TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘Skidmark’

Spoiler Warning for Season 5, Episode 4 of “Fear the Walking Dead,” as well as all previous episodes of the series. Spoilers from “The Walking Dead” will also be discussed.

“Everyday brings a chance to start over…to get it right.”

Season 5 of “Fear the Walking Dead” is doing so much to tie it to the main series and also the larger expanding universe. The latest episode does just that while also delivering some excellent character moments that tie back to the original seasons. This is another strong addition to a rejuvenated season of the series.

Bringing Daniel Salazar back after being missing for a season was a smart move. Bringing Daniel Salazar back WITH a cat is an even smarter move. The opening of this episode follows Daniel going about his daily routine alongside Skidmark the cat, scavenging for supplies. It’s important to point out that Daniel is keeping track of the days with a calendar. While it may not be 100% accurate, his calendar is set to Oct. 12. Skidmark acts as a distraction while Daniel takes down several walkers nearby. On this particular day, the two are visiting a supermarket, which has a machine gun rigged to go off and kill anyone who tries to enter through the front door. Daniel has clearly seen this before and manages to set off the trap without being shot himself. With an impressive stock of supplies, Daniel returns home, burns the day’s calendar page and cooks himself and Skidmark a meal over the flame. The two eat together as music plays, hinting that while they have built a life together here at this warehouse, there is some loneliness. That lonely feeling doesn’t last for long as Daniel’s home receives a visit from some unwelcome guests. Charlie sneaks into the compound in search of the plane. Outside, Sarah worries that Daniel will catch her, but Strand assures her that this is what Charlie does, noting that she was at the Stadium for weeks before it was realized what she was actually up to. Charlie’s cover is threatened to be blown as Skidmark begins following her around, prompting her to hide in the back of an SUV. Daniel loads up the SUV with his weapons and prepares to depart, leaving Charlie to let Strand and the others know that she is unintentionally leaving with him.

Alexa Nisenson as Charlie – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

“Not my color, or my style,” Strand states upon seeing Daniel’s plane for the first time. This is a direct throwback to him saying the opposite thing in Season 3’s “The New Frontier” after being gifted a fancy car from Illene Stowe to leave the Rosarito Beach Hotel in. Victor is a man with exquisite taste. Upon investigating the cockpit, Strand finds that the navigation instruments have been removed. There’s also a note from Daniel, telling him that he already said no and directing him to a radio channel. Strand demands to know where Daniel is, and Salazar explains that he isn’t at the warehouse, but reminds him of the promise he made. Wendell questions if he and Sarah are in danger of being shot in the head by Daniel also. There’s a great moment in which Sarah speaks to Daniel over the radio and asks for the plane also, but Daniel tells her to stay away from Victor, because all he does is hurt people. Knowing Daniel, it is no surprise at all when he reveals that he is aware of Charlie being in the trunk of his vehicle. Talk about an awkward first meeting. Daniel is in no way going to hurt Charlie. Instead, he claims that he is going to save her from Strand. After hearing Daniel’s words, Strand slips into a hopeless place. Thankfully, Sarah is here to try and talk him out of it, noting that they will get Charlie back and they will get their other friends back on the plane. The three decide to search the warehouse in an attempt to find the navigation instruments hidden. In the car, Charlie looks at Daniel’s map and asks if he is the one who has been setting the traps. She also explains that Strand isn’t to blame for the mission she is on, and that she made the decision to sneak into his compound by herself. Trying to tune out Charlie’s questions, Daniel turns on his music and the two have a surprising bond over the music choice. This makes Daniel actually smile, a rarity for his character.

Back at the truck stop, Luciana brings Dylan a cup of ramen noodles and finds him looking at the copy of “The Little Prince.” She explains that he can read it and that she gave it to someone, and that it helped both her and that person, referring to Charlie. Morgan tries to radio John, but he notes that he, June and Dwight are still out of range on a search for Sherry. Alicia is eager to go out and search beyond the roadblocks for Althea, but Dylan interrupts and states that she isn’t where they think she might be. Apparently, Dylan and his siblings saw the people who allegedly took Al and Morgan asks him to point on a map where they saw them. Morgan and Alicia head out to the spot that Dylan marked while Luciana and Dylan hang back and plan to repair the radio transmitter to get back in contact with Strand. While inspecting the downed transmitter, Luciana is asked about “The Little Prince” by Dylan. She explains the plot to him, which mirrors the story of our characters this season. Dylan goes inside to retrieve some electrical tape for Luciana, but instead radios his brother and receives an update about the roadblocks. Max believes that Morgan’s crew took down one of their roadblocks, but Dylan explains that they haven’t been to that specific area. Annie and Max are terrified when they spot the mysterious soldier wearing the bizarre black uniform that was first seen in the Season 5 Premiere. They hide in bushes, but Dylan’s voice over the radio makes the soldier turn around. Luciana walks in on Dylan speaking over the radio, but doesn’t mention it.

