NOTE: Spoilers from this episode of, “Fear the Walking Dead” are present in this review
She’s been missing for almost the entire fifth season of Fear the Walking Dead at this point, but finally, Al is returning to the show, in an episode entirely focused around her and her whereabouts, after she’s knocked out by the mysterious armoured person during the conclusion of the season premiere. “The End of Everything” thus builds itself entirely around Al and her kidnapper, who is revealed to be a young woman around Al’s age, tasked with bringing Al to some unknown location. Al’s captor is also determined to coerce Al to destroy the tape that captured the body of the other armoured person, for reasons bewildering to Al in the moment.
The story foundation behind, “The End of Everything” is pretty good for the most part, as Al and her mysterious captor, whom Al sarcastically dubs, “Happy” when the captor refuses to talk about herself, are forced to work together and trust each other, after their transportation is taken out in a landslide. That feels more than a little dramatically convenient, especially with walkers naturally showing up in the road right before the car gets buried by a localized landslide, which is seemingly designed to specifically get rid of the vehicle, without injuring Al or her captor. Regardless, Al manages to fish out her camera again, narrowly getting bitten in the process, though she’s fortunately saved by the jacket that her captor forces her to wear, after going to take out the walkers.
The initial cagey-ness and lack of sharing details with each other kind of makes sense on paper, though there are definitely times where Al and her captor are being infuriatingly counter-productive, namely through endangering themselves by refusing to open up to each other. Eventually, this paradigm has to give way, namely after Al and her captor are forced to make a treacherous climb together, wherein if one woman falls, the other falls with her. Before that though, Al and her captor get stubborn with taking help from each other, even when it doesn’t make sense to do so, most notably when Al refuses a walker protection jacket, once again preferring to endanger herself, rather than actually use her head. To be fair, Fear the Walking Dead is trying to slowly smarten up Morgan’s band of survivors, but the process is still slow, and Al being unnecessarily guarded with information, even at her own risk, doesn’t always hold water during every sequence here, especially when Al’s captor rightfully points out that Al’s stories don’t matter if she can’t get them to anyone.
The climb is likely the best part of this episode, though there are also some solid character moments between Al and the mystery woman during the second half. After Al and her captor make it to the top of the cliff, having to take out a hanging walker in the process through what’s honestly a pretty creative obstacle, Al’s captor talks about how her former partner, the armoured walker that Al had initially found at the site of the plane crash, was originally working to procure supplies for water treatment. After witnessing what the radiation poisoning had done to the walkers in the area however, the ally of Al’s captor went insane, forcing the woman to shoot him dead, despite a brief lapse in judgment that goes against her group’s protocol. Apparently, some sort of hush-hush future project related to restarting civilization is in the works, and the reason why the woman wants Al to destroy the tape is because it exposes the existence of said project.
Despite Al soon after gaining the upper hand, and considering abandoning her captor, the two decide to stand by each other as well, honouring their promises to one another. Al even reveals that she gave up saying goodbye to her late brother so that she could pursue a story, which is some of the only personal information that we’ve learned about Al at this point. Eventually, Al decides to give the escape helicopter to her captor too, so the woman can keep working for the future, while also allowing her to destroy Al’s tape with evidence of the armoured walker. This marks the latest instance where one of Morgan’s survivors have found an aircraft, yet given it up, which is honestly becoming a little bit tired and irritating at this point. Moreover, the woman, whose name is revealed to be Isabelle, passionately kissing Al after they’re forced to part ways, with both ultimately breaking the protocol of their respective survivor groups for each other, feels too predictable. Even the big ceremony surrounding Isabelle supposedly having to execute Al was obviously not going to pan out. The show is definitely not going to make the search for Al pointless, least of all after spending an entire episode dedicated to what Al has been up to!
So, Al and Isabelle part ways, with Al then being able to successfully radio Morgan and Alicia to her location. The way that Morgan and Alicia reunite with Al is surprisingly anti-climactic in the end, but nonetheless, Al keeping her promise to Isabelle, and not outing the existence of her secret project, is kind of a nice character moment. Even Al casually revealing her convoluted hybrid Polish last names to Morgan and Alicia is pretty amusing, inspired by her time with Isabelle to start sharing more personal information with the other survivors in her crew. It’s a little thing, but this represents some strong character development for Al, who remains one of the most mysterious survivors in Morgan’s group, despite her own love of rooting out the truth. This builds nicely off of Al finally choosing someone else over a story to boot, even though I imagine that the secret behind Isabelle’s operation is bound to come out eventually.
Still, as an Al-focused episode, “The End of Everything” is pretty good overall. Al’s and Isabelle’s initial strained bond is a bit forced, especially with the huge romantic leap that they both take at the end of a single day, but the better character moments shared between Al and Isabelle make the latest handful of story contrivances mostly worth it. It was also interesting to see a hint that the mysterious armoured people may not actually be evil, and are instead just wanting to stay hidden, so they can avoid their society-restarting project being compromised in any way. This could nonetheless present another interesting obstacle for Morgan’s crew down the line, but at this point, it seems like Fear the Walking Dead wants to keep viewers guessing about who the real threat for this season is. That’s probably the right approach too, considering that Fear the Walking Dead seems to benefit when it sets up new characters that one isn’t sure if the established characters can truly trust. It’s doubtful that Morgan’s and Alicia’s new band of kids are truly that dangerous, but something else dangerous is bound to find Morgan’s people before long. Good thing Al is finally back among them then!
- Al and her captor being forced to trust each other to survive
- Al finally opening up to her captor, and later to Morgan
- Hints that the mysterious armoured faction may not be villains
- Al's and Isabelle's initial cagey-ness is sometimes too forced
- Isabelle sparing Al out of attraction is too telegraphed and predictable
- One of Morgan's survivors yet again sacrificing air travel is getting very old