Spoiler Warning for Season 5, Episode 10 of “Fear the Walking Dead,” as well as all previous episodes of the series. Spoilers from “The Walking Dead” will also be discussed.
“We’re not doing careful. We’re doing right.”
After a rather shaky start to the second half of Season 5, “Fear the Walking Dead” delivers an emotional follow up that just so happens to be one of the season’s strongest episodes. By focusing on Morgan, Grace and Dwight, the story really does wonders with character development and provides some absolutely powerful moments.
This episode takes a lot of inspiration from George Romero’s 1978 film “Dawn of the Dead.” The opening scene features voice over from a survivor named Chuck (Charlie Bodin) who is trying to get in contact with Morgan’s group and explains what exactly he needs help with. He’s at a local mall and has been bitten. He wants to be put down so he isn’t left to wander the world as a walker. He states that he is wearing a red jacket and that he will likely be dead by the time anyone finds him. He just wants to be buried somewhere outside under the stars. Being that our group is on a mission to help everyone, they come to the Bridgeview Mall to fulfill a man’s dying wish. Morgan, Dwight and Grace enter the mall and find the lower levels crawling with walkers. There’s a recurring bit of humor thrown into the episode as Grace finds some stale jelly beans and calls them “candy beansies,” much to the confusion of Morgan. Coming across the security office where Chuck mentioned that he would wait at, Morgan and Grace find it empty, but definitely see that he was there at one point. There’s a chair that he likely attempted to strap himself to, along with an iPod loaded with some of Chuck’s favorite audiobooks for Grace. This is a direct nod to Grace’s explanation of her listening to audiobooks on double speed in the Mid-Season Premiere.
We see Grace become slightly dizzy, but she just blames it on low blood sugar. This becomes a driving point of the episode as her health wavers and causes problems. Dwight manages to find the walkers that are trapped in the mall. They’re congregated on the first floor and he wonders if it is actually worth it for them to risk their lives to put down someone who is already dead. Suddenly, Grace collapses and loses consciousness much to the concern of Morgan and Dwight. When Grace comes to, she is laying in a bed in a furniture store and the first words out of her mouth are confusion about the name of jelly beans/candy beansies. Morgan asks if her passing out has anything to do with the exposure to radiation, but she is unsure. Daniel and the caravan come across the gas station that Wes was seen at in the previous episode. Inspecting the bullet casings on the ground, Daniel and Skidmark posit that Logan’s crew already rolled through here. He orders Tess to get the caravan moving again and uses music to signal the trio at the mall without directly speaking over an open channel. Dwight has Morgan and Grace listen to the music and explains that they should leave the mall seeing as how Logan’s group might be on their way. Grace and Morgan believe they should stay to collect all of the supplies in the mall. It’s a difficult situation they find themselves in and is a sign of the growing conflict with Logan.
This is an episode that really allows Morgan and Dwight to reflect on their journey thus far. Dwight is understandably concerned with how things are going with Logan’s crew. He points out how risky it was for our group to claim the oil fields for themselves instead of turning them over. Dwight states that he has already been on the wrong side of a fight before and Morgan agrees. He knows that this may turn violent, but Morgan believes they can redirect the situation in that case. We see Dwight really break the plan and go his own way by sending a message out on the open air announcing where he is headed instead of returning to the caravan. He clearly wants Logan’s group to hear him. At the top of an escalator, Grace listens to Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” on double speed while prepping to head down to the lower level on a mission. Morgan stops her before she does and points out that Chuck wouldn’t want her to die just to fulfill his wish. That isn’t what she is doing though. She tearfully explains that there is an urgent care facility on the lower level that likely has X-ray and ultrasound machines that she can use to see if she has any physical effects from the radiation. She wants to know what awaits her, so Morgan agrees to help her get the generator going and to reach the urgent care.
Morgan comes up with a smart plan to use a remote controlled car to distract the walkers on the lower level. While leading them in a different direction, Morgan and Grace sneak down and plan to head to the generator. Their plan is derailed as Grace sees a walker that she misidentifies as Chuck and proceeds to sneak up behind it. Unfortunately, she steps on debris and makes noise, turning the walkers back toward her and Morgan. The walkers begin swarming and force the two to hide it out in a health store. Inside, the two snack on protein shakes and bars while Grace tells the story of how she visited a dude ranch as a child because she wanted to ride a horse. She was too afraid and that’s part of her tendency to overthink things and not be good at anything except her job. Morgan tells her that she could find a horse one day and that he rode one in the apocalypse; this is a direct reference to his time at the Kingdom. Now, Grace is to concerned about starting something she won’t be able to finish due to her potential for radiation-caused cancer and an untimely death. Things take a really heavy emotional turn as Grace brings up Morgan’s son, asking if they used to play with RC cars. She explains that she watched his tape in which he discusses the fact that he’s working to move forward and let Jenny and Duane go. She wants to help, but he’s having a hard time with it all and can’t even really acknowledge it.
Dwight’s new mission goes according to plan as he stops by the side of the road to take a piss and is met with a gun to the back of a head by a member of Logan’s crew. His name is Rollie (Cory Hart) and he is thrown off a bit when Dwight tells him that he wanted to be tracked down. Rollie knocks Dwight unconscious to give himself time to decide how to proceed. When Dwight wakes up, he’s bound in the back of a truck and Rollie immediately points out that he has been through some shit. Dwight uses this to read Rollie and posits that the quest to find the oil fields probably was noble at first, but has since devolved; not all that dissimilar to what he himself did with the Saviors. Dwight points to the burn on his face and tells Rollie that he has faced far worse people before and made it out of it. Rollie tries to provoke Dwight by bringing up Sherry and burning one of her letters. He has seen the tape and knows how much Sherry means to Dwight. In a moment of walker-caused distraction, Dwight is able to gain control of the situation and gets the gun, but doesn’t kill Rollie. He basically freezes when seeing Sherry’s letter that tells him to live for something better. Dwight makes a bold move here and decides to let Rollie go free, stating that someone gave him a second chance and therefore he’s doing the same thing here. Paralleling the scene in which Daryl tells Dwight to go find Sherry, Dwight gives Rollie a second chance and tells him to do good with his life from now on instead of being an asshole.
