“Leave What You Don’t” was a slight improvement over recent efforts, but still felt burdened by the show’s tedious focus on how nice it is to be nice.
This recap of Fear the Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 13, “Leave What You Don’t”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
In an opening prologue, “Leave What You Don’t” gives away its intentions. One of them is to garner some sympathy for Fear the Walking Dead‘s weaksauce fifth season kinda-villain, Logan (Matt Frewer). The second is to introduce a new cowboy contingent lead by a lady with a cartoonish accent who will presumably be the new big bads in Logan’s absence, since he and his goons are all unceremoniously executed at the end of this episode, rendering most of it utterly pointless.
Still, though, “Leave What You Don’t” felt like something of an improvement over recent efforts, though I concede that’s like being the driest urinal. Nevertheless, it built on prior episodes rather than feeling like a totally disconnected story, it managed to build a fair amount of escalating tension and incorporate almost all of the major characters, and there wasn’t quite as much stupidity as there usually is. At this point, I’ll take what I’m given.
Logan’s traumatic backstory is, of course, played-out and wholly ineffective in its execution, mostly because Logan has had little to do throughout the season and almost all of his appearances have been blighted by complete ineffectiveness or just illogical meandering. Here he, as promised, he turns up at the oil fields where Luciana (Danay Garcia) and Wendell (Daryl Mitchell) are running a child labor-powered gas-refining operation, though without much of a plan for taking the place over. As a consequence, he’s quickly joined by Dwight (Austin Amelio) and Sarah (Mo Collins), who ambush his goons and just drive in, and John (Garrett Dillahunt) and June (Jenna Elfman), who assume an overwatch position. It’s a stand-off.
Meanwhile, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Strand (Colman Domingo) continue drawing on trees and deciding whether to help out random people who’re stranded at truck stops. Of course, they decide they should, which brings me to a real problem with “Leave What You Don’t”. This episode, like all the ones before it, is still tediously obsessed with the notion of selflessly helping everyone and explaining the merits of doing so at tortuous length. There are so many monologues here — all about roughly the same thing — that I repeatedly found myself switching off, just numb to the drudgery of it all. We’re thirteen episodes into the season at this point. We get it.
Some other stuff is okay. There’s a prolonged action sequence in which dopey walkers begin piling into the oilfields, causing carnage below, and John has to try and keep the ridge clear with rapid-fire sniping. He’s eventually joined by Rabbi Jacob Kessner (Peter Jacobson) — apparently a series regular after all now — and Charlie (Alexa Nisenson), who help to ensure he doesn’t have to do anything too difficult. But even at its worst, this show has always been good for some creative set-pieces, and this one was fine.
Much more frustrating was when “Leave What You Don’t” united Logan and Sarah in a battle of ideologies, leading to more dry explication and eventually a teasing moment when the lady at the truck stop radios in for support. Logan helpfully guides her into killing herself, throwing the show’s Scooby-Doo morality into some jeopardy, but just when it looks like the woman has taken his advice, Wes (Colby Hollman) arrives in the nick of time to save her and allow the show to chicken out of potentially muddying of the morality waters.
Anyway, Logan has a change of heart after being shown the error of his ways by badly-written contrivance, so he orders his goons to lower their weapons and suggests everybody be friends. Then he and his people are shot dead by the cowboys from the prologue, who announce their radical expansionist plans and propose a deal — none of the Scooby gang accept it, obviously, because they’ve just witnessed how eager the pioneers are to execute their business partners once they become surplus to requirements. Luciana, though, decides to stay, one assumes as a means of keeping these guys saddled (aha!) to the plot.
Ordinarily, the low points of “Leave What You Don’t” would outweigh the highs, but after a run of such abysmal episodes, this one felt like a welcome relief. Don’t worry — I’m sure things will be truly terrible again next week.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.