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‘Fear The Walking Dead’ Season 4 Season Finale Review: A Lackluster Ending To A Bad Season

‘Fear The Walking Dead’ Season 4 Season Finale Review: A Lackluster Ending To A Bad Season
01 Oct
10:15

Spoilers through Season 4 of ‘Fear The Walking Dead’ follow.

Morgan saves the day in the Season 4 finale of ‘Fear The Walking Dead.’ But he can’t save the show.Credit: AMC

There’s a moment midway through the season finale of Fear The Walking Dead that just about sums up the entire lackluster fourth season for me.

Morgan has split off from the group to go track down Crazy Martha because, in Morgan’s perpetually screwed up brain, he needs to go save her from herself.

Meanwhile, the rest of the group plans to rendezvous with him back at Polar Bear’s truck stop. Only, Martha has poisoned all the water there and soon everyone is sick. Turns out, she was using antifreeze—a smart, if despicable, move.

When Morgan gets this information from her and manages to radio it back to the group, June knows the antidote (because she’s a nurse and obviously knows everything medical there is to know.) Ethanol is the quick and dirty way to counteract antifreeze poisoning and there’s a whole tanker full of it outside past a horde of zombies.

Maggie Grace as AltheaCredit: AMC

A big fight ensues, with the very sick survivors only just managing to get past the walkers, and only then because Al has her SWAT van again. Strand can’t open the tanker, though, because the handle is stuck. Then Al’s bullets pierce the side of the tanker and the ethanol starts pouring out.

It’s at this moment that any sensible, thinking person with half a brain would say to themselves: “Problem solved! Now we can hold our jugs and buckets and other receptacles underneath the spout of ethanol coming out of the tank!” Indeed, a dying person who saw the ethanol pouring out of the tanker might run up and simply open their mouths to receive it.

But Fear The Walking Dead characters would rather die, and frankly I can’t blame them. After all, they’re stuck on this ridiculous television show week after week. A show that thinks its audience is so stupid that it can actually make us believe that none of these people dying from antifreeze poisoning would think to retrieve the leaked ethanol as it flowed.

Let’s pretend that they tried and couldn’t make it in time. The ethanol drained too quickly. Well, it was draining from holes fairly high in the tanker. There would still be more ethanol below the holes. All they’d need to do is open it up and get some of the remaining liquid.

Tonya Pinkins as Martha/Filthy WomanCredit: AMC

A better solution, of course, would have been to make the bullets pierce the tank and have nothing at all come out. To have it be empty after all that risk and danger and effort. That would have been bitter irony. Instead we got gobsmacking stupidity and writing that surely must make even the staunchest fan of this show think twice.

Of course, all of this was done to pave the way for a “poetic” ending. Morgan goes by Jim’s brewery and gets a bunch of beer and the alcohol saves them. For some reason, I guess, Jim needs to just keep saving the group posthumously. Nevermind that Strand, a long-time character who spent the back half of the season in an alcoholic stupor, would have been the sensible solution here, both from a character-development standpoint and because hard liquor is a way, way better source of ethanol than beer due to its much higher alcohol content.

Seriously, when you’re sick with antifreeze poisoning I bet it’s hard to drink anything. Ethanol is often given intravenously to patients suffering from antifreeze poisoning but if it is given orally, it’s usually strong spirits like whiskey, vodka, gin and so forth.

A much, much more fitting resolution to all of this would be Strand having hidden a bottle of booze somewhere. Say the writers gave him an arc a couple episodes back where he vowed to stop drinking but then, being Strand, hid a bottle of it.

Colman Domingo as Victor StrandCredit: AMC

When the ethanol tanker didn’t work, somebody could have said “Man I wish we had some booze. Ethanol is just alcohol, after all.” And then, jubilant and mistaking good fortune for redemption, Strand could come to the rescue.

