Spoiler Warning for the Season 5 Premiere (Season 5, Episode 1) of “Fear the Walking Dead,” as well as all previous episodes of the series. Spoilers from “The Walking Dead” will also be discussed.
“You’re trying to help other people. Now…looks like you’re gonna have to help yourselves.”
The world of “The Walking Dead” is always evolving. The fifth Season Premiere of “Fear the Walking Dead” is further proof of this as the series universe expands and also shrinks. It’s an exceptionally strong return after a rather lackluster and disappointing previous season. The hiatus is over and the dead are finally back!
The opening scene follows two young brothers named Dylan (Cooper Dodson) and Max (Ethan Suess) hunting a deer. Max teaches his younger brother how to fire a gun in a scene that parallel’s the main series’ episode “The Grove” in which Carol instructs Mika in the art of hunting. Unlike that moment, the duo is actually successful and manage to bag a deer. A new name for walkers is added to the ever-growing list as a “growler” stumbles forward at the brothers. Max attempts to fire his gun, but it jams. Suddenly, an airplane flies overhead, crashing through trees and slamming into the ground nearby. The walker is sliced in half as the boys rush to see where the plane crashed. They wander through a field of flaming wreckage, a location that becomes ever more dangerous as walkers file into the area. Once again, Max’s gun jams, but fortunately for the brothers, a heroic figure appears from the smoke with a broken plane propeller in hand to save the day. It’s Alicia Clark and she is ready to take down some walkers. Dylan and Max enter the plane fuselage and find Morgan dangling upside down and still strapped in his seat. He regains consciousness and is immediately forced to fight off a walker, thankfully being saved by a quick gunshot by John. Luciana calls Morgan’s name, and he discovers her with a metal pipe impaled in her shoulder. Talk about jumping right into the action. This opening scene hits the ground running and throws us right back into the chaos of the world.
It isn’t entirely clear from this episode as to how the group found this plane, but we do see that Althea was the pilot and June rode shotgun in the cockpit. The plane is on it’s side after crashing and both June and Althea are knocked unconscious as walkers bang on the windows and try to get inside. They both regain consciousness and unstrap themselves from their seats as John comes through and kills the walkers that are attempting to get in the cockpit. With June now exiting through the door, John is grabbed by some walkers, but June takes a page out of her boyfriend’s book and uses one of his guns to save him. Inside the fuselage, Morgan tries to comfort Luciana, but realizes Alicia needs help with the walkers and puts Dylan in charge of applying pressure to the wound; he orders Max to stand guard and kill any walkers that get inside. Joining walker-slayer Alicia outside, Morgan notes that she has a bloody cut on her arm from slicing and dicing so much. A static ridden voice comes over the radio, asking Morgan where he and his group are. It’s a man named Logan (Matt Frewer), who the group is attempting to help, but Morgan explains that they’re running a little late. Walkers continue to pour into the area due to the sound and fire, so Alicia and Morgan come up with a way to kill them more efficiently. They set up a metal cable that causes the walkers to trip before they stab them in the heads. Still in the cockpit, Althea tries to radio Strand and alerts him to their crash. She tells him that he needs to find one of her tapes labeled “Skidmark,” because the person on that tape has a plane he can use to come pick up their group. What is going on? Where did all these planes come from?
This is a very active scene with many different moving parts. While Morgan and Alicia kills walkers outside, June rushes to Luciana’s side and commends Dylan for doing an excellent job at applying pressure. Frighteningly, Alicia falls onto a mangled fence with a sign that reads “high radiation area.” What exactly this means for the future is unclear, but it seems to be a tease of a threat for the season. June explains that the pipe will have to be cut so Luciana can be removed from the plane. John and Althea rush out to the debris trail in search of one of the hacksaws that was left in the supplies boxes. Thankfully, Althea’s tapes and camera survived the crash, and she manages to find them in the wreckage. This is most certainly a story that needs to be told. A bizarre walker wearing an all black uniform and a helmet attacks Al, causing her to struggle to stab it in the head before throwing it onto a piece of rebar in a shot that is quite reminiscent to another scene that now directly ties to this one. Al documents the strange walker, because it really stands out to her as being unusual and unlike anything she’s seen before. With the hacksaw, Luciana is safely removed from the plane, although a large metal pipe is still sticking out of her shoulder. With everyone out of the plane and Luciana being carried on a makeshift stretcher, Al hands Alicia her signature weapon before the last standing Clark takes charge and leads her people. Suddenly, a van pulls up to the team and a young girl yells for them to get it. Her names is Annie (Bailey Gavulic) and she is Dylan and Max’s sister. Just in the knick of time, help arrives.
