THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 703, CINDY HAWKINS.
In this week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead, John Dorie, Sr. and June make the best of their bunker situation, but the past comes back to haunt them both in “Cindy Hawkins.”
Day after day for the first sixty odd days in Teddy’s bus bunker underground is fairly uneventful. John and June do their chores, they play some music and board games, and they take a little nip of whisky before bed. Every day is virtually the same until the shifting earth above shakes a few things loose. John realizes there is a hidden room behind the pantry shelves, and he breaks open the drywall to see it. It is Teddy’s fabled killing room. Though June is anxious to pretend the room is not there, John becomes obsessed.
What John has not told June is that life in the apocalypse has contained a fair amount of drinking. After rationing and the destruction of the whisky supply in the quake, John is starting to feel the DT’s pretty hard. John’s hand is shaking and worse, he is hallucinating.
John tells June that the police had found 25 of the 26 victims. The one victim that had never been found was named Cindy Hawkins. John had promised Cindy’s mother that he would find her and bury her body. As Cindy was the victim that had provided the necessary link to frame Teddy, John has an extra connection to her beyond his promise. In a box, there are newspaper articles with jewelry. Cindy’s necklace is in there too. It is a confirmation that John was right about Cindy’s murder, but it also amps up John’s manic obsession.
June is understanding at first. However, when John goes rogue and out the hatch to follow a voice, June is at her limits. John saw Cindy up top, but the only thing actually there was a walker. June saves John from the walker. Across the clearing stands three suited stalkers. June hustles John back into the hatch, and they seal it before the stalkers can get in.
June is relieved her father-in-law was not bitten and only has a scratch. But when John tells June about his drinking and his vision, she sees the whole picture. Cindy’s voice continues to call out to John to “find me.”
I HEAR YOU KNOCKING, BUT YOU CAN’T COME IN
Topside the stalkers continue to work to gain access to the bunker. The stalkers taunt June and John on the radio, warning them to open the hatch or suffer severe consequences. June wants to ignore the stalkers, but John knows that can’t last forever. For now, John cannot shoot a gun straight because of the DT’s. So John and June opt to try and wait a couple days for John to get through his symptoms of detox. John is restless, and he keeps going in the kill room.
When boarding up the room fails to stop John from attempting to go in there, June jabs John with a sedative. June is a bit too late though as John’s banging on the wall causes a roof collapse. When John finally stirs awake, June is still unconscious in the rubble. The ghost of Cindy urges John to “find her.” When John worries aloud about June, Cindy assures John that June is alive and resting from her injuries.
John talks to Cindy’s ghost, and he realizes that Cindy was likely killed on her way to see her boyfriend. John looks at the map of kills that Teddy had left on the wall, and John pinpoints Cindy’s burial site as the lot across from her boyfriend’s apartment. With a place to search and a promise to keep, John readies to go back out into the wasteland.
June has now stirred awake, and she begs John to realize that he cannot get past the people outside. The ghost of Cindy antagonizes John into asking June questions. When John asks why the people topside are still alive, June admits that she had made up the number of days that it would be safe for them to go outside. June asks John not to leave her trapped in the rubble, but John is deep into mania. John has zero interest in reason.
YOU ARE NOT REAL
When John goes topside, it is a rare moment when the stalkers are on a dig break. John scurries off to find Cindy’s body, but he stops himself after about twenty feet. It seems John’s path has lead him to the outer edge or reason. John reminds himself that June is real, and Cindy’s ghost is not. No sooner does John turn to head back when the stalkers reemerge. John pushes past the lingering symptoms of his detox, and he manages to shoot each of the stalkers but one. One manages to get into the hatch, but they fail to find June in the corner.
In the process of saving June and admitting that he needed to let go of the past, the ceiling collapses a little more. A mummified corpse peeks out. It is Cindy. “You kept your promise,” June says. John returns the necklace to Cindy. Now that John is firmly back on the side of the living, he reminds June that they need to actually live. John tells June that they need to leave the shelter. June is scared. June is frightened to lose John, to face the aftermath of the nuclear destruction, and she is afraid to admit that living in the bunker forever is not a reasonable option. Much like his son, John is able to speak to June and draw her out of her fears. No sooner are June and John outfitted in their protective suits to leave, does the ceiling cave in fully.
