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Sunday, November 19, 2023

Keeping Her Alive |8x10| Fear The Walking Dead

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Second Chances, Make it Mean Something, and Something Good Out of Something Bad. Every prior episode's theme is carried over into the next episode and, in this one, the only words that seem to remain present in my mind are Troy Otto's at the end of Episode 7, Anton, "What are you even fighting for?" Perhaps the truth really does lie somewhere in the middle. 
Since we livestreamed this episode, there is no unedited version of this podcast available for streaming, but consider tipping us to support our hard work and/or join a membership tier on either Ko-fi or Patreon! Either will unlock our Pre-SQUAWK Insights: the notes Dave wrote in prep for this episode discussion (read them on Ko-fi or Patreon)!

David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:

  • Rockin Round Robin is a benefit for our buddy, The Black and White Guy (AKA Robin Overton), which will be held on Sunday, December 10th at 2:00PM (Eastern/US). In between rounds of Wait, Wait: Don't tell me with some very special guests, we'll be auctioning off prize packs to raise money to help pay for Robin's cancer treatments while playing clips of fans, like you, revealing their TWDU Secret Santa gifts! There's still time to make a video for TWDU Secret Santa, so DM Sherrandy on Instagram! In the meantime, subscribe to our YouTube channel and enable all notifications! Feel free to share the image below to social media!

  • ...and tap here to see what our Secret Santa videos are typically about:

  • Bridget received a birthday card, a while back, from Kendall (AKA @fanart_in_progress) and here's the result: Daniel Salazar!

  • And Dave is wearing The Commonwealth cap he won from the Snap Charity Auction they threw for Takeerah.

  • After a push start, Rachael gives her first impression of this episode: Why and how is Madison Clark still alive? Not only does she think she is she awful, but the series promised us that they would reveal how she escaped the Dell Diamond; however, it doesn't seem to matter much this late in the game. Sherrandy believes that the writers are trolling the audience and that Season 8 is just one big troll (TRoy Otto? TRacy Otto? = TRoll). But Dave offers perspective: our critiques have come in as early as the end of Season 6 - specifically the moment Victor Strand kick-stomps Morgan Jones into the pile of walkers in 6x15, U.S.S. Pennsylvania - despite protests that they really hadn't started slamming the show until the latter half of Season 7. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle? Sherrandy emphasizes that the acting, cinematography, and direction are good, but the writing is the main issue: there are logical inconsistencies in the plot, such as the sudden change in location, and difficulty finding P.A.D.R.E., meanwhile they easily find their friends deep in the woods.

  • Everyone loves Antonella Rose, as well as her depiction of Tracy. Her appearance and clothing remind the speaker of Judith Grimes and even, to our surprise (Rachael agrees with Dave), Alicia Clark: its not hard to see how Tracy could be Alicia's child/Madison's granddaughter. That being said, Tracy and Troy seem to be everyone's favorite characters, at the moment, due to how well they troll Madison.

  • Bridget questions Tracy's relationship with Troy and wonders if her mother was killed by Troy's people. Dave believes that Tracy is proud of her father's philosophy, but is ambivalent about whether Troy is her biological father. But Bridget explains further: Tracy's parents could've been killed by Troy and he just raised her as her own. She doesn't necessarily seem against her father's actions, but also doesn't sound positive about them. There is more to her story, judging by the way she was constantly fidgeting with her St Christopher medallion. Troy probably doesn't even know how to show affection, so it's possible that she accepts and adopts whatever twisted form that takes. Given all those possibilities, there would be a dark mirror between Troy and Madison: he, too, kidnapped a child in order to try and give her a better life. More to the point, Bridget thinks it's a little unclear whether she even wants to go back to Troy: her "wandering off" could've just been her attempt at running away.

