Did 'Fear the Walking Dead' Really Just Do That to [SPOILER]? 8 Takeaways From 'Just in Case' (RECAP)
[Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers about Fear the Walking Dead Season 4 episode 6, "Just In Case." Read no further if you're not caught up.]
Don’t you do it, Fear the Walking Dead. Don’t you make me quit you. Again.
I suppose that after last week’s love-fest-slash-heartbreaker that was “Laura,” I should have known that something major would go down this week with one or the other of the episode’s primary players, Garret Dillahunt's John Dorie and Jenna Elfman's Naomi/Laura. But I was expecting it would be Naomi and relate to the details of her fate.
It was. Kind of. But the fallout was patently awful
Sunday’s episode, “Just in Case,” again operated in the Before and After, focusing mostly on the Before and a revelatory supply run made by Madison, Strand and Naomi. A run made only after the latter made yet another attempt at escaping the Diamond without notice.
In the After (I guess we're calling it Now, now), Morgan and John encounter a Vulture wrapping up a successful loot. John shoots the guy’s finger off when he tries to draw on him, then snaps and almost shoots his face off, too, demanding to know what happened to Laura.
The fellow doesn’t know, but he does have a map to the Vulture’s meet-up place, which gives Morgan the opportunity to warn him that the others in their group are headed that way, too.
I’m not sure what the point of doing that might be. If he meant to save Al, Strand, Luciana and Alicia by thwarting the confrontation altogether, well, the Vultures didn't know they were headed there in the first place. Let everyone tend their own farm, am I right? But he does it, anyway, setting up a possibly fatal showdown at the end of the episode.
So, with Naomi in a sharing mood and surprises waiting at the meet-up, here are our top 8 takeaways from Fear the Walking Dead, “Just in Case.”
1. John Dorie better not be f***ing dead. But I’m worried he is.
Let’s just get this one out of the way right now, because I swear to the heavens, people, I ain’t havin’ it. Fear finally loads itself up with interesting newcomers and the most interesting of all took a bullet in the chest from Alicia at the episode's end.
The worst part of John Dorie’s apparent demise — and no, we don’t know for sure that he’s dead — is that the bullet really should have been Naomi’s (if Alicia was aiming for her, you couldn’t prove it by me and I rewound that thing multiple times).
Naomi clearly abandoned the ballparkers, probably had something to do with Madison’s “After” fate and, um, just drove up as Team Vulture, so there's that.
So why the hell shoot mah man? Why him?
P.S. Negative points for the continuity folks on this one. Alicia’s "shot" clearly hits John in the shoulder, but after he falls, Naomi presses her hands over a wound south of his left pec. Which is it? And, more importantly, can he survive it?
2. Laura was JD’s kryptonite to the (possible) end
By his own word, John could outdraw anyone. And yet he died with his hands up, even though his love was right behind him.
I mean, if he IS dead. Which he isn’t. Cause I ain’t havin’ it. Not. Having. It.
3. Naomi’s first camp was a FEMA outpost
We learn this after her attempt to leave the Diamond is thwarted by Viv, forcing Naomi to confess where she was headed to Strand and Madison. She says she wasn’t escaping, really — just going on a run too dangerous for anyone else. They call B.S. and all three get on the road.
The trio passes the night at a motel, where Naomi does manage to flee while the others snooze. She arrives solo at the outpost, where she’s almost done in by walkers, until Strand and Madison ride to the rescue, and she lets them do it.
4. Naomi feels responsible not only for her daughter’s death, but for everyone’s at the outpost.
Naomi’s daughter was named Rose and from the looks of things left behind at the shelter, she wasn't much more than a toddler. The pair came to the outpost after the girl’s dad died, but Rose fell desperately ill anyway.
Not wanting to get kicked out of a secure spot with food and supplies because of the child's illness, Naomi stashed her in the pantry, told her to hide and then hit the road for some antibiotics. By the time she returned three days later, Rose had died and turned. And so had everyone else.
