“Is Anybody Out There?” brings some mundane subplots to an end, but the fact it’s still fraught with stupidity and vacuous moralizing doesn’t suggest a bright future once it returns from hiatus.
This recap of Fear the Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 8, “Is Anybody Out There?” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
“Is Anybody Out There?” opens with a flashback montage of the show’s cast begging a radio to reveal people they can help; the title is literally a spoken line. And it reinforces the idea that this incredibly ill-advised fifth season of Fear the Walking Dead is utterly, nonsensically committed to pushing the tired, trite theme of whether trying to help people is worth the effort. We see the effort everyone made to do so, and immediately afterward we see the situation they’ve found themselves in as a result. It’s hardly subtle.
And it’s hardly effective, either, mostly because the show’s plot and characters have contorted themselves into an unrecognizable shape just to accommodate that theme. Everything feels false and contrived a result, including Alicia being reintroduced in “Is Anybody Out There?” simply washing off last week’s cliffhanger ending.
You can feel the flimsiness of the show’s plotting and characterization in John and Dwight being sudden besties now; even this episode’s “redemption” of Daniel felt unearned. In fact, if we’re being honest, everything about “Is Anybody Out There?” felt unearned, because that’s exactly what it was. We’re expected to buy into John and Naomi’s tearful farewell, but we know they’ll be reunited anyway; there’s an imminent nuclear meltdown to worry about, yet we know it isn’t going to matter. The lack of tension in these large-scale conflicts is just as prevalent in the small-scale hiccups too, with characters suddenly being unable to drive or fight off a couple of zombies whenever they need to be imperiled.
Fear the Walking Dead is going to be off the air for the next few weeks, but it leaves us with no real suggestion that it’ll be better when it returns. A resolution to the radioactivity subplot doesn’t convince me that this whole endeavor isn’t still toxic, and the idea that it might ever return to its third-season prime is, at present, an unconvincing pipe dream. The only question I have after “Is Anybody Out There?” is whether or not the slim remaining audience will bother to find out when it returns.