‘Fear the Walking Dead’: Did [SPOILER] Die a Hero or a Chump? (RECAP)

FWTD 407 Madison
Spoiler Alert
Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC
Kim Dickens as Madison Clark

[Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers about Fear the Walking Dead Season 4 episode 7, “The Wrong Side of Where You Are Now.” Read no further if you’re not caught up.]

John Dorie lives, Fear the Walking Dead fans! At least for now. And that’s about all I know for sure about “The Wrong Side of Where You Are Now”!

With next week’s midseason finale looming, Madison’s unexplained whereabouts growing tiresome and suspicions that Charlie is really Naomi’s alive-and-well daughter flying around the internet, “The Wrong Side of Where You Are Now” offered more questions than answers about whose side anybody is on right now.

The hour pitted brother against brother, kids against mother, Madison against any lick of common sense and Althea against her single-minded urge to just film everything and stay out of the battles.

The episode did, however, shed some fiery light on a few burning questions; namely, what went down at the Stadium that left Strand, Alicia, Nick and Lucy on the run. And what all those stashed zombies were really for. And — possibly — what became of Madison.

It featured some of the best walkers ever on Fear or The Walking Dead, too.

So, with guns a’blazin’, stuff a’burnin’, and everyone a’hurtin’, here are our Top 7 takeaways from the June 3 episode of Fear the Walking Dead.

1. I have no clue what to make of Naomi

Her truths become lies. Her lies become truths. It’s nigh to impossible to figure out what — and who — this dame is all about. One thing does seem clear, though. Her feelings for John Dorie were probably real.

To wit: Even though the gun battle is in full swing, Naomi risks her life to try to save the guy, chasing Mel when he drives off in the Vultures’ ambulance, along with the medical supplies she needs to help JD. Lucky for her (I guess), Alicia takes one good aim of her big ol’ bazooka gun and turns the truck into a massive fireball. But more about that later.

With her medical supplies now a bonfire, Naomi commands Althea — chastened into action by Morgan after she says she only wants to film the proceedings, not take part — to help her, Morgan and Charlie race John to the infirmary she stocked at the ruined Stadium.

Speaking of that, in the Before, a weary-looking Naomi tries to warn an obliviously sunny Madison that, FEMA supplies or no FEMA supplies, the stadium is going to fall and fall soon. She clearly knows more about the Vultures and their plans than she’s letting on, informing Madison that “I’ve been on the wrong side of where you are now.”

More about that later, too.

None of which clears up whether she’s 100-percent Vulture or not. At least not to me.

2. Mel has a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad episode

Turns out, there’s a fine reason the chill and swaggery fellow has looked a little wild-eyed in the After. Seems he and Ennis weren’t such bud-brothers after all.

Ennis, Mel Fear the Walking Dead

Evan Gamble as Ennis, Kevin Zegers as Mel

In the Before, young Charlie comes banging at the Stadium gate, claiming Mel crashed their (seemingly intact) bus and needs their help. Not the other Vultures’ help. Theirs. Nick is all kinds of suspicious about that, as are the others. And me. And likely you.

But not our Madison, who says why sure they will take the injured Mel inside and patch him right up, because that’s just the kind of people they are now. Plus, maybe Charlie will become Team Ballpark after all, so yay.

Left alone with Naomi, a weak and handcuffed Mel tries to strong arm her into taking him to Charlie and then turn them loose, but she knocks him a good one in his wounded ribs and tells him to behave. The two appear to know each other, but not in the “huh, maybe they are Charlie’s parents” way that I’ve been kicking around, since he does ask her if her name is really Naomi or not.

Jenna Elfman as Naomi

But are they accomplices in what is about to go down? I can’t quite tell.

