“Don’t be scared.”
It’s a voice we haven’t heard before — a boy’s voice — speaking through a blacked-out frame. Slowly, the image blends into a blurry shot of a gun barrel. As the camera comes into focus, we see who’s holding the gun: a second boy, one younger than the first. The face behind his square-framed glasses, which are held together by wire, is coated with dirt.
“I’m not scared,” he whispers. “Is it going to be loud?”
Who are these boys? Is one about to mercy kill the other? Where are they? This opening scene is a disorienting puzzle box that reveals itself with each progressive clue, a suitable starter for the return of Fear the Walking Dead, which saw Morgan and his team of newly appointed charitable truckers heading out to help people, using Al’s collection of tapes to find them. As we are dropped into unknown territory to reorient ourselves to these new surroundings, Morgan’s team is literally dropped in.
As Max tries to coach Dylan (his younger brother) into shooting a deer, thereby signaling walkers to their location, a plane comes crashing through the trees. Alicia is the first to emerge from the wreckage and, despite the seriousness of the situation, there’s something comical about watching her use one of the gargantuan propeller blades to hack through the walkers encroaching on the brothers, thereby beginning another visual puzzle.
One moment at a time, we learn what’s going on. Alicia, Morgan, John, June, Al, and Luciana were all in the plane, a vehicle they hijacked in order to find a man they know as Logan. Since the finale of the fourth season, the gang have been going through Al’s tape deck to find people they can help. Except for Logan, all of those they’ve tried to contact have died or not wanted to be found, hence their efforts to track down Logan.
Alicia is visibly going through some s—, to be frank. She mindlessly attacks the walkers, leaving her hands congealing with blood. Later, she’ll find herself at odds with Morgan about what all their rescue attempts are about, presenting a similar dichotomy between Morgan and Rick.
It’s clear, though, that our veterans of the show know how to handle themselves in a tough situation. Alicia digs a wire barrier into the ground and as more and more walkers head their way, they trip and provide the team with the opportunity to get the best of them. John has seemingly given June shooting lessons as he seamlessly tosses his trusty pistols, the white-hilted ones he covets so much, to her when he’s in a tight situation. Luciana, meanwhile, has been impaled during the crash. Encouragement from Morgan, Max, and Dylan help keep Luciana calm while the rest fend off the dead and eventually cut Luciana loose from the aircraft.
It’s only later, as Max and Dylan’s sister, Annie, delivers a Hail Mary by driving their car straight through the walkers and away to safety that something feels wrong. “Growlers” — Annie’s word for walkers — “are the least of our problems. You have no idea where you landed, do you?”
Annie says she and her family were passing through the area — her parents clearly didn’t make it — when they “got stuck.” There are stray signs that say stay away from certain roads they can’t make sense of. All roads, in fact, seem to be blocked off by something, whether it’s these signs or landslides or the dead. One such awkward sign is a roadblock comprised of three walkers tied together as chattering walker heads dangle from the trees overhead. But Morgan’s team is determined to find Logan, who they say had been blocked on all sides by walkers.
When they get to the location, thanks to Annie, all they find is an abandoned truck stop — no walkers or Logan in sight. They are at least able to dislodge the metal pole stuck in Luciana’s shoulder, but Annie and her brothers bail, sensing that something is wholly wrong with this situation. They were right. Logan (played by Matt Frewer of The Magicians and The Order) later chimes in over the station’s walkie from the group’s own headquarters to relay that it was all a ruse so his group could take back their home base. Logan, allegedly, legally owns the mill (Clayton was the “C” labeled on the boxes and Logan is the “L”) and he doesn’t agree with Clayton’s mentality of helping people — which already reminds me of the Filthy Woman, the all-time weakest villain of the entire series. He just picked a spot farthest away that he could find so he and his group could move in.
Victor, Charlie, Sarah, and Wendell confirmed this (at least to the viewer by riding up to the base and finding all their stuff piled into dumps outside the perimeter). Charlie thinks she can sneak herself inside the mill to get it back, while Victor, who heard Al’s distress call, knows where he can find another plane to go and get their people back. The problem is the person with the plane, at least according to Al’s tape of the man she said had one, is Daniel Salazar, someone we thought had perished but is very much alive.
Al, always a story seeker, thinks she has found another one. Going back through her tapes, she sees one of the walkers she killed is a fresh one wearing a black militia suit. Morgan says they should wait until the morning to leave, but Al heads out on her own anyway. During a downpour, she examines the body, recording it all with her camera, and finds a symbol stitched into his uniform (think a bloated Triquetra or engorged Borromean circles) and a secret compartment filled with maps. She radios back to Morgan, but before she can fully explain what she found, she’s knocked unconscious by another unknown individual wearing the same black uniform. One might assum this is the same group that set up those ominous road blocks, but time will tell.
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