While driving away from the crash sight, Annie issues several eerie warnings about the danger of this area. Alicia asks about the radiation signs, and while Annie doesn’t know exactly what they mean, she does note that there are more of them in the area. Dylan asks if Al is a pilot and she states that she is a journalist, something that Max states is likely the reason they crashed. Some information is provided as Al explains that one of the engines was lost and that she was supposed to have a co-pilot, who was presumably Strand. Luciana groans as the van hits a bump, but she proclaims that they cannot stop because Logan’s group needs their help. Max wonders how they know Logan, and the group explains that they got in contact with him over the radio and that their location is surrounded by the dead. The fact that they are headed to a place filled with walkers causes Annie to slam on the breaks and for Dylan to angrily question why they are just going around and helping random people. Morgan states that the siblings helped people they didn’t know by protecting Luciana and evacuating them from the crash site. Annie ultimately continues driving and pulls up to an eerie sight that has been seen before in the franchise. It’s a roadblock of walkers, strung together by rope and guts, not all that different from the Savior roadblocks seen in “Last Day on Earth.” Morgan, Alicia, Al, John and Annie exit the vehicle to inspect, and notice several walker heads that are dangling from an above tree. Annie states that she isn’t sure who created this, but that there are several others all around the area. She is not willing to drive through the roadblock, and questions Morgan as to why they are so determined to help Logan. The group has been trying to help people for a good while now, but hasn’t had any real luck at all. Alicia explains that everyone is either dead, missing or simply doesn’t want help, and Logan’s crew is the first who are reachable. Alicia and Al clear the walker roadblock as the journey continues forward…and the chattering heads continue to chatter.
There’s a worrying shift in tone as the group arrives at the truck stop that Logan’s crew directed them to. It isn’t surrounded by walkers like he stated. Alicia goes to inspect and see if any of the dead are inside before giving the all clear sign for the crew to enter. Luciana is carried in by Morgan and June while John does a sweep of the perimeter outside. Alicia finds a generator and manages to get it running, providing power to the truck stop. Morgan uses the radio to try and get in contact with Logan, but there is no response. June and John gather supplies and prepare to remove the pole from Luciana’s shoulder. Noticing that she is in pain, Dylan tries to distract Luciana by asking about a toy truck he finds. It is here that Luciana explains the story of Clayton AKA Polar Bear and his system of distributing boxes to help people. Morgan adds to the conversation by inviting Dylan, Max and Annie to come live at the denim factory. It doesn’t sound like the best place to live, but John points out that they have movie nights. Annie simply doesn’t believe safe places exist anymore, and June shares in her apprehension, but explains that she has seen that good places do in fact exist. Alicia returns from the backroom and alerts everyone to the fact that the generator hasn’t been used in a long time, and therefore no one has likely been at the truck stop in some time. This update causes Annie and Max to panic and they decide to leave, even pulling a gun on the group as they gather supplies. They don’t want to stay around to find out what’s happening, and can you blame them? There’s no time to stop the siblings from leaving as June tells everyone that the emergency operation on Luciana needs to happen NOW. The group gathers around Luci and holds her down while Alicia comforts her and June pulls out the pole. OUCH.
