Since the midseason premiere, Fear the Walking Dead has been setting the stage for something — something presumably dark. With all the walkers seemingly cleared from the hotel, the colony poking the bear of the dealers guarding the warehouse, and Travis finally seeing what his son truly is, events have been stacked like a batch of TNT. This week, a match is lit and it’s only a matter of time before everything the survivors have built will explode.
Dramatic enough for you? Let’s get started.
While the colony envisioned itself to be this idyllic Eden with the wasteland of the dead beyond, there’s still something we can’t put our finger on. Francisco, one of the men who helped bring Nick into the fold, knows what it is, and we see him racing to leave with his wife and daughter.
The three sneak through the vacant streets and beneath the perch of a sleeping guard, slip past a woman cradling her crying baby, and escape through a hole in the wall. Francisco’s little girl is scared, but her parents say they must leave because it’s not safe anymore, and remind her to keep calm and quiet while they do so. To ensure their safe passage, they make their way to the bus so Francisco can lure a walker inside and use its blood to mask their scent.
An ongoing issue with FTWD is this technique has somehow become this magical walker repellent — the slogan can be something like, “slather it on and walker begone.” It’s become this lazy and repetitive means of allowing characters to escape hopeless situations, which kills half the fun. Also, there are reasons why characters in The Walking Dead don’t do it that often, the main one being it doesn’t last that long and changing weather can drastically diminish the effectiveness.
Rant aside, Francisco’s family uses this approach and are able to weave unharmed through the walkers beyond the bus. He reveals they’re headed to another settlement called El Descanso (“The Break”), but their escape to freedom is interrupted by Marco, the leader of the dealers who’ve taken over the warehouse. Spotting them from the road, Marco and another armed man get out of the truck and accost them. Marco clearly wants to figure out where the colony is. Worse, he recognizes Francisco from the warehouse when he came to trade Oxy for supplies. Unable to get information out of him or his family, he takes all three in the truck as captives.
Afterwards, we pick up with Ofelia. Victor’s prediction that she took the truck from the hotel was right. We see her now pulling up to a taco joint on the side of a road. She looks different: Her once-frazzled appearance is slicker with a tight ponytail and black bomber jacket. She goes to the trunk, which is full of supplies, and takes out a hammer. Entering the restaurant, she bashes in the head of a walker and taps her weapon against metal to draw out any remaining threats.
Ofelia walks to the back of the joint and gets lost in the sight of the calming ocean waves. The scene segues into a memory of her in Mexico with her ex-fiancé. You might recall her explaining in the hotel that they broke up when he accepted a new job, while she decided to stay home to care for her parents. The memory is of the moment he proposed by hiding a ring in her drink. He wants her to come with him when he moves, saying her parents are stronger than she thinks — that, as it turns out, was an understatement. He resolves to ask Ofelia’s father for her hand in marriage, though she jokes, “If you ask for my hand, he’ll take yours.” The memory lingers as Ofelia looks over a map of the area and siphons gasoline from another car to fill up the truck.
NEXT: A surprise attack
It seems she regrets the choice she made, and we see another one of her poor choices play out back at the hotel. She left Madison and the others out of fear, but now the area is secure and prospering. Most of the hotel guests (I say most because we’ll get to Ilene in a moment) have joined in the hotel’s upkeep: Some chain up the gate, others plant seeds and farm the land, men fish off the boardwalk, Madison and Elena successfully turn on the generator, and Victor mans the bar.
On the beach, Hector is teaching Alicia how to surf, though she can barely jump into a standing position before falling over on the sand. She mentions her brother, and the conversation becomes a mirror of Nick’s comments to Luciana: She hopes he’s still alive, but bemoans how she missed who he was and not necessarily who he is now. Hector then cryptically mentions he has a brother who’s “gone.” Madison walks up to bring them each a glass of water, with ice courtesy of the generator.
As she borrows Alicia for something inside the hotel, a knock at Luciana’s door cuts to the colony. Nick is in her bed and he scrambles to put on a shirt and hide in the bathroom. She opens the door to find one of her men, Ronaldo, who informs her Francisco has deserted the colony with his family. He only found out because Francisco was supposed to help make the latest trade at the warehouse, but didn’t show. Shocked at the news, Luciana mentions Francisco helped build the colony and was there when her brother died, which seems like it could have something to do with why he fled. Ronaldo says he won’t make the trade without him, but Nick volunteers to go in Francisco’s place so they can get more water before their window of opportunity closes.
Meanwhile, Madison, Alicia, Victor, and Elena are assembled in a hotel room, discussing how to ration their supply of gasoline to keep the generator functional for as long as possible. Everything seems hunky-dory, but then there’s a knock at the door. Victor goes to open it and finds Ilene, who immediately stabs him with a knife and mutters, clearly unhinged, “You took my daughter from me.”
After a beat, Madison and Alicia scramble to get him on the bed and stop the bleeding. Oscar’s brother Andreas mentions he went to med school for a year and a half, making him the closest thing they have to a doctor. Oscar says Ilene is in her room with people watching her, and that’s where she’ll stay for the remainder of the episode. Maybe it cost too much to have Brenda Strong in more than one scene. Kidding…kind of.
Oscar blames Ilene’s actions on her festering grief over the loss of her husband and daughter. Victor, his typical jokester self amid sudden trauma, says “I understand grief, but this is a little extreme.” Elena then brings up what everyone is thinking: What if she never gets over her grief? What if she attacks again?
NEXT: Madison lays down the law
Andreas says it appears that none of Victor’s organs were nixed by the blade, but he needs medication, specifically something that will replenish his red blood cells to replace the ones he lost. Since they don’t have the equipment to perform a blood transfusion, this is apparently their best hope. That’s when Elena says she knows a place, which we can infer is the warehouse.
Back at the colony, Luciana and Nick have the pleasure of telling Alejandro that Francisco left. Alejandro is instantly paranoid and questions whether Luciana knew about it beforehand. She says no, but his lingering stare suggests he may not believe her. From someone who’s constantly preaching faith, he’s certainly not having any of his own all of a sudden. And Luciana, no less, has proven herself to be the most faithful to him, so his response is noticeably out of character. She suggests Alejandro reassure the colony, though he thinks the people should hear from Luciana. In the meantime, they’ll try and keep things quiet.
As Victor sips from scotch and keeps the jokes coming, Madison crouches down and whispers about what they should do with Ilene. They all acknowledge she’s a danger and deranged. Turning to address the entire room, Madison announces Ilene will remain in her room indefinitely. Andreas says she’s a prisoner, and Madison is quick to say the hotel can’t afford to foster violence. She hands down the first commandment of their new community: “If any of us raises a hand to another, then we’re out.” All are in agreement.
Alejandro is visibly becoming unhinged as he fails in the same task of keeping his flock together. In his address to the community, he equates desertion to the loss of faith. While some seem to believe in his reassurance, Nick is quick to ask Luciana whether he’s okay. The two approach Alejandro, who turns once again on his main disciple. This time he questions why she hasn’t spoken to the guards yet before mandating they make no more trades with the warehouse until he says otherwise. This doesn’t sit well with Nick, who noted earlier that the colony desperately needs more supplies.
Speaking of supplies, Madison notices Elena quarreling with Hector before they depart for the warehouse themselves. She gets into the passenger truck with Elena at the wheel and Oscar in the backseat, and promises Alicia they’ll be back in two hours. Later on the road, Elena reveals she was trying to get Hector to come with them because his brother is still alive and with the dealers. (Apparently, he meant “gone” as in literally gone from here.) Elena hoped Hector could help bring Antonio home with them, but Hector can’t forgive how his brother chose to stay with the dealers over his family. Gazing out the window at a walker that slightly resembles Nick, Madison tells her to never give up on him.
Nick, however, isn’t so faithful to Alejandro. He gets in a fight with Luciana, who still defends him after he openly questioned her loyalty. Nick says Alejandro’s not thinking straight because he’s losing control over the people and suggests they make the trade anyway. Luciana stands by Alejandro’s decision, even though the people need medicine and water. She then remarks how Alejandro saved Nick from the wasteland, but he asserts she was his savior. That would’ve been an ideal time for an “I am the captain now” reference, but instead she says, “I’m the boss now” and kisses him.
NEXT: Will Madison have a reunion?
By this point, Madison, Elena, and Oscar have arrived at the warehouse, and they bring a white cooler to the door. Elena asks for Antonio, teasing the guards that they have something he may be interested in. They only let the women inside and instruct Oscar to wait by the car. After a brief swinging of egos, Oscar complies.
Hoping to change his mind about the trade, Nick confronts Alejandro in his home as he looks pensive on his lounge chair. He acknowledges he shouldn’t have been so quick to question Luciana, which begs the question of why he did it in the first place. While Alejandro was quick to chastise Nick in previous episodes for threatening the safety of the colony, Nick is now returning the favor. He argues that if they don’t make the trade, Marco and his gang will come looking for the colony and the Oxy they’re now addicted to. Alejandro counters that this is not Nick’s place, but having proven himself to be an instrumental part of the colony’s way of life, he appropriately fires back.
Unable to see the world beyond his faith, Alejandro shakes off Nick’s warning that Marco is a real threat and he’s coming. Alejandro’s only defense at this point is to question Nick’s beliefs and commitment. He says he does have faith and Luciana has faith in Alejandro, a small distinction that reflects Nick’s distrust of the colony’s leader.
