Ryan Green/AMC
September 30, 2018 at 10:05 PM EDT

Just like the walkers that hobble through the wasteland with misty, dead eyes, a meandering back-season of Fear the Walking Dead concludes — one that could’ve been handled more expertly with fewer episodes and less moping around.

The death of Madison in the fourth midseason finale posed a question I’m not convinced the story is ready to answer: what is Fear if it doesn’t involve a mother determined to maintain her family’s survival against a brutal world? Morgan rose up as a new lead for the spinoff, but the character wasn’t strong enough to hold the focus of The Walking Dead, and he’s still not compelling enough as a series transplant. The problems he faced are the problems he still faces, and we spent the entire crossover season reaffirming what we already knew: Morgan can still be a good person, even in the face of violence.

Perhaps the more interesting plotline then became a subplot: Alicia found herself the last remaining member of the Clark family. She lost everyone and was on the verge of losing herself. It seemed perfect, considering Morgan’s catchphrase is literally “I lose people, I lose myself.” But while the back half of season 4 seemed ready to set Morgan up as her emotional mentor, that course soon diverged to Morgan being plagued by Martha, an uninspired villain, as the rest of the group remained splintered. Now everyone is back together — except, aw, poor Jimbo — with a new can-do spirit, one that’s getting old real quick.

At the very least, everyone isn’t wallowing in self-pity by the end of it.

Al is still alive, as well. She made it out of the hospital and is currently dodging walkers on the street when we open. She picks up a walkie from a police car but can’t get a hold of anyone because she’s too far out of range. She suits up with a bulletproof vest and the rifle she pulls off the vehicle and heads back to the hospital. No one except for walker Jim, who’s being pulled by Martha, is there.

Martha doesn’t want to kill Al, though. She spent some time looking over her tapes and realized Al doesn’t help people, she just gets people’s stories and then leaves. But Al refuses to pass along a message to Morgan, so Martha sicks dead Jimbo on her, and it ends with Al running out of ammo and getting knocked unconscious. She wakes in the SWAT van. June and John found her passed out with a message from Martha attached to her. The villainess had recorded a video warning that the next time she sees Morgan, she’ll be stronger than ever and able to make him strong too.

The group is sitting around a campfire later that night before the big push to Alexandria, but Morgan can’t shake Martha’s message. He tells John in the woods that he needs to go alone to meet her. He thinks he might be able to help her because he used to be her, and therefore can understand her. Morgan writes down the directions to Alexandria with plans to rendezvous with everyone else in Virginia. Instead, John says they’ll hang out at the truck stop and wait for him; otherwise, the group will come looking for him.

So that’s what happens, Morgan goes off to find Martha, who locked dead Jim in a police car and now lies face down in the dirt waiting to become a walker herself. Meanwhile, his buddies drink coffee and stock up at the truck stop. Morgan picks her up and sticks her in the back of the cop car to drive her back to the truck stop. She doesn’t want to go, she certainly doesn’t want the antibiotics Morgan offers, and she doesn’t want to tell Morgan about the event that made her into the “Filthy Woman.” She eventually opens up about her husband’s death, and while she’s weaving this tale, something is happening at the truck stop.
(Recap continues on the next page.)

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