The merry-go-round at the finish of “210 Words Per Minute” — the title being a nod to Grace trying to cram in as much Tale of Two Cities before her death as possible — is the physical manifestation of what Fear the Walking Dead has become: a tedious round-about that never ends and always circles back to where it began.
Morgan, Grace, and Dwight hear a guy named Chuck calling out over the radio. He saw one of their videos at a gas stop and needs help: he’s been living out of a mall with virtually everything anyone could ever need, including an Urgent Care facility, but he got bit and he doesn’t have a gun to kill himself. Chuck, identifying himself as the person in a red jacket, offers up the location of the mall but has one last wish: someone needs to kill his walker form and bury him under the stars.
The trio arrive at the Bridgeview Mall, which brings up certain feelings for both Morgan and Grace. Grace initially thinks her blood sugar is low, but she collapses on the ground as Dwight and Morgan are making plans to head down to the bottom floor where all the straggler walkers have assembled. She’s not sure what’s wrong with her and that’s what scares her. It could be radiation poisoning, it could be a cold. Heck, it could be food poisoning, but each flutter of the proverbial butterflies in her stomach could be cancer. Thank god she doesn’t have access to WebMD.
Chuck left an iPod with a note for Grace. Since she picked it up, she’s been listening to an audiobook of A Tale of Two Cities, played on double speed so she can get through as much of it as possible. She divulges to Morgan that she finds she doesn’t want to start anything she might not be around to finish.
Morgan, once again, finds himself plagued by thoughts of his son, Duane. Sure, grief is a cycle of trauma. It can come and go in waves, set off by certain sights, sounds, and smells — anything that triggers memories. And everyone reacts to grief differently. For Morgan, in the way his story plays out, this particular way doesn’t make for compelling television. There’s nothing more to learn here. This story arc has been tapped out. And yet, we’re still on this merry-go-round, hoping it’ll lead somewhere else than right back where it started.
After hearing a signal from Daniel over the walkie, informing them that Logan hit another truck stop, Dwight goes off to bring the caravan to the mall to stock up on supplies. No one thinks this mall, if they all banded together and cleared out the dead, could be used for anything else besides restocking. Like, maybe it could be a good place for everyone to settle down. June was just saying last episode how she wants to find a home for all the people they’re helping. I guess beggars can be choosers.
“We’re not doing careful, we’re doing right” is the motto of this episode. Morgan and Grace decide to go down into the walker den to get to an Urgent Care. Grace hopes it’ll have an ultrasound machine to see exactly what’s wrong with her. Dwight, meanwhile, purposefully gives away his location on the walkie and finds himself ambushed by one of Logan’s men. Dwight and Morgan had discussed what would happen if Logan’s group caught up to them at the mall. Morgan just hoped they would see the good that they’re doing, which is perhaps one of the silliest conclusions he could make after Sarah stole his vehicle and left him stranded in the middle of nowhere. Being good people doesn’t mean they also have to be dumb, and Morgan doesn’t seem to understand this distinction.
Long story short with Dwight, he finds himself tied up in the back of the guy’s truck, he tries to get the location of the oil fields out of Dwight by burning Sherry’s letters, they struggle, Dwight gets the gun, Dwight decides to let him go. This seems to be the reason why he gave away his location on the walkie, to try to find some good in Logan’s people. Seems more dumb than careless, especially when there are people depending on Dwight.
Morgan uses a remote-controlled toy car to lead the dead away while they head to the lower level, but it goes awry when Grace sneaks off by herself to try to kill the walker she believes to be Chuck. It’s not Chuck and she ends up drawing the attention of all the walkers, forcing her and Morgan to barricade themselves in the vitamin/supplement shop. Later that night, as Grace is trying to help Morgan with his issues, the glass starts to break and they’re forced to flee through the back of the shop to go find the generator to turn on the power in the Urgent Care. (This pathway was blocked off before by walkers, but it’s not now. It doesn’t matter. Best not think too much about it.)
When the power comes back on, the walkers are distracted by the arcade, giving Morgan and Grace enough time to get to the Urgent Care. But the grate is stuck and when they finally release it, an alarm goes off. They’re able to retreat to the security office after some walkers follow them up the escalator. There, they turn off the alarms and see Chuck is still alive on the security cameras. He made it to the roof, hoping to look at the stars before he dies. But it’s a foggy night. Grace brings him a turtle nightlight that projects the stars on top of a wooden awning above them.
They bury Chuck out in front of the mall. With the walkers now cleared, they head back to Urgent Care, but Grace doesn’t want to know. She instead just wants to believe there will be a future for her instead of thinking about what could happen if she found out for sure what’s going on with her. Imagine anyone actually taking this approach to something as serious as a potential cancer scare. Okay, Grace.
Before they go out to greet the arriving caravan, she and Morgan ride the mall’s carousel. It reminds Grace of reasons to live, but it reignites all of Morgan’s issues with losing his son. The caravan stocks up and decides to park for the night at a nearby ranch. Morgan isn’t going with them. Instead, he decides to go off to help Al, who he says is on her own and could use backup. You can probably guess how that future episode will play out.