Bailey Gavulic as Annie, Ethan Suess as Max – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

Daniel pulls up to a grocery store that is filled with walkers. He and Skidmark get out to investigate, but he tells Charlie to stay inside. Inside, another elaborate trap awaits Salazar, but Charlie ignores his direction and provides advice on how to set off the gun. She notes that she used to do stuff like this in the past and has a lot of experience. It is explained that Daniel inherited the warehouse from the person who set up all of these traps. Some of his dialogue suggests to Charlie that Daniel is feeling lonely and she turns it around by pointing out that he is turning away someone who is asking for his help. Around back, Daniel uses his knife to try and pry the door open. Skidmark seems to have other plans for the supply run as he riles up the walkers at the front windows, causing one to knock into the gun and set it off. The windows break and walkers pour out, forcing Charlie and Daniel to flee back to the car and drive away. There’s an unsaid reference to the events of Season 3 as Daniel explains that the herd of walkers that is building behind them can’t be ignored because it may hurt someone. In “Brother’s Keeper,” Troy steered a herd straight to the Broke Jaw Ranch, which resulted in Ofelia being bitten and later dying. The plan here is to lead the herd back to the warehouse, where they will pick off the walkers one by one. Charlie radios her friends at the warehouse to let them know that she and Daniel are okay and that they have the navigation instruments. Daniel warns them of the approaching herd and orders them to make sure the gates are closed, but Sarah pipes in to let him know that she drove through the gates to get the plane out of the compound. Daniel has a change of heart hearing this news and decides to put Charlie in the driver’s seat so that she can return to the warehouse with the instruments for her group to fly off with the plane. While she does that, he will lead the herd away with his music…just like what she used to do with the Vultures.

Upon making it back to the warehouse, Charlie shows Strand the instruments, prompting him to radio Daniel and apologize for trying to kill him at the Dam. This runs so much deeper than what went down at the Dam. This is about the fact that Strand kept Daniel from being able to reach Ofelia due to his lies that only served to benefit himself. It is here that Strand tells Charlie, Sarah and Wendell about how Daniel was separated from Ofelia at the Baja mansion in “Shiva,” only to be led on a fake mission to reconnect with her at the Rosarito Beach Hotel in “Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame.” Strand lied about Ofelia being at the hotel, which prevented Daniel from actually being able to search for her elsewhere. When he finally had the opportunity to reunite with his daughter, Ofelia succumbed to her bite wound just seconds before Daniel arrived at El Bazar in “El Matadero.” As a result of all of this, Daniel was not able to tell Ofelia what he wanted her to know before she died. Hearing all of this makes Charlie realize that Daniel is someone who needs help, which is the whole mission of the group right now. While driving, Strand radios Daniel and sincerely apologizes for Ofelia before Sarah enters the conversation and alerts Daniel to the fact that her brother is about to “bring down the hammer.” Daniel is confused, but the SWAT van comes barreling down the highway. Sarah tells Daniel to stand beside the truck and Wendell pulls the lever, but the guns don’t fire. Because of the malfunction, Daniel is forced to crawl under the SWAT truck as Strand and Charlie arrive in the truck carrying the plane. In a feat of insane walker slaying, Strand enters the plane and draws the walkers to the propellors, which slice and dice until there’s nothing left. Blood flings everywhere in one of the most creative walker-killing gags seen in quite some time. When all is said and done, Daniel ends his beef with Strand by stating “I’m not going to shoot you in the face.” That’s as much forgiveness from Daniel as you’re gonna get.

