As any Walking Dead fan will know by now, all good safe havens must come to an end, particularly if there’s a secret trove of walkers being kept alive in the basement.
Yes, the Fear the Walking Dead’s first major outpost in this season’s aquatic adventure proves to ultimately be too fraught with tension and different ideals to allow any lengthy stay of peace. But in the demise of Thomas Abigail’s estate, the Abigail crew is torn apart, cast in different directions as the season takes its midpoint break.
A major catalyst of the Abigail homestead coming to a halt is Daniel Salazar. The show has been slowly planting the seeds of his past coming back to haunt him, and in “Shiva,” he’s literally confronted by a ghost of his past.
The midseason finale opens with a flashback to Salazar as a young boy, faced with the atrocities around him as he stands at the bank of a river littered with dead bodies. As a boy, he’s told to take a gun, but before what he does with that firepower is shown, he wakes up amidst the chaos ensuing after Strand shot Thomas.
Ofelia wakes up with him, and as they run away, she begins to express some discomfort. Then the real horror begins, as she peels away the flesh from her cheek in what is quickly revealed to be a dream within a dream.
Salazar is clearly starting to unravel, his normal steely exterior giving way to much more vulnerable behavior throughout the episode. Celia keeps a watchful eye over him after he discovered her not-so-secret pen of walkers, and so when he grabs Ofelia to leave later on, he’s stopped by the house’s men. Operating under Celia’s command, they pull him away from his daughter as he tries to tell her Ofelia’s mother is waiting for them at the gate and if they stay here, they will die. Salazar often has a solution for just about everything, though, and so he tries to free himself from the men with a bit of sharpened metal he kept secreted away.
He gets a good slice in across one of the men’s face, but he’s eventually subdued and tied up to a chair in a holding room, coming face to face with a death he has seemingly yet to fully accept — his wife’s.
He isn’t the only one haunted by loss, however, during the finale. Much of Celia’s actions stem from the ultimate loss of Thomas, who she looked at as her own son. She’s furious with Strand for promising to transform into the undead with him, only to shoot Thomas and remain among the living. Celia doesn’t believe Strand deserves any say in what is done with Thomas’ body (he wants to bury his beloved), and she’d rather see him and the rest of these newcomers Strand brought to her house cast out immediately.
It takes the reassurance of her new convert, Nick, to calm her. She gives them all a deadline of the following sundown to leave. That ticking clock presents quite the problem, as Travis sets out to chase after Chris, who runs away following Alicia and Madison’s discovery of him standing over their bed with a knife. (More on that in a bit.) Madison is dead set on leaving before incurring more of Celia’s wrath, though her displeasure with their host certainly doesn’t impel her to stick around, either. She asks Nick and Alicia to gather supplies before they head back to the boat. Alicia has no interest in leaving the comforts of their newfound safety, while Nick is incredulous at her claim that Celia could be dangerous. He’s fallen hard for Celia’s “religious voodoo bulls–t,” as Strand later describes it to Madison and believes he can convince Celia to give them continued salvation here.
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So Nick leaves briefly, only to return covered yet again in walker blood (he’s pulled this trick so frequently in such a short period of time I’m starting to worry he enjoys it), holding onto a transformed Luis. Most of the estate’s denizens are around to watch as Nick presents Celia with her son, whom she still calls her son, not dead, before asking him to be put with the others. Celia is still hesitant, believing Nick’s family to not fully understand the truth like the two of them do. They look at Luis and see a monster (must be something about the discolored skin and hunger for human flesh, but that’s just a guess), but she believes Nick’s family and their senseless killing to be the true monsters.
NEXT: A walk among the walkers [pagebreak]
Nick is eventually able to promise his family won’t hurt anyone, though, with enough assurance that Celia allows them to stay. He shall be responsible for their actions, allowing them to stay with that one rule. Except for Strand, that is. She wants him gone in a time that she sees as a beginning, not the apocalypse.
Despite Celia’s protests, Strand spends much of this day toiling away and digging a grave for Thomas. He’s visited by both Salazar, who, before he attacks Celia’s men, tries to warn Strand about how she treats the dead, but even Strand can see something is clearly ailing the elder Salazar. Madison also comes to visit him after a particularly discouraging discussion she has with Nick.
She confronts him about how he’s changed. This fascination with the dead worries her, though he has bought into Celia’s line of thinking. They’re not dead, and they’re not the “infected,” as Madison tries to label them. He wants to call them by the same names they had before they transformed, to give them the respect of the living. Nick is quite upset by how she’s talking to him, believing she’s picking away at him in the same tone she employed while he was using drugs.
Not wanting to further agitate him, Madison simply says she’s trying to understand. And so Nick tries to explain, though with a disturbing line of thought. He believes nothing can touch him. He recalls being on the beach, coming face to face with a walker and coming away fine. He felt no fear or hate in that moment, only the belief that he wouldn’t die.
“I move among them, Mom. Invisible,” he tells her, clearly having bought wholesale into the power of his line of zombie blood-covered fashion and Celia’s ideology. Worried by what she’s hearing, Madison asks Strand to maybe talk to Nick since he once held some sway over his actions, but he’s more concerned about digging Thomas’ grave and then making it back to his boat alive. Nick’s a vulnerable kid, he reasons, an addict looking for something to cling to just as Celia appeared.
