'Fear The Walking Dead': 7 Takeaways From 'Another Day in the Diamond' (RECAP)
[Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers about Fear the Walking Dead Season 4 episode 2, "Another Day in the Diamond." Read no further if you're not caught up.]
The second episode of Fear the Walking Dead's Season 4, "Another Day at the Diamond," gives us a peek at the relative peace Madison Clark and her clan have achieved following their very bad times in Mexico.
As promised, they've returned stateside and, other than Travis and Daniel, everyone in the core group made it out alive. Strand's back in the fold, Nick's only a little bit nutty, and every day's a day at the ballpark, so yay! OK, not so much that last part, because new troublemakers loom.
Here are our top takeaways from April 22's episode of Fear the Walking Dead.
1. The timelines are complicated — just not in the way we thought.
We knew we were going to be dealing in multiple timelines when Fear returned, but most of us thought that potentially meant a trip back in time with Morgan. It’s doesn’t — at least, not right now. Instead, it pertains to Madison and the gang. They’re now reunited and leading a 47-person encampment in a Texas baseball stadium, where they grow their own crops, have cozy bedrooms, and practice the finer points of machine-building. They still go on runs but are just-this-close to being completely self-sustaining. It’s their first anniversary in their new home.
But that was Before. We’ll get to After in a bit.
2. Nick’s not entirely OK, but he’s better.
After he potentially sacrificed everyone when he blew up the dam last season, Nick’s back in the fold, still romancing Luciana. He's Fear’s own version of Farmer Rick from Season 3 of The Walking Dead. No stomach for going outside the walls of the compound, he’d rather tend to his turnips and talk to community newcomer Charlie (more on her in a minute). Madison found and rescued him after the dam went down, but he still has flashbacks now and then.
3. Never trust a blank-eyed kid.
Newcomer Charlie is maybe in sixth grade or so, possibly orphaned, and not prone to crying despite all that. Or smiling. Or laughing. All the things 12-year-old girls are known for. She’s also not terribly sure from which direction she came to get to the stadium, doesn’t much care if Madison and Co. go look for her folks, and has interesting observations about salmon and Robert Johnson. Let's break this down a bit.
Salmon patties are Charlie’s least favorite food, but when Madison opines that it’s a tragic end to “spend your whole life swimming upstream just to end up a patty,” the kid blankly responds, “You should have just swam the other way.” No chuckle? No "They're so gross!"? Hmm. And when Nick bonds with her over the Robert Johnson classic "Cross Road Blues," she correctly notes that that’s the song that some fans think commemorates Johnson selling his soul to the devil for his gift, even though she's distinctly in the Bieber/Swift demo.
Neither of these comments should be ignored. Neither should her casual inquiry into how much food the community has stashed, and if they have enough weapons. The others take that as her wanting a safe home. She does, just not here. More on that later.
4. Jenna Elfman is Naomi. Naomi is a lonesome nurse.
Madison figures out where Charlie checked out her book and taps Alicia, Lucy, and Strand for a mission to track down her people. Instead, they find a ghost town devoid of people, supplies or — most curiously — walkers. That’s because the people are now walkers and the walkers have been stashed inside hazardous waste tanks, marked with a 457.
There is one human left, though, and it’s Jenna Elfman’s Naomi, a forlorn nurse who’s done with being transient. Even though she's seemingly been alone and on the run for a while, he’s not a savvy fighter. We learned this by seeing her trying to escape Madison and crew by scrambling up to the top of the tanks where she has nowhere to go but down, literally. She plummets through a hole into the tank where dozens of walkers await. And yet she lives on, because…
5. We’ve really stopped taking the once-feared walkers seriously.
On both TWD and Fear, the walkers — which, at one point, could bring down a horse in a second — now wander and fumble around before deciding to take a bite. And even then, they take turns, approaching their potential lunch one at a time, which make stabbing them in the noggin a doable job for one. With nowhere to run, Naomi and Madison — who plunges in to save Naomi because her heartless, murderin’ days are behind her — drop into a tank filled with the hungry buggers. And they emerge without a scratch.
6. Our newest big bad? The Vultures, and the Vultures are hippie hipsters.
With everyone safely back at the ballpark, including Nick who took a disastrous stab at going to look for the others, Strand and his potential love interest (whose name I didn't quite catch) head out to the lot to recover Nick’s crashed truck. Something wicked their way comes, but it’s not a herd of walkers. It’s a herd of hipster thieves in a caravan of Partridge Family-like buses and delivery trucks.
One guy, who ticks all the boxes — from his newsboy’s cap and pegged jeans, to his buffalo plaid, work boots and retro bike — uses the bike to herd the walkers into a trailer which he marks with a 12. Ah. The flags and banners are indicators of how many of the “fallen” are within. Just in case there’s a zombie census.
The Vultures are resourceful in other ways, too. Not only do they know the names of the ballpark dwellers, but they also know all about Nick’s weevil-bedeviled crops, exactly how many weapons are stashed, and how long this place could run on its own. Because Charlie might be an orphan, but she’s also a spy.
7. The Vultures likely did some lasting damage.
We know this because a) they demand the cooperation of all of the ballpark’s stuff (in addition to its residents’ cooperation); b) they’re willing to sit right here until they get it; and c) at the end of the episode, we rejoin John Dorie, Morgan, Althea, Nick, Alicia, Lucy, and Strand back at their roadside face-off. This takes place in the aforementioned “After,” and when they spot the trio with the "51" flag, they're really not about it.
Nonetheless, a tentative truce is made and they all head back to the camp where Leland and his henchmen were laid to waste.
One more thing: Though we now know that the “After” timeline is squared up with TWD’s, I’m still stymied by the amount of time passed between Before and After in this episode. Fear supposedly opened multiple years behind the timeline of The Walking Dead. The FWTD originals knocked around Mexico for a while. Who knows how long it took them to get from Mexico to the ballpark — where they’ve been for a year.
So has it been years to the After? Months? Days (which would make the whole timeline debate much ado about nothing)? I guess we will find out.
A few random thoughts
• Did anyone else wonder, at least momentarily, if Naomi could be JD's Laura and she just picks a new name whenever she encounters someone new? Her abandoned lunch was a can of beans, of which John has a surplus. But her gun was black, and I'm still hoping TWD's Laura is ultimately John's.
• Head Vulture Mel tells Charlie he scored her some new albums, and TWD's Georgie wanted albums, too. But maybe everyone wants albums — I like albums, you like albums. I'm convinced we are working toward stitching these two series together, though, so I need to assign significance until I'm proven wrong.
• Luciana makes a point of delivering her found book, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, to Charlie even after the kid reveals herself a traitor. It's an act of kindness, sure. But the book's central theme — that loving others conquers war's awful wounds to the human psyche — is a pointed message to this lost little traveler. It's an A+ moment.
• My new band name: The Avoricious Looters. First single? "Even the Lightbulbs."
Fear the Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c on AMC