Season 5, Episode 4: Skidmark
PLOT: Strand continues trying to “borrow” Daniel’s plane while others deal with a group of forest-dwelling children.
REVIEW: If you’re a fan of the character Daniel Salazar (who is played by Ruben Blades) and/or of cats, this was a special episode of Fear the Walking Dead, as Daniel and his cat Skidmark both get a good amount of screen time. I’m a fan of both, so this was a win-win for me.
Viewers seem to love seeing animals on these Walking Dead shows, judging by the reactions I saw to the addition of the dog named Dog to season 9 of The Walking Dead, and the fact that I’m already seeing fans call Skidmark their favorite character on Fear the Walking Dead. And of course Shiva the tiger was awesome back in her day. Skidmark is a pretty cool cat himself, and he’s able to make his way around among flesh-hungry zombies without getting in much danger. With a bell on his collar, Skidmark distracts the zombies for Daniel during their travels, and he does his job well. As fun as it is to have animals on this show and its companions series, we fans of dogs and cats also feel intensely concerned for their well-being in every scene they have. Thankfully, I don’t foresee any Shiva-esque tragedies in Skidmark’s near future, because even when situations go wrong in this episode he is able to get away from zombies very easily.
For me, the presence of Blades as Daniel always elevates Fear the Walking Dead. My all-time favorite episode of the show is the season 3 episode called 100, which was all about Daniel and what he had been up to since disappearing at the end of season 2’s midseason finale. This Skidmark episode is no 100, but it was great to be spending so much time with Daniel again. Fear got a major shake-up during season 4 and became very different from what it had been before, but even in the midst of this new iteration of Fear there is one major truth held over from the past: Daniel and Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) do not get along. My constant worry for this show is that characters who didn’t show up until season 4 are going to completely steal it out from under characters who predate them, so I was very glad to see that the enmity between Daniel and Strand was the main focus of this episode, so much that newer characters like Charlie (Alexa Nisenson), Sarah (Mo Collins), and Wendell (Daryl Mitchell) get an important history lesson when they learn why Daniel dislikes Strand so much.
Better yet, the characters don’t deal with these personal issues while sitting around having a quiet chat. This information is delivered to them while Daniel is being pursued by a large herd of zombies – a bad situation that builds up to a spectacular, crowd-pleasing bloodbath.
While Strand, Charlie, Sarah, and Wendell are trying to convince Daniel to let him use the plane he has so they can fly off and help their stranded companions, the episode also cuts away to those stranded characters… and their scenes aren’t nearly as interesting as what’s going on with Daniel and the others. The characters of John Dorie, June, and Dwight are absent from this episode, but we do see Morgan (Lennie James), Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), and Luciana (Danay Garcia) interacting with those filthy kids they crossed paths with in the season 5 premiere. We had previously seen that these kids are responsible for the gory zombie roadblocks our heroes keep running into, which set up the idea that they might be a bunch of little psychopaths. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, so there’s nothing worthwhile about them.
There is something interesting going on out in the territory those kids inhabit, though. People walking around in riot gear and flying a helicopter just like the one that flew Rick Grimes off of The Walking Dead. Could they be the same people who took Rick away? They’re obviously part of the same group, but do they have fueling points that allow them to fly all over the country? If these are the same people who cross paths with Rick, we’re actually seeing them here before they took him away, because the timeline of Fear the Walking Dead is still about seven months ahead of Rick’s disappearance. The Walking Dead never told us anything about this helicopter group, so I am very intrigued to see what Fear might tell us about them. So far it’s not telling us anything about them, either. But the group seems to have abducted Fear character Althea, and if her friends are able to get her back it’s not going to be satisfying if we don’t get some information about the helicopter group in the process.
Skidmark might contain another Easter egg (an Easter cigar?) connection to The Walking Dead in its final moments, but we’ll see how that pans out, if it goes anywhere at all.
This episode a bit of a mixed bag overall, I just wasn’t interested in what was going on with those kids, but everything with Daniel and his cat was great.
BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: The best zombie moment in this episode is actually the same moment that earns the “Gory Glory” award, but I’ll throw the zombies a bone and name the moment where they seem to have accomplished something. When Skidmark lures a group of zombies over to the window of a store they’re stuck in, it sets off a trap that they accidentally use to bust the window and escape.
GORY GLORY: Strand destroys an entire herd of zombies by luring them into the propellers of a plane, reducing the whole bunch to nothing but a pile of blood and guts.
FAVORITE SCENE: Charlie, Sarah, and Wendell learn the story of Daniel, Strand, and Ofelia.