Directed by Tara Nicole Weyr and written by Nazrin Choudhury & David Johnson, this week's episode was a major change in tonal direction from last week's horror-thriller vibe. As the mysteries surrounding the still-missing Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and the rumored safe haven "Padre" continue to grow, AMC's Fear the Walking Dead "Breathe with Me" continues the seventh season's catch-up with our survivors in their post-second apocalypse world. But what first appears to be a spotlight on Al (Maggie Grace), Sarah (Mo Collins), Luciana (Danay Garcia), Daniel (Rubén Blades), and Wes (Colby Hollman) quickly becomes an intimate, heartbreaking tale of keeping promises & keeping the faith when Sarah learns that Wendell (Daryl Mitchell) is still MIA. Committed to finding her "twin brother" leads her directly in the path of Josiah LaRoux (Demetrius Grosse), the brother of the late (and beheaded) bounty hunter Emile who was killed by Morgan (Lennie James) and someone who knows all too well about the burden of doing right by one's brother. So with that in mind, I'm throwing on the "MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!" sign and throwing down an image spoiler buffer before we do a deep dive into this week's episode.
Really?! You had to kill f***ing Rufus?! Seriously?! Okay, I just needed to get that out of my system because the damn team behind this week's chapter had me sobbing my damn eyes out. And yes, even as my dog's now passed out on my lap as I write this, I have to say that they did "have" to in order to tell the story they so effectively told. And once again, we have an episode in which arguably the most important characters never appear on our screens (Wendell & Emile). But this episode weighs heavily on the acting shoulders of Collins and Grosse, and it's a responsibility that they bear masterfully. With Collins, it was an opportunity to show facets to Sarah we've only had the chance to see in smaller bites since the fourth season because of a show with such a large ensemble. But now that showrunners Andrew Chambliss & Ian Goldberg are becoming pros at blending anthology formats with single-episode sensibilities, Collins was given room to stretch her acting chops, and damn if she didn't and then some. As for Grosse, I'm glad to see that the great first impression he made as Emile wasn't just a brief run and I will readily admit that I wasn't hesitant about the "twin brother" move in last week's review. Wow, am I glad that I was wrong because this episode left us with a character who not only feels like he's been a part of the show for some time but one we hope returns sooner rather than later.
Did we really believe that Sarah was going to sell out Morgan? No, and to be honest we never thought Josiah was going to kill Morgan, either. For the very reason that Sarah gave Josiah for not believing he would go through with it. Neither of them are killers, either directly or as an accessory. Who they are is two people who feel a commitment to their respective brothers to do right by them, no matter the cost. And what makes this story work is how Collins and Grosse demonstrate the different paths each takes to get to an understanding of knowing when to let go. Unfortunately for Josiah, that epiphany came too late- forcing him to have to say goodbye to two "brothers." But even as he leaves to find a sense of where and who he wants to be, we're left with a sense of hope about his future- that maybe it was time for him to realize that living the best life he can live would be the best way to honor his brother.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Okay, so here are some random thoughts that I wanted to get out there but weren't necessarily needing a whole bunch of sentences. First off, we loves the moment when Sarah realized it was Morgan on the line and that he was alive. And when it comes to dogs, we just want to make it clear that we understand the importance of Rufus' sacrifice to teach Josiah a life course-correcting lesson. That said, this means that Daryl's (Norman Reedus) dog Dog doesn't even get a drop of walker blood on him during the final season of The Walking Dead. That's more than emotionally fair. Sarah's story of the incubators and how she & Wendell bonded as brother/sister gave a sweet emotional punch to the episode title's meaning- and how important those words are for Sarah now more than ever.
Also, how much is Colman Domingo enjoying playing the "big bad" Strand- the only thing missing is a mustache twirl and a "BWAHAHAHAHAHA!". And for the record? We're not buying for a second that Wendell is with Strand in the tower. It's all just a bit of mind-f**kery on Strand's part, but I also think it's the kind that could come back to bite him (or shoot him) later on. But if there are two things I have to arch my eyebrow over, first is the idea that even after everything with the nuclear warheads and the last-minute helicopter escape that Al still wouldn't tell them anything about the CRM connections. I'm also not sure what to think about these mysteriously shady, "Mad Max" rejects and the whole deal of stealing a leaking warhead. Again, I might be wrong with them like I was with Josiah. If there's one thing I can say without hesitation it's that AMC's Fear the Walking Dead has more than earned my trust and patience in letting them tell their entire tale to see how things play out.