THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 609, “THINGS LEFT TO DO.”
On this week’s Fear the Walking Dead, Virginia overplays her hand, Morgan makes a stand, and grudges are reprioritized. We also see parallels to original recipe The Walking Dead, and nods to a recent storyline from Days of our Lives. As Dakota’s note to Morgan said, there are things left to do, and some of those things require justice. Let’s dive into some melodrama!
DIG MY GRAVE
The show opens with June digging a grave for John. The sound is distorted, almost undetectable, as if to drop us into June’s shock. June slides her husband into the grave, and she notices one of his revolvers is still at his side. After a moment of hesitation, June picks up the gun and she looks over at Virginia. Before June can act, Virginia’s chief henchman swoops in and yanks it away. Virginia is livid, but June shows no emotion. If there was ever a character on this show to be afraid of, it is an emotionless June.
GUNFIGHT AT THE THIS IS NOT OKAY CORRAL
We pick up in Lawton with Virginia eager to make an example of all the people that Morgan cares about. In a scene reminiscent of Negan’s execution of Abraham and Glen in the original series, Virginia orders the group to line up on their knees. What Rick’s group did not have, was Morgan riding in on a horse.
What is fascinating about the difference between the Negan sequence and the Virginia line-up is that this group is a lot more emboldened. While Rick’s group was utterly broken and surrounded, this group has only grown more hopeful and rebellious. The parallel of situations, is striking though. Strand, professional fence sitter that he is, observes. We know Strand well enough by now to know that he is waiting for his moment to stab Virginia in the back. It still rankles to see him let his cohorts get so close to an execution.
A stand-off ensues, and Virginia manages to get the drop on Grace and get her out of town with Daniel and her henchman. This parallels the Gulch showdown, but this time Morgan captures Virginia. With Grace in the wind, Morgan has no choice but to protect Virginia from Strand and the army of Rangers he has turned to his cause. Strand is no stranger to playing the game and making a prisoner exchange, so it is a bit surprising that he won’t listen to Morgan’s pleas for a little bit of time. It is less surprising that he takes a half-hearted shot at Morgan’s car as he drives away. Got to put on a show for your new Ranger army I suppose!
Morgan absconds with Virginia, and they hideout in a collapsed water tower. While Morgan works on Virginia’s bullet woud, he asks her to use the radio to call her man about Grace. With one glance at a carelessly placed map, Virginia tells her contact where to find her. The map mistake is so blatant, that I thought Morgan had laid it out as a trap. But no. Morgan really left a map with a “we are here” note on it in front of Virginia’s face right as she radioed her man. Maybe Morgan is just tired? Lord knows I was when I saw that convenient bit of business. Fortunately, the mistake has no bearing on the outcome of this scenario.
While Morgan works on the wound, Virginia makes a confession. In the grand tradition of soap operas, Virginia tells Morgan that Dakota is not her sister. Dakota is her daughter! Now as someone who saw this play out on Days of our Lives in the last couple years (and nearly every soap before that), as soon as Virginia said she needed to talk to Dakota, you knew what she was going to say. I love good soap stories, but this does feel a little like a retcon of the story to make its conclusion a bit more poetic for June. But we will get to that in a minute.
SHOULD’VE BEEN GONE!
It isn’t long before Sherry’s group and the SWAT MRAP find the downed water tower. Maybe Morgan left a map for them too? Sherry’s group is even less interested in pressing pause on killing Virginia than Strand. After a brief hand to hand fight and conversation, Sherry tells Morgan that he is just as bad as Virginia. Why? Because he wants to use someone as a bargaining chip? I know this world has a lot of prisoner exchanges, but there is more to a person’s personality than that, Sherry. In the past Morgan asked Sherry not to kill Virginia, so maybe Sherry thinks Morgan is lying about killing Virginia after the exchange. Lying is very Virginia, so Sherry may have a point after all.
Morgan drags Virginia back to his dam community (still unnamed). However, the doors are barely closed behind Morgan before Strand and his Rangers and Sherry and her very angry people in 1970’s Halloween masks plant themselves outside the gate. The groups want justice. The demands are clear: send Virginia out or we make with the very unnecessary violence against our ostensible allies. Morgan asks for time. Strand and Sherry say no. But as no one moves an inch outside, I think Morgan wins his request by default.
