Counting all three series, there have now been 17 seasons of shows in The Walking Dead universe. What’s been fairly remarkable about the universe is that even after this many seasons, and this many episodes, the shows still find new and inventive ways to kill people, and the latest way to die introduced in this week’s Fear the Walking Dead is gruesome as hell.
The method of death also features the introduction of another cult. Honestly, if you think about it, The Walking Dead universe is much less about zombies and far more about cults, from Woodbury to The Saviors to The Cannibals to the Whisperers to the CRM. Anyone studying cults on television may need to devote an entire unit to The Walking Dead. Cults are the basis of this universe, and the newest one introduced into Fear the Walking Dead doesn’t yet have a name, but for now, we’ll call them The Mole People because they live exclusively in an underground bunker called The Hold. They are the cult members who have been spray painting “The End is the Beginning” all around Texas, and in this episode, we finally began to understand what that means. It’s not that different from some of the other cults in The Walking Dead universe, in that they romanticize death, or in this case, they believe that death (the end) gives rise to life (the beginning). It also explains the tree zombie we’ve seen in Fear promos.
That zombie is the unofficial mascot of The Mole People, and his “death” gave rise to the plant “life” that surrounds him. The cult has built a sustainable community underground using dead people to fertilize the gardens that provide the food they need to live.
In this cult, the worst thing that can happen to you, they believe, is killing you but not allowing you to be a part of the beginning. How do they do that, you ask? They kill people by filling them full of embalming fluid, which prevents them from decomposing. They also wire their jaws shut so that their zombified versions can’t cause any harm, and they are then hung up by the hands in a large room where they can’t contribute anything to the world even in death.
Their leader is Teddy, who Alicia calls “The King of the Crazies,” and he was likely a serial killer before the apocalypse, and interestingly, someone from John Dorie’s past. Teddy’s right-hand man is Riley, played by Nick Stahl, who some may remember as John Conner in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Riley brings Alicia, Althea, Luciana, and Wes into their bunker to show them around, and that’s where Wes encounters Derek, his brother, who he had long thought was dead.
Wes and Derek enjoy their loving but short-lived reunion while Alicia tries to learn more about the cult. Riley, in turn, tries to indoctrinate them into the cult. Alicia and Company don’t buy into it, and in fact, try to help Derek escape. However, Derek is so committed to The Mole People that he rats out his own brother, so The Mole People surmise that they must kill Alicia and Company to keep them from escaping. A couple of fracases ensue, and Derek is killed when Wes pushes his own brother up against the Tree Zombie and he is bitten, while Alicia, Althea, and Luciana must navigate through a room full of the embalmed zombies.
Alicia torches the embalmed zombies but also stays behind so that the others can escape. Basically, all that The Mole People want from them is the whereabouts of Morgan, which Alicia and Co. are not willing to give up. It’s not clear why they want to know where Morgan is, but it probably has to do with the key to that submarine that Morgan came into during the first half of the season. They try to embalm Alicia, but she fights them off until she is eventually introduced to Teddy, who has decided to hold Alicia captive and convert her to his cause.
“I know you don’t believe in us. Yet,” he says to her. “But you will. I have been looking for someone like you for a long, long time.”
It was a tough loss when Colby Minifie’s Ginny was killed off, but it’s clear that John Glover’s Teddy is going to be a very nice substitute for the remainder of the season. He’s a very charismatic, very compelling villain, and it should be fun seeing him and Alicia interact.