  • Sherrandy, overall, hates that Madison for failing to avenge Charlie in amidst the conflict against Troy and, rather, decides to pour her energy into recovering Alicia's body. But Dave reminds Sherrandy that the whole point of the last episode, 8x09 Sanctuary, was to illustrate the similarity between she, Dwight, and June Dorie: she walked away not only because every time she helps she makes things worse, but also to prevent Troy from taking PADRE purely out of spite (if she's no longer a part of the equation, he might at least consider leaving them be).

  • The only time Madison inhales her oxygen, despite blow off steam by killing walkers, seems to have been purely for dramatic effect: right before she and Daniel decide to kill Tracy to protect PADRE. Dave argues that there might be something to that, but it will probably go unappreciated given how little everyone else (besides him) hated this episode and Madison, along with it. But since we're here: Editor's Note: her need for oxygen might be more than just physiological - it could be a physical manifestation of the weight of her grief.

  • Another frustration was the way June, Sherry, and Dwight not only fail to heed Strand's warning to protect Tracy by keeping her at PADRE, but wish to remit both he and Tracy to try to appease Troy. Like Strand, Daniel also knows what Troy is capable of and seems to be the only one who is also opposed giving Tracy back; however his motivations end up being far more malicious (and perhaps mirrors Troy's). Throughout the episode, one couldn't be faulted for thinking Victor was trying to protect Tracy to save his own skin - or at least keep Frank and Klaus safe or free from having to grieve him - but by the end of the episode, you realize that Victor was just trying to give her a better life in the same manner as PADRE: kidnapping her from her evil father.

  • Jason Cone, who spent this season as a background actor, mentioned that The Lighthouse depicted in the show as a reference point to find PADRE is a real-life location that isn't very far from the location where PADRE's grounds are filmed.

  • Some viewers were a little baffled with the introduction of Alicia's disciples, whom we will henceforth call The Alicia Cosplayers. Sherrandy offered hefty criticism over the manner in which Alicia obtained and fueled the MRAP: rushing into the burning tower and syphoning the gas from the generators. It also didn't track, for some, that Alicia would abandon Morgan et al  (on the rafts) and start her own movement, but it's not out of her character to pick up and move on in an attempt to make it (her life) mean something. Besides, at the time, the rafts where the only known way clear out of the nuclear fallout zone from where they were and Alicia might've viewed her second chance at life as a way to improve the lives of others who deserved a second chance, too. As silly as it was that Madison was so rude to The Alicia Cosplayers, at least it was a little funny to see them fangirl over her as though they were trying to get her autograph. Even funnier still was how Madison stole the MRAP from them.

  • What's even more interesting is how they saw, for themselves, that Madison was about to kill a child and still saw redemption in Madison. But that turns us over to Daniel, whom many see is undergoing massive character assassination for participating in the attempted murder-by-walker of Tracy. Considering his evolution and adoption of both Luciana Galvez and Charlie as his own and his last words to his biological daughter, Ofelia Salazar, about trying to be a better man, why would he kill a kid? Dave argues that Daniel is conditioned to kill while having experienced severe childhood trauma and PTSD: watching him backslide into oblivion just to make Troy suffer for being responsible for the death of his daughter is completely realistic, despite his evolution. Victor's suspicions about the group trying to kill Tracy, rather than turn around and bring her back to PADRE were right, but where he went wrong was that it was the very people he though might keep her safe: Daniel and Madison.

  • And on the note of that group, where Dave saw the dialogue between Strand and June super compelling (rifling off callbacks, galore), Bridget was super frustrated by the fact, yet again, the writers saw fit to depict Strand as the bad guy. What's even more frustrating for her is how, given his knowledge and experience with Troy, they dismiss him; however, even Sherrandy swoops in and acknowledges that this is attributed to the hell that everyone underwent in his Season 7 tower - especially June, who had to sit idly by while Charlie got sicker and bodies continued to fly past the tower's windows on the way down to their demise.

