So we’ve seen the penultimate episode of Fear the Walking Dead. (Yes, I know there are two episodes left: bear with me.) And the bad things are starting to ramp up—
Compromise our safety, destroy our community, I’ll die before I let that happen.
So how best to sum this up? Let me find the ways…
Now that he has a gun, Nick (Frank Dillane) has Jeremiah (Dayton Callie) show him how to use it. It’s while they’re out doing target practice that they see their exploratory party return rather slowly. And there’s a reason for this: walking many, many miles in nothing but your stocking feet tends to turn her feet into bloody stumps. Troy (Daniel Sharman), Madison (Kim Dickens), and the others barely make it to the gate when everyone comes rushing out to give them attention and find out what the hell happened.
Vernon’s son tells everyone the truth about being surrounded by Walker’s people and having their gear taken—oh, and also being told that if they don’t leave the ranch, they’ll be killed. Troy tries to shut him up, but Vernon—one of the founders—will have none of it.
Hearing this it’s a sizable part of the population worried. Back in Jeremiah’s office, Madison sits while Troy and Jake (Sam Underwood) consult with their father. Jake let’s Madison know that Walker has been after their land for quite some time, but they’ve always beat them back whenever it was taken to court. Jake keeps bringing this bit of information up several times during the episode; I guess the genius and realize that there is no operational court system at this time, but Madison knows this and she wonders what’s going to happen when Walker comes at the ranch. Jeremiah says that won’t happen because Walker doesn’t have the numbers and he doesn’t have the equipment.
That doesn’t prevent Walker’s people from setting fires around the perimeter of the ranch in the night just to do mind games on everyone. Because if you can scare everyone off the land, you don’t need to attack them.
RT: Madison’s group have really have walked into a mess of a situation. I really think they should just leave the Ottos to sort out their own mess. Or, alternatively, join Walker’s group…
Fear is spreading throughout the ranch and Jeremiah is having to deal with a migraine while dealing with this other bullshit. Vernon is the one making the most noise and this bothers Jeremiah the most as Vernon is the only surviving founder of the ranch besides Jeremiah. Madison wants to know what Jeremiah is going to do to stop this talk, as Gretchen (Rae Gray) has just visited her scared shit listen wanting to know what they’re going to do. Jeremiah isn’t in the mood to kiss anyone’s ass, and it seems almost as if he’s at a loss for what action he should take.
While Jeremiah shuts down, Troy and Jake react to what’s going on around. Troy wants everyone to chill the fuck out and stay with the ranch, because there’s no way in hell Walker and his people are going to drive them away–even though, you know, they killed everyone at the outpost.
Jake maintains that Walker is reasonable and they can come to some solution, but at the same time he’s getting in a little target practice with a M-4. Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) joins him and after doubting whether or not everyone is safe at the ranch, decides to try a little target practice as well, because why not? Perhaps in a past life she was a warrior of some kind…
It eventually gets to the point where Vernon loads up his family, takes what supplies he brought with him, and decides to leave the ranch with a couple of horses. This doesn’t set well with Troy, who doesn’t want Vernon and his family, particularly his son, to leave. Troy won’t let the matter go and eventually Jeremiah shows up and punches his son. Vernon’s eventually allowed to leave, and the Otto’s go their separate way.
RT: Can someone just accidentally shoot Troy already? I am so sick of his crazy arse.
Nick finds Jeremiah up at his new place with a bottle, and the old dude is way more than half in the bag. He tries to get Nick to drink with him, but the former junkie is smart enough to know he doesn’t need a new addiction in place of the one he just kicked. Eventually Jeremiah picks up Nick’s pistol and begins firing off a couple of rounds, because booze and firearms always seem to go hand-in-hand. Eventually Nick chills out the old man and sets him down to sleep it off.
Madison’s in the pantry where she finds Troy with a group of people. Troy is basically getting them to swear fidelity to him; oh sure, Troy tells him they’re going to defend the ranch with their lives, but you can see they are going to defend the ranch by following his orders. Madison is keenly aware that beneath all the troubling bullshit that makes up Troy’s psyche, there’s a presence that his father lacks.
Later, Madison’s sleeping it off in the bunkhouse when Alicia comes in. When she asks her daughter where she was, Alicia says she was with Jake. Madison’s not an idiot and tells Alicia that the rhythm method is bullshit—which Alicia counters by saying she found some birth control in the pantry, so everything is cool. I’m not sure that’s how over-the-counter birth control works, so I’m still hedging my bets that Alicia is going to end up with a bun in the oven before the season is out.
Anyway, Madison wants to know what’s going on and we discover Alicia is probably just as cunning as her mom. She says she likes Jake but she’s not in love with him—though she can see that being nice to him makes them useful. Yeah, don’t fuck with the Clark Women: these two are a lot more cunning than they seem.
Jeremiah wakes up and finds Nick waiting for him with a pot of coffee. The old man apologizes for his actions the night before and Nick is like, the fuck are you talking about? I was sleeping in the bunkhouse all night. Jeremiah notices a horse near the fence and recognizes that it was one of the two horses Vernon took with him the day before.