The Premiere seems to introduce the new big bad. A grey-haired man walks from the treeline and sets his sights on the Wittington Denim Company, the homebase of our characters. He walks to the gate and enters lock combination to gain access to the factory. He strolls through the premises and discovers one of the supply boxes with the phrase “take what you need, leave what you don’t” scribed on it. He also comes across a room that has been repurposed into a brewery where Sarah is making Jim’s beer recipe. We see some other parts of this home that the characters have built, including a movie request sheet, Althea’s tapes and a list of people that the group has tried to help. This episode also follows the members of the group that were not on the plane. Strand and Charlie drive the SWAT truck while Sarah and Wendell drive the C & L Freight semi truck. It turns out that Strand actually did hear Althea’s radio message about the Skidmark tape. Sarah and Wendell question if Victor is ready to fly an actual plane, something that he seems to be confident about.
While fortifying the gates of the truck stop, Alicia claims that the siblings are the same as everyone else they’ve attempted to help, but Althea points out that the kids are at least still living. Morgan continues to try and contact Logan, but Alicia reiterates her fear that something is very wrong. Suddenly, Logan’s voice comes over the air and everyone realizes that Alicia was 100% right. Logan explains that his crew is currently looking at Morgan’s crew, referring to Strand, Charlie, Sarah and Wendell. He himself has an amazing view of the river. Logan is the man that entered the factory. He mentions the C & L name on the semi truck the group is driving; Clayton was the “C” and Logan is the “L.” The entire call for help was just a way for Logan to regain control of his factory without any violence. In addition to not harming our survivors, Logan even gives back nearly all of the group’s belongings. Alicia absolutely snaps and threatens to kill Logan when he refers to her as “sweetheart,” but he reiterates that he doesn’t want to see them dead at all. He just wants his property back. It isn’t an entirely unreasonable move, and while he is clearly being set up to be the villain, he hasn’t harmed anyone just yet.
Following being kicked out from the denim factory, the survivors that didn’t leave on the plane must now reassess what to do next. While drinking a beer she brewed, Sarah talks to a beer magazine cover with Jim’s face on it. Her and Wendell talk about their anger at Logan for kicking them out, prompting Charlie to step forward and state that she can sneak and find a way in. Strand finds the tape that Al told her to watch, telling the group that they will get the mill back after they get their people back. While sitting alone, Strand watches the “Skidmark” interview tape and sees none other than Daniel Salazar on the screen before him. The look on Victor’s face is nothing short of shock and fear. They did NOT end on good terms the last they saw one another. At the truck stop, Al watches the recording from the crash site. She focuses in on the strange walker wearing a black uniform that she impaled through a pole. Morgan finds her and tells her to go get a cut on her head looked at, simultaneously stating that it isn’t her fault that the tapes haven’t helped much in their mission. She notes that what she recorded today may change that though. Meanwhile, June and John have a heart to heart about a VHS movie that was found. Feeling somewhat hopeless about their mission, John wants to wait until later to watch the film, but June remains totally hopeful that they will be successful. She points to herself as clear proof that he and the others are able to help people find their way again. A similar conversation happens between Morgan and Alicia, who have different takes on whether or not the risk they are taking is worth it. Alicia is angry about the fact that the group risked their lives and Luci nearly died. She points out the sacrifice Madison made to keep her standing, but Morgan turns around and questions why that matters if Alicia isn’t doing something important with her life. Morgan thinks that this mission should be difficult, because it is the group making up for the things they’ve done. They ultimately don’t agree entirely, but Alicia seems to agree to keep the mission going.
The ending of the episode is a complete game-changer for the entire franchise. Against the word of Morgan, Al returns to the plane crash site and relocates the impaled walker. She removes the helmet of the walker and kills it before inspecting it closely as rain pours down hard. Recording, she notices a strange wire sticking out of the uniform. She also finds a zipped baggie on the body, which she opens and sees that it contains a map with the word “CRM” written on it. In addition, there is a clear booklet with shapes on each page, possibly states or counties. On the map and booklet is a tri-circle symbol that viewers may have seen before elsewhere. She radios Morgan and lets him know that her suspicions were founded. Suddenly, a mysterious figure dressed in the same creepy uniform appears behind her and tases before turning the camera to his/her’s covered face. Who are these mysterious people? What is that symbol? Where have you seen it before? It’s rather missable, but the symbol actually appears on the helicopter that Rick Grimes is evacuated in after blowing up the bridge in “What Comes After.” Yes, the two shows are now connected even more by a mysterious group that rescued and/or kidnapped the protagonist of “The Walking Dead.” This goes to show that the helicopter organization has hands across multiple parts of the country. The mystery of where exactly Rick was taken is going to be unfolding partially here on “Fear.” It’s a shocking move that further links the two stories and potentially sets up future crossovers that may spill into the upcoming Rick film trilogy. Things are changing…and it is exciting.
The good in “Here to Help”
- The tone is an excellent mix of mystery, bleakness and hope. There are a ton of moving parts in this episode that serve to balance the various moods.
- The opening plane crash sequence is the perfect way to kickstart the season and provide some thrilling action right out of the gate.
- Alicia taking charge and getting to be a leader is exactly what she deserves after four seasons of stellar development.
- The new characters are interesting additions to the story and will surely provide some unique perspectives to things, especially the children.
- Luciana being injured raises the stakes and adds an additional layer of danger to the episode.
- Morgan and Alicia’s dynamic continues to be fascinating and their varying viewpoints helps to create tension.
- Morgan needing to make up for the things he’s done in the past is a fitting culmination of his past on both shows.
- John and June’s relationship is a warm and moving bit of hope and heart that the story desperately needs.
- The “surprise” return of Daniel via Al’s tapes is an exciting way to bring back a fan favorite while also teasing his reunion with Victor.
- The radiation signs teases a possibly large threat that could shift the environments into some really terrifying and interesting ways.
- The introduction of the helicopter into the “Fear” canon further links the two shows while also setting the stage for the Rick trilogy.
Top performances in “Here to Help”
- Lennie James as Morgan Jones
- Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark
- Danay García as Luciana Galvez
- Jenna Elfman as June
- Matt Frewer as Logan
- Cooper Dodson as Dylan
Lingering thoughts and predictions
- With the introduction of the helicopter crew in “Fear,” it could be possible that Season 5 is setting Morgan up to depart the series for the Rick film trilogy. It would be extremely fitting for him to reunite with his day one friend as Rick’s story comes to an end once and for all.
- The placement of the impaled walker on the piece of debris directly mirrors Rick’s near fatal injury in Season 9.
- Alicia doesn’t seem to be in the best mental state, and after Season 4, you can’t blame her. Hopefully, she continues to mention Madison and Nick, so their losses are still felt.
- Althea going out into the world to get her story shows her dedication to being a storyteller, even in this world. Could she also be taken out of the “Fear” story to transition to the Rick film trilogy?
- It was teased last season that Al interviewed Daniel. In addition to him, one of her tapes hints that she also interviewed Abraham Ford and Eugene Porter. Will we see their interviews ever?
- Victor’s reunion with Daniel is going to certainly be bumpy. The last time they saw one another was in Season 3’s “Things Bad Begun” in which Strand shoots Daniel in the face while facilitating the Proctor invasion of the Gonzalez Dam.
- Luciana is injured once again, something that seems to be a recurring element of her character. This is similar to Tara in “The Walking Dead.”
- Charlie offering to sneak into the mill is something that is very much in line with her character as seen in Season 4 when she tricked the residents of the Dell Diamond Stadium so the Vultures could gain information.
- Logan is an interesting character who will surely devolve into violence as our crew pushes back against his takeover.
“Here to Help” is an exceptionally strong season premiere and episode overall. It feels great to jump back into this world, which is now more connected with the main series than ever. There are a ton of solid character moments and bits of intrigue that will surely help to drive the story this season. Cheers to Season 5!
Be sure to tune into “Fear the Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.