NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Fear the Walking Dead” are present in this review



After the especially good John and June-focused episode that came previously, which re-introduced The Walking Dead’s Dwight to the core cast of Fear the Walking Dead, the show made another character shift in, “Skidmark”, which had John, June and Dwight sitting the entire episode out, with the excuse that they’re looking for Sherry. Instead, “Skidmark” places an especially heavy focus on Daniel, as well as Strand’s group, as they continue to try and get ahold of Daniel’s plane. Some focus does still remain upon Morgan, Alicia and Luciana as well however, as they try to figure out what happened with Max and Annie, while Dylan stays in Luciana’s care at the truck stop.

As usual, more Daniel on Fear the Walking Dead tends to be a great thing, and that remains true in, “Skidmark”, which begins with a look at how Daniel has been eking out a living with his faithful cat sidekick. Apparently, Daniel has been taking it upon himself to disarm traps that have been rigged all around the area, which were apparently placed by whoever held the warehouse before he did. This also includes taking out any walkers around the traps, which ensures a steady supply of food and ammunition. Ultimately though, Daniel is lonely and isolated, having only Skidmark to keep him company, that is, until Strand shows up. As you can imagine, after initially being tossed out by Daniel and threatened to never return, Strand is not going to give up that easily on Daniel’s plane either. Instead, Strand comes back under cover of night with Sarah, Wendell and Charlie, and has Charlie trying to help sneak into Daniel’s territory to try and steal the plane herself.

Unfortunately though, Daniel has prepared for this, having taken the plane instruments out, and instead leaving Strand a note to talk to him on the walkie-talkie. Strand tries to look around for the instruments, but inevitably, Daniel has taken them with him. Daniel also declares to Strand that he will save Charlie from him, despite Charlie also appealing to Daniel that Strand is not the same man that he was during the outset of the walker apocalypse. The unlikely pairing of Daniel and Charlie in this core storyline actually ended up working incredibly well, even beyond Charlie trying to help convince Daniel that Strand has changed. Charlie’s particular skillset aids Daniel when he encounters a glitch in the traps, eventually motivating Daniel to have to lead a herd away, allowing Charlie to escape in turn, and seemingly endangering himself in the process.

This all added up to the satisfying result of Strand having to confess to Sarah and Wendell what he did to Daniel during Fear the Walking Dead’s third season, namely convincing him that Ofelia was alive, and that he knew where she was. It was the robbery of Daniel’s time with Ofelia that truly set him off about Strand, which makes sense and feels true to Daniel’s character. Once Strand owns up to what he’s done however, and even sacrifices the plane engines to save Daniel from the herd, Daniel ultimately forgives him, and allows Strand’s crew to stay in the warehouse. Daniel even leaves Skidmark in their care, as he goes off to deal with some sort of unspecified unfinished business. This gives Strand’s party a much-needed base of operations, even if the excuse to get rid of Daniel feels a little forced at this point. Still, perhaps whatever issue that Daniel is aiming to take care of will nonetheless end up providing good story turns for later. We can only hope.

Over at the truck stop, we’re still saddled with trying to find Max and Annie, whom Dylan has apparently claimed are dead, despite Morgan and Alicia going out to look for them? Yeah, this teenage survivor storyline really isn’t working. It just feels far too tedious and unrealistic, even by the standards of Fear the Walking Dead. Inevitably, Max and Annie run into trouble with their ruse as well, discovering the mysterious armoured individuals that apparently took Al, who yet again is entirely absent from this episode. This in turn leads to the kids getting set upon by walkers, with Annie being injured in the process. Again, this further begs the question as to how Max and Annie set up walker blockades in the first place! They clearly can’t manage them, especially with how clumsily Annie ends up spraining her foot, forcing Max to carry her.

Inevitably, Dylan eventually cracks and blabs what’s going on to Luciana, Morgan and Alicia as well, as the show very clearly telegraphed. This allows Morgan and Alicia to conveniently save Max and Annie from certain death, right at the last second, which is a result so trite and predictable that pretty much anyone could probably anticipate it in advance. This also leads to the reveal that Max, Annie and Dylan are part of an entire community of kids and teenagers to boot, whose parents were the walkers that John and June found back at the abandoned Summer camp. This is a potentially interesting idea, one that somewhat lays the foundation for AMC’s planned youth-centric The Walking Dead spin-off that’s set to debut next year, even if it still begs the question as to how these kids have survived on their own for so long. Then again, I suppose this isn’t the first time that kids have inexplicably defied the reaper in AMC’s The Walking Dead universe, so maybe we’ll get some insight into this later.

Fortunately, as much as the shaky Dylan/Max/Annie subplot is continuing to struggle, the core storyline with Daniel, Charlie and Strand nonetheless continues a noticeable uptick in engagement and quality for Fear the Walking Dead’s initially uneven fifth season. Strand’s crew getting the warehouse, even at the cost of the plane, feels very gratifying, as does Strand and Daniel finally reconciling over Strand’s former actions so many years ago. Charlie being the one to successfully appeal to Daniel is also great, especially since Charlie’s character didn’t feel that useful to Fear the Walking Dead’s survivor protagonists when she first got roped in with them. Regardless, I think we’re overdue for checking in with Al at this point, who is supposed to be the central focus of the next episode, and that’s probably a good idea. Morgan’s crew may still be facing some issues meanwhile, but the much-needed win for Strand’s group at least allows them to kick back for a while, complete with an adorable new animal companion too!

Fear the Walking Dead 5.4: "Skidmark" Review
Fear the Walking Dead delivers a pretty solid core conflict between Daniel and Strand in, "Skidmark", even if Morgan's group is saddled with the less effective adolescent survivor subplot.
  • Daniel's anticipation of Strand's plot, and eventually forgiveness of him
  • Charlie proving to be an unlikely, but very useful ally to Daniel
  • Strand's crew being given the warehouse (and Skidmark!)
  • Dylan blabbing the ruse is incredibly predictable
  • The adolescent survivor subplot in general still doesn't make much sense
81%Overall Score
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