Alexa Nisenson as Charlie, Colman Domingo as Victor Strand, Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar, Mo Collins as Sarah – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

The game-changing information Grace provided about the radiation in “The Hurt That Will Happen” forces Morgan and the others to be extra cautious around walkers. Coming across a walker under a birdcage, Morgan checks for a dosimeter before plunging his new staff into the head. Morgan radios Luciana and lets her know that there is no camp at the location Dylan pointed them to. Dylan grabs hold of the radio and decides to reveal to Morgan and the others that Max and Annie are actually alive, and that they lied to try and scare the group away. Back at the roadblock, Annie and Max decide to venture out of their hiding place, but the entrails holding the dead together aren’t as strong as they thought and a walker lunges for Annie. Max manages to pull her away, but her ankle is twisted and they struggle to get away. The two struggle to escape from the quickly approaching walkers, but Morgan and Alicia arrive to save them from being devoured. Letting the Annie and Max know that Dylan told them the truth, Morgan and Alicia demand answers. Suddenly, an army of children armed with guns emerge from the trees and surround our heroes. The siblings are part of a larger group, which helps to explain how they were able to set up all of the roadblocks. Morgan manages to figure out that the contaminated bodies found at Camp Cackleberry were the parents of these kids. Max provides some information about the mysterious group that took Al, stating that they saw them a few week prior and that they are aware of two soldiers. There is a phenomenal conversation where Morgan opens up to Alicia about his past, telling her the story of him not being able to put down his walker wife Jenny thus leading to his son Duane being bitten and dying. Suddenly, Max yells for everyone to hit the ground as a rush of wind blows in the area. In the sky is a helicopter with the tri-circular symbol that now links the two shows. Rick…is that you?

The good in “Skidmark”

  • Seeing Daniel and Skidmark’s daily life is so fascinating. He’s very much a loner character and his lifestyle with Skidmark parallels that of Daryl Dixon and Dog at the swamp in Season 9.
  • Morgan, Luciana and Alicia’s gentle touch with Dylan really shows just how much they care. They genuinely want the make life better for him and anyone else they can help. That’s the whole theme of the season.
  • Victor showing immense growth is excellent for his character development. His relationship with Daniel is extremely complicated, but this episode shows that they are working on improving things. Having the two reference their past and Ofelia really just ties things together.
  • Daniel and Charlie’s friendship is great for both characters and serves as a unlikely but fitting pairing.
  • Charlie’s references to her past with the Vultures are also serve to show how much she has grown as a character.
  • Sarah and Wendell continue to be entertaining comedic characters who help to add levity to the story.
  • Morgan directly mentioning Jenny and Duane to Alicia further serves to bond them and tie his story between the two shows. It’s good that this major part of his life is not being pushed to the side. It’s part of him here on “Fear” just as it was on “TWD.”
  • The continuing mystery of the helicopter group just add so much intrigue and fear to the tone of the story.
Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark, Danay Garcia as Luciana, Cooper Dodson as Dylan – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

The iffy in “Skidmark”

  • Luciana, who is injured, and Dylan, who is a child, being left alone when there are many threats out is another odd decision. That being said, it does allow for the two to strike up a friendship.
  • The plane being sacrificed just to kill a handful of walkers is irritating…because planes are hard to come by. To be perfectly honest, Strand, Charlie, Daniel, Sarah and Wendell could have taken these walkers with their weapons, but this walker gag was epic to see regardless.

Top performances in “Skidmark”

  • Colman Domingo as Victor Strand
  • Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar
  • Alexa Nisenson as Charlie
  • Lennie James as Morgan Jones
  • Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark
  • Danay García as Luciana Galvez

Lingering thoughts and predictions

  • Daniel leaves the warehouse to go take care of something. What exactly is he going to do? Hopefully he isn’t gone too long especially since we JUST got him back.
  • Daniel shows off a cigar that he received from a “friend” for when times get better. It is very much possible that this cigar belonged to Abraham Ford, who was a known cigar smoker. Based on the timeline, it is very possible that Daniel met Abraham at some point after the destruction of the Dam. Also, last season, Al’s tapes hinted that she met and interviewed Abraham and Eugene, so it is reasonable to believe that they also met Daniel. If Daniel and Abraham did know each other, it might be up to Morgan to explain exactly what happened to him at the hands of Negan.
  • The mysterious helicopter group is called the CRM Organization, although that name hasn’t been used in the show officially. It isn’t clear if the helicopter from the end of the episode is the exact one that Rick and Jadis/Anne flew away on in “What Comes After.”
  • One of Grace’s bird boxes was seen this episode, but she has been missing since “The Hurt That Will Happen Here.” Karen David is a series regular this season, so she will undoubtedly appear again…but when?
  • Althea has been missing since the Season Premiere, but will return in the next episode. Was she onboard the helicopter or did she escape?

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

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