  • While June's line about second chances pisses Bridget off even more (while Victor's response about him just having issues gave everyone a chuckle), it happens to highlight the theme of the episode: the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Everyone has done something questionable or wrong, good intentions or bad, including June, Victor, Sherry, Dwight, Alicia, Daniel, and Madison. The question will eventually arise as to whether Troy deserves a second chance, but in the meantime, Victor is adamant that he not receive one - not only for his past, but what he's done in the present. But, still, what if what we're seeing, right now, is Troy's backslide? Though we've only seen glimpses of it, he might have changed over the course of the last decade, having nurtured a child all these years. One thing we know for sure is that he's doing whatever he has to, however questionably, do to keep his daughter safe: and in what way does that make him any different than Madison? ...or even Victor, now that he has loved ones to fight for - though he is taking it one step further and trying to be a better man?

  • And what about redemption? Bridget still wants it for both Victor and Madison, but suspects that the only way Madison might receive it is in death. And, even further, Madison thus far has only inspired to harness the capacity of everyone around her to be terrible and do terrible things, not unlike the zombie virus. Just like Dave said in the last episode, as much as he would like Madison to be redeemed, he's more interested in exploring what Madison becomes when she has no one left to disappoint: who is she without doing everything she can for her children, now dead? To echo Troy's words at the end of 8x07, Anton, "What are you even fighting for?"

  • GWilsons, in the chat, compares the drama between Strand & June/Dwight/Sherry to that of Maggie Rhee and Negan on The Walking Dead / The Walking Dead: Dead City. Having not seen him again, they put it all behind them, but his sudden reappearance after seven years - let alone him trying to lead, again - opened the floodgates and all their trauma resurfaced: they weren't willing to allow what happened at the tower happen here, in PADRE. Dave, in particular, praised this writing decision because, contrary to Bridget's consternations, it would've been even more hokey had they listened to, forgiven him, or given him a second chance: that maybe some people don't deserve a second chance.

  • Taking it back to The Alicia Cosplayers, Dave would have preferred Alicia's fate have been more nebulous, considering the events that unfolded in 7x15, Amina. Failing that, he would've rather had the series show us, rather than tell is, the way it's been revealing most of it's plot points: via almost throw-away dialogue. Alicia's story could have even been gleaned through one of Althea Szewczyk-Przygocki's tapes instead of being spoken about in this episode. As frustrated as we are, we're not convinced that Troy is even telling the truth, considering the lengths that he went to drive Madison mad by cutting off the limbs of every female walker in the region.

  • Diego Ramos asks us what we, as hosts, want out of the final two episodes. Rachael makes a heartfelt plea that we at least find out, on screen, what really happened to Alicia. Sherrandy predicts/hopes that Madison will die, so that she, Alicia, and Nick Clark will be reunited in the end. Rachael and Bridget jokingly suggests that Tobias will make a return and is revealed to be an alien who subsequently beams everyone up to safety.

  • Everyone praises for Colman Domingo's acting, this season, and it's worth noting that he is, for the first time ever, a lead actor in a new movie called Rustin: available for streaming on Netflix.

  • We point our attention to the herd Troy has apparantly been leading, all this time, to Madison/PADRE. Sherrandy mentions that, wherever they are in Georgia, the weather in the south isn't cold for long enough so that walkers would be stuck in the frozen mud. Thomas brings up the fact that Daniel has anger/memory issues, too, and maybe he doesn't remember everything Ofelia said (and no amount of Yerba Mate is going to fix it). The audience in the chat is also a little suspicious of The Alicia Cosplayers, too, and that maybe they're not telling the (whole) truth. And besides, other than Tobias' alien ship, called Iron Tiger (the only "iron" it's made of is "irony"), where's Skidmark (we were promised we'd see him)?

