Laura showed Fear the Walking Dead can even pull off heartfelt romance. There’s something about this season that’s really made the series come alive in a way it’s never managed before. I care about the characters, I’m intrigued by the mystery and the idiotic decision making has been cut in half.
John is handling the reign of the walkers better than most. He’s got a house overlooking a lake complete with a mini moat. It’s an effective defense system against the walkers who tip their approach by flailing away in the water. John’s got chickens, electricity to watch movies and even a cheesy fish alarm clock. But he’s clearly lonely as best evidenced by his solo Scrabble games and diligent gun cleaning sessions.
That changes when Naomi washes up on his shore. Naomi is very distrustful of the guy who helped take care of her wound and provided her shelter. It’s John who comes up with the name of Laura since Naomi wasn’t willing to give him her real name. Naomi is kind of a jerk early on as she ransacks John’s place searching for car keys and treating him like he’s got the plague.
Romance isn’t an avenue the series has managed to do all that effectively, but the slow and patient approach works nicely. John is a real sympathetic character to the point knowing what’s gonna happen to him and Naomi is tough. He’s happy to teach her how to fish and share in his movie ‘rental’ decisions. Gradually, John wears down Laura’s distrust. John is just an earnestly good guy and too darned nice not to like. Still, Laura is insistent that when she finishes recovering, she’s going to leave. But John’s set up is pretty sweet and a lot better than some locations.
There’s just the matter of blocking off the mini overpass, which keeps feeding walkers into the stream by John’s place. While he’s been up front with everything, John is reluctant to explain his refusal to use guns. And even this reveal — he killed a would-be store robber — shows why John is such a good guy. In a quiet moment, Naomi reveals she lost her child. This is a rare moment of vulnerability from a character who has spent so long keeping her walls up. Jenna Elfman was fantastic throughout the episode as we could see Naomi learning to believe in someone else again.
But of course we can’t have nice things on this show. The barricade has created a walker pileup and everyone wants to party at John’s. This small horde eventually overwhelms Laura and John, who’s got no choice but to break out the big guns. John is a bad man when it comes to using those six shooters.
Now it’s his turn to pull away. John tries to keep his distance to avoid telling Laura he loves her. With her alive, the whole world feels alive to him. Naomi stops fighting and kisses him with the presumption that they slept together. The next morning, she’s gone with just a message in Scrabble tile saying I love u too.
After relaying this story to Morgan, John isn’t sure if Alicia, Strand and Luciana don’t have the right idea. Morgan snaps him out of it quickly and the two head off for their next great adventure.
Laura further sold me on the notion that this season has been so much better thanks to the cast overhaul. Garrett Dillahunt, Jenna Elfman, Lennie James and Maggie Grace are tremendous additions to the series and their characters aren’t weighted down by questionable writing. Save for Morgan they’re fresh slates and this season has been immensely compelling as their stories unfold.
Laura also rekindled an emotion I didn’t think possible in the TWD universe: hope. I know what Alicia and Luciana said, but I’m really hoping Naomi is still alive so she can reunite with John. It’s foolish to hold out some measure of hope for happy endings, but John and Naomi deserve it. Let’s see if there’s any reason to keep a glimmer of optimism going.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: AMC