Whew. That was probably one of the most intense hours of Fear the Walking Dead ever, at least for me. And it was not very action heavy, there wasn’t a ton of outright conflict, or dramatic twists. But as I watched I could feel the desperation of these people, and I could imagine how suffocated I would feel if I was also trapped in an underground pantry with limited air supply with a bunch of other scared people. I felt compelled to open up all the windows in my place and gulp down fresh air during commercial breaks.
As you’ll recall, last week ne’er-do-well Troy lead a horde of zombies directly to Broke Jaw Ranch in an act of insane vengeance that backfired and killed his only brother Jake. The horde also forced Alicia to lead the people of the Ranch into the underground pantry to stay safe. Their only exit is blocked by dozens of zombies, which is not good, clearly. At least they have food to possibly wait this thing out, right? But they soon discover their situation is much, much worse than they suspected.
Ofelia determines that unfortunately there is no air coming through the one vent in the entire place–it’s blocked. Somebody needs to unblock it, and fast. But that could take hours, and Alicia calculates that with the number of people they have with them they do not have much more time than that before they all die of carbon dioxide poisoning. (Sidenote: I could never in a million years figure out the math on how much air I have in any given space and how much time it would take before it is all up, but Alicia does it pretty handily). At any rate, while Ofelia and Crazy Dog go off to unblock the air shaft, Alicia finds a way to buy some extra time, and it is not a pleasant one.
She has noticed that multiple people with them have been bitten. It is only a matter of time before they succumb to their wounds and become zombies themselves, endangering everyone with them. Alicia then has to do something that is brave but horrifying: as the bitten people to surrender their lives to give a little more air to the people who even have the slightest chance of making it out of there alive. It’s so grim and bleak, perhaps the grimmest moment we’ve seen in the series. One by one people reluctantly surrender themselves. They are given morphine from the medic supplies to know them out, and then Alicia slips a knife in the back of their heads.
If there’s one flaw in this storyline, it’s this: t’s a little strange that out of all the people there, this teenage girl is somehow the default leader. There are much older men and women, wiser people, who I find it hard to believe would not step up and try and take control over her. Maybe Alicia is the person for the job, with all her experience in the hellish world beyond the Ranch, but it’s a little easy that everyone kind of just submits to her.
But anyway, outside the pantry Troy is attempting to mourn and bury his brother Jake, but Nick is not having it. He cuts Troy short and tells him they need to go save all the people they just put in danger. Their idea is to blow up an oil tanker to distract the horde and send it walking away from the pantry. Instead, Troy drives their truck straight through a bunch of zombies, crashes it, and he and Nick barely make it to the grounded helicopter in time to save themselves.
Meanwhile, Ofelia and Crazy Dog are having a rough time getting the air vent unblocked, and in one moment when a zombie falls on top of them from above I was certain Ofelia was dead (remember Daniel is waiting to do the water deal with them at the Ranch based on if Ofelia is in fact still alive, as Madison told him). But she survives, barely. In the pantry, people are passing out from the carbon dioxide, and some have already died and turned. In one of this series, or any other’s quite frankly, most claustrophobia-inducing sequences a struggling to remain conscious Alicia fights off zombies surrounding her, which she can barely breathe.
Of course at the last moment, Madison and company swoop in to save her, and they’ve also already saved Troy and Nick. But Nick doesn’t mention that Troy is the one who brought the horde upon the Ranch; in fact he covers for him, saying Troy tried to warn them. Madison tells Ofelia her father is alive and that she wants them all to head back to the dam. But Alicia refuses to go. She wants to go on her own to the cabin Jake mentioned to her last week before he was killed. This experience changed her, and it remains to be seen how. Madison doesn’t put up much of a fight (which is kind of out of character, but I think they needed the hour to end) and she has Nick and Troy go with Alicia to make sure she’s safe.
In two weeks the season is over, and my bet is they end up split again, with most characters at the dam, and some at this cabin. But we shall see.
Season 3, Episode 13 (S03E13)
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sunday at 9PM on AMC
Paul Gulyas | Contributor