‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Season 5, Episode 4 ‘Skidmark’ Review: Rekindling Old Friendships
BY David Riley
Published 3 years ago
After last week’s heart-filled episode, Fear the Walking Dead returns to bring closure and some sense of balance to an otherwise divisive season. Tonight’s episode, titled “Skidmark” (yep, that’s Daniel’s cat’s name), things come to a grinding halt as intentions and truths are revealed one by one. Given Fear‘s infamous penchant for prolonging episodes just to resolve a storyline close to the midseason finale, “Skidmark” oddly does well and contributes to the greater plot and path of the season.
I’ve previously said that Fear the Walking Dead Season 5 is in the right path, and I personally think that it’s still well on its way to finishing the course. While “Skidmark” acts as a catalyst to what the next few episodes will face, it still succeeds in making a gripping storyline, one that’s somewhat reminiscent of The Walking Dead’s early naughts. And speaking of TWD, major references to the main show are dropped, including a shocking connection to Abraham and even Rick Grimes himself.
SPOILERS ahead so read at your own risk.
A Plan Gone Haywire, But with a Welcome Twist
Daniel (Rubén Blades) is given significant screentime in “Skidmark” this week, and it’s one for the books. With all the hype surrounding his return, Daniel’s semi-solo episode does not disappoint. The episode opens with him going on a supply run with Skidmark as his trusty distraction slash companion. But his night culminates with Strand (Colman Domingo), Sarah (Mo Collins), Wendell (Daryl Mitchell), and Charlie (Alexa Nisenson) camping outside Daniel’s warehouse to steal the airplane. But just as we heard Daniel say in “The Hurt That Will Happen,” he knows exactly how Strand’s mind works—lies, deception, and selfishness. Little does Daniel know that Strand has changed for the better.
So Daniel removes the flight tools on his plane, knowing fully well that Strand will jump at the opportunity of his absence to steal it. That’s when Charlie gets caught up in the bickering and finds herself stuck with Daniel as he leaves for another morning supply run. And for some reason, this proves to be a good thing for both camps. Charlie finds comfort in Daniel, and vice versa. It’s an unexpected development for these two Fear characters, but it doesn’t stray far from where it wants to be—a zombie show with a heart (no pun intended).
Charlie acts as Daniel’s eye-opener. After the events of the dam explosion, Strand underwent a complete 180 in terms of his philosophy and personality. He’s no longer the conniving son of a bitch that he was in the first three seasons of Fear the Walking Dead. Daniel refuses to see that, so Charlie shows him the way.
It’s interesting how Daniel’s false perception is slowly chipped away. First, he decides to give Charlie the airplane’s tools and proceeds to distract a horde, having Charlie bring back the equipment. But with Strand’s new mission of saving people, his group goes great lengths to help Daniel, despite them learning about how Strand lied to Daniel about Ofelia. And then, Daniel finally softens up when Strand comes to his rescue, Sarah and Wendell in tow.
Their story ends with reconciliation, with Daniel changing the way he sees people, especially after he found an inkling of Ofelia in Charlie. He then leaves the group in search for another person and hands them over the entire warehouse and its supplies—except for a cigar that a “friend” gave Daniel to celebrate the good times; when all is good and it’s worth lighting it up. And that friend? It could only be Abraham. It’s too bad that Daniel won’t be seeing him again.
Daniel and Strand’s side of the episode involves so much heart that it almost takes you out of the zombie apocalypse and puts you into a whole new cheesy, dramatic show. It’s not as colorful and campy as a teen drama, but it does pull at some heartstrings. The dialogue leaves room for more improvement, but the overall arch gives depth and meaning to Daniel and Strand’s relationship. But despite all these key events, I’d like to think that these are all trivial things in the episode. In honor of its title, I’m just really glad that Skidmark didn’t get eaten and found a new home in Strand’s group.
Now the question remains—where is Daniel going, and will we ever see him again?
The Rise of the Helicopter People!
Elsewhere, the plot thickens with the slow reveal of the true villains of Fear the Walking Dead Season 5. Morgan (Lennie James) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) sets off to find Al, basing off of Dylan’s (Cooper Dodson) coordinates. Little do they know that Dylan is acting out of his siblings, Annie (Bailey Gavulic) and Max (Ethan Suess), behest. It’s all a trap, and both Morgan and Alicia are walking right into it. Meanwhile, Dylan bonds with Luci (Danay Garcia) via the “Little Prince” book. And this is when Dylan decides to go off-script and tell Luci, Morgan, and Alicia the truth.
As Annie and Max string up Growlers along the path, they encounter an installation that they don’t remember doing. That’s when one of the helicopter people appears, killing off some of the Growlers. Annie and Max hide but run into bad luck while escaping when the entangled dead catch up on them. Luckily, Alicia and Morgan come to their rescue—until an ambush happens.
We then learn about a small group of armed kids ala Lord of the Flies led by Annie. They are remnants of a former community, with all their parents killed by the so-called helicopter people. Morgan feels empathetic with the kids, later telling Alicia about how his son Dwayne and wife Jenny died back in the early season of The Walking Dead. It’s clear that these people took Al, and that they have some sort of connection to those who took Rick after the bridge fell in “What Comes After.” The helicopter that flew above their heads towards the end of the episode sports the same three-circle symbol on the helicopter that took Rick. But given the time difference of the two shows, Rick might have not even died during this time yet.
Now, this is the part of the episode where it gets a bit frustrating and outright reckless. The reveal about the helicopter people could have been executed well had they not stall the episodes from “Here to Help” until now. It could have been an ominous force that appears in and out of every episode, but instead decides to drop itself smack dab in the middle of “Skidmark.”
Well, you can’t always have two good things at once. Despite the nicely-done half of “Skidmark,” Morgan and Alicia’s side of the story feels a bit off compared to the overall plot of Strand and Daniel.
‘Fear the Walking Dead: Skidmark’ Overall Verdict
“Skidmark,” is a close echo of “Humbug’s Gulch.” There’s heart put into the characters, with the story culminating in a hopeful fashion—at least in terms of Strand and Daniel’s narrative. The other half of the episode leaves much to be hated and loved. There are good points and bad points, but the bad overpowers the elements that could’ve worked.
It’s good to see some development to Charlie’s character, but it also sucks to see Daniel break off from the group. But given Dwight’s addition to the main group, it could be too much to handle and follow in the coming episodes. But hey, if The Walking Dead could create a solid narrative with three different communities, why can’t Fear?
Overall, “Skidmark” was a thrill to watch, but an ordeal at some parts.
HONORABLE MENTION: The minor connection that Daniel had with Abraham and Morgan’s call back to the first Walking Dead episode made for a nice way to tie the show to its mother series. I have a feeling that their storylines would soon converge, later merging into one show that has both our characters from Fear and the main Walking Dead.
Fear the Walking Dead continues Sunday, June 30th, with “The End of Everything” at 9/8c on AMC.