TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘The Little Prince’

Spoiler Warning for Season 5, Episode 6 of “Fear the Walking Dead,” as well as all previous episodes of the series. Spoilers from “The Walking Dead” will also be discussed.

“As impossible as all this seems, we can do this.”

After a massively strong start to Season 5, “Fear the Walking Dead” hits a roadblock in a dud of an episode that favors ridiculous gags and retreading of played out plots over progressive storytelling. It’s not to say that this episode is bad, but the antics give the feel that the series is spinning its wheels and not progressing, forcing mistakes and conflict.

The episode begins with quite a positive tone that really makes it seem like the story is about to progress forward. The children are brought back to the truck stop and watch a movie, something that is a rarity in this world; just ask Ozzy and the Highwaymen from “The Walking Dead.” Dylan reads the copy of “The Little Prince,” while Max is stunned to see Annie has cleaned herself up and looks completely different thanks to the hot water. Morgan radios to check in and calls the kids outside to see their plan for getting out of the area. The various members of the group arrive with pieces of the crashed plane, including the fuselage, on the backs of trucks. Morgan speaks to everyone about how difficult it was for the group to get here, but they did so because they had a mission and a reason to fight. This new mission they have is to fix the plane and fly back across the mountains to their old stomping grounds…together. It’s a bold and ambitious plan, but everyone seems to agree to it. After rallying the troops, Morgan takes a moment to try and convince Grace to rethink her current plans and join the group’s effort to leave this area. Grace does hear the message, but doesn’t respond and instead ventures into the radioactive zone wearing her HAZMAT suit. We see Morgan practicing with his makeshift staff, but it just isn’t working for him. Alicia finds him trying to break off the wooden part of a mop to make a new staff, giggling at his struggle. This season has focused heavily on the Alicia and Morgan dynamic and it’s great to see a light-hearted moment between the two. It’s also great that Morgan hasn’t forgotten about his signature staff, something that has been part of his character for so long and represents so much.

Jenna Elfman as June, Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

Outside, the kids are hard at work with Althea in repairing the plane. Dylan wonders if it will work and Luciana points out that it was his idea, inspired by the plot of “The Little Prince.” Both Luciana and Dylan are extremely hopeful, but it’s clear from Al that there are several gaps in her knowledge of plane. Therefore, the group radios their friends across the mountain to get input from Sarah with Charlie acting as the communicator. Sarah is hard at work removing some of the “jerky man jerky” from the engines of Daniel’s plane and Charlie relays that it may be a little while before Sarah can help. Annie is concerned when she sees Dylan speaking with Charlie over the radio, and reminds him that they are only helping out with the plane and aren’t going to be flying back. June takes note of what Annie says and asks to take a look at her injured ankle. We see June bond with Annie over the fact that they both have run from their problems, even making a joke about it. There’s a great throwback that June makes as she references John’s survival rule about having good and clean socks. This was first pointed out by John to Morgan in “What’s Your Story?” John lets June know that he and Dwight are headed out to search for Sherry some more, and June tells Dwight to keep John out of trouble, a fun acknowledgement of their friendship. Back at the plane, Al tests the engines and everyone is overjoyed to see them working, but suddenly, one of the propellers is sent flying. This is massively disappointing as Al questions where they will be able to find another propeller. Things take an even more hopeless turn as Grace radios Morgan and Alicia asking if they have a generator at the truck stop. The level of danger raises as Grace explains that the generator is needed, otherwise the nuclear plant will have another meltdown.

This episode features quite a surprising turn of events in Dwight’s search for Sherry. While out scouring the area, the two stop to siphon fuel and John explains that he hit dead end after dead end while trying to find June, but once he linked up with the group back at the truck stop, everything fell into place. John asks Dwight how he and Sherry got split up, and while initially hesitant to say anything, the answer given is that “it’s complicated.” Trying to keep the hope alive, John shows Dwight the Scrabble pieces that June laid out for him declaring her love before she ran from him in “Laura.” Dwight admires that John has been able to hold onto his humanity and hasn’t been “burned” by this world. We do hear John refer back to his difficult time prior to the apocalypse as he states that things have gotten better since meeting his new friends. Inside a restaurant, Dwight finds the body of a man he saw once before and who seems to have been the victim of an armed robbery. Dancing around saying any specific names, Dwight tells John that Sherry had to give up her ring to save him. This is a direct reference to her deciding to become one of Negan’s wives in exchange for Dwight’s life being spared after they returned to the Sanctuary following their escape attempt. We also hear Dwight tell the story of how Daryl exiled him after the war and ordered him to go find his wife. This is because Daryl knew just how much Dwight loved Sherry, and was able to look past the bad things he had done. When Dwight finishes up his story, John locates a note from Sherry on an order slip, thus linking her directly to this location. The note from Sherry alerts him to the fact that she is switching to traveling on county roads. They eventually make their way to a house, where they find a car matching the registration that Sherry left a note on. While Dwight is searching the house, John find a note from her in the car…and it’s not exactly what anyone was expecting to hear. John reads the note, and in it, Sherry explains that she wants him to stop following her and start living for himself. She won’t be leaving any more notes for him and will be leaving the immediate area. Dwight is over the moon when he finds food and other supplies in the house, leading him to believe that this is where she is currently staying. John just doesn’t have the heart to reveal the contents of the note to him. Dwight is happy for once…but when will he find out the truth?

