Fear the Walking Dead Season 5, episode 8 mid-season finale recap: Is Anybody Out There?

Morgan and Alicia on Fear the Walking Dead.
Morgan and Alicia tired of looking. Pic credit: AMC

This is it, the mid-season finale of Fear the Walking Dead, and so much gets tied up here. The group has a lot on the line and time is running out. Not to mention, resources are becoming more and more limited and some things are even going bad, making it hard to plan an escape as the group faces yet another threat without nary a bad guy in sight.

Time and again

We’re back at a time between Season 4 and Season 5 because the factory is all set up for visitors and Morgan (Lennie James) is on the radio calling out to people.  This starts a montage of everyone from The Group taking turns telling anyone who’s listening that they’re ready to help, that there are no strings attached, and that they’ll come for them–all they gotta do is answer.

But there’s no one on the other end and Morgan relays to Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) that he wonders if there’s anybody out there (title shoutout!). She’s like, “It’s possible. Screw it. Take a break: supper’s ready,” and they’re both walking out of a room when they hear the voice on the other end of the radio. As they speak the camera pans to the left, showing the scene outside the window–

And suddenly there are leaves on the trees and it’s some time because Logan (Matt Frewer) is standing in the same spot with a not-so-happy look on his face. The facility has been dug up in places and the inside has been trashed. Logan is ordered over the radio to meet with his gang and they ask him: where is it?  They’re tired of looking and they’re about to put a hole in him…

It follows

Alicia is taking a shower. Why? You ask. Because she’s hooked up with Grace (Karen David) and Morgan and she’s getting decontaminated. As the klaxons from the plant wail in the background, Morgan is on the radio to June (Jenna Elfman) and the others that they’re on their way, but they’re trying to shake something–and said something happens to be the walkers that have followed Alicia from Camp Kid. And they’re still coming.

June lets them know they’re in the process of clearing the highway so they can take off.

Fear the Walking Dead crew clears the runway so the plane can take off
Clearing the road for takeoff. Pic credit: AMC

They’re still waiting for John (Garret Dillahunt) and Dwight (Austin Amelio) to return, so they’re not leaving just yet.  Morgan, however, knows they have to lose the zombies before they can return to the airplane, but according to the maps they’ve just about run out of options. Grace has an idea, though…

The searchers

John and Dwight are looking for a ride.  They’re in a car lot and everything is pretty much rubbish. That’s until John finds a car with some of his favorite candies on the dash–completely unmelted in the Texas heat.

John says it’s obvious their luck is about to change and he’s right. They hotwire the car and take off like they’ve got a plane to catch.

That good luck doesn’t hold out forever and the engine starts sputtering not far down the road. John doesn’t understand why as the tank is nearly full, they’ve got plenty of gas. Dwight knows what’s wrong, though, because he’s been on the road a while. Gas is going bad because it’s been sitting out for a few years. (Note: This is a real thing and something that was only touched upon in The Walking Dead.) They’ve still got a ways to go when they suddenly have something else to worry about.

The China syndrome

Grace’s plan was to slow drive the zombie pack in the direction of the plant because these zombies are the only ones in Texas that aren’t drawn to the sound of those damn klaxons. She leads them up to the ex-road block she made and everyone hides out while they walk by. Morgan knows it’s working ’cause the zombies are finally following the sound.

And then Alicia hears it. Or doesn’t hear it, depending on your point of view. The klaxons have stopped.

But that’s okay because they’re replaced by a loud boom. Which is to say the number two reactor has exploded. And at this point I’m wondering when we started using RBMK reactors in the US because a pressurized water reactor can’t explode and rupture the containment vesicle. But hey, it’s a plot explosion, just go with it…

Anyway, everyone sees this.

The reactor explodes on Fear the Walking Dead
The number two reactor melts down. Not Great, really Terrible. Pic credit: AMC

Morgan, Alicia, and Grace don’t actually see it because Grace has wrecked her truck trying to back out of the area and Morgan lets everyone know they’re coming to the plane on foot.

John sees this as does Dwight, though. John thinks his luck has run out and tells June that if he can’t make it, he wants her on that plane. He’s channeling Sherry when he tells her that he wants her out of this area, that he wants her to live and have something for which to live. June isn’t digging the message and John makes her promise she’ll leave.

June on Fear the Walking Dead
June not wanting to make that promise. Pic credit: AMC

She finally says “Yes” just as the battery in John’s radio gives out. Dwight and he figure it’s the end–then John realizes something he’s reading on a nearby tree was probably written by Sherry. And he figures his luck is back on, ’cause what are the chances that Sherry’s car is close by?

The runaways

Everyone’s getting nervous because the radioactive cloud is getting bigger and, oh yeah: the wind has shifted, which means it’s sort of coming their way, something that Luciana (Danay Garcia) and Strand (Colman Domingo) comment upon in a remarkably deadpan way.

The Group is ready to leave on Fear the Walking Dead
Everyone waiting for departure with, you know, a radioactive cloud coming their way. Pic credit: AMC

Alicia, Grace, and Morgan finally come running out of the woods and the zombies are still following. While Alicia had to leave her stabby thing behind, Morgan has his radioactive stick and because John and Dwight are still out there, a whole lot of people decide they’re going to hold off the zombies and delay leaving for as long as possible.