  • One of Dave's only critiques was that the episode did seem all over the place, with too many (newly introduced) characters and storyline threads to follow. The season might've been better off with more episodes to flesh out the story properly (and show us rather than telling us, to fill in the gaps). This brings us to a central question: would the series have been better off not listening to the demands from many fans and sticking to their guns? Whether bringing back Madison was a part of that vision or not, it feels like precarious balancing act is being performed by satisfying fans and telling a good story. As much as we've loved seeing them gradually include more characters in each episode, this one was a little much!
  • And has though everyone's enjoyed Troy's character development, we wonder whether he has truly changed after watching this episode. It seems as though his actions are less about vengeance and more about finding a safe place for his daughter and whoever remains of his people after Luciana's trucker gang and PADRE residents were done with them.

  • Out of everyone in this episode, Strand is seen as the only one with a sensible plan in the dire situation they are in. Though there was initial confusion over Strand's motivations, whether he was using Tracy as leverage or genuinely wanted to give her a better life, the only thing that's clear is that, just as he says to Madison, the truth lies somewhere in between. Victor's actions were to protect his family, the people at PADRE (including the German residents who lived with him at the hotel, but especially Tracy.
    Editor's Note: After much reflection on this episode, the reason why Victor removes Tracy's blindfold was to merely get June, Dwight, and Sherry to turn the boat around and head back to PADRE to think of something else. Victor knows these three, forever grieving parents wouldn't dare kill a child. What rapidly shifted the situation was Tracy jumping ship, which forced Victor to follow suit.
  • In response to possible major character deaths and what we want out of this episode, however we feel about Madison, Bridget expresses disappointment in the lack of redemption for Madison, whom she admired in Seasons 1-3. All of us are anxious, based on the trajectory of these last few episodes, how the final two episodes will play out. We're already frustrated about not being able to watch the final two episodes together, like we planned, due to AMC moving up the date of the Season Finale. Even entertainment media are refusing to post their (spoiler free) episode reviews for the remaining episodes: which is ultimately fine, because we do not like spoilers, but it's a telltale sign that Fear The Walking Dead will, more than likely, disappoint the fans. Dave takes this a little further: people have this tendency to jump on bandwagons and dogpile on something when an authority plants a seed in the mind of their followers. In the case in this episode, he believes the level of negative feedback is directly correlated to the manner in which critics panned it.

  • Assuming Alicia is actually alive, there are doubts that Alycia Debnam-Carey will return to reprise her role. However things go down, we just hope all the deaths and reveals take form on screen rather than via shoddy dialogue. We even want to know what Tracy means when she says Madison's philosophy of No One's Gone Until They're Gone killed her (biological?) mother. Bridget recalls the times when Nick was taking up more of Alicia's attention and how sad and even frustrating it is to see her only be consumed with her after it was already too late: something that, sadly, Madison mentioned to the walker she assumed was previously Alicia (only to discover that it was, previously, Tracy's mother).

  • Dave tries to bring up the tragic irony of Madison's presence in this story: she was working so hard to protect and regain the trust of the children (and parents) of PADRE, knowing that she had killed her own biological father for committing unspeakable acts on her and her mother. PADRE's mission, under Shrike and Crane, was to give children a better life than their parents ever could on their own. Madison is whacking away at walkers while Motley Crue's Livewire is playing which, itself, is anathema of Nikki Sixx's own story of how he dealt with his abusive step-dad. Ultimately, Madison is doomed to repeat her cyclical melodrama with the episode ending in her feeling like she has nobody left to disappoint. Along for the ride is Daniel Salazar, even though he still has Luciana, with he and Madison both sliding further into darkness in a similar manner that Victor did during Season 7, which Victor tried so hard to get her to avoid.

  • Dave takes a moment to answer Diego's question about what he wants to see in the final episodes. Along with agreeing with Rachael in finding out Alicia's fate, on screen: more than anything else, he wants to be surprised. Much like in previous seasons of FearTWD, even when the plotlines seemed iffy, they always managed to steer the ship to the harbor and guide it to port in such a way that was still entertaining and unpredictable. The fact that June doesn't forget what Victor did may have been uncomfortable and depressing, but it was authentic and promising. Even the prospect of a major character death should be shocking, authentic, and may not even contain meaning: as long as it's not a death for the sake of killing off a character.

