Major spoilers below for the third episode of Fear the Walking Dead Season 5.
In case anyone thought that Fear the Walking Dead’s recent irradiated-zombie developments and Rick connections were going to take this show down the most serious path ever, “Humbug’s Gulch” arrived to once again prove how much fun showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg are having. The episode embraced the western genre as much as any in Fear the Walking Dead’s past, shading in John Dorie’s backstory while also providing the franchise’s next big crossover.
That’s right, “Humbug’s Gulch” made good on Fear the Walking Dead’s promise to introduce Austin Amelio’s redeemed TWD character Dwight, making him the second Walking Dead character to join the follow-up. Below, we’ll go over how everything went down, as well as discuss that big episode-ending twist surrounding the gutted walkers mystery.
How Did Dwight Get Introduced?
The episode’s title refers to a group of roadside attractions styled to look like old west ghost towns. And yes, it’s the same company where John honed his sharpshooting skills. (Not the exact site, though, as John worked at the Nacogdoches branch.) By and large, this location worked so well in fitting the Fear the Walking Dead aesthetic. There was even a tumbleweed blowing by! A TUMBLEWEED. It was magical.
A big storm forced John and June to hole up inside one of the buildings with the intention of not getting into any potentially deadly confrontations with strangers. Unfortunately for them, a gun-toting stranger nearby had different plans. The mysterious new survivor was revealed to be Dwight, and for a few glorious minutes, we were legitimately watching a gunfight at the FTWD corral. It was fully in the streets, complete with face-disguising handkerchiefs, and the faux wanted posters getting bloodied was just the ticket.
John knowingly clipped Dwight’s arm instead of taking him out altogether, understanding that Dwight also wasn't shooting to kill. Once cooler heads eventually prevailed, June was able to treat Dwight's arm, as she and John learned more information about him. Leading us to…
Where Is Dwight’s Wife Sherry?
Sadly, Sherry’s whereabouts are currently unknown, as Dwight’s dedicated efforts to track her down have come up depressingly short. The whole reason he first took to shooting at John and June is because he thought they had something to do with Sherry’s lack of communication.
Dwight explained that when he first started following in Sherry’s footsteps, which is took him away from The Walking Dead at the end of Season 8, he was able to track her through letters and other pieces of correspondence cluing him in on where she was heading next. By his estimation, he'd been on the hunt for around a year, which had clearly taken its toll on Dwight's mental facilities.
Dwight seemed pretty certain that he would discover Sherry’s most recent note somewhere within Humbug’s Gulch, though he was unable to find anything in the vehicle that he'd been led to. Considering Sherry was the key to Dwight's post-Saviors existence, his doom-laden frustration was certainly understandable…at least for anyone other than the optimism-oozing John and June.
Fear the Walking Dead tried to make it look like a fast one was getting pulled on viewers by having Dwight end his own life in the same episode he first reappeared in, which would have been a travesty. Wisely, things played out much better, with John and June managing to put down a small horde of walkers that surrounded Dwight. John basically performed a magic trick to get the job done, but it was as awesome as it was ridiculous.
Plus, Dwight was inevitably convinced to stay alive and joined John and June in reconnecting with their group, setting Dwight up with the first familiar face he'd seen in a while.
How Did Dwight And Morgan React To Each Other?
By the end of the episode, John and June reconnected with the rest of the group with Dwight in tow. Morgan was quick to recognize Dwight’s unforgettable face, though Dwight was initially unsure of how good-natured that recognition was.
Before Dwight could attempt to defend anything he did back in Virginia, Morgan essentially told him it was all water under the bridge. (Not the bridge that Rick blew up, though.) Everybody has a new purpose these days, regardless of what went on in previous years, and it looks like Morgan will try to convince Dwight that he’s a perfect resource for their rescue missions. I bet Morgan goes ham on trying to find Sherry for Dwight, too. But before that happens…
Who Is Stringing All Those Walkers Up?
Dwight’s arrival would have been a big ol’ cheek-slapping shock had Austin Amelio's crossover twist not been revealed ahead of time. (Though I totally understand why AMC would need to make that reveal for marketing purposes.) As such, it seems like the writing team knew they had to go the extra mile in furthering the mystery of the gut-tethered walkers.
So I imagine it came as a surprise to many when the episode’s final moments revealed that it was the season’s other new recruits, Annie and Max, who have been forming roadblocks by tying walkers to street signs. The teens' younger brother Dylan is no less guilty, either, since he acted as bloodied bait in drawing out Alicia, Morgan and the others.
Max and Annie don’t seem to have any murderous motives behind their current scheme, which is probably good since they’d be highly outnumbered (if not out-filthed). But the youths appear quite suspicious of all the new adults in their lives, and are wondering if finding Al is the group’s true M.O. In general, Annie looks just a little too comfortable with her current station in life, while Max appears slightly less enthused.
Not that either of the teens or their brother would be able to judge any other characters on this show for doing strange shit, considering Max and Annie have kept busy setting up a bunch of gruesome Red Rover lineups. Are they doing it just for protection, though, or is there something else at stake here?
Elsewhere On Fear The Walking Dead…
Three cheers to Fear star Colman Domingo for directing this episode. The guitar-and-whistle-filled bit of the cold open – "Welcome to the Gulch" – was one of my favorite moments from this series yet. If only Domingo's Strand could have been a part of a drunken saloon brawl.
Another moment that stands way high in this universe: the BROTHel. Is it the freshest joke in the world? No, but it's fresher than the soup of the day.
Just judging by that opening scene, people living at the Hilltop Colony on The Walking Dead should set up some smaller windmills at certain points on the outer perimeter to attract walkers with the noise. I feel like once you get one windmill erected, the next two can be knocked out in a weekend.
The Walking Dead universe has delivered some pretty disturbing plot lines for its child characters in recent years. From Carl to Henry to Jocelyn's group to Sebastian from the most recent Walking Dead comic books. Is this some kind of comment about children's more primal nature compared to adults? Or are kids just cheaper to hire for shorter arcs?
Am I supposed to keep drawing parallels between John's sense of unearned privilege and Father Gabriel's reliance on blind faith during his in Season 8? I hope John's issues gets sorted out mainly by June convincing him he's worth the oxygen, and not by John's "luck" running out over some heinous tragedy. I don't ever need to see Garret Dillahunt in emotional or physical pain again on this show. But, again, give me more of that post-Deadwood gunplay.
If you were Sherry, dear reader, how long would you continue leaving notes for someone without ever knowing if the notes were received? Is there a point when the notes are written merely as a comforting sense of habit, or is there always the assured confidence of being found one day?
Regardless of if John is a legit guardian angel or just a lucky schmo, I fully applauded after "Six-Gun Sam" pulled off that legendary San Antonio Split, in which his bullet struck the axe blade and the two fragments each killed a walker. More of that kinda shit in my face, all day, all night.
On a show that doesn't rely much on pop culture references, every Fear the Walking Dead character apparently remembers the shit out of Finding Nemo as soon as they meet John. As if he didn't deal with that shit enough before Pixar ceased to exist in this universe. I will not be surprised if John filets the next person who starts to make that comment.
With Dwight now a more permanent addition to the Fear the Walking Dead cast, fans can catch him and everyone else every Sunday night on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET.