The Fear the Walking Dead penultimate season five episode encapsulates where the show has gone wrong. "Channel 5" has dueling propaganda videos between Ginny's (Colby Minifie) Pioneers and Morgan's (Lennie James) heroes. Al (Maggie Grace) wants to prove their path to the future is better. John (Garret Dillahunt) and June (Jenna Elfman) make important decisions for the convoy. Grace's (Karen David) condition worsens. The group makes a Devil's bargain to survive.
"Channel 5" opens with a documentary style montage. It begins with Tom (Joe Massingill) extolling the virtues of Ginny and her Pioneers. Others chime in to agree with his assessment. Ginny shows up at the end explaining how they can help. "We are building the future everyday. Each one of us holds the key," as she points to the symbol on her lapel. "Pick up the walkie...on channel 5." At a rest stop, Al smashes the television playing Ginny's video.
The documentary style interviews continue. Al explains they are making another video to show the differences between them and Ginny. They "are doing things the right away." They "don't have to make a fake documentary. Al is "going to prove her wrong."
Grace is in the MRAV on an IV drip. June updates that Grace is dehydrated in an interview. It may be the radiation, but it could be something else. Morgan chastises himself for not being there for the group or Grace. Al wants to know what he wanted tell Grace. Grace has an idea, but says nothing. Tom is seen reuniting with his sister, Janis (Holly Curran). They both give testimonials that the group helped them. Tom wants to assist in documenting the story.
Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is filmed painting trees. June reviews a map and gets updates on the walkie. She picked "their direction." Rabbi Jacob (Peter Jacobson) believes in her faith. Wes (Colby Hollman) praises them for changing his spirit. Around the campfire, they have enough gas for one more push. Strand (Colman Domingo) wants to go in another direction. He wants Al to stop filming, but she wants to show everything. A walker breaks through with a badge for a "Humbug's Gulch." John recognizes it as the first attraction, about fifty miles away. The town would be fenced in. Everyone except Strand believes they've received a sign to go there.
In the MRAV, Grace has passed out from dehydration. She needs more fluids. June scans her thyroid with an ultrasound, but "honestly doesn't know what to look for." Morgan decides to investigate a retirement home for medical supplies. Sarah (Mo Collins) deduces the convoy can detour to help him. Tom chimes in that Ginny would never do this.
They search the retirement home. In John's interview, he wonders what's going on between Morgan and Grace. He and June promise to marry when they reach "the Gulch." Al finds six saline IV bags. She's attacked by a walker, but is saved by Alicia. Grace is rehydrated and regains consciousness. She and Morgan have a warm moment. Tom and Janis continue in their interviews that Ginny would never have helped Grace. A montage of John, Dwight, (Austin Amelio), and the others all agree. When they were hurt, the group never "gave up on them."
The convoy comes to a bridge. The MRAV and a few cars make it across before the wood begins to buckle. Morgan wants to patch the hole. Alicia and Wes go to find planks of wood. Everyone gets out of their cars to walk across the bridge. Morgan orders a "bucket brigade" to get the gas from the tanker. Suddenly Ginny and her men drive up in a Jeep.
Ginny offers to help. She tells everyone to lower their weapons, "If I wanted you dead you'd be dead." She sees Al and Tom filming. They get in a stand-off about "the truth." Ginny chastises Morgan for getting "medicine for a dying woman." She can help them cross the bridge, "literally and metaphorically." Strand wants to know what her help would entail. Ginny replies, "It means different things to different people."
Tom curses her for trying to kill him. Dwight draws his gun when Ginny tells a story about his wife. She knows Sherry's name. That was never spoken in their tapes. Ginny warns them that the "future is with us." Ginny offers anyone to come with her. No one budges. She orders her men to fire in the air. "When you need help, give us a holler." Ginny exclaims as they drive away. The gunshots attract a herd.
There's a mad scramble to fill buckets with gas. Strand and Morgan kill walkers as the others race across the bridge. The vehicles are abandoned. The patch will not be ready in time. The bridge cables begin to snap. Al, Morgan, and Strand make it to the other side, but Tom refuses. He goes back to recover the camera. The sixteen wheeler collapses the bridge. He starts to film, but falls to his death.
Al watches the video of Tom falling. Morgan cheers up a despondent Al. They are fifteen miles from the Gulch. Grace laments that Tom "died for the detour." Janis stands over Tom's grave. Rabbi Jacob offers to speak, but Janis wants his eulogy at the Gulch. Morgan gives the group a pep talk. "Finish it" for Tom. Janis agrees. Everyone grabs their gear and begins to walk.
The group walks along a dusty road. Wes tells Alicia he will paint with her at the Gulch. John asks Rabbi Jacob to officiate their wedding. June doesn't want a spectacle. John asks Morgan to be his best man. Morgan thinks a spectacle is what everybody needs. They trudge on wearily. Al continues to film. Salazar (Ruben Blades) tells Morgan, "If there's things to say. You should say it." They see a sign for "Humbug's Gulch." Janis wants Ginny to see why she lost. Morgan musters the courage to speak to Grace, but she doesn't want him to. "It'll only make things harder."
They arrive to a terrifying surprise at the Gulch. The town is overrun by walkers. They have no food, water, or supplies. They can't make it back to the cars. Strand says "there's one thing they can do." Al refuses. "We can live for tomorrow," Strand says. Morgan asks if anyone has any other ideas. Dwight speaks up, "You call her. There's no going back." Dwight leaves the group. Morgan apologizes to Janis, who weeps bitterly. He picks up his radio and calls Ginny, "We need your help."
"Channel 5" was another jumble of melodramatic nonsense. How can they have "dueling documentaries" in the apocalypse? Are they setting up TVs beside each other? It's a ludicrous storyline, along with putting all of their efforts toward Humbug's Gulch. How could they blindly commit to a place they didn't scout? If everywhere else is not suitable and overrun with walkers, why would Humbug's Gulch be any different? Tom's death was stupid and contrived. How can we have any empathy for a character who lasted two episodes? Asking for Ginny's help was inevitable if they exhausted all of their supplies on a Hail Mary effort.
Fear the Walking Dead has become a struggle to watch. The second half of season five has been abysmal. The documentary style filming and character interviews are such a drag. I'm so tired of hearing the characters moan and complain. The Pioneers seemed like an interesting twist, but has not delivered so far. Next week's season finale has to be extraordinary. AMC is on the verge of losing the show's fan base.