Fear the Walking Dead – Red Dirt
By: Tara Donahue
This show has really hit the ground running this season and this episode was no exception. Everything that’s happened so far has been building up and putting all the pieces into place for what will, undoubtedly, be an action packed mid-season finale. I can’t wait. But for now, let’s dive into this one.
Last week, we saw Jeremiah (Dayton Callie) give Nick (Frank Dillane) a gun as a welcome gift to his new home. The same home that had burned in a tragic set of events that left two prominent members of Broke Jaw Ranch dead. This week we find Nick and Jeremiah doing some target shooting and more bonding. Nick’s concerned that his mother and the others haven’t returned from their own rescue mission, but Jeremiah isn’t worried. They’ll be back when they get back.
He’s not the only one who’s worried. Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is in bed with Jake (Sam Underwood) and sharing her own concerns about how they should be back by now. But the older Otto brother isn’t concerned either. Troy (Daniel Sharman) promised to keep Madison (Kim Dickens) safe and that means something to him. This doesn’t help assuage Alicia’s concerns. She’s more worried about the people who shot them down.
Madison, Troy and the others are approaching the ranch and everyone rushes to their aid. There are questions about what happened, but Troy wants to talk to his father in private. Vernon (Hugo Armstrong) feels they all have a right to know so they can defend themselves. Jeremiah thinks he’s out of line, but Mike (Justin Deeley) speaks up anyway and starts telling everyone what happened. Troy tries to interject, but it doesn’t stop Mike and he tells them that if they stay, they will die.
Madison might be new at the ranch, but she’s already part of the inner circle. She’s there, with Jeremiah and his sons, discussing this threat. Jake wants to negotiate. Troy doesn’t think there’s anything to negotiate and Jeremiah thinks it doesn’t matter. They say it’s their land, the Indians say it’s theirs. It’s an ongoing issue that Jake’s been in and out of court dealing with for them. Madison feels like Walker (Michael Greyeyes) is a threat they should take more seriously and the ranch residents need some answers.
Jake’s getting in some target practice of his own when Alicia finds him. They talk about how Jeremiah is the last founding member remaining as he teaches Alicia to shoot. She wants to know who takes over when his father dies. Jake feels like people will look to whoever they feel is worth looking to.
Gretchen (Rae Gray) comes looking for Alicia, but finds Madison instead. They talk and we learn her father doesn’t think they’re safe. She’s never seen him scared. Madison argues that there’s no safer place than here, but Vernon doesn’t believe that. He’s telling his fears and concerns to anyone who will listen. This doesn’t bode well, given he’s a founder.
All of this is wearing on Big Otto and he’s thinking about falling back into old habits. But sounds outside stop him and he goes out to see several fires burning around the perimeter of the ranch. These fires weren’t to harm, but to intimidate. Walker means business. He wants the ranch, but Jeremiah still thinks he’s not a threat. He’s using scare tactics because that’s all he can do.
The residents are scared. They’re taking things from the pantry. Troy tries to stop Dax (Jake B. Miller) and Mrs. Daley (Sarah Benoit) from taking food, but it turns out Jeremiah gave them permission to take it.
Madison approaches Jeremiah who’s feeling the stress of everything and is nursing a migraine, but she isn’t able to tell him what’s going on before Vernon approaches. He’s leaving. He loves the ranch and what they started, but ultimately, his family comes first. This doesn’t go over well with Troy, who tries to stop them at the front gate before they can go. Jake comes out and tries to de-escalate the situation, but it only angers Troy more and he punches his brother. Jeremiah responds by punching his youngest son. Ever the peacemaker, Jake gets between his father and brother. Situation calmed, the Trimbol family is now leaving and we see Gretchen wave to Alicia from inside the RV.
Troy’s in the pantry, locking up the weapons to keep people from taking them. He tells Madison how this ranch and the people are all he’s ever had his whole life. He doesn’t understand why they want to leave. Mike especially. They’d been friends since childhood and even when everyone else quit on him, Mike never did. Madison tells him he just has to make sure no one else leaves. She’ll help him save them from making the same mistake. This empowers Troy and he gives his militiamen a rousing speech on defending the ranch and making people feel safe so they won’t leave.
