SPOILERS for Fear The Walking Dead will be found below.
This week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead is interesting on a number of levels. The title of the episode is “Mother,” which essentially refers to the mother of three characters: Teddy, Dakota, and most tellingly, Alicia. Alicia’s mother, of course, is Madison Clark, who was presumably killed off in the fourth mid-season finale, but that hasn’t prevented fans of the series from fueling rumors of her return, which is speculation that the showrunners have been happy to keep alive.
In this week’s episode, Teddy decides to take Alicia on a trip, ostensibly to pick up the corpse of his own mother, with whom Teddy seems to have a very deranged relationship. Teddy is also using the trip as an opportunity to try and convert Alicia to his cause, which is the destruction of everything and something that Teddy has long believed to be a requirement for a “new beginning.” In fact, in the episode’s cold open, we see Teddy in a prison cell, pre-apocalypse, hours away from his execution. However, the timing of the zombie apocalypse, which spares Teddy from death, only emboldens Teddy’s beliefs. As this episode further reveals, Teddy is a seriously mad man.
After picking up the corpse of what we are initially led to believe is his long-dead mother (and kissing it on the mouth), Teddy heads to another destination with Alicia and Dakota, who has joined Teddy’s cult in an effort to help Alicia escape. Later in the episode, however, Dakota actually turns on Alicia because she decides that she’s genuinely into the beliefs espoused by Teddy and his cult. Before then, however, the truck that Teddy is driving blows a tire, and Teddy, Alicia, and Dakota encounter Cole, an old friend from their Dell Diamond Stadium days. Even in the biggest state in the nation, it’s apparently a very small world because every week it seems, Fear characters somehow manage to randomly encounter someone new from their past.
Cole reiterates a number of times to Alicia how appreciative she is to her mother, Madison, for saving his life (and those of several other Dell Diamonders). However, Cole also soon reveals that he and the others have turned to the dark side, so to speak. They kill anyone they encounter and take all of their supplies. This is obviously hugely upsetting to Alicia, who now realizes that — at least as far as Cole and his people are concerned — Madison’s sacrifice was all for naught.
For the curious, it should also be noted that, though Madison’s name is mentioned several times in this episode, we are given no indication that she’s still alive. Then again, no one technically mentions that they saw her corpse, either. But if she were alive, one would imagine that Cole and the others from the stadium would know it. Still, the showrunners seem all too willing to allow that possibility to continue to dangle.
In either respect, Cole’s appearance — like Morales on The Walking Dead — ends up being something of a non-factor. They killed Cole and his people before they can kill Alicia, Dakota, and Teddy, which means that Fear brought Cole back only long enough to dispatch with him. The point, however, is to illustrate to Alicia that her mother’s sacrifice was meaningless.
However, the fact that Alicia isn’t completely dispirited by this revelation is the real crux of the episode. Teddy values Alicia’s hope for the future, despite what she learned about Cole. In fact, he values it so much that he essentially wants to bottle it up and use it to seed his “new beginning.” Teddy admits to Alicia that his plan is to drop a nuclear bomb on the area to destroy it and use Alicia’s hope to fuel his new world.
Teddy — who again is hilariously unhinged and depicted fabulously by John Glover — decides to lock Alicia in some kind of nuclear fall-out shelter, where she will remain for several years until it is safe to come out after he drops his bomb. “You are going to rebuild the world from within there,” Teddy tells Alicia. “Good luck.”
“You lock me in here, and I’m not going to make the world the way you want it to be!” Alicia screams.
“I know,” Teddy replies as he walks away. “That’s what I’m counting on.”
What’s interesting here, however, is what showrunner Ian Goldberg had to say in the behind-the-scenes featurette after the episode. “We’re going to have to see as we go into next season,” he says, “whether [Alicia] ends up doing what Teddy asks her to do or whether she forges a path entirely on her own.” The implication here is that Teddy will be successful in his plan to drop a bomb. Alicia will have to pick up the pieces in the seventh season after the destruction and, presumably, a big time-jump, one large enough to possibly align Fear the Walking Dead with the same timeline as the final season of The Walking Dead and possibly the Rick Grimes’ movie.
What we don’t know, however, is who else from this season of Fear the Walking Dead will also survive? Alicia may be Teddy’s choice to usher in the new beginning, but she won’t be able to do it on her own. She’ll need others to pass that hope onto. In the meantime, we may not see Alicia again in the final two episodes of this season.
Speaking of which, after a one-week hiatus, Fear will return in two weeks with the penultimate episode of the season, which might prove to be less about preventing the attack and more about finding safety from it.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays on AMC.