Fear the Walking Dead season 4 episode 14: MM 54

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Morgan and the rest of our survivors escape one threat, only to find themselves trapped by another.

“You lose people. You lose yourself.”

These words are spoken by Martha, formerly known as “Filthy Woman” on Fear the Walking Dead. This week, we finally were given the heartbreaking backstory to the show’s newest villain.

Martha and her husband were on the road when they got into a terrible accident. Martha’s husband is gravely injured, pinned inside the car (eerily similar to how now-deceased truck driver Clayton was found by Luciana). Martha tries to wave down the few people who drive by, but not a single person stops by to help her.

She repeats to her husband, and soon to herself, that “someone will help us. someone will come.”

This isn’t the case, sadly, and Martha is forced to kill her undead husband and bury him; Then the madness takes over. To break away from the show’s plot for a moment, it is worthy to note that superfan Lou Diamond Phillips directed this episode. On Talking Dead, Phillips explained his inspiration for Martha’s backstory came from horror icon Boris Karloff and his sentiment to “make your monsters human.” Phillips wanted to offer the audience insight and understanding to Martha, to express just how broken she is and why.

Tonya Pinkins as Martha/Filthy Woman- Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 14 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

Watching Tony-award winning Tonya Pinkins connect to this grief offered us a chance to feel sorry for her. Because who can really blame this woman? She watched as people drove on by as her husband was dying, and she ultimately had to kill and bury him. Insanity doesn’t seem that far off.

Martha soon spirals into full-on serial killer, a seemingly odd description to use in the time of the apocalypse when everyone’s likely killed someone at this point. But she isn’t killing people to defend herself; she’s killing others who actually want to help.

We learn that Clayton aka Polar Bear had a network of people helping him deliver boxes to place on the side of the road. But the network doesn’t last for long, as Martha is ready and waiting to take them down. In what appears to be her first real kill, Martha has a bit of her humanity left. She reveals to one of the helpers, Stevie, that she was an English teacher. She even corrects Stevie on the message she’s written on a supply box, noting the difference between “farther” and “further.” Before Stevie can realize the danger she’s in, she’s a goner. And that is the fate of pretty much everyone else who comes across Martha now.

This leads us to Martha’s rampage against Morgan and the rest in the truck. Her attempt to gun everyone down fails, but she did manage to poke a few holes in gasoline tanks. As everyone tries to escape, Wendell goes for Martha. Despite his wheelchair being completely destroyed, Wendell lands himself on the ground with his gun, and strikes Martha good.

Before he can get another shot in, the truck explodes and Martha escapes in Al’s tank. That explosion draws a herd of walkers towards our survivors, forcing them to make way towards a hospital for shelter.

The only one against this move is Jim, who voices that they should just keep moving on foot. With Morgan being the de facto leader of the group, everyone sides with him and the choice to go to the hospital.