(SPOILERS for this week’s Fear The Walking Dead will be found below.)
Let me say this right up front: The lost character who resurfaced in this week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead is not Madison. The fan community is very upset today with some online reviewers for vaguely teasing the possibility of Madison’s return in this week’s episode. The closest the episode gets to the return of Madison is a brief mention by Alicia of the Stadium. That’s it. Don’t listen to anyone who implies otherwise.
A lost character does resurface in the episode, however. Grace — the only character from last season we had not checked on yet — appears briefly in the final scene of the episode. She’s very pregnant, and Ginny is keeping her locked away in a small room for reasons we’ll get to in a moment.
The featured characters in this episode, however, are Alicia, Charlie, Strand, and Virginia’s sister, Dakota. Dakota is being transported by a convoy led by Strand, who seems to be eagerly doing the bidding of Virginia. The convoy, however, is massacred, Dakota runs away, and Strand is left up the proverbial sh*t creek without a paddle, knowing that if Virginia finds out he lost her sister, she’ll kill him.
Strand plays the only card he has: He reaches out to Alicia, who (along with Charlie) has been put on some sort of watch duty. Alicia, who is still pissed at Strand for how he played her in the season’s second episode, is reluctant to help, but eventually agrees to track down Dakota. Later in the episode — after she finds Dakota — Alicia radios Virginia, rats out Strand, and offers to rescue Dakota for Virginia in exchange for her and Charlie’s freedom. Alicia is all too willing to let Strand take the fall after what he did to her.
In the meantime, Alicia and Charlie track Dakota to the home of a taxidermist, and this is where things get disturbing: Ed, the taxidermist, has been working on zombies, attaching horns and antlers on to them to (as he explains it) scare people away from his home. I guess antler’d walkers are the post-apocalyptic equivalent of scarecrows.
Ed seems like a nice enough guy, just lonely, and loneliness in the zombie apocalypse is a dangerous thing. Turns out, Ed may have accidentally killed his family, and when Dakota and Alicia try to leave, Ed boards them in, because Ed needs the company. Alas, Charlie (hiding in the house with Ed unaware) tranquilizes Ed, although that doesn’t quite do the trick. When Ed and Alicia get into a struggle, Ed is impaled on a pair of his own antlers (that seemed inevitable) and the antler zombies -come crashing into Ed’s home. Alicia manages to fend off a few, but she is aided by the sudden appearance of Morgan, who arrives as he so often has this season) in the nick of time.
Once the zombies are cleared, Morgan and Alicia have some business with which to tend. Morgan tells Alicia about his hideaway, and because Alicia has grown fond of Dakota, she’s decided that they’ll take Dakota with them, Strand be damned. Morgan, however, has other plans: he wants to use Dakota as leverage to retrieve all their people still under Virginia’s control. Alicia, however, says no dice, and when she threatens to take Charlie and Dakota somewhere else (like the Stadium), Morgan says, “Oh wait! Nevermind! Let’s do this together.” He agrees to take Dakota back to his hideaway.
In the meantime, when Virginia learns that Morgan has Dakota, she blows a stack. She demands to know whose side Strand is on, and he says that he’s on her side (but is he?). That’s when Virginia shows Strand where she has a pregnant Grace hidden. In the closing seconds of the episode, Virginia tells Strand to leverage Grace for “every single person we took from that gulch.”
Virginia, it appears, is angling to start another All-Out War. Unfortunately, we have to wait until 2021 to find out what happens next.
— The chessboard has been set up in a very compelling way moving ahead, with — as it stands at the moment — June, Strand, Sarah, and Wendell on Virginia’s side; Al, Dwight, Dakota, and Alicia with Morgan. John is in the wind, Daniel is working for Morgan from the inside, Grace is being held as leverage, and we don’t really know where Luciana and Wes stand at the moment. Plus, Sherry and her group are wild cards. It’s messy, but I expect that episode 8 (which was supposed to be the original midseason finale) will help settle these alliances.
— No word yet on when Fear will return in 2021, but it is filming. The Walking Dead returns on February 28th, so it’ll be interesting to see if Fear returns after their 6 episodes, or if it runs concurrently. I would guess that it would come after, which means we may not see the back half of this season until April, and it would end in June, or around the same time that Fear seasons usually begin. AMC’s TWD schedule is all out of whack.
— Madison is not coming back. It’s disappointing that a few reviewers hinted that she might because fans who would have normally enjoyed this episode were left feeling disappointed that she did not return, despite some hyping that she might. That’s not cool. It’s one thing to speculate about something that might happen in episodes that we have not seen yet — that’s something we all do — but it’s another thing to imply something is in an episode that a reviewer has seen when that something is not.
— Nobody believes for a second that Strand is actually working with Virginia, do they?
— While disturbing, the fact that a taxidermist only attached antlers to walkers is probably the least upsetting thing he could have done. I expected to see stuffed zombie heads hanging on his wall.
— Strand’s convoy, by the way, was wiped out not by the spray painters, but by Morgan. However, Morgan insists that he did not take down Tank Town. There’s still yet another unknown out there: the spray painters, and the key they are trying to retrieve from Morgan.