Austin Amelio as Dwight, Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

Via walkie talkie, Grace explains to Alicia that the cooling system of the nuclear reactor has failed and that is why the generator is needed to keep the fuel from overheating. This is only but a temporary fix and Grace warns that the group needs to fix the plane and get away from the area immediately. Just before the generator is unplugged and the truck stop loses power, Luciana radios Strand and lets him know that they are going dark. He remains positive that they will find a a way to get her and everyone else back. This optimism is really just for show as Strand slowly loses hope as he looks over a map of the area with Charlie and Sarah, searching for airports and airstrips that could house a plane. Sarah notes that both splits of the group have the necessary pieces to get the crashed plane back in the air, but it’s just a matter of putting them all together. Grabbing a beer, Strand looks at a magazine cover of Jim and claims that he had the right idea of “self-sacrifice.” Sarah calls out his hopelessness and notes that Jim still made the ultimate sacrifice to save the group by jumping from the hospital in Austin even though he wanted to just give up. Charlie stares at the magazine cover and lights up when she discovers something that Sarah and Wendell may have missed when they gathered supplies from Jim’s brewery. Back at the truck stop, Al continues working in the plane cockpit and June arrives to help out and provide company. Feeling guilty, Al expresses the fact that if she could have stopped the helicopter, the group could be headed back by now. June notes that this is a strange thing for her to say and questions if something happened during her 72 hours being MIA. There’s a really great callback to “People Like Us” as June explains that she asked to speak with Al “off the record” to open up about her relationship with John and her concern of how he viewed her. June offers Al the same thing if she wishes to talk about what she went through. This is an excellent moment for the pair’s friendship that has been slyly developed these past two seasons.

The story starts to retread old ground as once again, Annie starts rallying her siblings to leave the group and go be on their own. She is spooked by Morgan leaving with Grace, but Alicia and Luciana argue that they will be successful in getting the plane to fly; both Dylan and Max agree, but Annie is having none of it. Later, Alicia finds Annie stocking up on food and other supplies, and she asks once more why she isn’t willing to stay. We hear the story of the downfall of Camp Cackleberry, a place that was once perfect, but was eventually overrun by supply runners not being careful enough on their return. Walkers were drawn to the camp, and they just so happened to be the ones infected with radiation. The parents sent the children into the woods behind the camp and stayed behind to kill the walkers, something they were successful at. Unfortunately, they were exposed in the process and died, the aftermath of which was seen in “The Hurt That Will Happen.” Alicia speaks to her from a place of understanding, stating that she remembers the last words her mother said to her everyday; “No one’s gone until they’re gone.” She tells Annie that she understands where she is coming from, but should still make sure she’s doing what her parents would have wanted. Morgan and Grace arrive at the roadblocks marking the perimeter of the radiation zone. Grace explains that they’ll have to suit up to enter the zone and access the plant. In the back of Grace’s truck, Morgan finds his staff wrapped in plastic and holds it, explaining that the man who taught him to use it also showed him that death isn’t the only the avenue in this world. Morgan believes that Grace is “stuck,” much like Eastman thought Morgan to be stuck in his killing ways. Grace still wholly believes that she must be the one to stop the meltdown, revealing that there isn’t another suit and that she will be entering the contaminated area alone. She points out that Morgan is on a mission to make up for the things he did in the past, and she is doing the same. She’s not at all willing to let Morgan die for her.

Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Karen David as Grace – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

The ending of the episode is really the worst part as we hear Strand’s voice come over the radio, surprising Alicia and Luciana. Strand explains that they found a way to reach the truck stop and are bringing with them propellers for the plane they’re repairing. Flying over the mountain is a hot air balloon in the shape of an Augie’s Ale beer bottle. Alicia, Luciana, June and Al look up and are blown away by this feat, as does Morgan. Alicia goes to collect the kids so they can see this, hopefully to inspire them, but they’re nowhere to be found. Once again and rather than letting them go, Alicia runs away in search of the runaway children. Because things can’t just go right and there has to be more problems that arise, the balloon runs short on fuel and Strand has to begin lowering it, unable to land at the truck stop as planned. From the sky, Strand and Charlie can see the nuclear power plants and Morgan warns them from landing nearby as the area is contaminated. The balloon crash lands in a field and both Strand and Charlie are uninjured, but the crash draws several walkers to their location. Morgan warns them not to kill the walkers and announces that he is headed to come help them. The walkers approaching them have the dosimeters around their necks, creating an additional layer of danger. Rather than running away from the scene, Strand and Charlie stand and just watch the walkers as the episode cuts to black. While it isn’t ridiculous that a hot air balloon is used, it simply just feels out of place to have a giant beer bottle floating through the air on a show that maintains a mostly serious tone. This type of gag is something you would expect from a show like “Z Nation,” and not “Fear the Walking Dead.” Whatever the case may be, Jim helped the group from beyond the grave, but also put them in more danger.

