After the second episode of the fourth season of Fear the Walking Dead, “Another Day in the Diamond,” it would hardly be revelatory to suggest that Madison Clark may already be dead. In fact, it’s exactly what new showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg want viewers to believe.
The evidence, so far, that Madison has shuffled off of this mortal coil is scant and mostly illustrated by omission, but it is clear that the showrunners want to create a mystery surrounding her whereabouts. At the end of last week’s episode, we witnessed the old Fear characters — Alicia, Nick, Strand, and Luciana — ambush the three new characters, Morgan, Althea, and John.
Madison was noticeably absent.
This week’s episode took place largely in flashback, set on the first year anniversary of Madison and company moving into the Dell Diamond baseball park. There, we see Madison continuing her role as the mother hen. She’s determined not only to make a home for her family but to expand that family, and she’s willing to stay up all night to do it. After some of the choices that Madison made last season, this episode is clearly designed to rehabilitate her character. Narratively speaking, it’s always a good idea to make a character likable again before killing her off.
It deepens the loss.
More to the point, we can begin to make assumptions about why the old Fear characters ambushed the new ones. In the episode, we meet a new group of villains, The Vultures, who are determined to take over the baseball field from Madison. Madison suggests that she has no intention of giving it up. From what we know about Nick in this episode — that he never leaves the diamond, if he can avoid it — it seems clear that The Vultures managed to take over the diamond and pilfer their belongings. The fact that Alicia, Nick et. al, are carrying large backpacks in the present also suggests that they lost their home. Moreover, Alicia and Nick ambush Aletha, John, and Morgan because they believe they are Vultures.
Why would they want revenge against The Vultures? It’s logical to conclude that it is because the Vultures took their home and, perhaps, killed Madison, which would explain her absence. The name “The Vultures,” itself is a clue: They pick at what’s left of the dead.
There is another sly suggestion that Madison may be dead, and it lies in the song that bookends the episode. Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” is a song about a mother who tried to keep her kid out of trouble but ultimately failed to do so. Here, Nick and Alicia are right back out there, doing the very things that Madison tried to rescue them from by making a home for them on the baseball field. “Mama Tried” but she couldn’t keep Nick and Alicia from returning to the people they were before they found the baseball field: The kind of people that would take strangers hostage at knifepoint.
There is, however, another possibility: Madison may be dead, or alternatively, she’s been kidnapped by The Vultures, along with potentially Naomi (the new character played by Jenna Elfman, who is also absent) and Charlie. Alicia and Nick may not be seeking revenge, but their mother’s whereabouts.
We’ll have more on the episode — and on The Little Prince — early Monday morning.