Fear the Walking Dead 510, “210 Words Per Minute,” may have foreshadowed an ending for Dwight (Austin Amelio).
When Dwight, Morgan (Lennie James) and Grace (Karen David) journey into a mall overrun with walkers in an attempt to fulfill the dying wish of a stranger, Grace listens to an audio book of Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.” Because she’s suffering the worsening effects of exposure to high levels of radiation, she listens to her tapes at an accelerated rate — speeding them up to 210 words per minute.
A coded message from Daniel (Ruben Blades) alerts Dwight the survivors’ caravan is in range. Dwight reports the pursuing Logan (Matt Frewer) and his people, pissed over being duped out of prized fuel, hit another truck stop nearby.
Morgan instructs Dwight to get back to the caravan and return with trucks allowing them to load up with much-needed supplies recovered from the mall. Before he leaves, Dwight unloads his gun and pockets a bullet.
On his way out, Dwight tells Morgan he’s “not doing careful.” Morgan says they didn’t give up the oil fields because they need gas to keep moving and provide help to anyone and everyone who needs it.
“That’s right. But see, I’ve already been on the wrong side of taking what people need. You know that,” Dwight says of his time in Virginia as one of the Saviors, who helped themselves to other people’s shit under the charge of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). “You turn off your conscience, your heart. When that happens, it’s harder to turn them back on. So now we’re just gonna live our lives looking over our shoulders? Tell me, please, how this is gonna end with them.”
“I have faith in people. In everybody. I have to,” Morgan admits. “We’re just getting to know each other, and already I got faith in you, Dwight. If they come at us, we redirect. We try and make this something other than a fight.”
Dwight says they’ll need a little more than that. “I think you said it. We’re not doing careful,” Morgan tells him. “We’re doing right.”
Dwight speaks plainly into his walkie talkie, saying exactly where he’s going. This tips off Rollie (Cory Hart), who assaults and then captures Dwight during a roadside bathroom break.
Kept prisoner in the back of a semi, Dwight tells Rollie he led him away from the caravan. The stooge still can’t figure out why Dwight pulled some “dumb shit” like walking around with an unloaded weapon. But Dwight isn’t intimidated by Rollie’s now loaded gun.
Failing to rattle Dwight, who says he’s gone up against “worse people,” Rollie devises another way to get the scarred ex-Savior to give up the oil fields. He comes back with prizes from Dwight’s truck: letters penned by Sherry (Christine Evangelista), the only hope Dwight has of finding his disappeared wife.
Rollie threatens to burn them all until he gets what he wants. “Or maybe I’ll find her myself,” he says. “She sounds like a sweetheart.” The sudden appearance of a stray walker provides enough time for Dwight to attack his captor and force him to the ground.
Dwight turns the gun on Rollie, who tells him to do it. “You’re an asshole too, right?” Dwight is stopped only by the glimpse of one of Sherry’s letters. He remembers her telling him to find a reason to live, and live.
Later, Dwight holds Rollie prisoner.
“You want to know why my gun wasn’t loaded before? Because you were right. I am an asshole. Or used to be one,” Dwight tells him. “And the way things are going lately, I didn’t trust myself not to be that again. Someone gave me a second chance... and it’s the same chance I’m giving you.”
Rollie asks what the hell he’s talking about. “When you walk out of these woods, you’re gonna have a choice to make,” Dwight explains. “You can go on being an asshole, or you can figure out someone else to be.” With that, Dwight cuts Rollie free and sets him loose.
Reunited with the group, Dwight is given a haircut and a shave by Daniel. As he undergoes this transformation, Grace’s audio book can be heard in select excerpts:
“I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long years to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out...”
The camera comes into focus again and holds on Dwight as he eyes his new self in the mirror, where he’s framed as a “double.”
“I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy... I see the good old man, so long their friend, in ten years’ time enriching them with all he has...” — Daniel joins Dwight in the frame — “...and passing tranquilly to his reward...”
Morgan and the others then load supplies onto trucks. “I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence ... It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done.”
Like “A Tale of Two Cities,” which contrasted London and Paris, Fear contrasts Morgan’s camp against Logan’s camp. The story’s focus is on Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton, two nearly identical men who act as doubles.
Through his intervention as a lawyer, Carton gets Darnay acquitted of treason despite resenting Darnay for representing what he might have been; a similar dynamic played out in The Walking Dead, where Dwight, like Carton, acted as the double and dark shadow of rival Daryl (Norman Reedus), who is mentioned as the person that gave Dwight his second chance.
Both Darnay and Carton share a love for Lucie Manette — for Carton, she’s given him purpose and made an otherwise worthless life valuable. This draws a parallel to Sherry, who has inspired Dwight to be a better person as he now exhibits altruism alongside Morgan’s crew.
Ultimately, Darnay is imprisoned and sentenced to death for the vicious past crimes of his brother and uncle. Carton learns Darnay, Lucie, and their daughter will all be executed, and switches places with the man doomed to die at the guillotine, allowing their escape from Paris.
Though Carton dies, he does so proudly, knowing he was not irredeemable and his life was one filled with meaning.1comments
The use of “A Tale of Two Cities” — and its selection of excerpts used when the camera is focused on Dwight — appear to foreshadow Dwight fulfilling his quest for redemption by laying down his life to save others. In the end, Dwight won’t do careful. He’ll do right.
New episodes of Fear the Walking Dead Season 5 premiere Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.