After successfully escaping from the health store via the backdoor, Morgan and Grace make their way through the hallways of the mall. There’s an extremely bizarre scene that doesn’t work at all as the two come upon a small cluster of walkers and Morgan orders Grace to turn off her headlamp. In almost complete darkness, he then charges toward the walkers and kills them off screen as Grace struggles to see. There’s one left and it’s got Morgan pinned down so Grace has to save him. What has the point of all this? As Grace works to get the generator going, Morgan decides to open up to her about Duane and shares that he got his son an RC car when he was younger. Duane made Morgan smile. Jenny made Morgan smile. This is how he knew she was the one on their first date. Grace had the chance to have a relationship with someone she worked with at the plant, but she was too afraid to let it happen. She commends Morgan for having the courage to go through with it. This makes him smile. Once the power is back up and running, they make a run for the urgent care facility, but the security gate is down. While trying to open the gate, they accidentally set off the alarm and draw the walkers to their location. With walkers surrounding them, Morgan and Grace scramble up a now powered escalator and are forced to stand their ground when the dead start following them up. Thankfully, Grace is able to flip the switch that reverses the escalator, allowing the two to flee to the security office to turn off the alarm. On the security cameras, Morgan discovers a shocking sight: Chuck is still alive.
Being bit by a walker and undergoing the transformation process is rough. Morgan and Grace are able to assure Chuck doesn’t have to go through it alone. Chuck explains that he didn’t know how long it would take Morgan and Grace to get there so he moved up to the roof while he still could so he could die under the stars. Unfortunately…it’s a cloudy night. Grace brings up a turtle shaped star projector toy and is able to give Chuck one last beautiful sight before he slips away. When morning rolls around, Morgan and Grace bury him under a tree with Grace leaving the turtle projector as a marker. Once they return inside to the urgent care, Grace has a realization. Chuck didn’t want to die in the mall and she doesn’t either. If she gets herself checked out, she might find out that her life will be ending soon. This gives her a whole new lease on life as she now wants to live for the future. A truly rewarding and fun scene plays out next as Grace rides on the carousel, finally getting to ride a horse like she always wanted to. She invites a reluctant Morgan onboard and smiles light up their faces. The caravan arrives and everyone catches up before deciding their next move as Tess suggests they stay at a nearby ranch. Inside, the survivors clear the place out of supplies while Daniel gives Dwight a much-needed shave and haircut in the barbershop. The episode comes to an end as Morgan has an emotional breakdown of sorts. He was originally planning on leaving with Grace and the others to go to the ranch, but decides to go join Althea who is on her own. He clearly is having a difficult time letting himself feel emotions toward Grace and the two tearfully go their separate ways…for now.
The good in “210 Words Per Minute”
- The Morgan and Grace dynamic is just perfect. They have really hit it off and regardless of if it develops into a romance, it is great to see two like-minded people get along so well in the apocalypse. Plus, they make one another smile and that’s definitely a good thing.
- Dwight’s cross-show development from a selfish killer to someone who wants to give others the same second chance he was given.
- Daniel being more of a comedic part of the story is an interesting and surprising choice that is a lot of fun to see.
- The mall setting really allows for some exciting walker moments and is the perfect homage to George Romero’s classic film.
- Morgan speaking about his past, specifically his wife and son, always makes for a powerful emotional scene.
- Grace’s new lease of life is a really a moving lesson about not just life in the apocalypse, but in every sense.
- The scene with Chuck is just pure FTWD/TWD goodness.
The iffy in “210 Words Per Minute”
- The characters put themselves in such ridiculous risk for benefits that don’t always outweigh the risk.
- The mall is the perfect place for our characters to base their operations and they could keep it if they would just deal with Logan’s crew.
- Morgan and Dwight refusing to directly name characters and events from “The Walking Dead” is a recurring issue that makes it seem as though they are afraid of revealing spoilers for those that haven’t watched the original series.
Top performances in “210 Words Per Minute”
- Lennie James as Morgan Jones
- Karen David as Grace
- Austin Amelio as Dwight
- Charlie Bodin as Chuck
Lingering thoughts and predictions
- If Morgan and Grace ever do end up together, what will this do for Morgan’s mental health? He’s been in an understandably rough place since the very start of the apocalypse and this could do wonders for him.
- The mention of this ranch immediately throws things back to the Broke Jaw Ranch of Season 3. If only the show still had the quality and feel of that season, because that was seriously some of the best material ever in the “TWD” franchise.
- Wildly, Chuck is the first living character to die in Season 5; and it wasn’t even an on screen death. This has to be some sort of record for both shows.
- Grace deciding to listen to the audiobook on normal speed shows that she isn’t trying to rush through what’s left of her life anymore. She’s going to make the most of each day and live for the future.
“210 Words Per Minute” is a much needed episode for the characters of Morgan, Grace and Dwight. We really learn a lot about them, their growth and their place in this world. It’s great seeing Grace, a newer character, interacting with two staples of the universe. With the next episode looking to focus in on Alicia and Strand, we’ll surely see some old school bonds.
Don’t miss new episodes of “Fear the Walking Dead” on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on AMC.