In this week’s episode of Fear TWD, “Mourning Cloak,” Charlie (Alexa Nisenson) reclaims part of her lost childhood while losing even more of herself.
It’s hard to imagine what it would be like growing up in the apocalypse, where your only memories of the world before it fell apart are fuzzy at best. For the TWD Universe kids, they either have a vague memory from before (like Charlie and Carl) or they never knew the before times at all (like Judith, RJ, Herschel, Gracie, Coco and so many others).
“Mourning Cloak” sees Charlie – who is about to turn thirteen in the story – trying to earn her way into the Tower by partnering with Ali (Ashton Arbab) to go on a mission to prove her worthiness. He, too, is trying to prove worthiness, only he wants to become one of Strand’s rangers.
As the story unfolds, Charlie and Ali end up in a bowling alley. Charlie has never been in a bowling alley and she begs Ali to show her what bowling is. By the end of the episode, he’s her first kiss, she ends up being dosed with fatal amounts of radiation and will soon die and Ali gets pushed off the roof when Howard throws a fit.
This Romeo and Juliet-style story is tragic in many ways. But it’s a beautiful and powerful tale in the greater TWD Universe.
It’s so easy to forget what these kids have lost because the world around them has been wiped out. All they know is the remains of what was; abandoned shells of malls, bowling alleys and amusement parks that used to be bastions of youth and youthful culture all around the world are reminders of what has been lost.
We have seen great love stories in the apocalypse. You know them and love them. But there’s something special that happens when the apocalypse kids find their first loves. Carl shared a moment with Enid. Henry had Lydia. And now Charlie had Ali.
Sadly – and most tragically – all of these kids are gone, save for Lydia and Charlie. And it looks like Charlie is on her way out.
I really enjoyed “Mourning Cloak” as an episode that explores the other side of the apocalypse and the struggle that young people living and loving in the apocalypse must face. I think we often forget that the TWD Universe isn’t always about big deaths and WTF moments; there’s the other side of the apocalypse, the human side, and that’s something that the Fear TWD writers and showrunners have always been so adept at portraying over the years.
If you want an audience to care about the story, then the audience needs to have moments like these with the characters. The anthology format has allowed the actors to do a deep dive into their characters, and in Nisenson’s case it presented an opportunity to show her growth from her debut in season 4 to now.
And we can’t forget Lennie James’ turn behind the camera. James is an incredible actor, but as a director he has a way of bringing out the best in the cast and it’s a joy to see. I had the honor of watching him in action during a Fear TWD set visit when they were shooting episode 602. “Welcome to the Club” was his directorial debut on the show but you wouldn’t have guessed it the way he brought each scene to life.
Charlie’s tragic love story will no doubt serve as ammunition in the coming war between Strand and Alicia. Strand and Charlie shared a special bond after their hot air balloon adventure while Alicia and Charlie bonded during the hurricane in season 4. My guess is that Strand won’t be happy with Howard when he returns and finds out that Charlie was put into such a horrible predicament, but at this point it’s anyone’s guess as to what will actually happen.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC.