Major spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched Fear the Walking Dead's midseason finale.
For the majority of Season 4, fans have been completely in the dark about what happened to Kim Dickens' head matriarch Madison Clark, and we've been unsure whether Alicia was on a mission to avenge her mother's death or to save Madison from captivity. Tonight's midseason finale finally offered some closure on the matter, and it wasn't the good kind, as Madison is confirmed to be dead now. Let's unpack everything leading up to the tragic reveal.
Where quick reveals are concerned, "No One's Gone" came out of the gate confirming a theory that some fans have had for a while now: Maggie Grace's Althea had indeed crossed paths with Madison before the current-day timeline began in earnest. Madison tried stealing Al's truck as one of her last truly devious acts, underestimating the story-recording survivor. Madison actually jacked a bunch of her tapes, which she went watched, looking for evidence of her kids. (It was revealed that some people out there call zombies "stumblers," which feels silly.) Al caught up with her, though, and the two had a conversation that initially wasn't nearly as revealing as Al hoped, though Madison eventually broke down and started talking about wanting to find a place where her kids could stay safe and keep those feelings alive. Without using names or actual details.
Viewers weren't the only ones who got to watch that video, either. After brawling with Al, Alicia connected the dots thanks to some ramen boxes and soon found Madison's interview tape, marked "Amina." (Which was the nickname of an injured bird that the family nursed back to health long ago.) It was then revealed that Madison and Al's meeting actually happened just before the group found the baseball stadium, at which point everyone had been separated for a couple of weeks. So in a sense, Al was one of the inspirations for Madison's rejuvenated focus on making a new life for everyone.
Alas, just as the stadium was destroyed, so were Madison's chances of survival. The episode's final minutes recounted that fateful night first introduced in the previous episode, when Alicia, Nick and Mel were trapped in the walker-swamped car. A plan was enacted to save them -- as shown through nifty slo-mo footage -- but if fell apart when almost everyone else tried to flee and ended up getting mauled by zombies. And so Madison had one last idea, which involved waving a flare around and getting all of the walkers to follow her back into the stadium so that the others could get away. She tried to find her way back out, but it was too late and there were too many, so she locked herself inside, performing the grandest sacrifice a parent can make for their children. And she did it with fire, which made it all the more painfully tragic, or tragically painful.
Fear the Walking Dead episodes have been chock-full of foreshadowing-heavy moments geared to make viewers think that Madison started the season off as a goner. In opposition to her previous "conquer or be conquered" life philosophy, Madison's Season 4 disposition has been much sunnier and full of optimism, as enough time had apparently passed since the last major conflict for the character to reconfigure a sense of idealism. As soon as the Vultures started circling around the baseball stadium and Nick died, though, Madison's good vibrations seemed destined to become the bassline for a funeral dirge. And any time a character whose fate is uncertain is seen uttering the words, "I've got nothing left to lose," viewers can definitely expect to see an example of what they still had to lose.
Still, who didn't go into this episode hoping that the showrunners would have figured out a way to allow Madison to make it through this time-flopping season without getting killed off? The previous installment tipped a hat to having Madison make that unbearable choice, but there was always a chance that miracles would occur. Rest in peace, Madison Clark. You were one of the good ones. Now to see if Season 4 has any more stories to tell us about Madison.
While it was good to get the details that we did from "No One's Gone," we will sadly have to wait a while before the back half of the season debuts on AMC. At least that should allow some time to mourn. In the meantime, head to our summer premiere schedule to see all the new and returning shows that'll be shambling around in the coming months.