Fear the Walking Dead 4.08

‘Fear the Walking Dead’ 4.08 Recap: “We’re Connected by This Single Screwed-Up World”

The mid-season finale of ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ spends a very long hour setting up and confirming something that most fans surely already picked up on a while ago. As such, it’s a rather disappointing cliffhanger to leave off with for a couple months.

Like other recent episodes, ‘No One’s Gone’ jumps backwards and forwards in time at an annoying frequency. It seems like every line of dialogue switches from flashback to flash-forward or vice versa. I’ll refrain from doing that in this recap.

The full-color flashbacks this week start to fill in the gap of time between last season’s dam explosion and this season’s baseball stadium. At some point before reuniting with her children, Madison comes across Althea (Maggie Grace) camped out in a field and attempts to hijack her S.W.A.T. truck at gunpoint. Althea isn’t overly worried or threatened. This apparently happens to her all the time. She refuses to give up her keys, but offers Madison a ride in exchange for recording her story. Maddie isn’t having any of that. The two women fight, and Maddie knocks Al unconscious. When Al wakes up, the truck is still there, but she panics when discovering that her camera and all her interview tapes are missing.

Maddie stops a few miles away and watches all the tapes, searching for any clues that might lead her to Nick and Alicia. She spends so long doing this that Al has time to follow her trail and catch up. Al takes Maddie prisoner and once again demands that she tell her story on camera. She’s insistent that, “One day someone’s gonna want to know what happened here.”

Eventually, Maddie relents and sits for an interview, but we don’t get to hear any of the good parts about what happened after the dam. Instead, Maddie tells Al about a wounded bird named Amina that Alicia and Nick saved when they were young children. Because Maddie won’t disclose her name, Al labels the tape “Amina.” She then cuts Maddie loose and gives her a peace offering of a few boxes of ramen noodles that she’d picked up a supply of during her travels.

Maddie drives until she finally finds Alicia, Nick, Strand and Luciana holed up at an old motel. She brings them with her to a promising location she found along the way – an abandoned baseball stadium. When Strand asks if perhaps it’s just a little too big for their small group, Maddie says that she’s been inspired by someone she met and believes they can build a community there.

Flash-Forward

The black-and-white-ish flash-forwards pick up with Althea driving the S.W.A.T. truck into the baseball stadium, now filled with hundreds of zombies. Laura directs her toward the infirmary she set up, and Al clears a path through a bunch of zombies with the truck’s machine guns. Laura and Morgan then make a dash to get the medical supplies she left there. They barely get inside the building when an explosion goes off behind them. A homicidal Alicia, hell-bent on revenge against Laura, tracked the group back to the stadium and fired a rocket launcher at them (completely missing both the truck and anyone still breathing). Now she starts a big shootout against an armored truck, which seems like a waste of bullets.

Doing very poorly, John grabs Althea’s video camera and records a goodbye message to Laura. By the time Laura collects her medical supplies and turns back, Alicia has somehow pulled the door off the truck and taken Althea and the others inside captive. Fortunately, John is able to use a walkie-talkie to warn Laura not to come back.

Althea and Alicia fight inside the truck, but Alicia suddenly stops when she sees boxes of ramen noodles inside. She freaks out about this, recognizing them as the same brand her mother had, which means that Althea must have known her mother. She scours though Al’s interview tapes until finding the one labeled “Amina” and immediately recognizes it.

Alicia still wants to kill Laura, but Morgan puts himself in the way and talks her down. They all have a good cry and Alicia allows Laura to go to John.

They all drive away from the stadium together. John is stabilized. (Some gauze and Band-Aids go a long way toward healing bullet wounds in this show’s logic.) Laura/Naomi reveals that her real name is actually June. As Alicia watches the recording of her mother, Althea insists that she wants to get the rest of Maddie’s story.

The Stadium

Another flashback takes us this time to the Vulture attack on the baseball stadium. Even though Maddie insists that the walls will hold, the people inside panic as flaming zombies approach. They try to flee in a caravan, only to get overrun and massacred in the parking lot. Believing everyone else is dead, Laura runs away, which will eventually lead her to join the Vultures.

In order to save her children and friends, Maddie lights a flare and lures all the zombies in the parking lot away from the car and into the stadium, Pied Piper-style. If the walls could have kept the zombies out, then they can also keep them inside. As the last of the stragglers stumbles past, Maddie closes the gate, locking herself inside with them, and tosses the flare to ignite the oil covering the zombies. Alicia, Nick and the others scream as they watch Maddie sacrifice herself so that they can get away.

Episode Verdict

Maddie’s death is not nearly as shocking as Nick’s was earlier this season. Her absence from the flash-forwards was a very noticeable clue that something must have happened to her. The details of exactly how she died seem kind of dumb, to be honest.

For one thing, she’s inside a baseball stadium. Baseball stadiums have lots of bleachers and stairs. Zombies cannot walk upstairs (maybe a slow crawl at best). The math here shouldn’t be too difficult to add up. When zombies approach, run up the stairs. I’m sure the place must have other exits she can sneak out of later.

This assumes that Maddie is actually dead, of course. We don’t see her die on camera, which is generally a sign that she’ll return later (as Salazar did after supposedly dying in a fire). On the other hand, actress Kim Dickens reportedly insisted on the ‘Talking Dead’ aftershow (which I didn’t watch) that Maddie is indeed dead, so we’ll see.