When John wakes up, he is in a make-shift hospital room. June tells John that his insistence that they suit up and leave the bunker saved their lives. Victor overheard their radio calls and sent people to collect them from the bunker. The suits had saved their lives, allowing them to breathe until help arrived.
Victor and his biggest smile round the corner. John has not forgiven Victor for what he did to Morgan, and John tells him so. Ever the opportunist, Victor suggests that John should at least pretend to forgive him since Victor’s tower is the only safe place around.
What is Victor’s angle? Victor wants a detective on his side to hunt down the identity of the stalkers. When Victor pours a drink to celebrate the team-up, John eyes the alcohol like a bear trap. John says no. No sooner has Victor left the room than John is telling June that they need to make tracks and leave. June points out the window to the sea of the dead that have joined up since the beacon went online upstairs.
A DAY LATE AND A BUNKER SHORT
At the scene of June and John’s bunker stands a man clad in protective gear, frantically digging at the site. More stalkers? Nope. It is one Mr. Morgan Jones. Like Victor, Morgan also heard John, Sr. on the radio reaching out. All that Morgan finds is the radio, and Victor’s taunting voice. “I’m done listening to you,” Victor says. Victor calls Morgan a failure. When Morgan blames Victor for the nuclear wasteland, Victor disagrees. nd honestly, a fight about who allowed a nuclear apocalypse to happen is not one that is going to be solved over a couple drinks.
Morgan tells Victor that no matter what has already happened, he will not intervene if Victor’s actions help people. Morgan also stresses that if Victor hurts anyone that Morgan loves, he will come for Victor. This is a whole lot of blood vengeance promises to make on a short-wave radio without it amounting to something sooner or later. Also the art for the season shows the clash is inevitable.
As much as I enjoyed “Six Hours,” this is the best episode of the season. The performances by Keith Carradine and Jenna Elfman continue to be top notch on this show. As much as the show suffers from the loss of Garret Dillahunt, the addition of Keith Carradine has been a welcome salve. The character is different, but the motivations mostly remain the same. And though the dynamics with June are certainly different, the genuine affection that June and John Sr. have for one another is real.
As a bonus, it is nice to see a character haunted by a supernatural entity other than a walker for a change. Between the ghosts of the dead and the ghosts of John, Sr’s many mistakes, there is a lot to pressure John into a breakdown. The fact that John, Sr. was able to claw his way back to his humanity because of the woman that had meant the world to his estranged son is a nice way to end that character arc. John was haunted by his father’s failings, and because of that he became a better man. By virtue of being a good man, John was able to get through to June and make her care about others again. And in the end, it was June’s empathy for John, Sr. that helped him overcome the very demons that had driven him away from his son.
In a world that is so full of death and betrayal and sadness, it is nice to be reminded time and again that kindness does have a place in this world. John’s kindness got him killed. But John’s kindness also helped save many others. Likewise Morgan continues to try to make a better world for people since he could not do that for his wife and child. Morgan’s efforts continue to fail. But along the way, Morgan’s efforts have helped people.
Victor no longer wants to employ kindness and empathy in this world because he sees the results from Morgan’s efforts. The theme this season appears to be big picture thinking versus pure self-preservation. So it was good to see an episode that focuses on how doing good has a place in this world still. That is assuming that good intention does not send you into an obsessive spiral in a kill room underground.
ODDS & EGGS
- John, Sr. must have spoken a little too freely about the bunker if the stalkers, Victor, and Morgan knew exactly where to find the non-descript location.
- John ends Dakota’s undead suffering.
- Why did John ride the stationary bike to make power for the bunker before bed rather than first thing in the morning?
- How did Victor’s people get anyone inside his tower with the growing sea of undead outside the gates? What are the gates made of? The gates can hold back the growing horde unlike every fence ever in the Walking Dead universe?