Title: Fear the Walking Dead: Laura Review
Air Date: May 13th, 2018
Genre: Serial Drama, Horror
This weeks episode of AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead opens with a very simple scene showing John Dorie meticulously cleaning his revolvers, one of which we now know somehow ends up with the mysterious “Laura”. His morning routine is interrupted by a walker wading onto the shore of his lake cabin hideaway.
Garret Dillahunt does not fail to impress with his acting in this episode, each scene he is in he pulls the viewer into the depth of his character. With only a few lines and expressions on his face, we can already see that John is set into a routine here at his cabin.
The scenes that follow show us how John is surviving in this post-apocalyptic world, he is clearly a man who is capable and resourceful. The home he has created is well maintained and has such rare amenities like electricity, board games, and clean water. He is well fed and can forage for food in his surrounding areas. He is, however, utterly alone.
We continue to see him as we found him in episode 1, talking to himself, playing a one-man game of scrabble in order to stave off the crushingly endless lack of human contact. I absolutely love this nuance for his character, it’s something so small, trying to remember the sounds of words, but leaves such an impact on its implications.
Enter Laura, she stumbles into his camp wounded and in need of medical attention. John treats her wound and gets her cleaned up. In the morning he finds her attempting to steal his car. Using the same techniques of disarming kindness he used on Morgan in episode 1 John convinces her to stay a while. He begins to open lines of communication with her over a bowl of homemade fish soup and gives her the name “Laura”, he invites her to stay as long as she needs. Jenna Elfman plays Laura with such delicate strength.
I like seeing a character so conflicted. She is very independent, yet at every opportunity to stay she does; it reminds me of a stubborn child. On Tuesday Laura joins John on a run to the store, they have an exchange about whether she should take a pair of his boots. Still, she refuses to accept any of his kindness unless absolutely necessary.
The building relationship here is very honest and I found myself really rooting for the characters, I want them to make it, I want John to find her. They continue to have “getting-to-know-you” conversations all the while hiding deep-rooted traumas from each other.
At the store, Laura rearranges the supplies into a makeshift emergency medical shelf. This scene again is a simple act that leaves a big impact; she and John could have emptied out the store, taken everything for themselves, but they don’t. They choose to leave supplies for others, even setting some together in a sort of package. During this trip they discover the source of John’s most recent walker problems, a car has gone off the bridge and created a hole in the siding. They patch it and move on.
That night they have “a moment” during movie night and Laura begins to soften. The next day John teaches her to fish. We begin to see the blossoming of a relationship. Laura, however, still makes comments on how she will not be staying, she continues to maintain some semblance of a wall to protect herself. John and Laura begin a daily routine and eventually, she is healed enough to leave. They have a very sad and awkward discussion about her leaving. It is clear that Laura wants to stay, and John definitely feels the same, however, they don’t voice this due to Laura’s stubborn nature and John’s fear.
The pair return to repair the patch on the bridge and are attacked by a small group of walkers. John and Laura have an argument about guns, John is attacked by a walker with a machete sticking out of his chest and Laura urges him to use the gun. He refuses, and a close call happens. Laura again pushes him as to why he refuses to use a gun. That night John opens his wounds to Laura and they grow closer. The patch to the wall breaks and a horde of walkers descends on the tiny cabin.
Desperate to save Laura from being devoured by the horde John uses the guns. John finally tells Laura he loves her, and they consummate their relationship. In the morning Laura leaves a note in scrabble letters on the table and has gone. There is a lot that happens in this final quarter of the episode, but it’s really too meaningful to just type about, you really need to watch it. We end the episode flashed forward to John and Morgan, they have a very poignant conversation about if it’s all worth it and whether their way is the right way. We pan out as the two walk into the sunset. The tiny amount of time in this episode we see John and Morgan interact is more than enough. The caliber of acting these to men can reach needs nothing more than the few moments to relay the message they intended. These two are, in my opinion carrying this show. I love the dynamic the two create, the image of a ‘gunslinger’ and ‘a kung-fu monk’ is fantastic. I am only left with a few questions, in the initial scene when John and Laura meet, she says “I have to get back”, where does she need to go back to and why did she leave? How did she become injured and does the reason for leaving have anything to do with what she reveals to John during movie night?
Verdict: This episode of Fear the Walking Dead is a fine example of how simple choices and strong acting can elevate a show which at its core can so easily just be another mindless gorefest to something that has value and an actual message to discover. The scenes between John and Laura are gentle and honest in a way the show has not been able to reach with its previous seasons. It is reminiscent to me of an old west story with the addition of a modern day romantic drama, I felt like the show delivered a full-length movie in the span of 45 minutes. Throughout the episode, there is almost no background noise allowing the viewers to become engrossed in what is happening right in front of them and when the scenes use music it only adds to the emotional impact. The cinematics is also spot on in this episode, from the way a scene is left to focus not on the action in the background, but the lone gun on a table in the foreground, to the color saturation is carefully and impactfully chosen.
What did you think about tonight’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments below!
- Character development
- Great acting
- Soundtrack and cinematography
- I was sad to see it end.