“The Hurt That Will Happen” tries very hard indeed, but it’s still undermined by relentless stupidity.
This Fear the Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 2 recap for the episode titled “The Hurt That Will Happen” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
I’m trying folks. I’m really trying to like this season of Fear the Walking Dead, even though the last one was an offensive travesty and the show has done nothing thus far to convince me that any lessons have been learned from it. I’ve accepted that whatever the spin-off is now, it’s never going to be what it was during its excellent third season, which was full of organic, compelling conflict, moral complexity, and genuine surprises. Now it’s a dopey adventure in which various idiots with signature weaponry fly around on a plane that nobody knows how to pilot, getting into scrapes with random people they meet on radios, while tediously debating the merits of their newfound altruism. It’s just bizarre.
“The Hurt That Will Happen” tries its best to make this approach interesting. There are irradiated zombies and people in hazmat suits. There’s an evolving mystery with a well-organized group who are almost certainly the same group that took Rick away in the ninth season of the main show. Daniel (Rubén Blades) is conveniently, inexplicably back. The acting is fine, the effects are fine, even the basic cinematography and direction are fine. Alycia Debnam-Carey remains Queen Hotness of the Apocalypse. All should be well.
Except all isn’t well, because it’s all so stupid. Strand (Colman Domingo) trying to hustle Daniel out of a plane is stupid because the fact Althea (Maggie Grace) has apparently met every single individual in the entire continental United States is stupid, and it’s stupid that Strand is the one to do the bargaining for the plane because Daniel hates him and the fact they’re looking for a plane in the first place is stupid because nobody can fly one and they don’t need one anyway because they can just drive instead. None of this makes any sense whatsoever; it’s false, sloppily manufactured conflict that we’re supposed to just blithely accept as character drama even though it’s all avoidable at best and utterly nonsensical at worst.
It’s stupid that Al stupidly got herself captured and that Alicia and Morgan (Lennie James) have to go out looking for her, and it’s stupid that sometimes they just forget presumably several years of zombie-killing experience so that they can have close calls for no reason. It’s stupid that Luciana (Danay Garcia) would draw attention to herself by blindly firing her weapon right outside a building she’s supposed to be hiding in. You can see quite clearly that these things are happening so that other, more interesting things can happen, but you can also see that there are much better ways of making those things happen without characterizing every character in the show as a blithering moron.
But because Fear the Walking Dead is more plot-driven than ever, an episode like “The Hurt That Will Happen” means it’s difficult to stop watching. Irradiated zombies are a fun wrinkle on the usual well-worn formula. The presence of Daniel is better than the absence of Daniel. The unanswered questions remain intriguing even if the show is bending over backward to ask them. This, obviously, is how Fear the Walking Dead has stayed on the air. And it’s probably how it’ll continue to do so, even as people like me lament how cheaply the show is now keeping its audience coming back week after week. But I’ll be there for the third episode, and the fourth, and the fifth. And so will you.