Alicia might not make it by the time Nick and Troy figure out what to do
Credit: Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC

Alicia is on the ground, resting her head in her hands. The camera catches her reflection in a pool of blood — blood she was forced to shed by no choice of her own. She’s catching her breath, horrified by what her own hands have done, unwilling to proceed to the final act.

She’s been put in an impossible position: The young woman, on the cusp of adulthood, has been forced to be a beacon of hope for the ranchers, who are condemned to death. It’s a silent struggle, sold subtly by actress Alycia Debnam-Carey and made more poignant by the scenes that happened just moments earlier: Troy, with Nick in the passenger seat, recklessly plows their truck through the horde of walkers and crashes into an RV. Their rescue attempt is failing and they’re vulnerable, but they laugh as they’re able to get inside a helicopter to catch the briefest moments of safety, while the dead try to force their way inside.

One Clark child is forced to not just be an adult but a killer, and one might as well be palling around.

In the hours leading up to Alicia’s bloody moment of reckoning, the dead roam outside, but the airtight pantry isn’t much safer. Ofelia and Crazy Dog quickly learn that there’s no air coming through the vents. Alicia calculates that, if they can’t fix the problem, they have approximately two hours before they’re all poisoned by the carbon dioxide. Ofelia and Crazy Dog are the ones to crawl through the vents to kickstart the airflow, but it’ll take them hours before they can get back — which brings about the harsh reality. If they kill off those who’ve already been bitten, they can buy themselves a little more time.

Crazy Dog thinks he’ll have to force executions, but when Blake reveals his bite (Alicia spotted it earlier while looking for food supplies), the infected from both Broke Jaw and Black Hat volunteer as tributes. They even find a box of morphine and syringes to put them all to sleep. Actually killing them, however, is another matter. It’s hard for Alicia to confront her neighbors about their predicament and ask them to take their own lives to protect the many. It’s even harder for her to talk them down as they beg and plead for another hour to live. It’s nearly impossible for her to be the one to actually take their lives.

It’s in this moment that I finally understand Alicia, whose arcs can come across as background noise at times. She has always felt like a consolation prize to her mother. Her brother, she says, was always the favorite; everybody loved him, even when his drug problem came to light. She has always felt like she’s been forced into unfair situations but tasted few of the fruits of her labor. She struggled with this when it was just her and her mother at the hotel, and Nick coming back into the picture made these issues harder to ignore.

“Are you ready?” she asks the first to volunteer, an elderly man from Black Hat. It’s more a question to herself. He’s already accepted his fate, but she’s the one who must drive the knife in the back of his skull. When it’s done, she bursts through dangling transparent plastic strips — evoking the image of a slaughterhouse — and finds a hiding place in the back of the pantry to allow herself a moment to cry and panic. An older woman comes to her side, not to console her but to ease her back into focus. Those people who are prepared to lay down their lives have done their part, she says. It’s now time to do hers.

When the floor runs thick enough with blood to catch Alicia’s reflection, she’s left with only Blake to kill. That’s the curse of being a survivor, of being the “strong” ones in this world. Even when you find a place — a sanctuary — that you think will last, everything falls, and it just falls faster in these harsh conditions. Death will come over and over again to take your friends and loved ones. It’s up to you to decide whether to keep going. But Alicia’s hope is dwindling. She’s lost so much and, again, finds herself alone, bearing the weight of the dead and the thought that she’s the one who had to claim their lives.

“It’s okay. It’s gonna be okay,” she tells a whimpering Blake, who asks forgiveness for his past wrongs. Her eyes, however, slowly reveal her truth as his life slips away: She’s not sure if it will be okay.

Outside, Nick doesn’t allow Troy time to bury his brother because there’s no time to give. The plan is to reach the ranch’s fuel reserve and blow it up, hoping that the explosion will draw the horde away so they can extract those in the pantry. They fire off an initial blast as a distraction. But as Troy barrels through the walkers, he delights in the chaos of the blood splattering the windshield and the walker dangling from his hood. They crash and are forced to head for the helicopter.

Time is running out.
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Alicia and Christine, the old woman from before, are resting their heads against the shelves and exchanging stories from their lives. Christine came to the ranch with her second husband — her first died in the Twin Towers, and she met Jerry at a support group. He believed 9/11 was the sign of the end times. After Jerry’s death, Christine mourned the life she could have led. Instead of hiding from the world on the ranch, she could’ve explored it. She wants Alicia to promise never to make decisions out of fear.

As Alicia recalls a time with her brother as kids, the carbon dioxide poisoning begins to blur her vision. She looks around — mostly everyone is passed out on the floor, and she realizes that, again, she’s alone and surrounded by the dead. Sitting back down to conserve her energy, she sings “This Land Is Your Land” to herself — she recalled how she forgot the words as a child and Nick rushed up on stage to help, stealing the spotlight away from her in the process.

A sound catches her attention. She starts shambling around the corner and sees someone has already died and risen as a walker — a fast one, too. Much faster than Alicia in her weakened state. The attack, though brief, is a nail-biter. The camera is angled to the side, so you can’t see if her arm — pulled up against the walker’s neck to block the face — will be bitten. Alicia fumbles for her knife and eventually collapses on the ground with the walker impaling its head on her blade. As she falls asleep, others in the pantry begin to rise.

Ofelia and Crazy Dog are having their own issues as they come across a drop in the vent, but they finally make it to the fan, which is caught on a dangling walker. Both feeling the affects of dwindling oxygen, Crazy Dog lifts up Ofelia to dislodge the dead, but he falters. Though the fan is turned back on, another scuffle ensues as they both fall to the ground, the walker frantically snapping its teeth on top of them. It’s another bout of intensity as the story seems primed for Ofelia’s death; her dad wants to see her in order to maintain the water trade, putting narrative pressure on her survival. She’s able to pull out her gun and subdue the walker, but now Alicia’s latest fight for survival is about to commence.

Alicia snaps awake as the oxygen comes back and she’s surrounded by walkers feeding on everyone else. Pulling Christine’s body towards the armory, she barricades them both inside and grabs a gun to fight her way out. An explosion from outside rips through the air and shakes the ground as she makes a last stand. The bullets quickly deplete, and she has to make do with just the gun itself, her knife, and her fists, while the walkers close in.

A shot rips through the air and the dead fall limp around Alicia as Madison storms in with Victor, Walker, Nick, and Troy. But Alicia can’t enjoy the presence of the cavalry because Christine didn’t make it, and she begins to cry while she slides her knife into the woman’s skull. Covered in the blood of those she was supposed to protect, she slowly walks out of the pantry with the bodies piled up behind her.

With the ranch gone, the story is in danger of repeating the same old pattern that so easily presents itself in this world: The group settles into a home, it proves to be unsustainable, and they move to another. Repeat.

They’re now planning to head to the dam. Madison and Walker reveal to Ofelia that her father is still alive and asking for her. Alicia, however, isn’t going. Perhaps learning about Jake’s death is what did it, or perhaps she’s been feeling it since walking out of the pantry, but she’s tired of fighting and killing for something that might not exist, and tired of running from place to place out of fear of what will happen to those around her.

Alicia sets out to go to the cabin Jake talked about, and Nick goes in pursuit to ensure her safety. Madison, who doesn’t really seem to put up much of a resistance to Alicia’s demands, instructs her son to bring Troy with him because the dam probably won’t take too kindly to his personality — and because they think he’s innocent in all this. Nick lies and says Troy tried to warn them all about the horde but it was too late, conveniently leaving out the part where he was the one who led the dead to the ranch and watched as the people were massacred. Why do people keep making excuses for him? At the very least, perhaps this will offer enough of a medium to explore Troy’s deranged nature even further.

Side note: I made it halfway through the episode before it hit me. Travis died at the beginning of this season. I have to keep reminding myself because I was under the impression that this loss would ripple through these characters’ lives for the remaining episodes. Yes, this death forced Madison to make more sinister choices to ensure the survival of her family and no one was really there to question her morality. Still, I haven’t heard the name Travis uttered in a long time. He played such an integral part in the show, and yet everyone — including myself — seems to have already forgotten about him, which raises the question: Was his death really handled all that well?

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