Only it’s then that June realizes this isn’t what John wanted for her. If they wait for them, everyone dies and she’d hate herself if that happened. So it’s time to get in the plane and fire that baby up.

But wait! Just then a car comes roaring around the herd and John’s leaning out a window capping a few deadheads while Dwight brings Sherry’s ride to a skidding halt. The gang’s all here. It’s time to fly.

The flight of the Phoenix

Althea (Maggie Grace) and Strand get in the cockpit and start the engines as everyone straps in. This is it, baby! The road ahead is clear and it’s time to blow this popsicle stand!

There’sonly one problem. A cargo net that was used for boarding was left out and some zombies decided they wanted to check out South Texas, so they got hooked up on the sucker. The plane is dragging–you guessed it–dead weight.

The plane is dragging zombies on Fear the Walking Dead
Literal dead weight. Pic credit: AMC

Oh, and since the wind shifted, that radioactive cloud is heading their way and it’s going to cross the road right in front of them. Al tells the people in the back to drop the extra weight now and Morgan and John finally take care of two zombies and detach the cargo net. With that, the plane leaves the ground.

The group from Fear the Walking Dead are ready for takeoff
Up and Away! Pic credit: AMC

All that remains is to avoid that cloud and Strand says to turn right NOW! They not only do, but the wings stay on this rattle trap and with all their luck riding with them, the gang takes flight in their own Phoenix and start heading home.

The group takes flight on Fear the Walking Dead
Leaving on a re-built airplane… Pic credit: AMC

This was one of the best sequences Fear has done in a long time. While I know it was probably filmed at a runway and none of the cast was probably not in the air, a part of me hopes that some stunt pilot did take off from a road and put that sucker in the air.

The plane is shaking like crazy and everyone looks like they’re about to die at any moment. Morgan takes a moment to tell Alicia he’s going to train her right. Grace takes a moment to snap away the bad part of Morgan’s stick, leaving him with something he can’t really use–but you know he will.

John proposes to June and puts a caramel wrapper around her finger to seal the deal, which means the odds are great that one or both of them will die before the end of Season 5 before they are able to seal the deal.

Road rage

While all this is happening, Sarah (Mo Collins) confronts Logan, who’s packed up and leaving the group’s old homestead. She wants to know where he’s going and remarks on his black eye.

Logan says he was looking for something that wasn’t here and he was lucky to get away with just a shiner.

Sarah wants his help. She knows the plane is coming back and won’t make it until after nightfall, so she’d like Logan and his people to use their trucks to light the runway. Logan doesn’t want to do that.

Sarah reminds him that she stole his old partner Clayton’s truck and it bothers her to this day that they basically left the guy to die–which he eventually did. It bothers her that she and her brother did that and she’s working hard to make up for that error.

So Sarah and Wendell (Daryl Mitchell) are out at the runway wondering how the hell they’re going to light this sucker when Daniel (Rubén Blades), aka “Dan the Man”, pulls up. He’s been listening on the radio and decides to help. And he’s got stuff in the truck that will do the trick.

Zero hour!

The Phoenix is coming in low on fuel and they need that runway. Sarah, Wendell, and Daniel have ringed it with Christmas tree lights and they have a generator powering the set-up. The runway is lit and Althea says it’s the best thing she’s seen since the end of everything. It looks like luck is on their side.

Guess again!  A zombie appears and Wendell crosses the runway to deal with it.  Unfortunately for him, another zombie comes out of the woods on the other side and trips over the power cord, disconnecting it from the generator and plunging the runway back into darkness.

The bad luck keeps coming! The fuel is almost out and one of the engines starts to go. Strand is yelling on the radio to light the runway while Al says they’re landing no matter what, they’ve got no choice. Everyone in the back braces for a crash.

Wendell tells his sister she makes s**ty beer and crawls across the runway to plug in the lights. The runway shows at the last second and Al and Strand put the plane down hard but in one piece.  And any landing you can walk away from is a good one, especially during the zombie apocalypse.

Landed in one piece! Pic credit: AMC

Everyone is reunited. The kids run off to raid vending machines. Alicia sees Daniel again for the first time in years and is ecstatic. Daniel tells Strand that he was wrong and Stand says we all are from time-to-time. John says he’s going to throw up and wanders off camera.

And Morgan gets a call on the radio.  It’s a woman who says she saw the plane fly over and knows they’re for real and she wants their help.

Just then, Logan drives up.

After chilling everyone out by saying his group would kill him if they knew he was here, he tells everyone about the gas going bad. He also tells them that Clayton, aka Polar Bear, the guy who started this all, realized this would happen and set up a contingency plan.

This was what Logan was looking for – information on the plan and where it’s located. Luciana says they have it and Logan says this is good, because if you wanna keep helping people they’ve got to get to it before his group finds it.

And suddenly I have visions of a refinery in the desert pumping day and night and it’s only a matter of time before the warriors of the wasteland roll up on this joint.

Fear the Walking Dead returns on Sunday, 11 August at 9/8c on AMC.

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