On this week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead, Morgan leads an expedition to the USS Pennsylvania to head off Teddy’s plans for a nuclear clean-slate. With all the various groups working together under Morgan to end the threat and find Alicia, the usual dynamics of a dodgy situation come into play. Heads will butt, walkers will moan, and the motivations of our heroes will continue to shift.
BEING SOMEONE ELSE
Teddy debriefs Dakota on the bridge of the ship for information on Morgan and his group. Dakota is more than happy to run down her history with them. With a nod, Teddy says he understands that Morgan wants Dakota to be someone that she is not. Curious, Dakota asks why Teddy locked Alicia into the bunker. “I love what Alicia will become,” Teddy says. Teddy adds that Dakota is like him, and they are meant to die.
Dakota is taken aback by the plan, but Teddy explains that there is no point in being someone you are not just to go on breathing in this world. After a beat, Dakota agrees. Teddy confirms that all his people know of the plan and are ready to die because he accepts death as well. Dakota appears to embrace this death cult vision.
After whipping up a plan among the factions, Morgan goes to the spot that Alicia had warned them about: the beached USS Pennsylvania. While Luciana and her group do recon at a nearby naval base, Morgan’s group, June’s group, Sherry’s group, and Strand’s group head to the ship. Morgan is adamant about going it alone inside. Grace fights him on this plan. Grace even goes so far as to follow Morgan under the guise of technical assistance on the radiation levels.
Alone in the ship, Morgan attempts to talk to Grace about Athena. Grace, understandably, wants to spend more time stopping a missile launch than rehashing the events of her stillbirth. Morgan insists that this may be the last time they can talk before he is killed. Morgan insists that Grace’s purpose is to live and build the world that Athena showed her in their shared dream. Reluctantly, Grace hangs back so that she can relay information on the radio.
IN THE BELLY & BUNKS OF THE BEAST
Morgan makes repeated attempts to forge on alone on this mission, but Strand and the others refuse to let Morgan fight alone. The stubbornness of Morgan is frustrating, especially once he reveals his reason for his obstinance. Morgan tells Strand that he had led every group from one dead end to another, and he wants to be sure this time. In general, I understand why Morgan would feel this way. However, this isn’t a community. This is a mission to stop a missile launch. How could this be anything but an all-hands-on-deck situation?
Still, Morgan slips ahead. Strand manages to stop Morgan before he can seal the door of the next compartment. Strand forges on with a resentful Morgan, while the rest of the group is locked out. When the choice is to open a door spewing over 40,000 on the geiger counter or going another way, Morgan is hellbent on the most direct route.
Over the ship coms, it is surprising that radiation expert Grace advises Morgan that he could survive the effects of that kind of radiation dose for a few days. I don’t know what type of measurement is on that counter. By some measures only a few hundred would kill you in a matter of hours (or less). By other measures, that level is what you could absorb in a year. So I am at a loss for why Grace’s assessment falls in the middle. Either way, Strand sees no purpose in plowing into a highly radioactive area rather than go around the compartment. Strand reminds Morgan of Morgan’s advice to everyone else in the community: live.
THE ROUTE LESS TAKEN THROUGH PENNSYLVANIA
On Strand’s detour, the men soon discover that they have wandered into a dead end. Pinned down with the undead crew about to cut off their exit, Strand reverts to form. Strand essentially says that if Morgan wants to sacrifice himself so badly, here is his opportunity. After a quick maneuver, Strand disarms Morgan, and Strand throws him to the horde as a distraction.
Strand races forward to find a way to stop the missile launch, but Dakota stops him. Any question as to Dakota’s allegiance appears to be settled now. Dakota is fully onboard with Teddy’s plan to die in a fiery flash. Apparently, Dakota witnessed Strand’s actions with Morgan. Dakota notes that Strand, like her, is a horrible person that does not deserve to live. As Dakota shoots Strand, Morgan jumps out from the corridor and knocks Dakota unconscious. The bullet catches Strand in the arm, but he appears to be fine.
Strand attempts to justify his actions, but Morgan tells Strand to hold off on that discussion until later. Either Morgan now thinks he will survive, or he really does not want to have that conversation with Strand at all. Morgan does want to explain his guilt though. Morgan tells Strand that it is because he gave the keys to Teddy that he feels like it is his responsibility to stop the launch.
LET ME IN
While Riley and Teddy work feverishly to launch the USS Pennsylvania’s missiles, they realize that someone is attempting to open the door to the control room. Outside. Morgan swipes through his shiny new collection of key cards. Morgan tells Strand that he grabbed them off every undead officer he had fought in the bunks. As always, Strand is great at rationalizing his bad behavior. Strand notes that if he had not thrown Morgan to the horde, then they would not have had the means to open the door to the control room.
Though the reasoning is questionable, Morgan’s argument that Strand slowed down his progress to the control room is not any better. If Morgan had his way, he would have died in the highly radioactive room and not had a key card to show for it. Both men want to blame someone else, but both are being ridiculous.
The last of the key cards proves to be the one to open the door, but Morgan is about three seconds too late. The launch is underway, and Riley, former weapons officer of this very ship, notes there is no way to stop it. Morgan and Strand did enter early enough to prevent the launch of more than one missile, but that one missile has about 10 warheads on it. Destination? Unknown.
Without John Dorie there to dispense final justice, Morgan lets Teddy and Riley leave on their own power. I suppose there is no reason to kill someone that wants it this badly. The only thing Morgan had left to keep from Teddy was his execution. It was not a smart move, but it kind of makes sense for Morgan. Not for Strand though. And I’m not the only one questioning Strand’s motivations, because Morgan accuses him of selfishness. Morgan tells Strand that he believes Strand wanted to stop Teddy so that he could tell Alicia that Strand had been a hero. I don’t think Morgan is off base in that accusation, but the action still implies an effort to save more people than just himself. It is not entirely selfish, though the ultimate reason for saving others may be.
If you like small, enclosed spaces with walkers popping out like a shooting gallery, then this is the episode for you. At one point I expected a full-on army to battle our heroes, but that did not happen. There was a build-up for it, then only a handful of walkers on the other side. The very anticlimactic moment I could have done without. I also did not fully buy into Morgan’s apparent death wish. I get that Morgan feels responsible and he wants to save everyone, but he did not need to die to accomplish those goals. Morgan’s insistence that he did felt out of character.
Still, the action is exciting and the episode moves quickly. I found the episode entertaining, but not fully satisfying. It seems we finally know what Dakota wants, but I still can’t shake the feeling that she will ultimately betray Teddy. Dakota is a bit of a demon child, so the move might be a nice twist, but at this point, it would be wholly out of character for her too.
If you are claustrophobic, you can give this episode on the USS Pennsylvania a miss. There is not much to learn from this episode, and the only thing that matters is that the launch happened. Will Morgan find a way to abort the missile’s flight plan? Will the missile strike far away? Or will we be looking at a nuclear wasteland in the next season?
ODDS & EGGS
- How did Teddy and Riley get into the ship? And why didn’t Morgan’s group go the same way?
- If there was a radiation breach in the missile hold, could the ship explode on its own at some point?
- Did Morgan leave Dakota unconscious in a corridor of the undead?
- Until now Dakota has been a survivor – what changed?
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