Fear the Walking Dead’s latest episode is a perfect example of why the franchise should avoid large-scale stories. The spinoff’s current storyline with John Glover’s Teddy has higher stakes than any other Walking Dead story.
Following the conclusion of the battle with Virginia (Colby Minifie) and the Pioneers, Fear the Walking Dead has moved on to Teddy, a serial killer who wants to give the world a new beginning. To accomplish this goal, his plan has been to unleash a submarine’s nuclear arsenal on the planet. Just recently, he acquired the key needed to put his scheme into action. Morgan (Lennie James) and the others rallied to stop him in Fear the Walking Dead season 6, episode 15, titled “USS Pennsylvania”, but ten warheads were launched before they could get to Teddy. The outlook for the main characters (and everyone else) appears to be quite grim going into the season 6 finale.
A big battle in a submarine over the fate of the world on paper may sound like an exciting episode of television, but instead, it turned out to be a bit underwhelming, especially when compared to previous episodes. Seasons 4 and 5 of Fear the Walking Dead were littered with problems, but season 6 has received a great deal of praise. Nearly every episode (particularly those in the second half) has gone over incredibly well with viewers. Episode 15, on the other hand, didn’t share the same amount of positive reception.
Some may have expected that given the scale of the story, the episode had the potential to be something special, but unfortunately that’s not really how things work with this franchise (as evidenced by some of the more poorly-reviewed Walking Dead finales). A big part of what has driven Fear the Walking Dead’s success this season has been the show’s approach to its characters. Splitting them up and offering deeply personal arcs for each character has delivered some stellar entertainment, as illustrated by what the series pulled off with its Morgan-centric season 6 premiere, as well as the individual episodes devoted to Grace (Karen David), Daniel (Rubén Blades), John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt), and more.
It was disappointing that Fear the Walking Dead’s Strand (Colman Domingo) episode didn’t pack the same emotional punch, and a lot of that can be attributed to the submarine plot. When telling a story about Morgan and his allies trying to save the world from being destroyed, it’s quite hard for the series to stay grounded. Watching Fear the Walking Dead take its villains to a whole new level for the franchise is fun to an extent, but it’s certainly a departure from the formula that has been a proven hit for season 6. However, it could help set up an interesting season 7, especially if it puts Morgan’s group in a world that’s recovering from a nuclear bomb.