Later Jeremiah, Madison, and Nick are in a truck heading down the road. Jeremiah is certain that Vernon and his family are dead. Madison says that perhaps they let the horse go, but Jeremiah knows that’s bullshit: Vernon would’ve killed the horse for the meat and hide before letting it go. Madison says it perhaps the horse escaped. Jeremiah is more like they’re dead, face it.
They eventually find the camper and it’s all shot up. Jeremiah hears snarling inside and goes into take a look: a few moments later two shots ring out. Jeremiah tells Madison he put down Vernon and his wife. They still hear snarling, however, and make their way back to the horse trailer. And there, in the finest Walking Dead tradition, the remaining horse is being munched on by what’s left of Vernon’s now zombie family. The first two members of the family are put down quickly, but when Gretchen rears up and stares directly at Madison, she’s unable to pull the trigger on her, leaving it to Nick who, with only a little bit of basic weapons training, does a one-handed head shot like it’s no big thing. Madison tells Jeremiah she was unable to shoot because it suddenly struck her that Gretchen is her own daughter’s age.
A bit later Madison and Nick have a conversation. While Madison is convinced this was the work of Walker and his people, Nick tells her that’s bullshit, this was Troy. Madison refuses to believe that until Nick points out that Walker took all their shit when he had the chance, so why wasn’t anything from Vernon’s family taken? The camper, the horses, food, clothing, weapons: it’s all still here. This was not Walker, it was Troy.
The pickup truck returns later with Vernon and his family in the back. While everyone looks on in horror, Madison addresses the crowd and tells them that this was the work of Walker and his people, that he murdered this family for no reason whatsoever—and if they leave this ranch, everyone will be murdered out in the wasteland just like Vernon’s family. She reminds them that they have food, they have ammo, they have numbers, and they have walls, so if they work together they can stop Walker from taking their home.
This gets everyone pumped up and revitalized and acting as if they have a need to defend the ranch. Nick tells Madison that he’s going to back her play, but she has to realize that Troy is dangerous and he needs to be watched. Madison let’s Nick know that she’s going to take care of things so that they don’t have to leave.
Jake, however, still believes he can reach some sort of agreement with Walker, and tells Alicia that he’s taking a back way to Walker’s reservation so he can speak with him. Not long after he’s gone, Alicia finds a map and a few supplies and goes after Jake, because sex is suddenly made her stop thinking?
Madison finds Troy and it’s not long before Troy admits that he went out to speak with Vernon and his son and while he didn’t intend to kill everyone, things happened. Probably some stuff as well, I suppose…
RT: I am horrified Madison covered up Troy’s “indiscretion.” The boy is PTSD batshit crazy and Madison’s counselling skills are probably not enough to work Troy through it all.
Madison blows this off and tells Troy that she knows he can be an effective leader—but he has to keep his shit together in order for that to happen. She believes he can do it—is he going to disappoint her? Troy gives her a stern look and a quick nod. “No, ma’am.”
Madison is satisfied. She walks away to take care of other business…
Personal Note: Rachel and I have spoken from time to time about how we’ve thought Madison could become something of the antihero in Fear the Walking Dead. Perhaps she hasn’t become an antihero as of yet, but she is definitely running her own agenda at the ranch, and if it’s necessary for her to spin a bullshit story that lets a psycho, murdering son off the hook, she’s going to do it as long as it means her family stays protected.
Let’s keep in mind it was only about a month before that Madison was a high school counselor; now she’s ready to kick ass and take names, and she forgot her pad of paper on which to keep those names. Right now Fear is at about the same time frame as the fall of the farm in the original Walking Dead, but my personal opinion is Madison has a hell of a lot more on the ball than Rick had at this point.
Why? Because Rick was a police officer and already knew something about how to use his authority to get people to do things. Shane was doing that, but Shane was too fucking crazy to trust, and for the longest time Rick refused to step up and take the leadership role until everything went totally to hell.
Madison isn’t waiting for things to go to hell: she has a son and daughter to protect and Goddammit, she’s going to protect them. So she is being proactive as hell and doing her best to keep everyone united so they can be back any and all attackers. Seriously, if at this juncture in time Madison Clark ran into Rick Grimes, she’d tell Rick to sit the fuck down while she gave the orders.
Do not fuck with Madison. I don’t think we’ve even begun to see the level of crazy she can bring if she’s pushed.
As always, let us know what you thought by leaving your comments below!
Madison Clark — Kim Dickens
Alicia Clark — Alycia Debnam-Carey
Nick Clark — Frank Dillane
Troy Otto — Daniel Sharman
Jake Otto — Sam Underwood
Jeremiah Otto — Dayton Callie
Gretchen Trimbol — Rae Gray
Fear the Walking Dead airs in the US on AMC at 9 PM EDT.
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Season 2 of Fear the Walking Dead is currently available on DVD.