which, you are keenly aware. If it looms overhead, it means someone or something hovers menacingly over you, making you feel undeserving, often through lies and gossip. YOU must believe you are worthy of the respect and love bestowed upon you to take control. When the Kingfisher flies along the water's edge, an exciting adventure is heading your way: finally being free from some long-term danger. A dream where old and young Kingfishers gather together means pay attention to your family.

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Saturday, June 10, 2023

King County |8x04| Fear The Walking Dead

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This episode is supremely satisfying in ways we couldn't expect. Fear The Walking Dead raises The Walking Dead in order to construct one of Season 8's best episodes, thus far, by taking Morgan Jones' family back to where The Walking Dead UNIVERSE (and his own personal tragedy) started.
πŸ›‘STOP WATCHING/LISTENING and START STREAMING the 🎬UNEDITED version of this podcast! We have quite the pre-show and stumble into somewhat spoiler territory, midway through, in ways we simply had to cut out of the final edit. Want it? Buy us a ☕coffee on Ko-fi! OR join a membership for as little as $1 /month on either Ko-fi or Patreon!
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David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:

  • PHINEAS COFFEEis delicious, top-tier, specialty-grade coffee that's roasted to order! LEVEL-πŸ†™ your coffee game! SQUAWKING DEAD fans receive 10% off every time they use the promo code "SQUAWKINGDEAD" at check-out:

  • If you want to participate in another one of Sherrandy's video compilation projects, this time in celebration of Mo Collins' (AKA Sarah Rabinowitz) birthday, just DM her on any of her social media accounts.
  • Have you watched PRIMO, yet? It's on FreeVee, Amazon's ad-supported streaming service and stars Jonathan Medina who played Adrian in Fear The Walking Dead's 2nd episode of Season 8 titled, Blue Jay

  • Rachael enjoyed this episode, with few bones to pick. Whether it truly moves the story forward or finally gets Morgan Jones out of his roughly 13-year slump remains to be seen. Dave reminds the audience of his Season 4 thoughts/feelings: after being abused on The Walking Dead, there was no better place for Morgan to be than on FearTWD and finally start to actually heal. This is what makes Morgan coming back to where The Walking Dead UNIVERSE started so bizarre - like a high school reunion or revisiting your childhood home - it's you that's different.

  • Continuing with her first impressions, Rachael also said this episode made her feel things, again, similar to the state she was in as she was watching The Walking Dead's final episodes. Sherrandy really liked this episode, despite it being Morgan-focused (whom - if you've been tracking our podcast - she hates). More than anything else, she liked that this episode contained call-backs to prior episodes in the series, contained easter eggs, and paid the right amount of fan service. Baby Mo / Wren is a boss. Dwight & Sherry giving Morgan the business for selling them out to P.A.D.R.E. was appropriate.

  • Dave couldn't connect to the episode on first watch. It was similar to moments during Rachael's analysis on some of the final episodes of The Walking Dead: he was walling himself off, emotionally, to protect himself. On second watch, pausing every so often to jot down notes, that's when he was able to confront and absorb the intensity that was unfolding. Sherrandy understands where Dave is coming from, but has lost faith in the show: her lifeline is watching June Dorie's story unfold. Rachael feels the same way, only for Daniel Salazar.

  • The storytelling format for this season has revealed a sort of pattern: along with the title-sequences alternating between the moody, toned-down music and the intro music from the past few seasons, the 1st and 3rd episodes were more ensemble/overall story-centric, while the 2nd and 4th were focused more on a single character who is confronting the demons of their past. It was great to see Dwight & Sherry appear in both episodes 2 & 4.

  • Speaking of title sequences, we loved the surprise of Jenny Jones as the character silhouette. Both Keisha Tillis and Adrian Kali Turner were brought back to reprise their roles as Jenny and Duane Jones, respectively. Sherrandy liked how the silhouette could've represented Grace Mukherjee, as well, considering she, too, is Morgan's love-interest and encounters a grave fate.

