The thing with this universe is that unless you actually see a dead body, it's not necessarily a good idea to assume that a character is dead. This was proven true this week with the revelation that Daniel, despite having a mental break and starting a fire at the compound they were all staying at, is alive and well. Sure, Daniel could be Strand's hallucination but I don't think that Strand's so far gone that he would start to hallucinate already.
Let's talk about Strand first since he seems to have a completely separate story line to the Clarks. When last we saw Strand, he was departing the hotel in style. For a man who had just lost shelter, he seemed not to have any fucks to give. Clearly, this is meant to indicate that Strand had a plan and why not, he has a history of having friends in low places and knowing how to maneuver a situation to his best advantage. Strand arrives at a damn to see the locals lining up to barter for water. Strand, being a supremely confident man, drives to the front of the line and demands to see Dante. Strand's presumptuous behaviour doesn't go well and it lands him down on the ground with a gun to his hand pleading for his life. Fortunately for Strand, this is when Dante shows up and he calls off his men.
Strand immediately slips into his element and starts charming Dante as the two reminisce and share a drink. The two head outside for a cozy little walk on the damn and Strand stops in shock when Dante orders his goons to throw a man off the damn into a pit of walkers. Strand looks on in horror as the man is eaten alive. Strand is then grabbed by Dante's goons. It seems that Dante is certain that Strand didn't show up idly and is there to take something from him. Dante doesn't believe that Strand was in love with Thomas and instead used Thomas, despite Strand's declarations that this is not the case. Dante declares that since Strand is such a taker that he has a lot of giving back to do and orders Strand placed in a cage.
Strand is alone with his thoughts when someone knocks on the window and places a little container of water within Strand's reach. After a quick sniff, Strand downs the water quickly. Strand is surprised to find that his benefactor is none other than Daniel Salazar. Daniel reminds Strand of his promise to be Strand's guardian angel.
The Clarks seem to be fairing quite a bit better at the survivalist compound. The episode opens with an old recording made by Jeremiah about preparing for the end of everything as they know it. America during the Clinton era was apparently filled with feckless leaders. It's the typical bullshit ad that you would see airing at 4 AM and then quickly forget. Jeremiah uses the ad to sell his survivalist guide which comes complete with a survivalist kit that includes a mini constitution. Quick question, if the world is falling apart, why would anyone want or need a copy of the constitution?
There is clearly a division at the survivalist camp. On one side you have Troy who sees what has happened as a chance to finally fit in socially because before the apocalypse, Troy didn't exactly fit. In a zombie apocalypse, Troy is free to explore his violent tendencies, control others, hunt and have a position of power. The zombie apocalypse has been the rebirth of Troy. On the other side of the equation there's Jake. It's hard at times to see these two as related because Jake and Troy are such polar opposites. Jake believes in kindness to others and equity. Jake wants to build a better world out of the ashes based in fairness. Clearly a confrontation is coming for these two brothers because their approaches to life are diametrically opposed to each other.
When the episode opens we see that the community is having a memorial service for Charlene, the helicopter pilot who died last week. There's a lot of resentment about those who didn't prepare for the apocalypse and now expect support. To cut the tension a bit, Madison stands to offer their condolences and to point out that they lost Travis as well. It's a smart move because it places them in the same boat. The people want something to be done about the shooting down of the helicopter and of course, Troy is all about getting revenge. It's Jake who points out the importance of staying true to who they are and not turning into some kind of wild mob.
Privately, the Clarks are still bickering about whether to stay or go. When Nick makes it clear that he thinks they should strike out on their own, Madison reminds him that Travis died to pull him out of the hole he found himself in. Madison suggests that if Luciana wants to leave, then Nick has a decision he needs to make. This is Madison clearly saying that she's all out of fucks to give. Madison clearly loves Nick, but she's also done chasing him and worrying to much about him at this point. On some level, I also think that she blames Nick for Travis's death. Her feelings are much warmer towards Alicia, even if Madison still fails to completely see who Alicia is.
Madison is worried about the Clarks outsider status and so decides to have a little chat with Jake and Jeremiah. Madison is told by Jeremiah that he cannot simply order the community to accept them; the Clarks are going to have earn the respect of the community. In order to strengthen her position, Madison brings up Troy's actions at the border. Madison is certain that the community wouldn't be approving of Troy, if they knew how many people he murdered. In exchange for her silence, Madison wants Troy to stay away from her family and Nick in particular. Jeremiah isn't accommodating but Jake promises to get his brother in shape.
Alisha and Madison enter the chow line and Alisha is invited to a bible study. Alisha tries to beg off by claiming to be Jewish but is told that they will just do the old testament. When Alisha arrives for the bible study, it's not what she expected. It turns out that the study is just basically the teens of the compound getting together to drink hooch and smoke some weed. Things however get freaky when they bring out a zombie head of someone named Jeff, which they keep in a bird cage. It's as odd as it sounds. The teens take the opportunity to ask Alisha some questions about what life outside is like because they've been sheltered since the apocalypse has started. Alisha makes it clear that they cannot rely on the Troys of the world, alluding to some of the nasty shit that Troy has done. Alisha adds now people have to deal with their own shit.
While Alisha is off getting high, Nick recklessly accepts an invitation to go boar hunting with Troy. Given his experience, Troy absolutely thought he would have the upper hand but it turns out to be Nick who manages to get the drop on Troy. Troy ends up on his back with a gun to his head, encouraging Nick to kill him. The only thing Troy asks is for Nick to document how long it takes him to turn. It seems that Troy is fascinated with the whole process and has been keeping notes of his supposed scientific experiments. Rather than killing Troy, Nick shoots the ground next to him and steals his notebook. Nick scoots away and rips out the pages. Rather than enraging Troy, this is what brings the two of them together.
The next day, Jeremiah announces that he is going to need some people to go on a scouting mission. All of the volunteers from the compound are men. Clearly, there is a gender divide here. Madison is the last one to put her hand. I suppose she's serious about pulling her weight and gaining people's trust.
I believe that we are seeing is Madison's slow but eventual metamorphosis into a Rick like character. She clearly places the lives of her children over others and is determined to assure their safety. Madison is going to earn her place in the community with an eye to one day leading it. This much is clear already. It places her into an interesting juxtapostion with Jeremiah in that they are both parents to children who are humane and pragmatic, as well as a bit unhinged.
Nick continues to irritate me as a character. What the hell is his purpose? He just wants to run off into Mexico with no plans and no supplies. Sure, he can cover himself in walker blood to help keep him safe but what happens when he runs out of water and food? Nick's thing is that he's always felt like an outsider and so his answer to that is to run. In many ways, he actually has a lot in common with Troy. If he can forgive Troy for shooting Luciana, I expect the two of them will grow closer.
As I mentioned in my write up of the season opener last week, Fear The Walking Dead just cannot seem to keep its characters together for some reason. Strand is nowhere near the Clarks and so his story line feels completely disconnected. I really need him to be reunited with Clarks quickly because I think that his interactions with Madison are great and he would bring an interesting dynamic to the compound. I am not particularly pleased to see Strand brought low. The Walking Dead universe does not have a good history when it comes to their character of colour and it seems as though this is an effort to humble Strand. I need him to rise up and take over that damn with Daniel now.
Speaking of Daniel, I now recognise that we didn't see Daniel's body because the writers were leaving it open to bring him back. I found Daniel to be an interesting character from the beginning. I hope however that we are filled in on what he has been doing all of this time and how he escaped the fire. I am really hoping that Daniel breaking so easily while the others retained their sanity was just a ruse. A man with Daniel's background seems to be tailor made for a zombie apocalypse.