Instead we get more of Jimbo’s ridiculous beer. Which is the worst possible source of ethanol for antifreeze poisoning. And, even if it wasn’t, Jim was a side character that nobody liked or cared about. All he’s done this season is suck up time that could have been spent developing established characters like Strand.

This may have been the worst, most ridiculous series of events in the season finale but it was bookended by Morgan being just incredibly, bizarrely frustrating in every possible way. I am an old fan and supporter of Morgan-as-pacifist. What they’ve done with his character since Season 7 of The Walking Dead has been atrocious.

You know what it is.

No, honestly, I don’t know what it is. But I do know that Morgan as a FTWD lead is a very, very bad idea. Splitting off from his group to go save Martha is just plain stupid. I’m sorry, but even accepting that he wants to help her because someone once helped him doesn’t justify him going after a woman that’s this vile when he just finally was reunited with his people. The whole relationship between him and Martha where she wants to “make him strong” and all that is just brazenly stupid to begin with.

Lennie James as Morgan JonesCredit: AMC

Speaking of which, we could all have been put out of our misery if Al had just shot her in the first place.

Why didn’t she?

If it was because she was so concerned about the location of her SWAT van, well come on Al! Don’t you know that everyone finds everyone and everything they’re looking for with the greatest of ease in this show? Regardless, allowing Martha to get that close to her when she was the one holding a gun is just…It makes me want to gnash my teeth and rend my garments and scream unto the heavens. It’s just so implausible. Al is tough and smart and she let Martha sneak up on her with zombie Jim and then let her get the best of her?

No! No no no no no.

No.

It doesn’t add up. It’s just the writers making stuff happen so that they can get from point A to point Z in their horribly contrived little story. Al is just knocked out, fortunately, because Martha likes her for some reason.

Just shoot her for god’s sakes!Credit: AMC

So now Morgan can go “save” her (they both want to save the other I guess, how sweet.) He finds her and loads her up and on the drive he gives her some medicine but instead of tossing it through the window between the cop car’s front and back seats, he sticks his whole arm through. Why, Morgan? Why would you do this? You know she’s a psychopathic murderer!

Obviously this totally sensible, in-character decision that isn’t at all about the writers artificially guiding the plot goes badly. Martha grabs his arm and the car crashes and Morgan is, once again, left limping from a wound. You’d think they could maybe come up with a more original injury given he spent the first half of the season limping from a gunshot wound, but maybe that’s asking too much.

After he shows up with the beer (which of course he could find super easily despite never having been to Jim’s brewery and despite the fact that I’m pretty sure Sarah and Wendell stole all the beer already regardless) everyone drinks and is saved. It’s almost a nice moment if everything leading up to it hadn’t been so ridiculous.

But then, dear readers, then we get the cherry on top. Then we get that moment we’ve all been waiting for.

Daryl “Chill” Mitchell as Wendell, Danay Garcia as Luciana, Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie, Maggie Grace as Althea, Colman Domingo as Victor StrandCredit: AMC

“Let’s blow this popsicle stand and head to Alexandria!” somebody says. “We’re not going to Virginia,” Morgan replies. “Or at least I’m not because I’m the most indecisive SOB  you’ve ever met and I’m also half-crazy and I’m not sure why any of you are looking to me for answers or leadership because frankly it makes no sense at all and I don’t even want that. I still see dead people.”

Okay he doesn’t say all that, but he does totally change the plan on everybody, deciding that it’s more important to help people in Texas than it is to go to Alexandria and help people there. This whole “meet up with The Walking Dead” was just a shameless tease on the part of the producers, never meant to be taken seriously.

What a joke. What a huge, galling disappointment this season has been. If I sound a bit angry in this review, it’s because I feel like AMC has really thrown viewers under the bus in Season 4. Bad plotting, tons of nonsensical crap, plot holes, too many new characters, killing off or just shoving older characters to the side. The list goes on and on. I’ll write up a Season 4 postmortem later that goes into more of that.

