“Ner Tamid” was the best episode of the back half of this fifth season, which isn’t saying a lot since it was still nonsensical and terrible.
This recap of Fear the Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 12, “Ner Tamid”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Here’s the good news: “Ner Tamid” was probably the best episode in the back half of Fear the Walking Dead‘s much-maligned fifth season. The bad news is that means very little since it was still nonsensical and terrible.
The catalyst for most of the episode’s shenanigans — which didn’t include Morgan (Lennie James), Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) or Al (Maggie Grace), probably for the best — was Charlie (Alexa Nisenson) running away from the convoy in the hopes of finding somewhere more permanent to stay. And of course, that’s ridiculous, both because we’ve never really been given a sense of how the convoy’s rootless existence actually works or how it affects its 36 members, and also because this deep into the apocalypse the idea of someone just wandering off on their own is simply too stupid to tolerate.
But here we are. Another thing we’re supposed to just blithely accept in “Ner Tamid” is the idea that June (Jenna Elfman) is the self-appointed leader of the convoy and has been refusing to allow them to stay in any one place too long — and I’m sure that would make for some decent character drama had it actually been an arc that has developed over the course of the season rather than a sudden ass-pull trait that was introduced out of nowhere just for this episode.
Charlie happens to stumble on the kindly Rabbi Jacob Kessner (Peter Jacobson), who is basically a stand-in for Father Gabriel, with a very similar backstory. “Ner Tamid” reveals a self-serving crisis of faith allowed him to survive an unspecified event that reduced his entire congregation to a horde of undead, and now he lives alone in his old synagogue spouting scripture at the empty pews. Charlie arrives, and then so do June and John (Garrett Dillahunt), and things quickly go from fine to bad to worse and Kessner is forced to abandon his hideout and take refuge with the convoy. Will he become a regular castmember? Frankly, at this point, nobody knows.
“Ner Tamid” also propagates the ridiculous idea that Logan (Matt Frewer) and his cronies are a legitimate threat, as they turn up and terrify the remainder of the convoy so much that everyone immediately flees in terror, despite the fact that Logan’s whole thing is just to turn up and do nothing at all. After spending most of the episode pursuing Sarah (Mo Collins) and clean-shaven Dwight (Austin Amelio), he finally catches up to them and does nothing at all, ostensibly scared away by the last-minute arrival of the SWAT van.
This is, apparently, a distraction. It’s so that Logan can find the oil fields, which keep getting mentioned as though they’re some kind of promised land, but it doesn’t feel like a smart diversion by a credible bad guy because it isn’t — it’s another bout of fake, cheaply manufactured conflict to disguise the fact that this show has no overarching narrative at all. It’s just a loose sequence of do-gooder vignettes and tedious moralizing vaguely strung together by brief mentions of oil fields and planes and melting nuclear plants that masquerade as macro plot points but never amount to anything. The whole thing is truly embarrassing.