  • Dave and Rachael take a minute to appreciate walker Jenny's fish-out-of-water impression. And speaking of the specialness of season one walkers, Dave asks whether Jenny Jones could've been the first walker variant we chronologically see on the show and was that how she managed to get to Duane in order to, ultimately, bite him. The ladies are skeptical, as the show leaves this open-ended (wouldn't you lock your doors to protect yourself from actual people?). Duane could've finally let her in out of despair.
  • Sherrandy was a little confused about the two residences that we visit, this episode. She understood that the first house was where Morgan, Duane, and Rick Grimes were hunkering down in The Walking Dead's pilot episode. The yellow house is the Jones family home. I can see why it's a little confusing, considering there are photo albums of the Joneses in the first home. As we go through the sequence of events, we conclude that Duane was bit in the first house and was chained up in the attic so that Morgan could leave Jenny's corpse in their family home. Morgan leaves walker Duane chained up there so that, one day, he'd have the courage to put him down. Throughout all of this, Morgan was very gone, which is why he can't remember any of it.

  • Tit-for-tat, the ladies clear up some confusion Dave has as it pertains to the line Morgan cites, "...the blood... the teeth..."
    Dave thought Morgan was referring to what Jenny looked like after he was forced to shoot her (after Duane is bitten). What Morgan was really referring to was the way Duane looked like after walker Jenny was done with him, which we clearly saw near the end of this episode: half of his face is eaten away. Rachael would've preferred, from a visual effects perspective, that they had lingered a little longer on some of the details they put into walker Duane.
    Editor's Note: it pays to reiterate that walker Duane was not recast - Adrian Turner was under all that zombie make-up.

  • One mechanic that really got Sherrandy was Morgan's flashbacks just as he is about to end walker Duane. The line Daddy! Daddy! really got to her, right before he shoots. Dave takes a step back to get perspective on this moment. In the Jones family home, Grace finally gets through to Morgan: he gives up on trying to find and put down Duane to save Mo, who is trapped in the other house, now on fire. He is finally able to look through the scope on Rick's rifle and shoot walkers without seeing Jenny, after a little trial and error, and when he gets to Mo, walker Duane is almost upon her. After a false start, what helps him to finally pull the trigger are the flashbacks (what would typically hold him back). The Daddy! Daddy! flashback was Morgan finally appreciating the quality of mercy and how putting down a previously living person's current walker counterpart is a way of preserving their memory.

  • Sherrandy, after hearing this, asks whether Morgan would've found the resolve to kill Duane had Mo not been in danger. I think we all concluded that he would've because Grace and Mo would've helped Morgan, had things gone smoothly without any PADRE intervention.

  • Sherrandy, in her never-ending grudge against Morgan (which not even June holds against him), quips, oh noooooow you want June to see Grace (after having her banished her from Eden in Season 6). Rachael follows this up with how much she hated when Morgan apologized for putting Grace & Mo in danger when they came of their own free will, even after him telling them what he was there to do. Dave reminds Rachael that this is on brand for Morgan and, had he not apologized, it wouldn't be authentic.

  • Sherrandy brings about an in-season parallel: Baby Mo's inability to put down walkers in the first episode mirrors what Morgan Jones went through in both The Walking Dead pilot and repeatedly throughout this episode. Once they were able to confront the ghosts of their past, they were able to overcome their psychological hurdles.

  • We all find it immensely gratifying that Morgan backtracks on the way he delivered, to Mo, the fact that Isaac & Rachel were her parents and that they both died (horribly: but we won't talk about that) so that she could have a chance at living. Though the ladies hope he will continue to do this forever, for some incomprehensible reason, it's just another example of the show being considerate to both continuity and its established past. It also doesn't gloss past possible hurt feelings which lends to the audience feeling as though Morgan, Grace, and Mo really are a family.

  • Which brings us to Grace & Morgan's kiss, which Rachael was grossed out by and Sherrandy found funny (of course Dave loved it). Dave was tripped up not by the way Wren reacted necessarily (I never want to see that again), but the way she just wanted to get on with killing Carrion. Sherrandy relegates this to her just being a kid and never having seen people kiss before - or perhaps even being physically affectionate - which made her super uncomfortable. Dave was more concerned about what we've all seen in children born or growing up in this universe: will she reveal herself to be a sleeper psychopath/sociopath?

