Fear the Walking Dead recap: 'El Matadero'

Ofelia is on her way out, and I can’t say I wasn’t expecting it — or that I wasn’t expecting it to complicate matters. On the ride to the dam, Madison and Victor worry about their uncertain future as their one reassurance falls off the back of the tanker. Lola once showed mercy to the Clark family and agreed to let them live and work at the dam, but only if Ofelia were to be reunited with her father. Now Daniel’s daughter is suffering the effects of a walker bite; she was indeed compromised when she was fighting to save the ranchers from suffocation. That didn’t work out too well for anyone, and now here they are, helping Ofelia off the road with a new mission in mind: keep her alive long enough to secure admittance to the dam.

They take her to the trading post early so they can get her a bed and whatever medicine they can scramble, telling her to smile through the pain because the infected aren’t welcome there. Meanwhile, Madison and Victor deal with the gatekeeper, who belongs in the DMV: She doesn’t have your best interests at heart, she’s always changing the requirements for admittance, and her smile is dripping with ambivalence as if your suffering gives her life.

As Walker tends to Ofelia inside, Victor confronts Madison about how she’s giving away their resources just so Ofelia can see her father one last time. Once on stable ground, Madison is back in survival mode. They don’t have a home or resources, so she must rely on the kindness of strangers. But Victor fears the wrath of Daniel and what he might do when they show up with little to offer beyond Ofelia’s corpse. Walker’s counterpoint, as he relays to Madison while feeding Ofelia pain killers, is that it doesn’t matter how Daniel will react. It’s important to put this to bed.

Nick and Troy, meanwhile, are tailing Alicia, who’s already embracing the upside of being the lone wolf. She’s not coming back, despite Nick’s insistence that she can’t survive on her own, and she advises her brother to pursue his own happiness away from their mother. The next morning, as he and Troy ride back to the dam, he’s reminded of who he was before the outbreak (“Why does everyone hate you, Nick?” Troy asks) and the real reason why he stayed at the ranch. He’d like to think he stayed to keep his family together after Travis’ death, but Troy believes it’s because Nick found a kindred spirit. “You and me, we’re more alike than you think,” Troy says.

Alicia finds her own buddy, a woman she spies grabbing the bucket of potatoes she was trying to scavenge in an abandoned fast-food restaurant. Alicia hides in the ball pit so she can sniper the walkers shambling in through the doors, but she finds something more unseemly in this pink-eye trap. A walker toddler with pigtails grabs her legs from behind, and she loses her gun in the scuffle. After picking off the walker, Alicia turns back to see the mysterious woman hacking the dead with a pickaxe before walking off with her potatoes. What’s more unusual is that before departing, the woman chops off the fingers of the corpses and removes some of their teeth.

Alicia tracks her car down to a parking lot and tries to take back her food when the woman confronts her. The woman calls her bluff when Alicia threatens to shoot her down, so Alicia turns the barrel towards her car’s gas tank. But she doesn’t shoot that either. She admits she’s tired, hungry, and would prefer not to kill her, and they agree to share the grub.

Nick returns to find his mom slumped over a chair at Ofelia’s bedside. He assures her Alicia is fine but is forced to comfort her when Madison starts breaking down. She mumbles about there being strength in numbers, but her daughter has left and Ofelia is on her deathbed. She wonders what she would do without Nick, who seems despaired by that statement. When Madison leaves the room, Nick spies Ofelia’s pain killers. He briefly considers what he’s about to do before popping one in his mouth.

When he meets Troy later for lunch, Nick is already half in the bag, groping the waitress, asking about where he can find uppers, and generally freaking out Troy. If the guy who caused the mass slaughter of his own people and executed countless innocents in the spirit of his scientific pursuits thinks something is a bad idea, it definitely is. And yet Nick is already plunging back into his old ways.
(Recap continues on the next page.)

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