Still, Alejandro tries to play the victim-who-has-to-make-tough-choices card, which Nick sees as asking for blind faith. Alejandro rephrases it as trust, the same trust he has in Nick, whom he says he considers a son. The strength of any good cult leader is in their persuasive ability to brainwash their followers. Alejandro may not be the most eloquent man, but he touches upon Nick’s sensitive spot regarding his issues with father figures. However, it doesn’t look like Nick will take the bait.
Meanwhile, Elena and Madison meet a strung-out (or just exhausted) Antonio as they hand over their list of medicine and open the cooler to reveal a catch of fish chilled in ice. He says the fish are good but the ice is better, and Elena agrees to get them as much as they need. She then mentions Hector, but Antonio asks why he didn’t come. Elena has no response.
Antonio instructs them to wait where they are as he gets everything on the list. In an upstairs room, Marco is loudly interrogating Francisco and his wife. Madison spies the scene from the floor and asks Elena to translate. She explains they’ve taken their daughter and are looking for some colony, but warns they should stay out of it. Upon further pressing, Elena adds they mentioned a woman named Luciana and a “gringo with ratty hair,” whom Madison believes is a reference to Nick.
She then rushes into the room, despite a raging Marco and warnings from Elena. Madison desperately asks Francisco and his wife about the name of the man he mentioned. Their fear ultimately keeps them quiet, and Elena forces her back out of the room. As Madison’s taken to the exit by a guard, Elena gets the medicine from Antonio and makes one last attempt to get through to him. He says Hector should’ve chosen him, and warns her to not come back because they won’t be at the warehouse for very long.
NEXT: Is faith enough to save the colony?
Finding dead ends with Luciana and Alejandro, Nick now turns his attention to Ronaldo and asks if he’d make the trade with him. He’s initially resistant, joking that Americans “love to fix others’ problems,” but agrees to leave tonight. Nick then walks over to Luciana, who is finishing up a meeting with a group of guards. As part of Alejandro’s inner circle, she says the men should bring their fears to her while showing strength to the colony. She notices something is wrong with Nick, but he charms her into going into the house to share a drink.
At the hotel, Andreas is trying to put Victor at ease, but after he leaves the room, Victor compliments Alicia’s silent bedside manner. She mentions she used to volunteer as some sort of nurse’s aide, and she was taught “what you don’t say to patients is as important as what you do say.” She then tells Victor she’s not going to fill his head with false assurances when he may not be okay, before bringing up (once again) how she never needed sugarcoating since no one did it for her.
She explains to Victor how she was always left helping her drug-addled brother and disturbed father, while her mother had her hands full. Victor tragically jokes that now she has her mom all to herself, but Alicia notes how she doesn’t believe Madison really sees her. He advises, “Then make her.”
Night still hasn’t arrived at the colony, but Nick takes a moment to survey the land beyond the wall. That’s when his gaze catches something in the distance and Antonio’s warning at the warehouse comes to light: Marco has found the colony and spies Nick through binoculars as Antonio stands close by.
We check back in with Ofelia once more before the episode’s end, though it’s unclear why we need these scenes — beyond the obvious possibility of setting up some role for her later on. The cross on her rosary throws her into another memory, this one of her mother. Ofelia walks into her home and, after some small talk about partying with girlfriends, she asks how her mother knew to marry her father. “God whispered to me about this man, and I listened,” she said. She goes into further detail, telling her daughter they “suffered together, survived together” and explaining they came to America for her.
She asks Ofelia to never let the horrors of the world infect her dreams and to never live in fear, both of which she has done since losing her parents. Jumping back to reality, Ofelia kisses the cross and says she now understands what her mother meant. After draping the rosary over her rearview mirror, she gets back on the road and heads for the border.
Madison, Elena, and Oscar pull up to the hotel parking lot. Elena shakes her head to Hector as a silent answer to whether Antonio came back. They hand off the medication, but Madison rushes to turn on the generator and illuminate the hotel sign in the hopes of attracting Nick. Alicia is close behind to chastise her mother for (1) revealing their location to any enemy in the near vicinity, and (2) nearly blowing the trade with her questions about Nick.
Madison tries to explain Alicia can’t understand her actions because she’s not a mother, and her child always comes first. To that, Alicia says she’s Madison’s child and asks why she’s never enough for her when Nick chose to leave his family. It’s an understandable sore spot for Alicia, but it’s still incredibly childish and seems to suggest she doesn’t care one way or another if she sees her brother again.
As it turns out, someone did see the sign. As the neon glow turns back off, we see Travis staring at the hotel from off in the distance. He’s alone, clearly having abandoned Chris after witnessing him kill a man in cold blood, and he starts walking toward the hotel.
Even though it seems like there’s a lot about to happen, we still have three more episodes left. So, hunker down.