NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Fear the Walking Dead” are present in this review
Fear the Walking Dead is ending its rather short run of 2020 episodes this week, thanks to a premature midseason finale that represents the show’s production stopping point earlier in the year, on account of the then-fresh COVID-19 pandemic. Fear the Walking Dead’s shortened front half of Season Six also appears to represent one of the last apparent victims of the pandemic putting virtually the entirety of entertainment on hiatus early this year, particularly while its sister series, The Walking Dead: World Beyond will ultimately be able to conclude its debut season on its own terms next week. Fortunately, despite being pushed later into 2020 than originally intended, and despite being one episode shy of completing a proper front half, Fear the Walking Dead nonetheless manages to wrap up its 2020 run of episodes on a superb note, thanks to, “Damage from the Inside” serving as a pretty great midseason finale, even though it wasn’t originally meant to fill that role.
This time, Alicia takes the lead role for Fear the Walking Dead’s final episode of the year, headlining another standout story arc for this show’s surprisingly strong sixth season. We especially get a superb sense of how far Alicia’s character has come in this episode as well, particularly when both Charlie and Dakota end up in her charge during a rather sticky encounter with another survivor. This puts Alicia’s positive growth and development as an intelligent, capable survivor, and a leader in her own right, on blast to inspired effect, even to the point of having Alicia ultimately win over Morgan later in this episode, but more on that later.
Remember when Alicia was one of this show’s worst characters? Remember when she was a self-absorbed, vapid liability to her family, and any group of survivors that she happened to shack up with? Boy, that feels like a long time ago, doesn’t it? It feels so long ago in fact that Alicia becomes the last hope of Strand, after he lets Dakota out of his sight during an escort to a safe house, which, whomp whomp, leads to Dakota fleeing the scene of an off-screen attack, and disappearing. Since Strand is going to have hell to pay if Virginia learns that he lost her sister, Alicia reluctantly capitulates to Strand’s petitions to locate Dakota, at which point, Alicia and Charlie venture off to a nearby hunting cabin.
Alicia goes ahead of Charlie here, whereupon she ends up on the receiving end of a tranquilizer, being mistaken for one of the people that attacked Dakota. When Dakota pleads Alicia’s case however, Alicia is allowed to stay with Dakota, and her new survivor friend, Ed, a taxidermist. As it happens, Ed has made a hobby of dressing up walkers, using them as a sort of security system for his cabin, which is packed with resources and supplies. Dakota wants to stay with Ed, but Alicia tries to convince her to leave, obviously not trusting Ed. Alicia’s fears appear to come to pass as well, after Ed uses music to surround the cabin with walkers, seemingly trapping Alicia and Dakota inside, albeit with Charlie managing to sneak in as well. This is a very creative scenario based around a very creative antagonist, and the claustrophobic conflict that Alicia faces provides a different sort of obstacle that thrives in Fear the Walking Dead’s supposedly more intimate style of horror.
This issue also seems like another cut-and-dried survivor betrayal for one of AMC’s Walking Dead shows at first, but surprisingly, there ended up being a lot more depth and intrigue behind Ed’s decision than initially apparent. After Ed is critically injured in a scuffle with Alicia, he reveals that he accidentally caused the deaths of his wife and daughter while attempting to perform taxidermy on a walker for the first time, which is why he’s kept the hobby going, to preserve the world as it was before. This also plays nicely off of Alicia deliberating whether to return to the stadium that her late mother tried to turn into a viable community several seasons ago, before realizing that she’s also impotently trying to hold on to something that is lost. In any case, Ed sacrifices himself so that the girls can get away, at which point Morgan ends up reuniting with Alicia. Boy, that guy’s everywhere this season, isn’t he? At least the show used the justifiable excuse of Morgan being drawn by Ed’s music this time though.
Something that’s a little more difficult to believe however is Morgan somehow being able to take on a whole platoon of Virginia’s rangers by himself. Yes, apparently, Morgan is the attacker that initially scared off Dakota. Seriously. Alicia brings up wanting to interact with the mysterious community that’s attacking Virginia’s resources, and ultimately took out Tank Town, but this feels moot when Morgan is such an unstoppable fighter that a whole escort of rangers are no big deal to him. This quite simply makes Morgan feel overpowered, and reeks of plot convenience, especially when it leaves more instantly re-animating walkers for Strand to dispose of (seriously, why do they take no time to re-animate now?!). Morgan subsequently attempting to turn Dakota over to Virginia in exchange for his own people is a little more interesting at least, especially when it leans into his growing ruthlessness so far this season. Ultimately though, Alicia threatening to leave with Charlie forces Morgan to change his mind, and allow Dakota into his budding community. This is a great way to highlight Alicia’s strength and conviction by this point in the series, even if it also means risking all-out war (heh) with Virginia in the near future.
The fact that Virginia reveals to Strand during this episode’s final moments that she’s intentionally hoarding a pregnant Grace also appears to foreshadow a huge battle on the way between Morgan’s new community, and Virginia’s overwhelming forces. Sure, this doesn’t really fix the problem of Fear the Walking Dead appearing to poach several major story ideas from the main Walking Dead series, with the Morgan/Virginia conflict now more or less following the same track as the battle against Negan and the Saviors in the flagship series, but hey, I still have to admit that Fear the Walking Dead is more interesting than it’s been in years throughout this season so far! Strand having to finally put his money where his mouth is when it comes to being a wild card that isn’t afraid to betray anyone for his own gain is also effectively going to be put to the test over the next several episodes, with the show expertly positioning Strand as a trump card for one side, though which side remains to be seen.
“Damage from the Inside” manages to serve as a surprisingly satisfying premature midseason finale for Fear the Walking Dead, providing a great character arc for Alicia, while nicely amping up the stakes for Morgan, Strand and Virginia alike. Frustratingly though, it’s currently not known when Fear the Walking Dead will return to the airwaves next year. It will likely be some time after the main Walking Dead series has finished airing its newly-ordered Season Ten finale episodes next Spring to boot. Thus, it could be a long while before we get to see what new trouble Lawton will be stirring up for the remainder of this season.
For the first time in years though, I actually feel invested in what’s going to happen next on Fear the Walking Dead. That alone makes me feel like I can wait as long as I need to.
- Alicia demonstrating her standout character growth
- The growing threat of Strand being turned against his friends
- Virginia hoarding Grace as leverage against Morgan
- Morgan unrealistically taking out an entire ranger escort single-handedly