AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 5, Episode 10: “210 Words Per Minute”
Directed by Ron Underwood
Written by Ian Goldberg & Andrew Chambliss
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Channel 4” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “You’re Still Here” – click here
A guy called Chuck calls over the radio, asking for someone to kill him after being bitten by a zombie. An interesting image shows how the outside has become inside— what once only existed on the exterior now makes up part of the interior, such as a bird’s nest and its eggs in a tree planted within a mall complex, rather than out in nature. This works perfectly with Chuck, talking about wishing to be “under the stars” when he’s dead instead of stuck inside. He doesn’t want to be one of the moving sacks of rotten flesh shuffling around an equally dead economic space with a Dawn of the Dead vibe, trying to chew his way into a store until he’s nothing but a brain connected to withering bone.
Dwight (Austin Amelio) smashes his way into the mall foyer, going bloodily through a zombie. He’s there with Morgan (Lennie James) and Grace (Karen David). They grab a few candies together before heading off on their respective tasks. Grace and Morgan look for Chuck while Dwight clears out more of the dead. The pair find remnants of where Chuck was, suggesting a rough end. Grace isn’t feeling so hot. They head back out with Dwight. He’s found the bottom floor of the building dark and filled with chomping deadies. Then Grace passes out on the floor. She’s okay after a bit. She doesn’t know if it’s exhaustion, something else normal, or a scarier alternative.
On the road, Daniel (Rubén Blades) is with Skidmark and their caravan, along with his Son House tape he uses to call over the radio. His pals in the mall are concerned about Logan (Matt Frewer) and his angry convoy cohorts making their way across the landscape, rolling people over for anything they can take. Dwight will go back to meet the caravan, then they’ll all regroup. He’s concerned about the cycle of fucking people over, even those who deserve it. Morgan stresses: “I have faith in people.” The fact him and Morgan are standing there together, on the same side, is kinda testament to that, in spite of all the nasty shit they’ve seen.
Excellent use of Dickens, with the opening quotes from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens narrated through Grace’s iPod headphones. She turns it on while preparing to mow down all kinds of zombies on the mall’s lower floor. She’s stopped by Morgan. She fears “radiation poisoning,” she’s seen its devastating, ugly effects. She needs to figure it out, and in that complex is an urgent care clinic with an x-ray machine. They’ll have to get to the generator first. Afterwards, Grace wants to keep searching for Chuck. Morgan gleefully draws zombies in the opposite direction with a remote controlled car. It only lasts so long. The car gets crushed, and Grace— right behind the horde thinking one of them is Chuck— alerts them to her presence.
She and Morgan are forced to hide in one of the stores. Can they last until morning?
Dwight gets caught with his dick in his hand, literally. Someone pulls a gun on him while he’s pissing at the roadside. Maybe that’s what he wanted, offering where he was headed on an open channel over the radio. Well, right now, he gets knocked out. Not only is he in trouble, his friends waiting could be waiting a lot longer than overnight. He and his captor do a little back and forth. The man’s looking for info about the oilfields, not taking ‘no’ for an answer. Might get rough for ole Dwight.
“But see, the question you gotta ask yourself is,
am I just an asshole now?”
Things get trickier once the glass in the store starts cracking, prompting Grace and Morgan to go looking for the generator instead of sitting around waiting for Dwight. Not to mention their buddy’s in a worse position. The man holding him captive knows his name, he’s seen the tape. He’s not too impressed. He starts poking through Dwight’s things, referring derogatorily to Sherry as “snatch” and leafing through personal letters, burning things. A zombie distracts the captor, giving Dwight a chance to wrestle his gun away. Later, he gives the guy a choice: be “an asshole,” or be someone new. He lets him go, off into the night. Good or bad choice? Remains to be seen.
Grace and Morgan make it to the generator in the shadows. He opens up about the remote control car and why it made him so happy. He bought his son Dwayne one for a birthday, and the kid loved it. “He made me smile,” Morgan tells Grace, explaining himself as a “serious guy” aside from when he was with Dwayne and his wife, Jenny. Nice to see him connecting with people other than just saving them.
Once the generator’s going, the zombies move towards the arcade’s noise, so the pair get into the clinic. Problem is, when they get through the gate, the alarm goes off. They rush for the escalator. They’re still nearly surrounded by the dead. Grace reverses the escalator and they get to the main office to shut off the alarm.
A true shitshow. At least they’re alive and not bitten. Plus, they see Chuck, alive, on the security cameras. They make it to him on the roof— he gives us another word for zombies, “stumblers.” Grace uses a toy from the mall to help project stars onto a part of the roof, somewhat giving Chuck what he wanted before he’ll die.
Grace and Morgan go to the clinic. She decides not to know about the radiation, wanting to live every moment. She and Morgan visit the carousel. Grace takes a ride, convincing him to hop on. They get to have some semblance of what life was like before the zombie apocalypse. Some laughter among all the horror. Even if only for a few minutes.
The rest of the caravan arrive. There’s a ranch nearby they’ll head for, once they grab whatever supplies they can at the mall. Daniel finally gets proper tools to give Dwight a haircut with a shave— like seeing a whole new person. Grace decides it’s time to stop listening to Dickens at 210 words per minute, slowing it down to normal, so she might live at a normal pace, not preparing to die constantly. In small ways, everyone finds their own method of carrying on. Morgan’s decided he’ll go find Al (Maggie Grace), not entirely ready yet to keep connecting with people, still needing to go off saving them.
An emotional episode. Not a lot of forward motion at the moment in terms of plot. That doesn’t equate to bad necessarily. The human relationships are what’s at the core of both the Walking Dead shows. Yes, it’s about zombies. In the end, it’s more about the effect the zombie apocalypse has on the world and the humans who inhabit it. Only natural there’s a strong focus on the drama. That being said, it’ll be exciting to see Logan and the convoy kick things violently into gear. You know it’s coming.
“You’re Still Here” is next time.