Virginia offers a new deal to Morgan, wherein she will forfeit her life and hand over Daniel and Grace if Morgan acts as the executioner. After Morgan drags her outside, he proves that he hasn’t forgotten everything that Rick taught him. Here is the second parallel of the episode to the original show. This is Negan’s punishment all over again.
There is a moment when Morgan almost uses his axe to execute Virginia and enact justice, but he stops short. Morgan makes a plea with Strand, Sherry, and their people not to start the new community with bloodshed. Frustrated, Morgan yells that Virginia needs to tell the truth, and he pulls her back behind the door of the dam wall. “Make her live with what she’s done!” Morgan yells as he backs out of sight. People are angry, but their bloodlust seems to have cooled.
Dwight asks Sherry to join him behind the wall. Sherry admits that Dwight had been right that the potential execution of Virginia had not given her closure. However, Sherry wants to stay with her gang instead. “I think I’m gonna find [the ability to get over my past] with them before I find it with you,” Sherry says to Dwight.
Alicia asks Strand to stay, but he stresses that they need to keep fighting Virginia’s group. Confused, Alicia reminds Strand that he convinced her to leave the fight, and she wants to do the same for him. But Strand cryptically says there is danger, and he will bring back the proof for Alicia to see. Thus lands our next story arc with a thud.
When Grace arrives, Morgan rushes to meet her. “You’re still the same man I knew,” Grace says. Grace has a point here. After Emile’s death, Morgan appeared to be a hardened, changed man. But that has not panned out. Morgan has always been a good and decent man, and circumstance has not done more than make minor surface changes to him. Morgan believes in justice, but not necessarily in bloodshed. Morgan’s journey parallels Rick’s on the original show in many ways, but never more than in this moment.
Inside the new settlement, Morgan allows Virginia to talk to Dakota, and he forces her to tell the truth to her daughter. Dakota responds about as well as you’d think, and the news does not seem to make her any less inclined to want to kill Virginia. Still, Morgan, Alicia, and June visit Virginia later to tell her that they have decided to let her and Dakota go free.
As soon as June stays behind to change Virginia’s dressing, you know what is about to happen. Here is the third parallel to The Walking Dead. When Maggie confronted Negan, she saw a broken man, and she did not feel he was worth killing. But June is not Maggie. And June has been in shock all day since John’s death.
“I had a daughter. Rose. She was sick. I tried to protect her. I ended up getting every survivor in my camp killed. So of course the love of my life is killed by someone’s daughter they were trying to protect. In a way, this is exactly what I deserve,” June says. When Virginia says she had been protecting her kid, June asks Virginia if she had known the truth about Cameron’s death.
June Does The Unthinkable
“Did you know what Dakota was capable of before? Did you protect her anyway?” June asks. “I would do anything for my daughter,” Virginia says. If ever a statement approximated a “hell yeah!”, that is it. June reaches under her shirt and pulls out one of John’s revolvers. Calmly, June announces that is the gun that Dakota had used to shoot John. June cocks the gun and points it at Virginia. “It was you, Virginia. You’re the reason. You always were,” June says. With one shot, justice is done.
Without a trace of emotion but a little bit of blood on her face, June walks out of the church past the gaping stares. June places John’s hat on her head. From the moment of John’s death, we knew this was coming. Morgan may not have wanted to spill blood in this new settlement, but he had to have known this would be the outcome. John had brought June back to life when he met her. That part of June died with John. When June told Virginia that June never should have saved Virginia at the oil rig, it clicks into place. This is not just an execution for what Virginia did to John. June is undoing her mistake in saving Virginia life.
Every beat of this story is telegraphed well before it happens. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth watching, but there is zero surprise to it. I like the parallels to the original show, and I like to see how they play out with this cast. In some ways this is an anti-climactic wrap on Virginia, but her organization still has a lot of hurt it can mete out without her. For those who love John Dorie, you may want to see June AVENGE him. I also suspect this episode will set up future storylines, so you may want to watch it if that is the case.
ODDS & EGGS
- Where is June going? Is she off to find John’s other revolver?
- Is Morgan really willing to give up his good axe for the symbolism?
- Strand mentioned an army – is this different from the “The End is the Beginning” people?
- The collapsed water tower appears to be Morgan’s former home
For more on The Walking Dead Universe, or any other general pop culture, stay on That Hashtag Show!