  • Sherrandy was really wary of Morgan picking up Rick's rifle and even observed a similar look in Grace. Dave understood why they included this scene in the WonderCon teaser trailer for Season 8, but when that moment finally came in the episode, it was a little deflating.
  • Either Sherrandy was really impressed with Finch's chimney sweep, knocking Shrike off her feet, or Shrike is a total puss. Dave notes that she's been hit in the head a lot, these last few episodes, but we laugh about her haircut probably preventing the onset of a traumatic brain injury. Dwight teaching Finch the chimney sweep is a great callback to Season 7's Till Death (7x05) featuring Aisha Tyler as professional wrestler Mickey.

  • Sherrandy notes the Charlie-esque way Finch has been able to conceal and smuggle himself onto boats, which is a great example of continuity, but is a little suspicious of how healthy and unaffected he looks post June's walker-bite radiotherapy. It brings us to Grace - having just revealed that she's suffering from the effects of Season 5 & 7's radiation, in addition to having been bit at the end of this episode - and whether there's even a chance she'll survive. The ladies think the radiation already within her will neutralize the bite, while Dave is all but certain her fate is sealed. Rachael jokes that Morgan will impregnate her on the boat so yet another embryo will absorb all the radiation (which is also similar to Ellie Williams' immunity on The Last of Us).

  • Dave takes it back to when Grace brilliantly illustrates how Morgan is doing exactly what she did in Season 5 - chasing the dead - to which Morgan flippantly responds, "You were just burying your co-workers."
    But it's exactly as Grace says, isn't it? One of those co-workers was Athena's biological father, Matthew, which only strengthens Grace's argument. It also highlights how, as much as the setting fools you into initially feeling as though we wandered onto the set of The Walking Dead, the writing and execution completely consumes it in order to deliver a powerful Fear The Walking Dead episode.

  • We reminisce over all the prior Fear TWD episodes this episode evoked, throughout our watch, particularly Dwight suggesting they mangle a few corpses that look like Morgan and his family to escape Shrike (similar to the way he and Althea Szewczyk-Przygocki evaded Virginia in Season 6) and when Mo says she loves the way Morgan smiles, which reminded us of he and Grace on the carousel in Season 5. Rachael laughs at the thought of Sherry telling Dwight that skunky Morgan has to ride with him, which reminds her of how Morgan must've activated his (Season 6, season premiere) death stench just after Victor Strand kicked his ass into that mess of walkers on the sub.

  • Dave confirms that tomato-based products (juice, sauce, soup, and maybe ketchup) does mask skunk spray. Tomatoes, in TWDU, represent hope and transformation. Duane was the one who couldn't bring himself to eat any of the cans of tomato soup they had well into the zombie apocalypse, even though he and his father were starving. We also bring up how Rick places one on Carl Grimes' grave, how Jedd/Mud steals one from the back of Maggie Rhee's cart, and how the tomatoes were stepped on at the bridge-camp riot that effectively squashed Rick's hope of the communities coming together (all of this is in Season 9 of The Walking Dead). Sherrandy also brings up how Negan was picking tomatoes in Carl's flash-forward dream (with old-man Rick, at the beginning of Season 8 and, in reality, at the start of Season 10) and that Negan making spaghetti (sauce) for himself and the Grimes children at Alexandria (in Season 7) could've been the first signal of his inevitable transformation. Bringing it back to the episode, though, if the tomato sauce only masks the skunk smell, does that truly mean Morgan has finally moved past his demons?

  • Regardless of whether or not Morgan has finally taken a step forward, away from his core tragedy, it does bring up something fans have been begging for over the course of several seasons: I want Morgan to go "Clear" mode. Just like Madison Clark returning to Fear TWD, this episode may be that start of what that might look like: be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

  • Sherrandy brings up, yet again, how appropriate it was that Dwight calls out Morgan for selling out he and a pregnant Sherry to PADRE in order to get into their good graces to save Baby Mo. We found the subsequent tension between Dwight & Sherry was absolutely essential when it came to what to do about Morgan's situation (invoking The Saviors and The Sanctuary along the way). Unlike the Sherry we discover in Season 6, who's behavior to get back at Ginny was born out of trauma from Negan and her time in The Sanctuary, her consternation in this episode feels a lot more justified and accessible to the audience (making her feelings a lot more relatable). Sherrandy also tries to compare this in to when Morgan resigned himself to call Ginny to pick everyone up, blaming him for the suffering everyone endures as a result, but both Dave & Rachael correct the record by mentioning that everyone unanimously agreed to this course of action.