Danay Garcia as LucianaCredit: AMC

In any case, Morgan decides he’s going to stay and finds the perfect warehouse to hole up in (Polar Bear’s old HQ, I guess) and everyone happily follows his lead for reasons nobody watching actually understands. Why it’s more important to set up shop here and help people here instead of going back to his friends and helping the people there is never answered and never will be.

And if things continue down this path, I have very low hopes for Season 5. I felt this way at the end of the utterly ludicrous Season 2 finale (remember the Mexican gang that was wiped out by walkers offscreen!) and I was surprised by a solid Season 3 (that was not without its problems but was far better than anything before or since) but I’m not holding my breath for Season 5. That’s why I wrote recently that the show doesn’t deserve another season.

Maybe The Walking Dead will be better? I was pleasantly surprised by the Season 9 Premiere.

Scattered Thoughts:

  • I want to emphasize that I like Morgan as a character. I just don’t think he’s A) a great leading character or B) been very well treated by the writers of either show. I think Morgan as the wise monk, always advising against rashness and violence, would be a great role for him to play.
  • I liked the fight scene between the survivors and the zombies. Good action, tense, the sickness was a nice weakness to introduce before the fight, adding some tension to the whole thing.
  • I don’t hate that they’re staying in Texas, by the way. I just hate that we were strung along with this Virginia plan this whole time and then they just dropped it like a hot brick. Lame.
  • Please add color back to the cinematography in Season 5. I still think this show has better shots than TWD, but the grey-tones have become oppressive.
  • Martha’s death was actually pretty fitting and I wish—if we had to be saddled with this terrible villain—that we could have come to that death in a better way. Like, what if she really did change and what if Morgan really was trying to help her and she was responding and then, at that moment, he learns that she’s poisoned all his friends. And so he cuffs her and leaves her. That would be something.
  • Also, um, Morgan never “lost people” or “himself” in these last two episodes titled “I lose people…” “…I lose myself.” Jim doesn’t count. False advertising. I call shenanigans.

Tonya Pinkins as Martha/Filthy WomanCredit: AMC

I just had another thought that needs to be broken out of the Scattered Thoughts list. Martha could have worked as a villain this season but only if she’d been there from the beginning. What if we’d been given Martha as a separate C plot right from the beginning of the season but we saw her story play out from the time when the apocalypse just went down. We saw her lose her husband. Then we saw her go through other trials and ordeals. We slowly saw her, over the course of the entire season, devolve into madness.

This version of Martha wouldn’t feel so rushed and inexplicable. Maybe we come to like her and care about her over time. Then, instead of killing all the truckers, she just latches on to one at a time. She becomes obsessed with one person at a time, leading her eventually to her obsession with Morgan. You have to build to a payoff if you want the payoff to stick. Martha was just . . . a crazy lady with a threadbare backstory who was super over-powered and ended up dying without killing anybody viewers or anyone on the show actually cared about.

Lame.

If we’d grown to know and care about Martha we might have seen her obsession and madness as something that could be changed. Like Morgan saw it. And then, if we felt that way, and Morgan cuffed her to the car and left her to die because she had poisoned all his friends, maybe we’d believe the whole “I lose myself” idea. Of course, for this to really work someone would have had to die in that truck stop. If the showrunners had any guts they would have killed off a couple characters in the end, or just reordered it so that Madison could have died in the season finale and Nick in the midseason finale. But now I’m getting deep into the weeds and it’s best I come back up for air.

Let me know what you thought of this season and the finale on Twitter or Facebook. If you enjoyed this season, please let me know why. Don’t just yell at me that I’m wrong or say “stop watching it if you don’t like it.” Seriously, I’ve provided my arguments for what’s wrong with this show. You provide yours.

Past Season 4 Reviews:

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2018/09/30/fear-the-walking-dead-season-4-season-finale-review-a-lackluster-ending-to-a-bad-season/

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