  • One thing that bothers us is how Strand attributes the St. Christopher Medallion that Tracy bears as something unique to Alicia. We as well as he, as a result, are forced to assume that Troy killed Alicia and gave the necklace to his daughter as a psychopath's trophy. But perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between and, just like the one-armed walkers meant to drive Madison insane, this necklace was also meant to misdirect Victor and Madison (but especially the audience).

  • Mitchell, in the chat, asks who might be featured in the title sequence for the last two episodes. All this serves up are more jokes about how Tobias will return and feature in one or both of the title cards, to which Dave makes a bet that if his name is even mentioned, he will not be appearing in the podcast's final discussion on FearTWD. Diego suggests the show kill-off Sherry. which prompts Dwight go jump onto TWD: Dead City for a perfect ending.

  • It was interesting to see Luciana stick to her guns and refuse to be involved with Padre's mess, focusing more on the trucker network and the good that they can do. But, like Dave said, we're all infected by Madison's backsliding virus and most of the people she was trying to protect ended up dying. After singing a bar of Madison got run over by an MRAP (in the tune of Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer), as much as Troy tries to get in Luci's head by telling her that Nick stayed behind after she was forced to leave the TEOTWAWKI for her safety, Luciana has moved on with her life and isn't allowing her pride or her past to dictate her actions.

  • AJ Abbott suggests the season ends with Strand taking over PADRE and producing a theatrical presentation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show featuring his husband Frank (as Doctor Frank-N-Furter). This was prompted by how many of us are Frank lovers and how Dave is a Frank Fighter, which devolves into wanting Frank to form a cover band called The Frank Fighters, where all the songs are sung in German. Meanwhile, up on the rooftop, reindeers pause, out jumps coal-bearing Santa Klaus.

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Sunday, November 12, 2023

Sanctuary |8x09| Fear The Walking Dead

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Everything gets a return -- Every character in this episode is connected and violently confronted by the same trauma that's plagued them from the beginning of their arduous journey; but it takes the next generation who crystalizes any possible hope for the future to finally push them over that seemingly insurmountable hump.
Since this recording is based off of a livestream, there is no unedited version available for streaming; however, support our hard work by tipping us and/or joining a membership tier on either Ko-fi or Patreon!

David Cameo:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:

  • First thing's first: watch, listen to, or read about our interview with Phil McLaughlin, who Directed this episode. He's been Editor on Fear The Walking Dead for several seasons and this interview gives you a heaping spoonful of the production process! You can also get a sense of his love and appreciation for the material and all who are involved in making it. He also has a short film ambling it's way through the globe called Toad Boy, which we asked a few questions about, as well.

  • And, of course, we can't forgot to mention (yet again, because we had to in our interview) how Phil donated a signed 12-pack of 3 Floyds Zombie Dust (minus the actual beer) for our TWDU Trivia Charity Battle, which Sherrandy ended up winning. It may have taken a while to make it to her, but Phil made it worth her while by signing it, himself, and getting the signatures of all the main actors in this episode, whom he directed: Christine Evangelista, Austin Amelio, Jayla Walton, and Jenna Elfman.

  • You still have an opportunity to participate in our TWDU Secret Santa, which will be included as a segment in our upcoming benefit we're holding for Robin Overton (fan artist most commonly called The Black and White Guy), who is battling stomach cancer and could really use financial assistance. Essentially, characters will be assigned to participants at random and they have to personalize a "gift" they've selected on their behalf. You don't need to buy anything and you can be as creative as you like, even if it's just explaining what you got for them and the reason why. Just DM Sherrandy on Instagram. Here's the one we did just a few years ago, as an example:

    The date for the benefit will be Sunday, December 10th at 2:00pm (Eastern/US -- barring any unforeseen circumstances) and we're planning on having some very special guests in attendance who you don't want to miss!