Before that disaster, Naomi took “J.I.C.”—that’s "Just In Case"—classes from a woman named Ellen. Classes that entailed everything from finding and growing food and stitching up owies to hot-wiring a car.
Even with JIC, Ellen was SOL, because the walker version of her is still behind the wheel of a fully-stocked truck. Works out fine for Madison, Strand and Naomi, though.
5. Madison nursed Strand back to health following last season’s flood.
As the pair watch the Vultures and pass a bottle of booze back and forth prior to their adventures with Naomi, we get some backstory on how our core group came to be reunited. Mad pulled Strand from the flooded river and she and Alicia nursed him back to health, apparently in a cave. Even though they were on the outs, Madison said she did that because she knows his true nature … plus, she likes having a drinking buddy.
Nick must’ve washed up in the same spot. He recovered, too, and found Luciana.
Later, at the motel with Naomi, the pair reveal that they’ve raided many a minibar on their way from Mexico to New Mexico to Texas, and that’s the truth. Liquid courage in the zombie apocalypse is a thing, people. Or maybe self medication. Or both.
6. Madison didn’t really know Strand’s true nature.
After Naomi takes her leave in the night, Madison and Strand have a little disagreement about whether people can change for the better or not. Madison says sure they can, if they take the opportunities presented. Strand picks then to tell her the truth about his stashed and stocked car.
“What do you want me to say?” she responds. “That I wish I would have let you drown?” He says that’s what he would have done.
“Lucky for you I’m not you,” she retorts. Who fared better for that remains to be seen.
7. The Vultures did leave the Diamond
After Naomi, Strand and Madison return with enough supplies to feed themselves and replant their fields, and Nick chides the Vultures for running low on supplies, themselves, Mel tells his contingent to pack up their stuff. Because that’s exactly what they’d do with a newly refreshed outpost. Leave it. Pssssh!
Before they go, Mel gives Madison a few parting words of wisdom: “You be careful, Madison. From my experience? The really bad stuff? You never see it coming.”
Except that every last one of us does.
8. But Madison’s no fool.
At least we don’t think so. At least not at the moment. Even though her whereabouts in the After/Now are still unknown, I'm still putting stock in the fact that no one has outright said she's dead.
Though she tells Strand that bygones are bygones when he attempts to have a make-nice back at the Diamond, Madison secrets Alicia away for some private instruction. Tells her girl to grab some rations, a few medical supplies and a couple of rifles and stash them in the Land Rover. Park the Rover at the back of the motor pool and keep her yap shut. Why?
"Just in case."
So what about it, FTWD fans? Have I—you—any hope that John Dorie lives on? Do I have to keep watching if he doesn't (I kid. Kind of.)? Why didn't John draw on Alicia when she was aiming either at him or at his love? And do you think Alicia was really aiming for Naomi?
After all, the woman was driving the vehicle that Madison and her girl fortified for what we have to believe is an attack by the Vultures. But did she acquire the truck from the Vultures, or did she take it sooner, thwarting the Diamond's—or at least the Clark women's—ability to flee or defend themselves?
I keep coming back to Strand's confession to Madison: 'People don’t change. When pressed, when cornered, the artifice falls. The curtain drops. They always show you who they really are."
We've seen plenty of duplicitousness at the Diamond. Strand—long a self-serving soul—stashing supplies. Luciana begging Nick to go on the run somewhere far, far away. Naomi being Naomi. Everyone hedging their bets on what it takes to survive. Many for their own self-interest.
The Vultures, on the other hand, seem to have a sense of community and purpose nailed down. Despite Mel's confession about what went down at his and Ennis' homestead, we've only seen little Charlie take a shot and Mel, himself, said they're content to let the others do themselves in and reap the benefit of their stuff when that's done. They're well-stocked, get on just fine, have a handle on the dead ... and could make an appealing option for others looking for the best men (and women) with which to win.
And an unpredictable enemy for those still believing there's unconditional good in this world.
Fear the Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC