Fear The Walking Dead – El Matadero
By: Tara Donahue
“The Walking Dead” universe has always been a harsh, brutal one. We’ve lost a few good people, some not so good, along the way. It’s the apocalypse, it’s a given it would happen. But we lost a truly beloved character this week and the impact was felt far and wide. I watched a lot of reaction videos and while I do typically get more emotional and more invested than most, I wasn’t the only one crying my way through most of the episode.
Things pick up soon after the end of last episode. Taqa (Michael Greyeyes), Strand (Colman Domingo) and Madison (Kim Dickens) are in the cab of the truck, headed for the trading post for the meeting and hopefully to find the invitation to stay at the dam was still good. On the back of the truck, Crazy Dog (Justin Rain) notices something’s wrong with Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) and yells for them to stop just as she falls from it. As the other rush to help, it becomes clear what’s going on – Ofelia has been bitten. It happened when the zombie fell on her in the air shaft last week and we thought she killed it in time. Apparently not. They’re all upset about it, but all Ofelia just wants to see her father. Madison gives her word.
At night, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is spending her new freedom alone by the fire with her blanket, a snack and a book. It is peaceful until she hears a car approaching, which makes her grab her gun and threaten to kill them if they don’t leave. She realizes it’s Nick (Frank Dillane) and Troy (Daniel Sharman), who’ve come to check up on her and lowers the weapon. Nick’s trying to talk Alicia into coming back with them. He even tries to use the “safety in numbers” speech, but Alicia reminds him she almost died the day before, surrounded by people. Surviving is killing her and she doesn’t want to go back. But she knows Nick is doing this in effort to atone and she doesn’t want that. She tells him he doesn’t owe them and that she forgives him.
The next morning, Madison and gang arrive at the Trading Post. They’re early for the meeting so Madison wants to find somewhere for Ofelia to rest until her father arrives. Strand isn’t pleased as Madison trades some of their weapons (at a lower cost than before) to get medicine for Ofelia. Once inside, they find somewhere secluded and Madison leaves Ofelia with Taqa so she can go get something for pain. She leaves a knife and tells him to stay awake. Strand voices his anger because Ofelia is dying and Madison wasted their rifles to buy her “a kiss goodbye.” He wants her to consider her moves, but she reminds him they’re out of moves. She gave her word and she intends to keep it.
After saying goodbye to Alicia, Nick and Troy are in the truck on their way to meet Madison. Nick says his sister is wrong about his reasons for staying. He didn’t need to atone, he needed to be there because everyone needed him. But Troy calls it BS. He says Nick stayed because he is similar to him. They’re alike. Both are black sheep and children of violence. The difference is Nick wishes he weren’t.
At the Post, Madison returns with pain meds and electrolytes for dehydration. She and Taqa discuss loss. “I was raised on loss. I thought I was good at it. But there is such a thing as too much,” he muses. He thinks Madison honoring her word to return Ofelia to her father is good, even if it gets them all killed.
Alicia finds a burger joint and goes inside, looking for food. She finds a bucket of potatoes, but has to put them down to take out an infected. More are coming so she jumps in a ball pit to hide. But she’s not alone and has to put down a zombie kid. More infected have came into the restaurant now, but a mysterious woman comes in swinging a pickaxe and dispatches them quickly. Alicia, still hidden, watches as the woman cuts off zombie fingers and taking teeth. Before she leaves, she notices the bucket of potatoes and takes them.
Nick wakes Madison, who’s fallen asleep on Ofelia watch. He heard what happened and tells her Alicia was okay, even happy, and didn’t want to return. Madison is upset and crying. Nick hugs her and she thanks him for being there, telling him she doesn’t know what she’d do without him. He tells her to go get air, he’ll watch over Ofelia. Sitting down, he spots the pain pills and takes one.
Alicia has tracked the mystery woman to a strip mall. Seeing her car, she leans in to take her potatoes back, but Diana’s (Edwina Findley) threats make her step back. They argue briefly over the potatoes until Alicia suggests they share them.
Troy is in the food court area of the Post and he’s suspicious about what’s in his quesadilla. The waitress points to her head and says something about zombie. Nick shows up before Troy can question further and he’s clearly feeling the effects of the stolen pills. He has more and wants Troy to join him. At first Troy declines, but Nick says he owes him and makes him take one.
Strand is in a different, seedier area, trying to get into a locked fence when the proctor’s men find him. He wants to talk to Proctor John as he has something he wants, something he can give him and it’s something he’s going to want to hear.
Madison wakes Ofelia as it’s time to go meet Daniel (Ruben Blades). She feels it’s best if Taqa doesn’t go and he hugs Ofelia goodbye before Madison helps her outside. They sit and Ofelia, who is looking even worse now, asks Madison to put her down if she turns. She doesn’t want her father to see her like that or have to do it himself. “Tell him I was really looking forward to getting to know him,” she pleads and Madison tells her not to think for one second she didn’t know him. Ofelia thanks her and Daniel arrives, but he’s seconds too late. Madison can’t wake Ofelia as she’s already dead. She tries to stop him, but he just wants to see his daughter. It’s a heartbreaking, emotional scene as he realizes he’s lost her, too. But it quickly turns to anger as he turns his gun on Madison, demanding answers. She tells him about the ranch and that Ofelia saved them, but got bit in the process. Daniel says, in Spanish, that this is the price and tells Madison to leave before he kills her. She leaves and in the background we see Daniel shoot Ofelia before she turns.
Nick and Troy are out of their minds, wandering around the Trading Post. They find their way to El Matadero, where people get drugs. El Matarife, another American, stands behind the bar and has any drug you want. Nick just wants uppers and is given Locus Coeruleus, nucleus from the brain stem. It’s pure adrenaline. As up as up gets. And for Nick, it’s free. Troy wants to know whose glands they are and is told pigs. Nick eats his immediately with Troy reluctantly doing the same seconds later.
After eating, Diana explains about the teeth and fingers. The Post will buy gold in bulk and some Mexicans sell fingers and teeth for charms and protection against the biters. She offers a tooth ring, but Alicia declines. Diana asks her where she’s going and Alicia tells her about a place in the low desert with water and game. But everywhere is a ghost town that’s been picked clean, Diana tells her. Alicia will find a way though. “I either find a way to do this alone or I die.” That’s why Diana doesn’t keep friends and when they’re done, she’s leaving. The problem isn’t the killing, it’s the friends. The killing you can get used to. Alicia asks her who gets used to this. “If a woman sets her mind to it, she can get used to anything.”
The drugs are making Troy feel like he’s having a heart attack, but Nick tells him not to fight it. There’s a big group of infected coming towards them and Nick gets an idea. He smashes a zombie’s head in a truck door and smears blood on Troy before doing the same to himself. He runs towards the infected, Troy calling out to him, and then slows to a walk, standing still as they move around him. Troy approaches carefully and Nick tells him he can’t go back with her. I assume the her was Madison. Troy hugs him.
Packing up their things, Madison notices pills missing from the bag just as Daniel comes in. He walked all night, carrying Ofelia before burying her beneath an olive tree. He wants to know if she said anything and, at first, Madison tells him she said she loved him yet it’s clear he doesn’t buy it. Then, she tells him the truth. Daniel tells her to get her things together and she wants to bring the others, if it’s okay. He nods.
Alicia wakes up and Diana’s already gone, but she finds her outside fixing her car. Alicia offers to go with her to help. “Thought we said no friends,” Diana points out. “Just the killing then?” Diana asks her if she’s ever thought about selling her hair, but Alicia tells her not to even think about it.
Madison is at the truck when Nick approaches, telling her that he and Troy are staying behind for a couple of days. He tells her it’s good to have a toe hold if they need to come back and trade, but Madison isn’t stupid. She knows exactly what he’s up to. She tells him to do what he needs to do and that he knows where to find them before leaving with Strand and the others.
That’s it for another episode. This one was a rough one, I really hated to lose Ofelia, she’s grown so much as a character and one of my favorites. It was heartbreaking not getting to see her finally reunited with her father, but it will be interesting to see how it affects Daniel. What will happen next? All we have left is the two-hour season finale and if it’s anything like this entire season has been, it’s going to be action packed and full of surprises. I can’t wait!