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Major spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched the latest episode of Fear the Walking Dead.
Just three episodes into its increasingly diverging fourth season, Fear the Walking Dead has seemingly killed off one of the only original characters left remaining, with Frank Dillane's Nick Clark dying from a gunshot to the torso as his sister screamed out in sobs beside him. And as Morgan was once again unfairly made to look like a harbinger of death to others. What's more, "Good Out Here" gave off the strongest vibes yet that something terrible happened to Madison at some point during this fractured timeline.
R.I.P. Nicholas Clark. Of all the shocking moments that could have happened in the episode, I don't know that I ever would have really landed on Nick's death as an outcome. The episode bounced back and forth between what is assumedly his last happy memories with Madison, with Texas' state flower the bluebonnet standing in as the connective tissue, and his uneven bonding session with Morgan. (Which featured that humorous standoff.) Even the lovely title card featured the colorful flower, which stood out strongly against the washed out landscape.
Always the impulsive one, Nick made a series of choices in the episode that ultimately led to his death. In the first place, he was the bigger enforcer in trying to make Althea talk, and it got him held up. Even though Althea wouldn't have seriously harmed him, he fought back, which led to the SWAT van crashing. Later, he chose not to let things be after seeing one of the Vultures' cars driving past, and he physically brawled with the injured Morgan over it, which led to that blaring horn fiasco. Which led the close call with the walkers that Morgan saved Nick from. (The "fake-out into the real death in the same episode," which had shades of Glenn Rhee smattered about.)
As it went in last week's introduction to the Diamond, this episode mysteriously used Alexa Nisenson's Charlie as a pawn in the good vs. bad balance. (A silent but deadly pawn in this case.) In the warmly colored flashbacks, Madison and Nick still held out hope that Charlie would come around to their more virtuous ways, only to realize their entire supply mission had been compromised because Charlie had stolen one of their radios, allowing her and Ennis to hit each destination quicker. Cut to the present, where Nick caught up with Vulture Ennis and made a last terrible decision to very intentionally kill the villain, who was very intentionally non-confrontational during both encounters in the episode. The vibe was very weird in both scenes, with Nick in vein-popping rage mode the entire time.
Then, when it seemed like all was going to turn out okay, and that some of Nick's bloodlust might be further sated by Morgan's no-kill teachings, Nick was suddenly drawn out of his bluebonnet memory by a bullet shot by none other than Charlie, who ran away with a conflicted look on her little murderer face. So now she's on the run, possibly alone, even though other Vultures are definitely still out there, since it was a supply run that Nick and Morgan interrupted.
Unless The Walking Dead's Siddiq and Father Gabriel just happened to be traveling behind Morgan all this time, only to come out just after the screen went to black, with miracles and medical treatments bringing Nick back around again, then I think he might actually be gone for good. At least, outside of flashbacks to the previous timelines, where we still have a lot to learn about Nick's experiences.
Now head to the next page to dive into what Madison's situation may or may not be in the current day. And don't forget to check out why that big death happened, according to the showrunners.
Fear the Walking Dead fans have wondered about Madison, since she hasn't been around to rough up the new characters, and her absence is clearly what was guiding the O.G. crew's angst and indignation. Tonight's episode made her potential survival seem much less likely than before, and not just because of all the bluebonnet foreshadowing Nick's death. Or because she spent each of her scenes promoting positivity and finding the good things in life, instead of mostly exuding a kill-or-be-killed practicality.
I had thought the Vultures had perhaps kidnapped her, and that Nick & Co. were trying to find them all. But the urgency factor hasn't quite fit that scenario, and when Nick and Morgan did stumble upon Ennis (and Charlie, wherever she was), Nick could have steered the conversation to asking where Madison was, or demanding they be taken to see her. Instead, he instantly went berserk, and there was only murder on his agenda. Clearly, that dude did some terrible shit to Nick in the past, but his own personal revenge seemingly wouldn't be more important than finding Madison, if she was/is still alive.
On optimism's side, the dialogue between Strand and Althea seemed to hammer home the idea that assumptions are just assumptions until something can actually be proven. "The truth matters." And though it looks like only Strand, Lucy and Alicia will be around to talk about what happened to them before, during and after the Diamond, Madison might indeed still be out there, having possibly been presumed dead for a while, only to rise from the ashes.