Fear the Walking Dead does its best Dawn of the Dead impersonation, as Morgan and Grace navigate a perilous shopping mall.
Morgan, Grace, and Dwight answer the call of a bitten local who is stranded at a shopping center. They are looking for an injured and dying man in a red jacket who wants to pass with some semblance of the ante-apocalypse and be buried under the stars. The three look down from the balcony to find that the place is infested with walkers on the lower level.
Shortly after arriving, Grace passes out while eating jelly beans, or as she calls them, “candy beansies.” She comes to, and Morgan fears that she is getting sick from radiation poisoning. Dwight worries that Logan’s men are on their trail after Salazar signals that their adversaries raided another gas station. Morgan sends Dwight to call on the caravan to meet up at the mall so that they can stockpile on the large facility’s offerings before hitting the road.
Morgan and Grace devise a plan to enter an Urgent Care center and then make their way to the building generator. Morgan cleverly drives the herd away by tying some metal items to a remotecontrol car. Yet Grace breaks formation to go after a red jacket walker. She lays him down to rest, then sees that he is too decomposed to be their caller.
Morgan brings Grace to safety as they hold up in a locked shop overnight. Morgan opens up to Grace about his son, and Grace accepts her doomed fate. Their respect and admiration for one another sparks an attraction.
They turn on the generator and make it to Urgent Care, but set off an alarm that draws an unwanted crowd. They battle walkers up an escalator until Grace reverses the direction of the moving stairs. They don’t find their radio correspondent in the upstairs office. Although, they see on security cameras that he is still alive, sitting on the mall’s rooftop.
Chuck chose the location as his deathbed so that he can spend his final evening under the stars. With it being a cloudy night, Grace finds an astral nightlight, which delights the dying man. Morgan and Grace bury him the next morning under nearby dirt. Before leaving, Grace convinces Morgan to join her on the merry-go-round.
Meanwhile, poor Dwight can’t even stop for a bathroom break without getting held up at gunpoint. One of Logan’s men knocks him out and ties him up in the back of a truck. Dwight gets beaten and interrogated about the location of oil fields. Physical pain doesn’t work on the ex-Savior. However, Dwight is about to break when his wife’s letters are torched. He is saved by a growler, who takes the truck driver’s attention away from Dwight long enough for him to gain the upper hand.
Dwight lets Logan’s man go in the hopes that this second chance will plant a seed of redemption similar to Dwight’s. He meets back up with Salazar and leads the caravan to Morgan and Grace at the mall. The group gathers supplies while Salazar gives Dwight a clean haircut. With Morgan reflecting on his family, he decides to take a different path from Grace, leaving both discernibly distraught.
- Even with The Walking Dead and Fear being zombie shows, they don’t often pay homage to the horror masters that dominated the sub-genre in past decades. “210 Words Per Minute” is a clear acknowledgment of Dawn of the Dead (both George Romero’s classic and Zack Snyder’s remake take place in a shopping mall). Although, the showrunners do not deliver an exceptional narrative worthy of those predecessors. In some ways, the recent Stranger Things season finale was a better Dawn of the Dead tribute.
- As commendable as it is to honor a dying man’s wishes, it does seem kind of ridiculous to seek out one infected individual in a sea of zombies to ensure he gets a proper burial. Hopefully the season breaks from the “victim of the week” procedural that we already censured in the previous Weekly Walkaways.
- Guileless nostalgia for simpler times takes hold of several characters throughout the episode. Morgan remembers smiling with his son, as he played with his favorite toy car. Grace finds joy in riding a carousel at the mall. And Chuck is enthusiastically enchanted by the starry nightlight that Grace finds for him.
- The MVP of “210 Words Per Minute” is Grace for putting on a brave face despite her predicament. Her days are numbered, yet she treads on valiantly. She focuses on their mission and even has Morgan’s back a couple of times against the mall walkers. Karen David and Lennie James’ final exchange is instinctively performed and deeply moving.
Fear the Walking Dead returns next week with “You’re Still Here” on Sunday, August 25th at 9:00 p.m. ET on AMC.