“The Code”, another Morgan-centric episode of Fear the Walking Dead, proves that last week’s solid entry was predictably a fluke.
I’m getting profoundly sick of Morgan (Lennie James), and sicker still of Fear the Walking Dead’s insistence that we should find this guy compelling. His sanctimonious moralising and dopey mental instability are supremely tiresome, and ill-fitting in a show that needs a good moral dilemma now and again. An episode like “The Code” is especially egregious, as it was nothing but Morgan and his heavy-handed philosophising; once again reiterating the tired and predictable Walking Dead credo that compassion and selflessness are liabilities in this ruined dystopia. That’s probably why Morgan never meets anyone nice – or, for that matter, anyone interesting.
In “The Code”, he met Wendell (Daryl Mitchell) and Sarah (Mo Collins), and Jim (Aaron Stanford), a micro-brewing self-serving grifter. The latter was immediately insufferable, and totally unnecessary. We don’t need another would-be profiteer – even a hipster one – when Colman Domingo’s Victor Strand is just up the road. His idiotic capitalist scheming was a weak reiteration of Strand’s inner conflict; of self-preservation versus altruism. Who really needs a local beer in this world? Which isn’t to say there isn’t a market for it – even the undead wouldn’t drink Becks.
The point, though, is that these reiterative characters are dull, and make for similarly drab pontificating about the same-old bullshit. I couldn’t care less about Morgan’s fragile psyche; he has lost his mind and found it again so many times that his inner conflict just seems trite and artificial. All this wondering about how society can be rebuilt is a waste of time. The suggestion that community and tolerance are the building blocks of civilisation is hypocritical given how frequently Fear the Walking Dead reneges on these ideas. Week after week, it wheels out insufferable villains to be offed in increasingly creative but increasingly unsatisfying ways. The lifeblood of the apocalypse isn’t beer, as Jim suggests, but ratings, and the concessions that Fear the Walking Dead has made to court them are embarrassing.
“The Code” was, at least, an episode with ideas – just none worth listening to. After last week’s instalment proved that there are still merits to this show and these characters despite the incessant creative blunders and illogical decision-making that have blighted the fourth season, “The Code” felt like a predictable slap in the face for viewers who naively hoped that it was headed in a more positive direction. Luckily I was expecting it. Sometimes, I hate being right.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.