By the time the credits rolled on last week's midseason return episode "The Door," John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) was dead, put down by June (Jenna Elfman) after he was shot and shoved into the river by Dakota (Zoe Colletti) after Dorie discovered the truth. AMC's Fear the Walking Dead was looking to send a message that when they say "game-changing season where no one is safe," and they did it in a way that felt like a kick to the chest. What it also did was dramatically speed up the inevitable confrontation between Morgan (Lennie James) and Virginia (Colby Minifie). Dakota is the best bargaining chip Morgan has against Virginia so there's no time for revenge/justice- yet. Meanwhile, Virginia wants her sister back- and she's ready to go Negan to get the job done. And then there's the June factor, hiding in plain sight while decisions are made- until she makes her vote heard loud and clear. So from this point forward, consider the "MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!" sign on and we'll meet you on the other side of the following spoiler buffer image to let you know if there were any "Things Left to Do" after this week's chapter.
Let me get two wonderfully obvious things out of the way here, first. Elfman and Minifie are first-rate in ways that you find in actors so inside a role that they not only know how to play that character but also understand when and where to take them in bold, new directions. When she was first introduced, Elfman's June wasn't a character I found myself easily siding with- which as viewers, is exactly how it should've been because Elfman took us on a journey with June that left me at the end of the episode demanding that she get an episode of Tales of the Walking Dead focused exclusively on her. June's moment with Virginia as she's dressing her wounds was amazing, watching June go from a mother who can relate to doing what you need to do to keep your child safe to a survivor who understands that even in a walker-filled world? There needs to be justice.
As for Minifie, what's left for us to say? We've been a big fan of her work since the red carpet for Amazon's The Boys– her ability to pull off two such diametrically opposed characters at pretty much the same time and make them work deserves much more attention. The scene where Virginia is screaming at Morgan to go ahead with her execution is all Minifie needs to include in her awards nomination submission video. And it's appropriate that Virginia takes a very Negan-like approach to getting what she wants since Minifie does with Virginia what Jeffrey Dean Morgan was so deftly able to pull off with the ex-Saviors leader- show us the humanity beneath the horror, even for just a few brief moments. Not to make the viewers like them or feel bad for them- but to understand them.
And since we mentioned Negan, here's where we get to the heart of what I've appreciated about this week's episode and last week's "The Door." Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give director Satrazemis and writers Ian Goldberg, Andrew Chambliss, and Nick Bernardone is that I wished the first two episodes had been a two-hour return because of just how well they complement each other and tell a full, well-rounded story. Don't get me wrong, ending the last episode with Dorie's death and June's heartbreak was a classic episode-ender. But together, viewers are presented with an effective closure of sorts- that a chapter is definitely ending and a new (and deadlier, we hear) one ready to begin. Not that we didn't get offered some interesting threads to grab onto- like where's Strand's (Colman Domingo) heading to and what he's bringing Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) as proof to get her to join him against the bigger threat out there. Side note- has anyone else noticed the lack of Strand images beyond the Virginia storyline? Hmmm… oh, and don't forget that there's still Dakota to deal with. And will we see June again? Could she be the Fear TWD's "Carol" when they need her most? The possibilities are dangerously endless- because as you know, "The End is the Beginning."
As for the TWD/Fear TWD connections we made last week involving Dorie and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln)? This week's episode brought out theory to a satisfying conclusion: that Fear TWD offered viewers a "What If…?" look at what could've (and might still happen) during some important moments in the TWD universe. That Negan moment with Virginia lining up Morgan's allies showed what happens when there's a plan instead of just charging in with the assumption of righteousness and having the upperhand. Mogan's decision to let Virginia stay at the community in prison so she can watch their new community grow? We all pretty much know what that's from- we can even connect the decision to send Virginia and Dakota out of the community to be in line with what Carol (Melissa McBride) and others tried to do to Negan during TWD S10E22 'Here's Negan."
But where "reality" gets a twist is with June- which means that if Virginia is Negan (sure makes that Thanksgiving image a lot more meaningful, huh?) then June is Maggie (Lauren Cohan). Except Fear TWD's "Maggie" isn't leaving until she does justice by Dorie in a way that Maggie couldn't or wouldn't- with a bullet to the big bad's brain. Was she right in doing that? Does it start Morgan's new society off on a bloody or just note? Who can say? And that's why "Things Left to Do" works so well. There are no easy answers. Nothing is ever black-and-white. And that sometimes doing what's right comes with a price.