TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘Humbug’s Gulch’

Spoiler Warning for Season 5, Episode 3 of “Fear the Walking Dead,” as well as all previous episodes of the series. Spoilers from “The Walking Dead” will also be discussed.

“Even when we get shot at, the wind blows us right where we need to be.”

Worlds have collided yet again on “Fear the Walking Dead” as another main character has officially crossed over from the flagship series. The latest episode finds the crew struggling to fulfill their mission only to cross paths with Dwight, who is on his very own mission. This strong episode does have a lot going for it, but there are also some blunders.

It isn’t easy to help people. The first three episodes have bluntly established that. There have been so many metaphorical and literal roadblocks keeping our group from achieving their goal. The opening scene shows the various members of the team mapping the roadblocks and killing the walkers the stand in their way. They figure out that the walker roadblocks have created some sort of perimeter, but it isn’t clear to them what or who is meant to be kept in or out. John and June drive to an area in search of more roadblocks, but lose their reception and must press forward without communication. Upon reaching one of the roadblocks, gunfire rings out and John and June must speed through into the unknown territory. A sign for Humbug’s Gulch gives John some peace of mind and he plots their destination. They arrive in a town that is straight out of Wild West films, complete with storefronts, fake horses and even tumbleweeds. This is the old stomping ground of John, a place he mentioned working at prior to the apocalypse in “Laura.” This wasn’t the exact location that John worked at, but rather one of many that we’re spread out all over Texas. John leads June into one of the buildings and they ransack the dressing and prop room for supplies. June demonstrates some impressive lock-picking skills to break into the closet containing the weapons and ammo. Thankfully, there’s a ton left for them to restock. A dust storm rolls into the area, and the two become worried for their safety as the wind wrecks havoc outside. Walkers are blown around and the visibility is extremely low. June suggests that they wait and ride it out inside the saloon building they’re in, but John thinks they should take their chances in the car. Finding a flier for Humbug’s Gulch, June asks John what his role in the reenactments was; good guy or bad guy? John explains that his main area was simply trick shooting demonstrations. They ultimately decide to head out into the storm, covered to protect themselves from the flying dirt and debris. While approaching their van, shots ring out and a standoff takes place. John warns the shooter against firing shots as the sound is drawing the dead, but shots keep ringing out. The tires of the van are punctured, but John gets off a shot at the assailant’s arm. John emerges from his hiding spot, believing he has killed or severely injured the shooter. In the middle of town, a gun is pointed at his head, revealing none other than Dwight (Austin Amelio) from “The Walking Dead” to be on the other end of the trigger. “Where is she?,” Dwight demands an answer from a confused John. The butt of June’s gun slams into the back of Dwight’s head, knocking him unconscious and calming an extremely tense situation before things get ugly. “Thank you, Junebug,” John says to the love of his life in the most swoon-worthy way.

Jenna Elfman as June, Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

John and June aren’t dumb. They know Dwight is a clear threat, but still make the decision to save him. June treats his gunshot wound while John looks through his things. He finds several notes with an infinity symbol on them, deducing that he has been looking for this woman for quite a long time. John points out the burn on Dwight’s face and wonders if it is from before the apocalypse, but June states that it most certainly isn’t. This is someone for them to help, which is the whole reason they’re out here to begin with. Dwight comes to and lambastes John for looking through his belongings and June for treating him. Dwight states that they cannot help him and that “this whole place is screwed.” As John and June barricade the front doors, Dwight points out that he has a car nearby that they can take. John ultimately decides to free Dwight from his bounds, explaining that him being separated from June also made him do some bad things. One of those things is shoot a man’s finger’s off, a callback to the Season 4 Premiere when he first met Morgan. Finding June was what kept John from slipping into a darker place, and he proposes that they all work together to help get out of this saloon and go find who Dwight is looking for. Dwight decides to tell John and June that he is looking for his wife Sherry (Christine Evangelista) and he also introduces himself by name. For the first time in a long time (maybe even ever), we actually see Dwight smile while interacting with John and June. It’s the start of what will hopefully be a very strong friendship. The trio have a pretty ingenius way of getting themselves out of the saloon. A self-playing piano distracts the walkers and pulls them into the saloon while June, John and Dwight exit through an upstairs window and walk along the overhead paneling. Dwight jumps to the ground when he realizes the weight of all three won’t be supported, but his gunshot wound causes him to struggle to get back on his feet. John jumps down after him as June snipes walkers from above. Dwight runs out of ammo and find an axe that he uses to kill walkers as June makes her way to the ground and positions herself at Dwight’s car to snipe more walkers. As John runs to the car, Dwight turns around and makes his way to the van that John and June arrived in. Once inside, he frantically searches through all of the pieces of paper as walkers surround the vehicle. He doesn’t find what he’s looking for…and just like that, he’s trapped.

Some crucial backstory about Dwight’s journey to Texas is given as he explains that Sherry has been leaving notes for him, but he has been several steps behind her. On the note is an infinity symbol, something that has been a recurring symbol of their relationship. The reason he was drawn to the van is because the last note he found from Sherry was on the car registration of this vehicle. Dwight has been traveling and looking for Sherry for nearly a year now, and he has been searching for this specific car for months, so he needs answers. John and June are hesitant to tell him where they found the van…because the answer isn’t great. They found the van at Camp Cackleberry, but there was no one alive there. Also, the people that were there died from exposure to radiation, so if she was there, she is likely dead now. Things take an exceptionally dark turn as Dwight glances down at the pistol in the passenger seat next to him. Both John and June believe fully that Sherry is still alive and that they will find her. The fact that they found each other is proof that miraculous reunions can happen in this world. A major highlight of the episode comes as June speaks to Dwight personally over the radio, linking their stories together. She understands that he doesn’t believe he deserves to find Sherry again, and Dwight explains that he has done absolutely terrible things. Even now, Dwight was fully prepared to kill John and June just to potentially get a small bit of information related to Sherry. June did the exact same thing that Dwight is doing now in the sense of distancing oneself. June’s backstory at the FEMA shelter was given in “Just in Case,” and it served to explain why she kept trying to run away from John and the others later down the line. June’s words manage to talk Dwight out of committing suicide, giving him a glimmer of hope.

Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark, Danay Garcia as Luciana – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

Meanwhile, Alicia and Luciana stop to decide their next course of action. Alicia apologizes for all that Luciana has had to go through with this injury, especially considering the fact they haven’t been able to help yet. Luciana doesn’t see things as being negative, but rather as a sign that they are still on the right path. While tuning the radio, some scattered voices come over the radio. It’s Annie and Dylan talking about finding supplies near a firework stand. Alicia pleads with them to give up their location so they can be helped, but Annie is afraid that people are listening. Having somewhat of a location of where the kids might be, Alicia jumps into action even as Morgan warns her to be careful. Suddenly, the car she and Luciana are driving spins out and crashes off the road after hitting spikes that have been placed. Morgan decides to head where they are, but Alicia decides that she and Luciana should keep walking forward to find the kids before it’s too late. Morgan ultimately catches up to Alicia and Luciana, even though the spikes were ridiculously left back in the road and not moved by our people. There is yet another incredible character driven moment as Morgan urges Alicia to speak to the kids over the radio. “I lost my mom…and my brother,” Alicia tells the kids, trying to connect with them in a way they can relate. She points out that she can understand what they’re going through because she is going through the exact same thing right now. She wants them to know they don’t have to go through all of this alone, something that brings a smile to Morgan’s face. He’s been through all of this. She offers to help them yet again, but there is no immediate response. Still, this is something Alicia needed to get off her chest, and the kids could have only heard it from her. Thankfully, the losses of Madison and Nick are still being referred to and are a massive driving point for Alicia’s character. It’s also important that she is actually being allowed to mourn instead of these deaths being brushed to the side.

