NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Fear the Walking Dead” are present in this review
After a few weeks off the air, Fear the Walking Dead returned to celebrate the recent victory of its protagonists, now reunited and ready to start their philanthropic operations in earnest! “Channel 4” takes a very interesting approach as what’s ostensibly the midseason premiere for Fear the Walking Dead, unfolding throughout most of its runtime in a mockumentary-style format that shows off how the characters are faring, and what they’re up to since beginning their mission to help whichever survivors they can.
This brief change of creative course proves pretty refreshing as well, since Fear the Walking Dead was starting to struggle towards the end of Season Five’s front half. Fortunately, “Channel 4” helps to fix that a bit, diving deep into the characters, while also providing a fairly decent overall conflict for them to kick off the season’s back half with. Said conflict also ends up tying nicely into Morgan’s current struggles as the leader of this philanthropic effort among Fear the Walking Dead’s protagonists, as he must once again face the torment of his past, and overcome it for the sake of helping a troubled survivor, who hasn’t left her house since the walker apocalypse started.
Said obstacle comes when Morgan’s crew, as detailed in the mockumentary footage, is contacted by a woman who is holed up in her house. Apparently, the woman’s husband went out to get an inhaler for their asthmatic son, but never returned. Morgan sends June and Strand to go look for the inhaler, only to find that the nearby drug store doesn’t appear to have one. Evidence then points to the husband having already found the inhaler and leaving, prompting a new search for him instead. Naturally, the husband didn’t make it either, which is determined when Alicia and Strand inadvertently stumble into him, after he’s died and re-animated into a walker. We never quite find out why the husband died, but regardless, this is meant to show that Alicia no longer wants to kill walkers, after she hid her potential radiation poisoning. This kind of makes sense, though it’s also a bit annoying, since AMC’s The Walking Dead universe has gone to this narrative well a few too many times now. Refusing to kill walkers because of a traumatic experience is just too worn and overdone storytelling territory to be interesting at this point, especially when it makes Alicia, now one of the most proficient survivors currently in Fear the Walking Dead’s lead ensemble, a huge liability, much like she was during this show’s weaker first seasons.
If it’s interesting you want though, that still comes by way of the mystery woman, whose name is Tess. Tess happens to live in a house surrounded by land mines, meaning that Morgan’s crew can’t easily approach her in order to deliver the medicine! This is at least a cool and novel idea, one that hasn’t been previously explored in either of AMC’s The Walking Dead shows at this point, much like the irradiated walkers from Season Five’s front half. Still, this does beg the question of how the hell a series of land mines could be laid around a house, and how the hell a seemingly ordinary couple, complete with a young son, could have possibly gotten hold of that many of them. John even rightfully points out that not mapping out the mines is pretty stupid as well, since it creates precisely this problem, once Tess starts needing help. The mine field at least gets points for being a distinct new challenge for Morgan’s survivors though, even if it doesn’t feel totally realistic.
Regardless, after walkers start taking down the nearby barriers, and start stepping on the land mines, right as Morgan’s crew runs out of ammo, Morgan charges forth to try and keep walkers away from the house, only to end up naturally stepping on one of the mines. Forced to keep still, Morgan has to let Al try and figure out how to disarm the mine, before Tess finally leaves her house, in order to save Morgan’s life. This gesture ultimately motivates Tess and her son to join up with Morgan’s survivors, with Morgan and everyone else also thankfully escaping unscathed, allowing everyone to enjoy a nice, happy dinner of noodles around a campfire. It’s another well-deserved happy ending for Morgan’s crew, and one that has now been spread around to other nearby areas via Al’s tapes, telling of forces that can help anyone that’s struggling in the walker apocalypse.
It also turns out that the tape was being watched by someone to boot, a mysterious young man who appears to have made off with some gasoline. The unknown man is nonetheless set upon by Logan’s crew however, after Logan is ditched by Sarah and Charlie during some video footage earlier in the episode. After taking away the young man’s gas, and destroying his motorcycle, before declaring that they have more bullets than they know what to do with, Logan instructs the man to contact Morgan’s crew, and tell them that they’re making more enemies than friends. It’s a pretty cool final tease, particularly after the last bridge has been burned with Logan, seemingly cementing him as the main antagonist for Season Five’s back half. The question remains however– Is this young man going to be an enemy to Morgan’s party, or an ally?
“Channel 4” is exactly what Fear the Walking Dead needed to start the back half of Season Five off right, namely a more creative and character-focused episode that immediately starts moving towards some fresher and better obstacles for Morgan’s survivors. The Logan tease at the end also tied everything together exceptionally, proving that Morgan’s crew still have enemies and threats out there, even as their charity operations are seemingly starting to take off in earnest. It seems that, despite all of the goodwill being built by Morgan and his fellow survivors, there are still aggressive and ruthless people that want to keep the law of the jungle in effect, and fortunately, this latest ideological battle taking place within AMC’s The Walking Dead universe looks like it’s going to be something finely balancing both familiar and all-new character conflicts. We’ve now seen that Morgan’s vision for a better future can work, but as with many victories in this post-apocalyptic world, Morgan and his allies will no doubt have to fight to protect what they’ve achieved.
- Creative mockumentary format that's rich with character
- Tense delivery effort at the mine-filled house
- Logan's latest show of intimidation
- How did someone set up a minefield around a house?
- Alicia refusing to kill walkers digs up a tedious and overdone story device