During the course of The Walking Dead, Rick and co. will occasionally stumble upon a scene that implies a heartbreaking series of events took place days, weeks, or months before they arrived. They will walk into an abandoned office building, for instance, and find the zombified inhabitants hanging from nooses having killed themselves rather than wait for the zombies to kill them. I recall one particularly upsetting scene in which they explored a home only to find a family holding each other, huddled together in a bed, with bullet holes through their heads, a framed picture of their once happy existence sitting on the bedside table next to them. There are a lot of sad stories in The Walking Dead universe like that one that we never get to witness.
In this week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead, “This Land is Your Land,” we witness one of those stories, the pieces of which we probably could have put together based on the scene that Alicia, Nick, and Ofelia leave behind at the end of the episode. It’s a stomach-churning episode that asks of Alicia something no character has ever had to do in this show or The Walking Dead, at least on this scale. We have seen a number of characters forced to put their friends and loved ones down after they turned into zombies, but in “This Land Is Your Land,” Alicia has to put them down before they turn. What’s even more heartbreaking is that these characters submit to their own executions for the benefit of the others. By letting Alicia execute them, others gain hope, even if that hope is only fleeting.
The episode picks up where the last left off: Alicia, Ofelia, Crazy Dog, and the rest of the members of the Broken Jaw Ranch — 120 people or so in all — are trapped inside the pantry. We learn early on, however, that no air is getting into the underground bunker because a zombie is blocking the ventilation fan. While Crazy Dog and Ofelia crawl through the air ducts to locate the problem, Alicia is left with the rest of the Broken Jaw Ranchers in the pantry with about an hour’s worth of air before they all die of carbon dioxide poisoning.