At this point I’m much more interested in the post-apocalyptic Western of Fear the Walking Dead than Rick’s struggle with Negan on The Walking Dead. This week’s midseason finale brings back a familiar face who plays an important role in the showdown over the Broke Jaw Ranch.

We pick up not long after last week’s episode with Alicia catching up to Jake to tell him about the Trimbols’ deaths. Despite Jake’s objections, Alicia accompanies him to the heart of the Black Hat Reservation - a roadside gas station and cafe. They are disarmed and brought to Qaletaqa Walker who greets them with a severed pig’s head. (Nope, no symbolism or foreshadowing of any kind there so let’s just move on.)

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In the cafe Jake and Walker have a sitdown. Alicia accuses Walker of killing the Trimbols and he acts surprised (understandable since he didn’t do it). Like I wrote last week, Walker is through with the white man’s law and has no interest in honoring agreements made before TEOTWAWKI. They are joined by another person - Ofelia sporting some tight braids.

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Alicia and Ofelia talk privately while Jake and Walker have their discussion. Alicia is still peeved over Ofelia bailing on her and the others back at the hotel. Ofelia apologizes and also says Walker didn’t kill the Trimbols because she knows he didn’t go out on a mission that night. Jake and Walker emerge from the cafe with a tentative agreement. Someone has to stay at the Black Hat as a hostage and Alicia volunteers so that Jake can sell the parley to his father.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Nick joins the militia. He pretty much taunts Troy that he knows who really killed the Trimbols. In a shocking development, Nick cuts his hair with his knife. (With all those supplies, there has to a pair of scissors somewhere on the ranch, Nick.) Jake shows up at the ranch with Ofelia as Alicia’s counterpart hostage. Madison is pissed that Alicia is still at the Black Hat. Jeremiah has no interest in negotiating with Walker and expects the parley to fail.

Walker shows off the helicopter his people shot down and are now rebuilding to Alicia. She is understandably not thrilled to see it and be reminded of what happened when she was on it. Walker then shows her his ancestors’ bones and other relics that he took to protect them from the Ottos. Walker sees the apocalypse as the opportunity to cleanse the land of the impure and for his people to reclaim it.

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Madison gets Troy to stage a raid on the Black Hat to retrieve Alicia. She reminds him that he owes her for not revealing that he killed the Trimbols. The raid starts out quiet but of course things get a little out of hand before the raiding party escapes with Alicia.

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Jake tries to salvage peace by bringing water and Ofelia to Walker. But Walker is no mood for peace. He is about to scalp Jake when Ofelia intercedes. Instead Walker sends Jake back with the message that he will kill Jake and Troy in front of Jeremiah before burning him alive.

Later a beaten-up Ofelia is dumped outside the ranch, apparently cast out by the tribe. Madison feels responsible for her and takes her in. Ofelia helps out in the kitchen. That night the militia takes ill with some dying and turning into walkers. Amid the chaos Nick realizes that Ofelia poisoned the militia. But he falls ill too. Madison chases down Ofelia, drags her out of a vehicle as she tries to escape, and gives her another beat down. (Ofelia is really having a rough day.)

Nick and the other surviving militia members are in the ranch’s infirmary but without knowing exactly what Ofelia poisoned the militia with it’s difficult to treat.

Madison takes Ofelia at gunpoint to the Black Hat. Walker tells her it’s anthrax. It’s incurable but if Nick is strong he’ll survive. He respects Madison’s boldness to protect her family and lets her leave with the warning that if she doesn’t leave the ranch she and her family will die with the Ottos.

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Madison returns to the ranch and informs Jake about the anthrax. Jake tells Troy to gather what’s left of the militia, which at this point isn’t much more than Troy himself. Madison suggests recruiting from the rest of the ranch. Jake snaps at her because leading the ranch is the Ottos’ business.

Alicia figures taking the trailer of relics will give them some leverage over Walker so she, Madison, Troy and what’s left of the militia carry out another raid of the Black Hat. They manage to hitch the trailer to a truck drive away with it.

Nick recovers and digs under the floorboards of his cabin. He finds a skull with a bullet hole. Nick confronts Jeremiah who tells him that in the early days of the ranch he and other founders killed three Black Hat natives including Walker’s uncle. The skull belongs to Walker’s father who was killed when he tried to find out what happened to his brother.

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Madison and crew return to the ranch. Walker and his people follow and occupy the high ground around the ranch. Madison tries to make a deal with Walker for the relics and his father’s skull. Walker isn’t interested and sends Madison back (apparently) with no option for peace.

Madison tells her children that she shot her alcoholic father for beating her mother. Then she goes to see Jeremiah. Since he’s been drinking and she just told that story about her alcoholic father you can probably guess where this scene may be going. Madison did make a deal with Walker. He wants Jeremiah’s scalp. Madison tries to get him to shoot himself for the good of the ranch but of course he won’t. Before she can shoot him, Nick does instead. Madison delivers Jeremiah’s head to Walker and for the moment things de-escalate.

Meanwhile south of the border, Strand finds his boat, Abigail, aground near the hotel. He boards and clears it of walkers. He takes a found bottle of champagne up on deck. Strand makes radio contact with a Russian cosmonaut in orbit. They have a brief conversation while Strand drinks champagne. The cosmonaut says the lights went out all over the world which confirms that whatever happened was a global event. Strand douses the Abigail with the remaining booze and sets it on fire. He sets off on foot alone.

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Assorted Thoughts:

  • Ophelia’s story after she was found last season by Jeremiah Otto was what I expected. He left her out in the desert (though he did give her a little water to drink) since she was too brown skinned for the Broke Jaw Ranch. Of course he knew that she would probably die on her own on foot with no water but he didn’t care. Then Qaletaqa Walker found her and brought her back to the Black Hat Reservation. I do have one question though. What is the relationship between Walker and Ofelia? They are close enough that she can stop him from scalping Jake but we haven’t seen any obvious displays of romantic affection.
  • With Jeremiah dead (do the ranch residents buy the suicide story?) we now have the fight for control of the ranch that has been foreshadowed for a while. It’s not so much between the two brothers as between Jake and Madison. Alicia will probably side with Jake given her current feelings towards her mother while Nick seems to have adopted Madison’s ruthless pragmatism.
  • With Ofelia found it’s now time for Luciana Watch. We last saw her at the border. Who will she run into first, Strand on his solitary walk or Daniel at the dam? She doesn’t know either of them so there would have to be a reason for her to hang out with them.
  • I’m normally not a fan of the midseason break but with Game of Thrones starting next week (I didn’t even know about that until I saw the spot for it during FtWD) I guess this show is just getting out of the way since they figure they’ll be slaughtered on the live viewing front.