Back at Humbug’s Gulch, a true Wild West scene plays out as John and June exit their vehicle and kick off a killing spree to take down the walkers that have Dwight trapped. Using their expert skills, the love birds manage to clear the area so Dwight can escape and assist in the clearing. Dwight’s wound cause him to stumble and fall, resulting in a rather strange scene where two walkers cause a panic for John and June. Rather than simply rushing to kill them with knives, an elaborate stunt is concocted. John yells at Dwight to raise his axe before shooting directly at it, causing the bullet to split in half and kill both walkers with the fragments. “That’s the San Antonio split,” John proudly comments on his ridiculously unrealistic, yet still epic walker kill. After night falls, John discovers that the registration for the van does not match the one that Sherry left her note on and therefore she did not drive it. He tells Dwight this information and also shares that he used to be a cop so his training still comes in handy. There’s yet another touching moment between John and June that solidifies just how important their relationship is to one another. John has been feeling guilty about his luck with June, but he has come to learn that doing so only takes away from what they have. Morgan, Alicia and Luciana arrive, leading to a highly anticipated reunion. Dwight emerges from the shadows, stunned to see Morgan. “We come from the same place,” Morgan tells his new friends, completely shocked to see someone from his past. The last time they saw one another (at least on screen) was the final battle of All Out War in “Wrath.” Dwight tries to explain his actions, but Morgan states that this isn’t the time and that he knows how things ended for him. Alicia asks if Dwight knows anything about the roadblocks, and he shows them some that he found. Suddenly, Max’s voice comes over the radio telling Alicia that he and his siblings are on their way to the truck stop. Alicia tells him that they are headed there also, but while traveling, they come across the van the kids were driving and it is covered in walker entrails. Inside, they find Dylan covered in blood and in shock. Cut to Annie and Max, who are revealed to be in an elaborate ploy to trick the crew. They’re setting up a walker roadblock and are using Dylan as a mole. You really can’t ever trust the children.

Austin Amelio as Dwight, Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie, Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark, Lennie James as Morgan, Danay Garcia as Luciana Galvez – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

The good in “Humbug’s Gulch”

  • Dwight’s return to the franchise just feels right. Him being on screen with the characters of “Fear” is so surreal and fascinating to see. This episode does an excellent job at establishing his connections with John, June and Morgan, which should make for interesting arcs this season and beyond.
  • Alicia’s speech to the kids is a great way of showing her growth since the deaths of Madison and Nick, while also showing that she is still in a rough place. Morgan sees himself in her as their relationship continues to be one of the best parts of the show at currently.
  • John and June’s dynamic is a much needed bit of hope and joy. They fought so hard to be together, so it’s rewarding to see them getting to fight alongside one another so much this season.
  • The parallels between Dwight and June, as well as Dwight/Sherry and John/June really helps to make Dwight fit right into the story and gives him a great connection to these characters.
  • The western vibe is a lot of fun and really helps to establish a unique tone in a franchise that always bends genres. Where else are you going to see a western town with ZOMBIES?
  • Colman Domingo’s directing! It’s great to see a cast member be able to step into a directing role. Colman can truly do it all.

The iffy in “Humbug’s Gulch”

  • The San Antonio Split, while a real move, is completely ridiculous in the sense that it would have been far more practical for John and June just to run up and kill the walkers. Also, the bullet fragments hitting and killing the walkers directly is quite out there. Still, John’s shooting skills do serve to help explain how he could do this.
  • The reveal that the kids are responsible for the walker roadblocks is a bit anticlimactic. It’s a bit absurd if they are the ones who set all of them up, including the billboard heads. There’s hopefully more that will be explained, so this could evolve into something more unexpected. Also, the franchise really needs to break the cliche of kids being untrustworthy.
  • It’s rather odd that the Logan story is pretty much completely on hold.

The bad in “Humbug’s Gulch”

  • Why for the love of all things is Luciana out with everyone instead of back at the truck stop resting? Girl, we need for that wound to heal up.
Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark, Danay Garcia as Luciana, Austin Amelio as Dwight, Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie, Jenna Elfman as June – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

Top performances in “Humbug’s Gulch”

  • Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark
  • Lennie James as Morgan Jones
  • Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie
  • Jenna Elfman as June
  • Danay García as Luciana Galvez
  • Austin Amelio as Dwight

Lingering thoughts and predictions

  • Hopefully Dwight and Morgan discuss their past and refer to the events of “The Walking Dead.” Morgan really hasn’t told his “Fear” crew much about where he comes from, so this could be an opportunity for them to hear about Rick, Negan, All Out War and so much more.
  • Dwight taking a few steps back is a great nod to the fact that Morgan was in “Clear” mode the last time they saw one another.
  • Sherry hasn’t been seen on screen since Season 7, Episode 7 “Sing Me a Song,” but this episode confirms that she left Virginia, made it to Georgia and eventually Texas. Will she actually appear in “Fear” after being missing all these years?
  • Althea is still missing, and there haven’t been any new clues about where she was taken. When will we see her again?

“Humbug’s Gulch” is yet another strong episode that serves to further merge the two shows and highlight the commonalities between our groups of survivors. Based on his first episode here, Dwight will fit right in and will be an interesting component to the story.

Be sure to tune into “Fear the Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC. 

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