And Celia’s flock seemingly holds onto her words and beliefs just as much as Nick does. Her memorial for Thomas as he is laid to rest later that day is less about him and more about those before her. She promises them the world is being reborn and that all of their sins are to be forgotten.
What does this new world of hers look like? Well, it kicks off with her holding Salazar essentially hostage and continuing to question him about his fear of the dead. He calls the dead walking among them abominations. (Interestingly, she calls them “my dead” in this scene despite insisting previously they are not dead. It’s not clear whether this is merely a scripting slipup or an implicit admission that she buys into her beliefs less than perhaps those around her do, though the latter wouldn’t be a complete shock.) But she knows it is those who have long stopped walking that are keeping him such a frazzled state.
She promises to take care of him, saying there will be a place for Salazar at this home in this new world of hers, but Celia is also met by an unexpected new possible member to her cause. Madison comes to Celia as she cleans the bed on which Thomas died. After being told she will have to accept the walkers for what they are if Madison truly wants safety here, Madison surprisingly says she wants to understand what Celia is all about.
So the de facto leader of the household brings Madison to her chamber containing all of the walkers. She unlocks the gate, stepping inside with Madison to survey them in close proximity. Almost immediately, Madison slowly starts to back out of the cage as Celia looks on at her undead kin, asking Madison what wouldn’t she do for her children.
And Madison would do just about anything for her children, including killing Celia. So she steps out of the gate and locks it as Celia looks on. (Leaving the keys in the door seems like an incredibly stupid and convenient move on Celia’s part, but the damage is done as Madison walks away.)
Yet Celia’s assumed demise is only the start to the chaos that is about to ensue. When Celia left Salazar alone, there was one other person in the room with him, at least in his head.
NEXT: Going down in a glorious blaze [pagebreak]
Salazar’s deceased wife, Griselda, stands before him, picking at his psyche as he confronts the strife plaguing him. This vision of his wife questions him for not burying her, promising she’s still waiting for him. As he talks to the illusion before him, he goes on to describe how he told her everything about him, but this reflection of his own mental state asks if he truly did. He and the show flashes back to the origin of it all. His first kill. His first victim.
Given a gun as a child, Salazar has to kill a man in the river grasping to life. He reaches out for the young Daniel, but Salazar shoots him dead. Yet, this vision of his wife tells him that man wasn’t his first victim. Salazar himself was the first, lost in the horror of this action.
This revelation renews some spirit in Salazar, who uses the opportunity of a guard coming to feed him to free himself. He knocks the guard out, head-butting him after the man loosens the restraints on one of his hands only to then break his chair over the man and completely untie himself in the process.
He finds his way to the locked up walkers after Madison has locked Celia in there. He sees the undead mass transform back into a living crowd before his eyes, with his wife there among them. And in perhaps his desperation to be with her, he lights the entire room on fire, which quickly gives way to igniting the entire estate ablaze.
The Abigail homestead goes up in flames, and everyone makes a break for safety as quickly as they can. Strand has already been kicked out by Celia’s people at this point, but he’s close enough to be nearby to pick up Madison and the others. Madison can’t find Daniel, but she makes it to Strand’s truck, as does Alicia, pulling Ofelia away despite her father not being there.
Madison wants to wait for Nick and Travis, but the now-free undead are nearby, and Strand wants to make a break for the boat immediately.
And though she doesn’t find Travis, she discovers Nick walking back toward them. He had gone out to find Travis and Chris, just as he had brought back Luis, believing his indestructible self would have no issue doing so.
Unfortunately, he fails, but not because he can’t find either of them. He discovers Travis on the side of the road, far away from the Abigail estate. He’s just gone through the ringer with Chris, chasing his son down, barefoot and bleeding through his socks. He eventually stumbles on a seemingly abandoned building, until he hears a noise inside and goes to investigate. There he finds a man who doesn’t speak English but who offers Travis some water and a surprising bit of understanding for someone who can’t hear a word of it.
And that’s because he actually can speak English. The man claims Chris traveled east, but Travis notices movement behind a closed door, bursting in only to find Chris holding onto the man’s son with a gun trained on the two fathers in the house.
Travis knocks the gun from his hand and Chris flees, only for his father to chase him down in the dirt road. He fails with a knife as well to subdue his father, Travis gaining the upper hand as Chris, breaking down, admits he’s no good. Travis, however, believes he should have been there to help him in the first place, aide him in the grieving that gave way to this string of awful behavior.
So when Nick comes to find them, Travis tells him to lie to Madison and say Nick couldn’t track them down. Madison may need him, but so does his son. Chris can’t come back in the state he is, so Travis needs to be with him and sort through it all.
Nick lets them be, returning just in time to find the Abigail home on fire. Madison pleads with him to come along to the boat, but he refuses. The fire seems to confirm Celia’s suspicions to him about just what type of people his friends and family are.
With little time left, Madison hops in the truck with Ofelia, Alicia, and Strand to return to the boat. Chris and Travis are on their own, Nick is staying presumably to get away from those he feels betrayed by and to perhaps make a last-ditch effort to find Celia. And Salazar? Well, it would certainly be easy to assume the flames consumed him, but being a major player in the show, without a body, there’s always the chance for him to rise from the ashes.
But we’ll have to wait to find out just how and if he, and everyone else, comes back together.