By Nick Romano
August 25, 2019 at 10:04 PM EDT
Van Redin/AMC
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Alicia is on a mission this week to chase the maker of those self-help memes painted on the sides of trees because doing so will make her feel okay about killing walkers again or something. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. Thinking too much about why these people do what they will only further reveal why this story arc in season 5 is largely empty. In any case, she finds the person and it’s someone we’ve already met.

That guy Wes, the one with the motorbike who was accosted by Logan’s cronies, is the maker of memes. Of course, meeting him doesn’t do for Alicia what she thinks it’s gonna do. If only anyone could’ve foreseen that coming.

She and Victor have been looking for this guy for some time before they finally encounter Wes. He radios them over the walkie for help transporting his broken bike. He thought he could push it back himself, but he needed help after all. Wes mentions a brother waiting back for him at their base, but he doesn’t have one. Not anymore. He died when the outbreak started; he went out for condensed milk and didn’t come back alive. Wes just said all that in order to get to the police station where the man who stole some things from him is hiding out.

Alicia and Victor drop him off and promise to leave him fuel for his busted bike, but then they hear gunshots and see Wes’ thief hurry out of the station with a bag and a gunshot wound in his side. He also jacks their car and drives off as the noise draw in the surrounding dead. Wes grabs bags of riot gear so they can defend themselves, but it makes it more difficult. Victor inadvertently fires a tear gas launcher and the container gets stuck in the side of a walker. He gets blinded trying to subdue the dead while smoke attacks his eyes.

Finally, they are all safely inside the station, but the dead have barred most of the exits. Wes doesn’t come off as the guy who would spread positivity on trees across the land. He’s set in his thinking of “people are people” and will always screw each other over to survive. Sounds familiar, right? After a while, you get to believing all the characters’ problems can’t just be about this same thing over and over and over. And then that becomes the case.

Morgan, meanwhile, is back in his old slump. He follows Al to a bank where she once interviewed its old manager. She’s able to unlock a giant safe where she stores all the tapes she records in the safety deposit boxes. She hopes someone will find them should anything happen to them. With Victor incapacitated for the time being and walkers barring the doorways, Alicia reaches out to Al and Morgan. The priority is now helping the guy Wes shot because they can’t let someone die. In doing so, they tip off Logan to their location and he’s able to set up a roadblock to bar their path.

They again demand Morgan and Al give up the location of the oil fields, but don’t do anything else. They threaten but not really; they don’t raise their guns or anything like that. Does Logan need them alive or something? It’s such a strange kind of situation. Logan hints that he needs the fuel for something that’s much larger than Morgan and the caravan he’s raising, but also admits that his way will lead to others losing their lives.

Logan mentions Morgan’s wife and son in the sense that helping all these people won’t help Morgan help them. This causes Morgan to physically lash out and almost impale Logan with his staff, but Al (and also all the guns now pointed in his direction) snap him out of this outburst. And then Logan’s group just lets them go to find a way around the rig. As I said, it’s strange.

Alicia is able to break through to Wes, who admits what really happened to his brother. Although, initially, he was mocking her about how she’s going to tell him a story that will relate to his situation somehow. He eventually agrees to help and clears out the dead so Alicia doesn’t have to kill anything. They finally catch up with the man. The driver’s seat of the car is stained with blood and he’s seen hobbling forward in the distance. It looks like he turned, but when Wes approaches to retrieve the bag he stole, the man, alive, turns around to stranger him. Before Alicia and Victor can catch up, Wes grabs for a knife and plunges it in his side, killing him.

The thing Wes was after was his manuscript, a book he wrote. But he leaves it behind with the man he killed. He admits Alicia was right, but he doesn’t need right at the moment and walks off. After Morgan and Al catch up, they all bury the man in the ground. Alicia flips through Wes’ pages and sees a dedication to his brother Derek. The final page features a familiar line: “If you’re reading this, you’re still here.” She looks inside the trunk of Wes’ motorbike and finds paint supplies, confirming he’s the guy behind the tree art.

She decides to stop looking to other people to fix her and will instead fix herself. So, she paints her own message on a tree that reads: “No one’s gone until they’re gone,” her mother’s final words. Morgan sees this and reveals to Al he holds on to the pain of losing his wife and son because the emotion is also tied up with all the good memories. He’s scared if he lets go of his pain, he’ll let go of the good things, too. Al agrees to help him keep the good and purge the bad by — shocker — recording his story on camera.

But now, there’s a bigger problem. Logan breaks into Al’s safe looking for Polar Bear’s journal. He finds her tapes instead and hopes one of them will contain the location of the oil fields. He takes particular note of Morgan’s solo tape, teasing that perhaps he’ll be using the man’s personal pain against him, having seen how quick he was to anger at the mention of his loved ones. Same stuff, different scenario.

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