Nick finds Jeremiah at his new house. He’s drunk. He offers Nick a drink and for the first time we see just how far his character has come as he turns it down. Where they’re sitting is a sacred spot we learn as Otto tells Nick of how the founding fathers all sat there one night and “conceived a movement.” Now, two of them are dead and Vernon’s dead to him. Jeremiah tosses the table and grabs the gun, aiming it in Nick’s direction. Instead, he shoots the sacred table. He apologizes and gives up the weapon before passing out on Nick’s bed.
Alicia’s returning to the Clark’s bunkhouse late at night. Madison asks her if she’s been at Bible study, but no, she’s been with Jake. Madison seems surprised by this, but Alicia’s quick to tell her mother it’s nothing serious. They discuss birth control and find out that Madison taught her daughter, at the age of thirteen, that the rhythm method is not a good one. She wants to know if Alicia likes Jake. She does, but she’s not in love. She’s been in love (RIP Matt) and this isn’t it. Jake’s important to them and she likes him. The order of that doesn’t matter.
Jeremiah wakes up with a hangover and Nick has coffee waiting. As Otto starts to speak about what happened the night before, Nick plays it off, telling him he was with his family. Jeremiah looks grateful before he notices that Vernon’s horse has returned to the ranch. That can’t be good. As they go out, Jeremiah tells Madison he knows they’re dead. It’s just a question of how they got that way.
Alicia finds Jake packing some supplies. He’s going to try and go work things out with Walker. This wasn’t what she meant when she told him to be more than just a voice in his father’s ear. She meant for him to step up inside the camp, not to go on a suicide mission. Jake isn’t listening though. He thinks he can get through. Alicia asks him not to go, but he goes anyway.
Madison, Nick and Jeremiah find the Trimbol’s RV. It looks deserted, but we soon find out that Vernon and Kathy (Ericka Kreutz) have turned, forcing Jeremiah to kill them. Mike’s dead at the back of the RV and inside the trailer, we see several infected having a feast on the remaining horse. One by one, they’re shot until there’s only one remaining. It’s Gretchen. She’s one of the infected now (I’m not crying, you’re crying!) and Madison can’t shoot her. She hesitates and Nick is forced to do it instead. RIP Gretchen.
After they load the bodies into the back of the truck, Nick tells Madison that Jeremiah thinks Troy’s the one responsible for the death of the Trimbols. But she’s convinced it was Walker. Nick reminds her that Walker and his people took everything, including their shoes. Why would they leave the RV and all the supplies?
Back at Broke Jaw Ranch, the residents are waiting as they return with the RV and Madison pulls back the tarp to reveal the bodies. Shock and emotion ripple through the crowd and Alicia looks devastated to have lost her friend. Madison gives a very inspirational speech, trying to band the fractured community together. She tells them Walker’s people aren’t strong enough to force them off the land, they’re just trying to scare them. To pick them off a family or two at a time as they flee. Where nobody can see and the militia can’t protect them. But, she tells them, there are more of them than Walker’s men and they’re better armed. If they stay together, they live. They seem moved by this.
Alicia, who left in the middle of her mother’s speech, is back at Jake’s packing up supplies. She’s going after him.
People are returning things they took to the pantry and Nick’s sitting there, watching. He tells Madison her speech was impressive and wants to know how she can tell a lie that big and still sleep at night. But Madison says what she said was true, no one’s dying tonight, tomorrow and maybe not for a long time. He and Alicia are safe, so she’ll sleep like a baby. Even if it was Troy, no one would believe them. They’re more afraid of what’s out there. Nick hates it, but he gets it. He just doesn’t want his mother to forget what Troy is.
Madison finds Troy alone. It turns out Otto and Nick were right; he is the one responsible for the death of the entire Trimbol family. He didn’t go out there with that intention, but Mike owed him. Things were said and things went bad. Madison tells him he could run the place, but not if he let things like that break him. She saw him the night before with his militia, he had command. They saw it, too. Madison says Jake doesn’t have what Troy has. He’s the survivor and the heir, but not if he can’t control it. She asks him if he can control it. “There’s a fight coming and you have to save us. Can you?” Madison asks. Troy nods. “Yes ma’am.” He responds.
I guess we’ll see.