NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Fear the Walking Dead” are present in this review
Despite the fact that Morgan’s crew has lost the denim factory to Logan and his own crew, Fear the Walking Dead actually moved away from the stakes with Logan in Season Five’s second episode. “The Hurt That Will Happen” instead spotlighted another interesting new walker threat in the Texas area, while Morgan, John, June and Alicia decide to search for Al. At the same time, Strand takes it upon himself to try and re-connect with Daniel, and Luciana runs communications at the truck stop, while trying to recover from her plane crash injury.
The good news about, “The Hurt That Will Happen” is that, from a writing standpoint, it’s an improvement over the exciting, but contrived season premiere. The bad news however is that it’s still forcing too many story turns along through Morgan’s crew acting like careless idiots, rather than truly hardened, yet benevolent survivors. Fear the Walking Dead still seems to be having trouble striking a good balance between Morgan’s party being good-natured, yet also competent with the traps and dangers of other, less benevolent survivors. At the very least though, they faced an interesting new undead threat here, one that capitalized nicely on the radiation signs that first started showing up in the season premiere.
While searching for Al, Morgan winds up in a trap that is meant to contain walkers, using birds as bait. Again, why Morgan saw fit to wander up and kill some walkers that are lingering around an obviously man-made trap is anyone’s guess, since the walkers were clearly distracted, and they weren’t really in his way! Regardless, this serves as an excuse for Morgan and Alicia to encounter Grace, a mysterious woman wearing a radiation suit, who is hunting for walkers that have special radiation markers around their necks. It turns out that the radioactive warning signs first glimpsed after the plane crash are quite real, and that Grace set them up, warning of the irradiated walkers in the area. Grace has taken it upon herself to kill, contain and bury every irradiated walker, which is honestly a pretty cool story turn, and a very interesting idea that was made up specifically for Fear the Walking Dead.
The story of Grace wanting to try and turn a power plant into a shelter, only to have this stop working when one of its reactors melted down, killing numerous people and turning them into radioactive walkers, is a tragic and effective one, especially when it comes out later that Grace herself has a certain amount of radiation sickness, and likely doesn’t have long to live. This also ties in nicely with a separate discovery by John and June during their own search for Al, which sees them find an abandoned Summer camp, one where Dylan, Max and Annie may have been hiding out. All they locate however are the charred bodies of children, and a cabin full of irradiated walkers. John’s and June’s end of the search at least doesn’t have any major slip-ups, but Alicia disarming Grace, only to almost get herself killed, while heavily risking exposure, also undermines what’s otherwise a strong new ally to Morgan’s group. What the hell is Alicia trying to prove here?! Again, she’s just being uncharacteristically stupid for the sake of forcing an obstacle, and giving the episode something else to do beyond hunting for irradiated walkers. I get that Alicia is distraught over the missing Al, but Grace is absolutely right when she says that Alicia isn’t helping anyone if she gets herself killed before Al can even be located!
Al remains missing by the end of the episode too, which instead keeps foreshadowing new threats among the characters. Luciana, for example, doesn’t have anything to do throughout much of the episode, instead merely receiving notes from the other survivors, who encounter barriers, radiation signs, and more ominous threats. What Luciana does eventually find however are more walkers in the area, and yet again, she stupidly tries to take them out when she said be resting, rather than immediately running for the door and locking it… Which she eventually does anyway, and effortlessly keeps the dead out with. Well, what was the point of endangering herself then?! Regardless, this leads into one of the big teases at the end of this episode, once Morgan, Alicia, John and June all go back to the truck stop, only to discover that the walkers who were harassing Luciana have all been killed, and had their remains tossed around the nearby sign. Which band of survivors is doing this? Are these yet more new villains that are going to prove to be a threat to Morgan’s group? Are they connected to the mysterious people that took Al?
As for the Strand subplot, Strand strikes out on his own, though this time, this at least makes some degree of sense, since Daniel hasn’t been seen in a long time, and may be unpredictable with new faces. Charlie, Sarah and Wendell thus all sit out this episode, alongside the still-missing Al, but regardless, Strand does quickly encounter Daniel, who has since holed up in what appears to be an abandoned barracks. Strand manages to talk his way into Daniel’s hideaway, alongside Daniel’s new cat, “Skidmark”, which explains why Daniel’s interview tape was labeled with that term. Strand then tries to appeal to Daniel to share his plane, since people that Daniel used to know are in need, even if Strand is also forced to confess that Madison and Nick have died since Daniel last saw them. Even hearing Strand relay to Luciana over the radio that he successfully met up with Daniel however, Daniel doesn’t believe that Strand has changed. In a surprise turn, Daniel doesn’t give Strand the plane, and instead merely chases him away, warning that he’ll kill Strand if he ever returns! Obviously, winning Daniel over to Morgan’s cause couldn’t have been that easy, considering all that Daniel has gone through on-screen, let alone off-screen, since the walker apocalypse started, some of which happened to him directly because of Strand! Considering that Strand still needs that plane though, hopefully the survivors he’s with can help convince Daniel themselves, at some point in the near future.
The introduction of Grace, and the addition of irradiated walkers to the Texas area, contributes to a standout new story turn that sustained much of, “The Hurt That Will Happen”, even if Morgan’s crew still need to smarten up and make better choices, rather than intentionally doing whatever’s most dramatic and dangerous at any given moment. Still, Strand’s tense reunion with Daniel also made for a better story element, as did Morgan seeing his past self in Alicia, and trying to steer her away from making the same mistakes that he did. Even with radioactive walkers now wandering around, and Logan sitting pretty at the denim factory, there appears to be yet another new threat brewing in the shadows to boot, as more of those ornate walker displays have begun to appear. Fear the Walking Dead is clearly trying to bump up the excitement after its noticeably sluggish fourth season, but so far, this is coming at the expense of consistently tight writing. Hopefully this mysterious new presence with a taste for walker decoration can force Morgan’s crew to better think on their feet from here at least, especially if Grace’s illness prevents her from joining Morgan’s mission.
- Grace and the irradiated walkers are a great new story turn
- Morgan trying to keep Alicia from making the same mistakes
- Strand reuniting with Daniel, and being punished for his former choices
- Morgan stupidly wandering into a walker trap
- Alicia stupidly risking death by disarming Grace
- Luciana stupidly fighting walkers at the truck stop