It’s also still not terribly clear why Alicia believes Laura is responsible for her mother’s death. Her turn to deranged psycho seems poorly motivated, and the way their conflict suddenly de-escalates is almost as contrived and silly as the “Wait, your mom is named Martha, too?!” climax of ‘Batman v. Superman’.

Although this season started out on a really promising note, recent episodes have slipped back into a familiar rut. Whether the show can pull itself out again is something we’ll have to wait until August to find out.

8 comments

  1. Joshua P. Christie

    The half-season definitely started losing steam in the 2nd half and crammed way too much in the last couple of episodes for the anti-climatic but still surprising death of Madison. It is a complete waste she’ll share no screen time with Garrett Dillahunt or Lennie James. In retrospect as well, if Frank Dillane asked for his release after last season and they knew that going in, why kill both him and Madison inside of 8 episodes rather than giving Nick the Madison role and not risking the overkill? Kim Dickens was clearly upset she was written off of the show which screams more Scott Gimple/AMC BS with cost cutting and all the rest of it. This was still better than anything The Walking Dead did in 16 episodes last season but a far cry away from the overall quality of last season’s Fear. The good news is by the previews, it is changing the look and feel of the 2nd half of the season with a new arc altogether (including ditching the time jump gimmick). If not for Dillahunt and James, I would probably bow out. The new group dynamic (or lack thereof) is going to dictate how much life this spinoff has left in it.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      It seems to me that the creative staff is trying to phase out most of the original cast in order to let Lennie James and Garret Dillahunt take over the show, which frankly may not be the worst decision. Alicia will stick around to keep the teenage male audience watching. Strand and Luciana are supporting players and probably not too expensive to keep, so there’s no need to write them out yet. But Maddie and Nick had to go.

  2. David Litteral

    Point well-taken regarding the fragmentation of the show. It took me up to the next to the last episode to figure it out. Fear of the Walking Dead is only in its 4th season whereas TWD just finished Season 9. So, in order for Morgan to leave Season 9 of TWD and fit into Fear the Walking Dead, there had to be a 4-5 year catch up. At the end of Season 3 Madison and crew were all over the map, still in Mexico. All of a sudden in Season 4 they are living in Texas talking about events we have no recollection of. That was catch-up so Morgan could fit into the Fear.
    I’m not sure Madison is dead. Remember how we saw Glenn die but then he came back from under the dumpster? So, we’ll see what happens in August.

    • genesim

      Didn’t Morgan walk right out of TWD and go directly into Fear (for the most part?). I see your point, I just think that some people don’t understand this and decry flashbacks when they do have a purpose.

      I think it is a very real possibility that Madison is not dead. I personally think it would be silly to write her out of the show.

      I like the “Martha” element of the review. I too hope there is more to Alicia being so mad at Laurie. They have build it up pretty good and the explanation was pretty weak to me.

      Morgan’s scene with her talking her down was awesome, along with Alicia being the stronger child emotionally/sensibly (reminded me of Dunkirk where the brother let his hate go). The problem with the whole thing is that her hate for her seemed unfounded. Perhaps her thinking how Laurie was always trying to flee got her hating her all the more. Those things are hard to put down, but then I didn’t feel sold enough on Nick feeling it. More story will help sell this, and I hope there is more to come. I don’t want the flashbacks to completely go away.

      • Josh Zyber
        Author

        The flashback structure may have served a purpose initially, but it has been overused to the point of annoyance, especially in the last couple episodes.

        • genesim

          I agree to an extent, but then again I felt the same way about Lost. When I watch it now, I think it is no big deal, and I actually enjoy it a great deal after I have seen the final story. I remember when it first happened people were just going nuts. While I know people some people don’t share my view, I think the series was perfect.

          For this, I think it is hard for new viewers to take the information in. Once you see it again you pick up on things you never saw before. I will re-watch after it plays out the same as I have the rest of the series. In every case I have been rewarded for this so far.

  3. Joseph Levitt

    One of the most convoluted, disappointing episodes I have ever experienced. Morgan has become a milk toast; Alicia’s bad-girl persona is a bust; Madison’s delivers her lines like a poorly coached robot; Strand…ugh, boring; and even poor John and Laura/June/what’s-her-name has lost me. Madison lead the rats into the stadium liked the Pied Piper…really? The great sacrifice? It’s not often that I see eye to eye with this reviewer, but this time, we’re definitely on the same page. This show is a bust.

  4. Les

    Personally, I think the entire seasons jumping back and forth is somewhat confusing and totally removes any suspense from most episodes. The 1st episode was probably the best and then it went rapidly downhill from there. So, Alicia wanted to kill Laura because Madison is so stupid that she ran back into the stadium and let the zombie’s eat her . . . maybe? Alicia blamed Laura for Madison’s death? Maybe I missed something. Seeing Nick in episodes is like watching the movie “Dead Man Walking”. This season’s director’s, editors, producers or whoever is in charge of this season’s constant flash forward/backward should be fired plus most episodes are just poorly written with our main characters just doing stupid things and getting in stupid predicaments. For some reason, I keep watching . . . I guess I keep hoping for something better.

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