  • Walking Dead Eternal really likes the SQUAWKING DEAD / FearTWD logo (representing our discussions on the latter half of the final season), which allows us to mention that it (and a variant) is available in our merch store: on shirts, mugs, stickers, and more!

  • On the note of GWilsons comment about comparing this episode to 8x02, Blue Jay, but falling a little short, Sherrandy says that they had the same storyline setup, but a different outcome (making good come out of something bad) and June wasn't as savage (whacking off them fingers).

  • We dive right into some of the criticism towards Odessa "Dove" Sanderson, mainly from Mitchell Shoemaker, calling her annoying and whiny. We immediately defend her behavior: she is reacting like any human would in a similar situation after having their world turned upside down, being let down by very folks who did it and, now, she's supposed to trust. Bridget acknowledges that Dove can be seen as a typical angsty teenager, but emphasizes that she is still a kid dealing with trauma and instability. Dave highlights the contrast between Dove's capabilities at the start of the season, comparing her to Judith Grimes, and now that she is in such a vulnerable position,the lack of stability exhibited in the people who are supposed to be her role models around her disappoints and even angers her. It also prompts us to mention how similar her character was to Wes who, when we first met him, acted like (what Phil referred to in our interview) an audience surrogate: on the one hand, they are also yelling at their screens for our characters to get over their issues, and on the other, they are an opportunity to take us out of how locked in we are to the drama in order to reframe it.

  • On the note of first impressions, we felt deeply about this episode. Even when many of the scenes were almost 4th-wall-breaking in the way they were pointing out callbacks, it was well executed and attention to very important details (in order to remain faithful to The Walking Dead, as well). On top of being well-received, this episode had characters that hadn't been seen in a while: and having so much of Dwight & Sherry's grander storyline coming full circle, with The Sanctuary completely collapsing, was tremendously appreciated.

  • On the note of actually rebuilding The Sanctuary, we give so much kudos to all the set pieces and construction that made us feel like we were back there, again. We do get into the return of the metal headed walkers, which received a lot of criticism: though, considering that they had a working foundry and a bullet making facility, it wasn't a giant leap. More than just that, in the realm of some plot points being too on the nose, the purpose of all that was to immerse Dwight & Sherry in their original trauma in order to get a true second chance to get things right, again. The furnace and even the iron that burned the left side of Dwight's face - the very thing that subjugated him to Negan and The Saviors - become salvation.

  • June's character arc involves confronting a litany of past trauma and letting go of all the guilt she had associated with them, to which we couldn't not compare hers to Carol Peletier: even trying to tally who technically lost more children throughout their journey. But June was able to make something good come out of her trauma by letting go of it enough to heal Dove and come out of the other side with an even larger family. She and everyone else in this episode, as Dwight says in the furnace, were necessary for all of them to see what they were doing to harm themselves and find their way through a better future:
    • Dwight and Sherry were devastated by the death of their son and feeling like they couldn't keep anyone safe. They had to acknowledge their mutual pain was something they could share in order to face the world's tremendous challenges.

    • June and Dwight both had to snap out of feeling as though they are cursed to only hurt the people they love. Jay's statements - about helping people being the reason why we're even here and how a week of life is better than being dead immediately (even when you lose everything) - is the seed that grows within Dwight in order to see it. And, after all, Dwight still has his wife, Sherry, and an entire found-family of children who still need and love him.

  • Sure, there were some 4-th-wall-breaking and cheesy, on-the-nose moments in this episode, but having meaningful moments and fan-service embedded in some of those instances (and beyond) - in the form of callbacks and easter eggs - meant it really didn't bother us all that much. Some of those moments contained levity, which offset some of the heavier themes and performances throughout the episode. Even the most obvious moment of seeing the finch land on the furnace, in the aftermath of The Sanctuary's collapse, touched some of us who've lost loved ones: Bridget using a personal example of seeing a cardinal, which reminds her of her grandfather. Going back to execution, though: in light of the continued presence of  some shaky writing, the execution and obvious attention to detail served as a massive counterweight.

