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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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