This Fear the Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
Fear the Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 6
As far as idioms go, “jumping the shark” is a great way to mark a moment in time when something, especially a TV series, is no longer as cool as it used to be. This jumping of the shark can generally be traced back to a single episode, or even one defining moment. In the case of Fear the Walking Dead, that moment arrives in “The Little Prince,” as a hot air balloon shaped like a bottle of craft beer. A bottle of Augie’s Ale, to be exact. That this same hot air balloon crash-lands inside a radioactive hot zone could very well sum up the way this once-entertaining show is crashing and burning just six hours into its troubled fifth season. Given how much I loved last week’s “The End of Everything,” “The Little Prince” is a real disappointment. The only standout scene belongs to Bailey Gavulic as Annie, but even then there are storytelling issues aplenty. But let’s get into the fall of Camp Cackleberry in a bit.
The beauty of escapist entertainment is the notion of checking one’s brain at the door, of being so swept up into a narrative that we willfully meet creators halfway by suspending our disbelief. Is it conceivable that children might enjoy a screening of Gulliver’s Travels, or that someone can still enjoy a hot shower? Sure. And is it possible that there are still abandoned cars on hot Texas roads with unspoiled gasoline in their tanks? Or that everyone now has walkie-talkies? Again, sure. Why not. I can let that slide, too. But when Fear would have us believe that this motley crew of survivors—half of them children—can somehow repair an airplane? No, sorry. I don’t think even MacGyver could repair a plane—much less one in pieces after a crash-landing. I mean, look at Max—this kid is walking around with a pair of mismatched glasses taped together.
And yet Luciana can’t be bothered with such practical concerns. While it’s admirable to follow one’s heart, doing so when it comes to getting a broken plane back in the air is a good way to get everyone killed. Let’s not forget, these people don’t even know how to fly a plane in the first place (and they certainly can’t operate a hot air balloon, either).
Annie is the one voice of reason in all of this. Indeed, she doesn’t want to be rescued—she just wants a return to the status quo before their would-be saviors fell from the sky and into their backyard. Annie is absolute in her desire to steer clear of these bumbling grown-ups, but these same grown-ups simply won’t take no for an answer. Even when Alicia offers up one of their cars to Annie she promises there are no strings attached. So Annie takes Alicia at her word, and bugs out with the other kids and a bunch of supplies. Of course, Alicia insists on chasing them down anyway, which means her offer of the car was just an empty gesture.
Is it any wonder that Annie doesn’t trust these people?
Before Annie deigns to choose her own adventure, she relates the story of how the camp fell. Her tale is well told—it’s compelling, dramatic, and ultimately tragic. A lot of this is due to Gavulic’s performance. She allows Annie a toughness and a vulnerability that’s heartbreaking to watch. It’s too bad we’re only told about this sad turn of events, rather than shown. Just consider how this powerful memory could have been turned into a web series, along the same lines of Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462.
There’s more to “The Little Prince” than repairing the cargo plane and getting out of Dodge before the power plant’s second reactor melts down. There’s also the matter of John helping Dwight track down Sherry. As noble a cause as this might be, it sure seems pretty far down on the group’s list of priorities. Fortunately (or, conveniently) for Dwight, John’s not only a romantic at heart, he’s also preternaturally lucky. This lucky streak continues when John discovers a crucial clue to Sherry’s whereabouts.
But this is ultimately where the trail runs cold—but only because Sherry wants Dwight to stop looking for her. “Find something to live for and live,” she writes in a final letter that John intercepts before Dwight can read it. John wisely understands Dwight has found something to live for—and that’s reuniting with his wife. What a mess.
It’s at this point that John takes it upon himself not to share this crucial bit of information with Dwight. John may think he’s helping, but is it really his place to decide such things? (For whatever it’s worth, I had a similar issue with Alfred intercepting Bruce’s mail in The Dark Knight Rises.)
All in all, “The Little Prince” marks a true low point not only for this season, but also for Fear as a whole. To paraphrase Mo Collins’s Sarah, who’s barely in this episode, I genuinely wish Fear would stop “dicking about the daisies.”