  • Dave wonders whether it would have been interesting to have them hint that the people living at The Sanctuary might've been (at least affiliated) with the The Croat, from The Walking Dead: Dead City. Immediately, Bridget says that Dwight would have been questioned about Negan if that were the case. Speaking of their leader, Marty, his demeanor and line-delivery were similar to Negan's and Phil, the guy Dwight throws in the furnace (immediately evoking memories of when Negan did this with the first Dr. Carson) was not only a stand-in for Dwight but also issues similar lines to Negan, evoking consequences. Oh, uh, and the way Marty was making his last stand with Dwight almost looked as though he was about to kiss him.

  • Jay's insulin is a callback to how Dwight & Sherry ended up involved with The Saviors to begin with, by way of them doing so in order to get Sherry's sister, Tina, the insulin she needed for her Type 2 Diabetes. It was also really interesting to see how Dwight was calling out for Daryl Dixon to finally end his life when you consider that Daryl is often seen as a sort shadow of Dwight from the comic book. The way Dwight passes out, as Sherry arrives, right on the Home Sweet Home welcome mat is great, but Bridget couldn't help but focus on the fact that one can purchase it from Target for only $13.99. On first watch, though, Sherry's arrival is a little suspicious when you consider the comic book storyline and how she was supposed to take over as leader of The Saviors. The sudden thought that she might be involved with Mary and co at The Sanctuary definitely occurred to some of us.

  • One of the first notable sequences was the opening shot with Dwight's figure reflected by flashing lightning in the puddle. Dave mentions, considering puddles and lightning, that it's somewhat similar to the way 8x06 King County starts out, with Morgan Jones face down in water on the railroad tracks. For some odd reason, it reminded Sherrandy of the moment when Dwight & Sherry found and protected the cellar they used to escape the nuclear blast in 6x16 The Beginning.

  • It looks like we solved the mystery of where zombie Alicia Clark is located because a walker wearing a St Christopher medallion had it dangling off its neck: seen both prior to and when the fence collapsed on top of Sherry. You get a better look at it as it basically hits Sherry right in the face through the fence.

  • In the beginning, Dwight is seen grabbing and whittling away at the king chess piece in order to shape it into a prosthetic finger for June, which might even symbolize her importance to him. It also brings up a grander theme that, for once, isn't actually spoken out loud even once throughout this episode, but is felt: no one's gone until they're gone. Dwight just couldn't help himself from, well, helping where he could, even though he invites death.

  • Madison Clark is seen, by many, as a terrible person who made a mess and left everyone else to clean it up. Dave even suggests that maybe Madison is already the villain that Dave Erikson (the original show-runner) actually promised, though probably not in the same manner. Still, Dave is a fan of what they are doing with her character.
  • When Tracy Otto is revealed on screen for the first time, Dave had an emotional reaction because, even though he doesn't think she is Alicia's daughter, he couldn't help his mind from wandering in that direction (and what the implications would be for both himself and, especially so, for Victor Strand). Antonella Rose's face is very expressive and the screaming she provided amidst the otherwise calm and pleasant environment Strand was attempting to create for her was a very excellent scene choice. But it also adds to the mystery of whether Strand is Stranding and, if he his, whether he's doing so on behalf of himself or the common good, this time. If Victor even suspected she was Alicia's daughter, there is no telling the lengths he would go to preserve her last remnants. We almost forgot, the room that Strand is using to house Tracy is the same one Madison was locked up in for several years.