  • What this ultimately leads us to is one of the most powerful moments in the episode: when Morgan shuts down after he fails to find Duane in their family home. As powerful as Lennie James' acting is in that moment, what undergirds the entire performance are the looks both Dwight and Sherry make: witnessing a man crumble before them - who they have always respected and had given everything he had, including his life, to keep everyone together and safe. He helped Dwight find ways to redirect his anger and showed him how to rise above seeing all situations as a reductive binary. It's at that moment that they step into June & John Dorie (Jr.)'s boots and do for him what they did for them.

  • It makes us look at Grace, who lost so much time she could've spent being with the people she loves, only to receive a double-death sentence. Sherrandy, equally, muses on why both Grace and June both stuck around all these years. And what situation is worse: Grace, Morgan, and Mo being apart and not being able to see one another, hoping that doing so keeps everyone safe, or being so close you can (and have probably) touched one another, but never daring to acknowledge the ties that bind?

  • Random, rapid-fire observations:
    • Another callback that might not be readily apparent - to even Dwight and Sherry - is when PADRE uses The Vultures strategy to smoke Morgan and co. out of the house.
    • Is it possible that Duane was the one to put down Jenny, rather than Morgan?
    • Another callback for fans of The Walking Dead: as Morgan approaches the house (that he, Rick, and Duane were staying in during the TWD pilot): at the beginning of the episode, before he ascends the staircase out front, he makes a very obvious swap in the way he holds his stick from using the pointy end (for the dead) to the blunt end (for the living). Not only is this a callback to the season finale of Season 8, when Paul "Jesus" Rovia gives him the simplest advice to deal with the world, it's also a signal that Morgan is already unready to deal with putting Duane down.

    • You'd think that Dave was giddy over receiving this Morgan-centric episode but, in reality, Fear The Walking Dead finally brought us an extremely good episode. We haven't felt this way in a really long time. Sherrandy felt the same way about this episode and Blue Jay.
  • It behooves us to discuss the walker jump-scare at the end and how Grace was bitten as a result. Dave simultaneously hated the plot device and appreciated it: hated that it was so random and almost obvious, but loved that it exists for the sake of making walkers frightening (again). We compared this to the way Carl was bit in Season 8. Bringing it back to Grace, we muse on how the walker chomped out a perfect circle from her shirt, which leads us to raunchy conclusions.

  • Channeling Bridget: On the note of make walkers frightening again, even during the opening scene where Morgan dominates putting down the skunk-munching walkers, the scene is well-choreographed to exhibit how close they were at getting to him. Dave asks, once more, whether Grace will make it. The ladies are adamant (also because Karen David had posted pictures from the wrap party) that the radiation she was exposed to will somehow help her pull through, whereas Dave remains unconvinced.

  • What soured Dave the most about the jump-scare mechanic at the end was that it completely undercuts the sweet moment of Mo finding one of the Jones family photo albums intact: you need something to help you remember what they were like before. What an amazing kid! Rachael is reminded of a scene in Season 4, when Lilly Chambler's daughter, Meghan Chambler, was killed by the walker that emerges from the mudslide she was playing near.

  • It was awesome seeing Dwight, Sherry, and Finch reunite, but what was also kind of cool, right after that moment, was Morgan not hesitating from killing the two PADRE goons at the dock. Maybe he has finally destroyed his demons? Even Rachael made note of a slight shift in his demeanor. Sherrandy notes that this is Morgan's Baby Mo-ment where confronting the past has allowed him to move forward (like Mo finally being able to kill walkers).

  • The symbolism and meaning behind Oriole:

    • Their song conquers sadness and restores hope.
    • Supports joy even if it means taking smaller steps in the right direction.
    • A persistent guide and will not let you give up on your dreams.
    • Helps you connect with the realm of the spirit and the universe, from which all knowledge originates.
    • Rare in Native American folklore, but represents industrious people with humble spirits.
    • Gain and recognition are coming your way in your waking life when the bird appears in your nighttime visions: seeing a singing oriole in a tree means you'll experience more confidence soon, knowing your skills to handle a situation are sure.
    • In the Zhou (Chinese) Dynasty (1046-256 BCE), their beautiful song represents happiness.

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