The good in “The Little Prince”

  • The musical score of this episode is top notch, particularly in the opening and closing scenes. There haven’t been as many incredible uses of score in Seasons 4 and 5 like there were in the first three seasons, so hopefully it is making a comeback.
  • John and Dwight make an excellent pairing, and they have a dynamic that really serves to develop both characters in interesting ways. John lying to Dwight is a surprising move from a usually moral character, but it shows how far he is willing to go to keep Dwight’s spirits up.
  • June and Al also have a great dynamic that is highlighted this episode.
  • Morgan and Alicia continue to be the most fascinating friendship on the show, and it’s really rewarding to see them both smile and laugh a bit.
  • The dramatic turn from hope at the beginning to disaster at the end shows just how rapidly things can fall apart in this series.
  • This is an excellent episode for Sarah’s development. A character who was largely selfish in her initial few episodes is now an advocate for the group and is rallying Strand to keep a positive attitude. She’s being given dramatic work to balance out with the comedy.
  • Alicia’s past serving as a way to try and help Annie with her current struggles shows excellent growth in her character.
  • The threat of the nuclear meltdown is a unique and interesting way to make the area the characters are in a place of enhanced danger.

The iffy in “The Little Prince”

  • Dwight and Morgan referring to events and characters of the “The Walking Dead,” such as Eastman, Negan and Daryl is great, but them not naming the characters makes the writing feel odd. It’s almost as if they are dancing around saying specific names to avoid spoiling viewers who haven’t watched the original series.
  • While creative and unique, the hot air balloon sequence feels so cartoony and out of place in the usually serious tone of the franchise.
Alexa Nisenson as Charlie – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC

The bad in “The Little Prince”

  • The drama with Annie and the kids is a complete retreading of old ground. The mission of the group is understandable and valiant, but continually chasing the children who do not want to be helped is getting extremely old.
  • The CGI during the hot air balloon scenes does not match the usually high quality of the series. It is incredibly reminiscent to the downright terrible CGI deer in “TWD’s” “Say Yes” and the junkyard shots in “New Best Friends.”
  • The hot air balloon crashing feels like such forced danger to create more tension. There’s enough going on in the story at the moment and this just complicates things in a way that feels unnatural. Why did Strand and Charlie not assure the balloon had enough fuel to get them where they needed to go?
  • The plot with Logan is at a complete standstill and there is has been no real mention of him or the factory since the Season Premiere.
  • Why exactly can’t the characters leave the area they are trapped in? They have stated that the roads are blocked and there is a mountain separating them from the factory, but if they are that desperate, why not travel off roads? Also, how did Dwight get into the area? How did Sherry? This is such an important part of the plot, but it isn’t explained well at all.

Top performances in “The Little Prince”

  • Bailey Gavulic as Annie
  • Lennie James as Morgan Jones
  • Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark
  • Danay Garcia as Luciana Galvez
  • Mo Collins as Sarah
  • Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie
  • Austin Amelio as Dwight
  • Cooper Dodson as Dylan

Lingering thoughts and predictions

  • Will Morgan ever be able to have his staff back? In the key art for the second half of the season that was released ahead of San Diego Comic Con, Morgan is shown holding his staff, so he could get it back.
  • Alicia really could make for a great mentor to Annie just as Morgan is a mentor of sorts for her.
  • Althea may just open up to June about her experience with Isabelle. What will happen if Al does reveal what happened?
  • John keeping the note from Dwight places him in an awkward situation. What will happen if Dwight finds out?
  • If Grace is successful in stopping the nuclear meltdown, will she end up joining the group? She’s part of the main cast, but that doesn’t guarantee one’s survival through a single season.
  • With the Mid-Season Finale quickly approaching, will the group manage to get the plane working and fly back? Will everyone be able to fit on board? If they do escape the area, what will the plot of the second half of the season be?

“The Little Prince” is the weakest episode of the season. In many ways, it feels similar to the episodes of Season 4B, which is the most scattered and flat run of the series. This season has been a step in the right direction overall, so hopefully this is just a slight misstep.

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

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