Nick Clark entered this world as an addict. It started with drugs, and every time his parents tried to wean him off, he’d fall back down that familiar rabbit hole. When the outbreak hit and his crutch of choice wasn’t readily available, he found a new addiction. People became his crutch, then killing. He traded addiction for addiction, never really coming to terms with the why of it all.
Faced with Morgan, another man in recovery, he found a sponsor — someone who’s been through it all and willing to help fight unrelenting inner demons. But that’s the tragedy of Nick Clark. After all this time, after slipping back toward the edge so many times, he finally fell over.
Not quite as abrupt as last season when Travis, who also fought against the rage within himself, was shot out of the sky, Nick was, unexpectedly, taken from us by little, not-so-innocent-anymore Charlie. It doesn’t mean he’s gone for good, since season 4 jumps between the past and present, but the life leeched from his eyes by the time the credits rolled, leaving Alicia without a brother, Luciana without a lover, and Morgan with another lost soul he attempted to guide.
In the beginning, Nick is forced to chop down and burn his own crops, a treatment for the weevil infestation. He refused to go outside the stadium’s walls for fear of becoming someone he doesn’t want to be, as he explains later on, but his one contribution to the community is now smoke and ash. These memories cloud his present as he stares out the window of the SWAT van his group stole from Al, who’s trying to get him to talk about his story. Victor can’t seem to find their destination on the map and Al admits she left out some necessary information. She’ll tell them where they want to go, but first they have to sit in front of her camera lens and bare their truths.
Nick attempts to intimidate, but Al is able to get the better of him. She slipped out of her bindings and managed to take Nick hostage at knife point. Al tells everyone to put down their weapons and Luciana to pull over the car, but walkers are lurking further down the road. A scuffle ensues as Nick knocks Al back, and the commotion causes Luciana to lose control of the wheel. The van goes over the side of the road and crashes into a ditch.
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Nick is going in and out, but he sees flashes of Al, Morgan, and John scooping up all the weapons and carrying the others out of the vehicle. Unconscious, he recalls a memory of Madison coming to check on him after the crop burning. She says she’s going on a food run and Nick wants to come with her to help.
When he wakes, he and the others are tied up and Al, Morgan, and John are trying to get the van unstuck. It needs a tow and Al says they’re all gonna work together to get one. With little options, Luciana mentions she spotted a garage a ways back that had trucks they could use. Al lets them lose, except for Nick, whom she ties to the van as insurance. Morgan offers to stay behind due to his injured leg while they venture out.
Morgan is reading his pocket-sized The Art of Peace when Nick tries to strike up a conversation. When Morgan remains silent, Nick asks if he can get him a snack. Instead, Morgan cuts his bindings and tells him to get it himself. With a knife within his grasp, Nick asks if Morgan is afraid he’ll just take the weapon and flee. A few baby taps and then a trip with his staff later, and Nick finds out why Morgan isn’t sweating it. An understanding and, perhaps, a bond begins to form as they share a peanut butter protein bar.
Morgan goes up to the street to perform his exercises, giving Nick the opportunity to search the van. He quickly thumbs through The Art of Peace before picking up Al’s camera to listen to Morgan’s confessional. Morgan, meanwhile, is struggling to handle his staff with his injury, but he forgets the pain when he spots a car driving down the road toward them. It’s a familiar car, if you paid close attention to the previous episode. Morgan hurries back down into the ditch and closes himself and Nick in the van, telling him to stay down while the car passes. Nick, however, tries to get out as soon as he spots the vehicle, causing a physical struggle with Morgan, who falls back against the van’s horn. The blaring sound attracts nearby walkers, but Nick leaves Morgan behind, even ignoring his requests to throw down his staff, and starts running along the road after the car.
The others have made it to the garage at this point, and while they’re filling up containers with gasoline and securing a massive cable, Victor asks Al why she wants their story so bad. She deflects, noting the scar on Victor’s hand he’s trying to hide, but she eventually gives an answer: “The truth matters, even if it’s only heard out loud, even if it’s only heard once.” Victor and Alicia are still puzzled by Al, but game recognizes game when Luciana says, “She knows her sh–, just not the sh– about the truth.”