  • Sherrandy signs-off for the evening because she has a headache, leaving just Bridget and Dave.
  • The importance of fall of The Sanctuary and the finality it brings, not just to the majority of Dwight and Sherry's overarching struggle, but to The Walking Dead Universe, overall, was very well handled. Dave still can't help but think about what happened to The Saviors after Negan's fall and, again, whether The Croat is in any way further tangled up in The Sanctuary's history. Bridget advises that the encounter between The Croat and Jerome (The Savior who told him what happened during All Out War) might not have even occurred at The Sanctuary. Examining some of the more narrative callbacks, Marty behaves a lot like Negan: the way he puts away his gun while speaking to them, then proceeds to bargain away Dwight's life to save Dove's life is a scary do-over. When Sherry hears this, you immediately see her body language completely change: she is determined to not allow history repeat to repeat itself, at all costs.

  • Adding June's turmoil as a sleeper component to this storyline, then Dove's dramatic obstinance, mutually elevated not only everyone else's performance, but the entire episode's story, on the whole. It was a much-needed reprieve amidst a smattering of lackluster episodes in the final season. This allowed us to remark on how, in stark contrast to the anthology-style episodes in Seasons 6 and 7, at least Season 8 had a healthy balance of characters on screen. The return of Dwight, Sherry, and June - and allowing them to come together to overcome their demons - was a lovely canon to when we saw them last in 8x02, Blue Jay, when they were in the depths of despair.

  • Madison's return was initially met with hesitation, but the Bridget had always appreciated her character in previous seasons. Though the writing in previous episodes felt somewhat ham-fisted and disappointing, this episode (on the whole) gave it relevance; however, we all want more show, don't tell, especially in the remaining episodes, since most of the audience isn't dumb and shouldn't need the writers to spell out key story elements for them (especially by way of throw-away dialogue).
  • But there are even more redeeming qualities than the embedded message of No One's Gone Until Their Gone throughout this episode: The high protagonists in the universe, which include Madison, Rick Grimes, and Morgan, have always shown the extreme lengths they are willing to go for their loved ones: but even more extreme when their loved ones are gone. This season has, thus far, been flirting with exploring what Madison looks like and even becomes without her children, similar to Rick and Morgan's respective journeys. Madison is rudderless and trying to prove herself to the children she stole over the years. At the end of the last episode, she -  just like Dwight in this one - realizes she is the problem and decides to leave, proclaiming that the help they always seems to provide always makes things much worse.

  • Bridget had always hoped for the same redemption story for Madison that she wants for Strand and wished part of that would be in the form of prioritizing others with the same ferocity as she had her children, minus the risk-seeking behavior that leads her to some of the more questionable decisions she's made over the last decade. Bridget proclaims that a lot of her actions are driven by an unhealthy codependency with her children, but Dave had always admired the way she allowed Nick Clark and Alicia to leave her when conditions became too unbearable for them to stay with her (though Bridget sees this as another possible manipulation on Madison's part).

  • But more than redemption, Dave is more interested in seeing what TWDU allows Madison to become, now that she is officially a part of it. The first few seasons of FearTWD were The Clark family - a dysfunctional family that finds out they are more functional in the zombie apocalypse - attempting to navigate a mad world. Because of this, you only saw hints of them becoming who they were meant to be. Season 4 provided a dramatic shift towards that end and only now, without her children, are we starting to see what Madison finally becomes in Season 8, which might not be a great thing (as we've seen from those whom we might consider villains).

  • Speaking specifically about the dramatic scene between Dove and June, we wanted to highlight the importance of how a young person's optimism and a belief in their own future guides their actions. Young people can't comprehend their mortality as much as adults, especially in this episode, which makes it so much easier for Dove to mistrust their ability to protect and guide them as their guardians. Case in point, even when Dove notes everyone's reconciliation in the furnace, she resigns herself to June's ability to heal her with the simple line of, Ask me [if I trust you] after you take the bullet out, which doesn't necessarily mean she trusts her: she's only acknowledging that she is her best shot.

  • After Fear The Walking Dead completes its run, SQUAWKING DEAD will be on break between then and February 24th, which is purportedly the release date of the Michonne and Rick spin-off The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live; however, we will continue to release content, like the benefit for Robin Overton.

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