NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Fear the Walking Dead” are present in this review
Another episode, another new location, and another new survivor. Fear the Walking Dead is starting to trot out a familiar formula for Season Five’s back half, though at least this has helped the show double down on some effective character material, when it manages to deliver some satisfactory storytelling anyway. The effort to individually spotlight various pods of Morgan’s survivors is so far working well though, and, “You’re Still Here” appropriately shifts focus over to Alicia and Strand for the most part, despite Morgan and Al also getting their own reasonably good subplot.
Things kick up in earnest for Alicia when she begins to want to seek out whoever is painting, “If You Can Read This, You’re Still Here” murals on various trees around the area. Strand doesn’t seem to think it’s a worthwhile endeavour, especially when he has to spend most of his time bailing Alicia out from the walkers she refuses to kill (ugh), but regardless, the two are soon after radioed by another survivor. It turns out that this survivor is Wes, the mystery man that Logan’s crew previously shot up the motorcycle of, leaving him stranded and in need of transportation. When Alicia and Strand provide Wes with the transport he needs however, he merely uses it to attack a man holed up in an old police station, who nonetheless gets away with Wes’ things again, though not before Wes ends up grazing him with a bullet.
The show really has to stretch to create the latest walker-filled jam for the characters here, and sometimes, this can get annoying. Once again, Alicia is a huge liability, refusing to kill walkers, despite the fact that she seemingly hasn’t divulged her reasoning to anyone, even now. Likewise, after it’s discovered that the police guns use riot gear, not lethal ammunition, the group find themselves helpless to shoot the walkers away. On top of that, Strand gets temporarily blinded by tear gas, rendering the survivors incapable of getting through the walkers that are now surrounding the police station, namely since Alicia can’t kill walkers anymore, and because Wes has apparently never killed anyone, leaving him less than useful in a fight… Or not? Apparently, Wes soon after proves to be a crack shot, and effortlessly capable of taking down slews of walkers. Yeah, it’s not totally consistent.
Regardless, Alicia having to confront a survivor that has seemingly given up on the world getting better, yet one who has also somehow never killed an actual living person, is an interesting idea, now that Alicia has supposedly hung up her metaphorical guns. Like I said in prior reviews, a survivor suddenly refusing to kill walkers is a trite plot turn that AMC’s The Walking Dead universe has trotted out too many times already, but at least Alicia using her own experiences to try and coax Wes to see a better side of the walker apocalypse, and possibly join up with Morgan’s crew, is fairly interesting stuff. Eventually, Wes is convinced to at least help Alicia and Strand escape as well, even though this seems all too easy, considering that the one combat-proficient survivor, Strand, is supposedly incapacitated.
Regardless, after Wes finally catches up with the man, initially believing him to be a walker, before he’s revealed as alive, Wes tries to take his stuff back, only to be nearly choked to death by the man he’s after. Alicia and Strand are thus helpless to intervene as Wes stabs the man in the side, and he dies, marking Wes’ first time of having to kill an actual person in the post-apocalyptic world. I have to say that Wes pursuing the man because he took Wes’ manuscript as well, only to have Wes drop it at Alicia’s and Strand’s feet and walk away afterward, was a pretty interesting and unexpected turn. Wes naturally being revealed as the person painting the trees did feel a little too convenient, especially considering that this doesn’t exactly mesh with Wes’ current attitude about the walker apocalypse, but Alicia putting her own spin on the murals, with her late mother’s old quote, “No One’s Gone Until They’re Gone”, at least proved to be an inspired way to end the episode, especially when this wisely does away with Alicia’s tedious walker-killing yips in the process.
While all this is happening, Morgan and Al also take care of their own business, namely stashing Al’s tapes in a secure bank vault, which will protect them from the elements. On the way to try and help Alicia, Strand and Wes however, Morgan and Al are stopped by Logan and his cronies, who block the road with a tanker. After Logan demands the oil fields again, Morgan tries to formulate another solution, though ultimately fails to talk Logan down from his stubborn desire to take the oil fields. This battle of diplomacy very nicely complemented the more clear and present danger of the walker attack at the police station, particularly when Morgan’s attempts at said diplomacy are unsuccessful, which leaves Alicia, Strand and Wes all the more vulnerable. To add insult to injury, Logan’s crew breaks into the bank and quite easily takes Al’s tapes afterward to boot, attempting to watch them in order to glean clues as to where the oil fields might be.
“You’re Still Here” is starting to sink a little bit into familiar, sometimes contrived storytelling, but at least said Fear the Walking Dead formula hasn’t truly failed at this point, yet. Alicia’s quest to discover the secret behind the painted trees was wrapped up a little too quickly and easily, as was her sudden struggle to kill walkers (though admittedly, Alicia refusing to kill walkers felt like a bad story turn to begin with), but at least Alicia and Strand helped to at least slightly improve Wes’ outlook on the walker apocalypse, even as he had to take his first life from a living person. Morgan and Al failing to make any kind of diplomatic headway with Logan is bound to be a blow to their morale though, especially when Al inevitably soon discovers that her tapes are missing. I imagine that it’s over to another location and another survivor in the following episode, but Morgan’s mission is bound to get harder with every person they help, especially since Logan certainly isn’t going away anytime soon!
- Alicia attempting to inspire Wes at the police station
- Solid twist with Wes' prized manuscript
- Morgan failing at diplomacy with Logan
- Alicia's walker-killing difficulties end as pointlessly as they started
- Strand being blinded feels a bit contrived
- Wes being very proficient at killing walkers is a stretch