The Black Hat reservation is a “truck stop, a motel and market, rocks and asphalt, liquor and Oxy, drunken diabetics and welfare cheats,” Jeremiah Otto explains to Madison in the episode’s outset, telling her that the threat Walker and his tribe of Native Americans pose to Broke Jaw Ranch is nothing to fear.
“I feel your liberal judgement. It’s palpable,” he continues. “But that’s not racism.”
“Isn’t it?” Madison asks. “The man I saw yesterday was a threat. He had command.”
In this week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead, “Red Dirt,” the Black Hat Native Americans take the fight to the outskirts of the Broke Jaw Ranch, and while Madison sees the danger that Walker and his men pose, Jeremiah — blinded by his racism — can only see the “drunken diabetics and welfare cheats” he knew prior to the apocalypse. Those dueling perceptions help form two of the approaches the key figures on Broke Jaw Ranch take this week. Do they go on the offensive and attack the Black Hat Tribe, as Troy suggests? Do they wait and defend themselves only if the threat materializes, as Jeremiah suggests? Or do they take Jake’s approach to the situation and try to negotiate with the Black Hat Tribe?
Do we even want the Ottos and their border militia to win?
This week’s episode breaks down along the three approaches taken by the Ottos, while the Clarks pick their own sides.
Alicia Clark is trying to play Lady MacBeth. She’s hitching her wagon to Jake — who she “likes,” but does not love — and trying to steer Jake into a leadership role. She’s pushing her boyfriend to take over the Broke Jaw Ranch after Jeremiah dies, and Alicia thinks she can control him and win a place for her family at the Ranch table. However, by the episode’s end, Alicia realizes she doesn’t have as much control over Jake as she might think, and that maybe she does have more feelings for him than she initially believed.
Alicia’s gambit backfires. “You’re right, I have to be more than just a voice in my father’s ear,” Jake tells Alicia, before embarking on a journey to find Walker and negotiate with him. Alicia tries to prevent Jake from leaving, partially to assert her control and partially because she legitimately fears for his safety. She cares for him so much, in fact, that in the end, Alicia decides to put her own life in danger, leave the ranch and go with Jake.