Nick is still chasing after the car when he pauses to observe a patch of bluebonnet flowers, which aren’t always a great sign. That Cherokee rose preceded Carol’s discovery of her daughter-turned-walker on The Walking Dead, and who could forget, “Just look at the flowers”? These ones bring up memories of Nick riding out beyond the stadium with his mom. First they make a pitstop by Mel in the parking lot, who again taunts them about the slim food pickings and throws back the book Luciana left for Charlie. As they drive away, Nick asks how Madison is able to stay so positive. She says she always looks for something good: “It’s out there.” These flowers are the something good and Nick pockets one. However, he’s instantly accosted by a few walkers. Morgan catches up to him in time to save him, and the two agree to find safer ground. They find an old pharmacy with just two walkers that are easy to take care of, and good thing because Morgan’s wound has bled through his bandages. Nick asks why he decided to help him back by the flowers, and Morgan says he doesn’t kill.
Another flashback sees Madison and Nick coming across their ninth pitstop on a search for food. All others had been cleaned out and as they round the corner, they see the Vulture from the blue car (the same one Nick had been chasing in the present) carrying out crates of canned goods and supplies. The Vulture teases them about how much condensed milk they found as Charlie walks out of the house. She has a walkie she stole from the stadium, which is how the Vultures have been able to listen in and get to the food stashes before Madison and Nick. They try to tell Charlie she doesn’t have to go along with the Vultures, but the man says he’s the one who found her and taught her how to survive. They’re about to leave when the Vulture gets one last jab in at Nick for not being able to “provide” for his family, and Nick puts a knife to the man’s throat in response. Madison tries to talk him down, but he at least draws blood, which seems to rattle Charlie.
In the present, Nick is talking about Morgan’s leg wound and “karate” skills before the subject turns to his obsession with this blue car. Morgan warns this plot for vengeance won’t work out the way he thinks it will, no matter what ill this man brought on Nick. When Nick asks about what happened to Morgan that he no longer wants to kill, he shuts down and proceeds out the door.
The others arrive back at the van to find it swarming with walkers, though they gather their friends are okay because Morgan left behind an arrow made of sticks pointing in the direction they went. Al refuses to leave her van because there are things of value inside, so Luciana goes with John in search of Nick and Morgan, while the rest attempt to extract the vehicle. Al snipes the dead as Alicia hacks her way to the van with the cable.
As he walks ahead alone, Morgan comes across the Vulture from the blue car raiding another location. He warns the man to leave, which is laughed off — until the Vulture spots Nick. Morgan holds him back as the pompous Vulture goes about his day gathering more supplies from inside. Wild eyed and drunk on rage, Nick asks if Morgan is going to do what it takes to stop him, to which he steps aside. .)
Before the confrontation, we see Nick speaking with his mother. He predicts Charlie won’t ever come join their family because she saw what he did to the Vulture back there, and he explains that being out in the world makes him feel more trapped, like who this world is forcing him to be is forced upon him. Cut to present Nick becoming this man as he goes to kill the Vulture. Morgan makes it back to the same patch of bluebonnets when he decides to go back for Nick. Though at that point, he’s impaled the Vulture on the bust of a deer. Nick stares directly into his eyes as he slowly pushes the Vulture’s body onto its antlers.
John and Luciana are still tracking Nick and Morgan when he asks why Nick would believe she might not come back for him. As Victor, Alicia, and Al drive up in the van to meet them, Luciana says at one point she didn’t come back.
A bloodied Nick then walks out to find Morgan, who finally answers his question. He lost his wife, son, and friends before losing himself. He remembers being in the same position Nick is now, but he was able to get himself out of it, partly through The Art of Peace, which he hands to Nick. Though he tries to walk away, Morgan promises it’s not too late to come back.
Nick is reading the book as Morgan walks up to greet the van. Inside, Al has a minor freakout as she sees her safe has been unlocked, which happened as Nick and Morgan were wrestling. She checks to make sure everything is accounted for and they are; all four cases of tape recordings labeled “The Bog” are still there.
Cutting back to Nick, he puts the book in his back pocket when he feels the bluebonnet he had tucked away. It brings back a memory of his mom stopping the car to admire a grove of these flowers. The other colors are muted in the frame as the blue from Madison’s denim jack mingles with the floral colors. Nick lies down in the field amid the bluebonnets, and in the present he’s staring at the one in his hand when the sound of a bullet breaks the flashback.
Charlie is standing there holding a smoking gun as Nick falls to the ground, blood spilling from his mouth. Alicia and Luciana are running around the corner as they spot the girl running off, but at this point there’s nothing any of them can do. The sight of Alicia, Luciana, and Victor weeping over Nick’s dead body cuts to Nick lying in the patch of bluebonnets, as he exhales one more time.
Just look at the flowers, Nick. Just look at the flowers.