AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
7×10: “Mourning Cloak”
Directed by Lennie James
Written by Nazrin Choudhury & Calaya Michelle Stallworth
* For a recap & review of 7×09, click here.
* For a recap & review of 7×11, click here.
Howard is recruiting a young man called Ali (Ashton Arbab) into the Ranger service. In order to qualify, the young man must find a “mourning cloak” butterfly. A bit silly. Then again, Howard and Strand have a weird, silly view of life. Out on the road, Ali goes searching for the butterfly, tracking several of them through a forest path. He’s interrupted by a lurching zombie but manages to nab the butterfly and stab the walker in its brain in one fell swoop. The kid’s got game. When he goes back to his horse he finds someone picking through his saddlebag: it’s Charlie. She fights with him but he gets the upper hand. She explains she got separated from her group. Soon, John Sr. and Howard show up on horseback. The ole gunslinger knows the girl, however, Howard’s suspicious and it sounds like he might use Ali to spy on Charlie.
Back at the Tower, Howard, John, and Ali sit down with Charlie. Howard believes it wasn’t chance how Charlie ran into Ali. She claims it wasn’t Morgan who asked her to come. She says she wants to live there and to have a “chance at a normal life.” She talks about ageing in the post-apocalypse wasteland as a young person. She doesn’t want to wake up and fight everyday. But is that the truth? Charlie’s good at sneaking. Let’s hope she’s actually up to something and helping her friends.
Meanwhile there’s a guy in the infirmary with radiation burns; one of the Rangers named Garcia. Howard asks if Garcia found something they’d been looking for, but the injured Ranger says there were too many dead. What was it they were looking to find? Charlie heads off with Ali, asking questions. Everybody’s shocked moments later when Garcia takes a header off the side of the building. When Charlie asks more she finds out Garcia was out scavenging for parts to fix the elevator. She offers to go looking for them herself. Everyone else isn’t thrilled about sending a not-yet-13-year-old girl. That doesn’t stop Charlie from wanting to go, and if she succeeds it’ll get her citizenship within the Tower’s community. She’s going to have Ali tagging along, though he’s tasked by Howard with figuring out the real reason why Charlie showed up.
Charlie and Ali head out on horseback together. They eventually come upon some Stalkers, so they decide to stay out of the way for a bit. Ali takes them to a bowling alley. Except that’s right where the Stalkers end up. But it isn’t long before they’re gone again. The bowling alley’s a perfect place for Charlie because she’s never actually bowled. Although is it a good idea to make a bunch of noise? Ali wants to stay on task but Charlie convinces him to show her how to bowl. It’s a really adorable moment for two teenagers lost in a post-zombie apocalypse world where they’re not capable of growing up like regular teens. Equally sad moment when we see young Ali and his dad in a picture on the alley wall, then we hear about his father dying because of radiation from the bombs.
After some time, Charlie and Ali get to the building where they’re meant to find elevator parts. It’s dangerous and full of walkers but Charlie wants to go inside, willing to put herself in danger to get into the Tower. Ali tries to push, to see if there’s anything else driving Charlie, yet it seems she’s doing this for her own sake, at least to him. He worries about her. Then as soon as Charlie’s inside the building, Ali gets held up at gunpoint by some Stalkers. A woman questions Ali why Strand “keeps sending people to the Pit.” She forces Ali to the door of the building and he opens it up, unleashing a horde onto the Stalkers.
Ali hides long enough for the walkers to chow down and then grabs a gun, along with a gas mask, before heading inside. He’s nearly chomped on by a zombie when Charlie saves him. She lost her mask in a fight but luckily the radiation readings were fine anyway. She and Ali open up the elevator and she works on pulling out parts. That’s when she tells him she actually came to the Tower because Morgan sent her. She’s meant to turn off the beacon at night so Morgan can get Grace and the baby out. Ali’s freaked out, obviously. But Charlie says she doesn’t want to go ahead with the plan anymore if it means putting Ali in danger.
Ali and Charlie don’t have much time as zombies crash through the wall. So what does he do? He takes the elevator’s circuit board and pushes Charlie into the elevator, closing the doors, leaving her behind while walkers crowd outside. Oh. My. God. Cold as ice! Charlie begs not to be left for dead and Ali continues walking out. A minute later, the zombies are shot down and Ali opens the elevator doors again, not willing to let her die that way. He admits to Charlie he left his sick father behind, unable to handle seeing his dad waste away: “I was a coward.” He refuses to be cowardly again. The two share a kiss but after that Charlie suddenly passes out. Ali calls for help over the radio in a panic.
Later back at the Tower, June and Grace determine that Charlie has very bad radiation sickness. Oh, no. Not Charlie! The poor girl. Just another horrific day in the post-zombie apocalypse. Upstairs, Ali sits with Howard and sees photographs of radiated zombies from out in the wasteland. Howard questions the young man about Charlie’s motives, and Ali lies, saying that Charlie wasn’t sent by Morgan. He’s going to send Charlie away, in spite of how she helped them. A ruthless man; no wonder he and Strand get along. And now Ali’s earned himself a spot as a Ranger.
Ali surprises Charlie with a gift: he’s let the butterflies out of their jars, letting them fly and be free. He doesn’t want to turn his back on Charlie the way he turned his back on his father. Another sweet scene between the two young folks falling in love. At the same time, Charlie worries about her responsibilities to Morgan. So Ali says he’ll make sure to take care of things himself and turn off the beacon. He heads up to the roof and when he’s about to turn off the beacon he’s caught by Howard and other Rangers. Shit. Ali tries to fight but Howard kills the boy, all in Strand’s name. From inside, poor Charlie witnesses Ali’s body drop off the side of the building. She and June are both terrified, whereas John Sr. seems fine with accepting the fascism of the Tower. That’s just appearances. Ole John is playing a part, attempting to change things from the inside. But will that work? Only time will tell. For the time being, Charlie’s left to mourn Ali, and June is dead set on making Strand pay for everything he’s done.