Fear the Walking Dead 612 – In Dreams
Warning: Review contains spoilers!
“What are you trying to do lady, get yourself killed?”
In Dreams finally puts Grace in the spotlight, delves into often sketchy plot devices like dreams and amnesia and resolves one of the major storylines of Season 6 without really resolving anything.
Grace wakes up and is immediately attacked by a walker. She’s saved by a mysterious young woman who wields a staff much like someone we know quite well. Grace’s baby belly is gone, her memory has skipped out of town and it’s up to the young lady named Athena to fill in the blanks. Things are a bit puzzling at first, but it doesn’t take too much thought to put things together, especially with those lovely flowers and leaves sprouting up all over the place.
Grace has been out of the loop for 16 years and no one remembers who she is, not even old man Morgan. Old man Morgan hands down has the most impressive fro of the apocalypse. He must have found a lost stash of Soul Glo at some point and now that I’m thinking about it, old man Morgan and old Man Rick need their own spin off series. Athena is Grace’s daughter, but no one remembers her or recognizes her. It’s like Thanos has blipped her out of existence. The reason no one can remember her is because she’s dead. At least in this timeline. Old man Morgan’s Grace died shortly after giving birth succumbing to the rigors of childbirth and radiation poisoning.
Familiar faces, a little older, and some a little greyer begin to pop in and out of In Dreams. First up is Dr. June Dorie, still rocking John’s hat. Levelling up from nurse status her powers of observation are a little sketchy as she, like everyone else, never questions why Grace is alive and looks 16 years younger than she should. Ok I know it’s all a dream so let’s go with it.
Charlie is all grown up and working alongside June, Daniel and Strand are The Fear the Walking Dead’s version of the barbershop crew from Coming to America, and Dwight and Sherry are living happily ever after. Alicia, with Luciana and Wes in tow, has continued her mother’s legacy by rebuilding the community in the baseball stadium and Al is off somewhere with beer lady. It’s as though everyone’s dreams have come true.
Unfortunately, it took Grace’s death to galvanize this alternate timeline version of the group. Rallying around Morgan and baby Athena, differences were put aside, and Morgan’s community became a paradise. Given a second chance, Grace tries to connect with the daughter she never really knew. To do so she goes for a walk with old man Morgan and Athena, chatting about Roy Orbison songs and her old Walkman. A spray-painted car interrupts their family time pulling Grace into reality for a moment. An explosion rips the car apart and a flood of images roll through Grace’s unconscious mind. Back on her feet, Grace and Athena outrun a hoard of walkers and old man Morgan is reduced to a disembodied voice.
In Dreams does a pretty good job of recreating the non-linear and sometimes nonsensical nature of dreams. The dreamscape doesn’t last long though and the reality surrounding Grace’s condition comes to light. In labor and en route to June, Grace was injured when the car they were in exploded. Although conscious in her dreamscape, Grace struggles to regain consciousness to save her and her unborn baby’s life. Complicating matters are Riley and his crew. They want Morgan for the key around his neck, but it’s true significance will have to wait for another day.
One of the more interesting aspects of In Dreams is the mother/daughter dynamic that can only happen in a dreamscape. Grace and Athena discover they are connected on both planes of existence and chat about her real father, Matthew the poor dude that Grace hooked up with at the nuclear plant. He’s the one in her flashbacks dying of radiation poisoning.
There is a tremendous amount of buildup and some heavy-handed story telling leading to In Dreams’ climax. The symbolism of Athena’s birthplace and her bringing peace to a tumultuous time is really a set up for the heartbreaking twist that ends the episode. There is no saviour and quite a few of the assumptions in Grace’s dream now have to be reassessed. Morgan’s bewilderment is understandable and speaks to one of the things, other than death and taxes, that is a certainty: dreams rarely if ever come true.