In any case, Mel vehemently warns Madison that, no matter what they think they are accomplishing here in the ballpark, Ennis does not share Mel’s idea of letting the compound do itself in and then scavenge their supplies. Ennis plans to force the issue. Really force it. He pinkie swears. His good heart won’t help him though. Because …

In the Now, after a catastrophic — and ridiculously improbable — shootout between the Strand, Alicia and Lucy and the Vultures that leaves zero folks from our group dead and none of Mel’s group living, he crawls from the wreckage of the ambulance and is too stunned and wounded to answer Alicia’s question about how long Naomi’s been one of them. She decides she doesn’t care one way or the other and buries her handmade shiv in his head.

That’s because …

3. Ennis’ plan was a doozy. And explained a number of things.

Bringing the whole “collect the dead and raise the numbered banners” deal full circle, Ennis’ means of gaining compliance entailed filling trucks with the undead and unleashing them at opportune times to clear the living.

Madison and company find this out only after Naomi spits some truth at Madison about the park and Nick and Alicia. “If you want to protect them, you’re going to have to disappoint them,” she says. “ … I’ve been on the wrong side of where you are now and I really don’t want to see that happen to you. This place, I know you built it for you kids. But it’s not worth risking their lives. Or yours.”

Madison blames that on Mel, charging the guy she never should have let in in the first place and telling him that if he’s just going to turn their own people against them, he should just get out. But — even though he’s part of a well-stocked community that bears no good will to them — here. Take the fully-stocked Land Rover.

What. The. Hell.

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She says he can’t have Charlie, though, because even if it IS just the two of them, he will turn Charlie into someone terrible and they, on the other hand, will keep her safe.

Mel’s turn to be incredulous: “Keep her safe?” he growls. “Really. That’s the same thing Charlie’s parents said to me and you know what? They died. Right in front of her. Don’t make her go through that again. … You’re holding on to something that’s gone. You’re trying to be the kind of people that are extinct.”

Madison pulls a gun on him, tells him no one is gone until they’re gone … and lets him keep the gift of the Rover anyway, because Madison makes zero sense. And a few hours later, under cover of darkness, Mel’s caravans of dead roll up, doused in oil, really good at ramps and encircled by flame. Subhuman torches.

Subhuman torches Alicia and Nick just hang out and let surround them.

4. The whole Mel-Charlie-Naomi thing is still kinda fishy

Clearly, Ennis’ plan was in motion for that particular day, Naomi knew it and did her semi-best to warn Madison. So, depending on how cynical you are about the whole affair, it went one of two ways. To my way of thinking, Mel knew today was the day, was going to use Charlie to make a last-ditch attempt to get Madison and Co. to save themselves and cross over to their side, but crashed the bus instead.

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But one gin and tonic more and I could be convinced that Mel and Char Char were sent to get the ballparkers to comply, aided by Naomi, and even if that didn’t happen, they’d still be on the inside to help open the gates for the Burning Man plan. But Mel wanted to get Charlie out of there before it all went down and the kid had to witness it.

One MORE gin and tonic and I could be convinced that whatever happened to the bus was also part of Ennis’ plan, and that his contrarian brother and the kid were part of the sacrifice. Nothing like a desperate and terrified child to get all kinds of people to drop their guard and focus elsewhere when you’re trying to get truckloads of zombies off to work.

5. Whatever happened to Madison, Nick and Alicia were partly responsible.

Clearly due to head injuries that happened while I wasn’t looking. For all of a sudden, seeing duplicitous Charlie’s sad little mug when Mel appeared to fading fast over the walkie, the no-nonsense fighter girl and her fearful of the outside, distrustful of everyone brother decide to go traipsing off into the night in search of the wounded Mel. Knowing full well that mega-danger was looming.

Nick Fear the Walking Dead

“Er, sorry-not-sorry Mom” Frank Dillane as Nick Clark

The episode tried to explain this away with a couple of lame-o lectures, the first from Nick, who reminded his mom that she always finds him when he gets lost and that she doesn’t want to be the lady who didn’t help a wounded guy just because she was scared of him. A wounded guy who also sent Charlie into the ballpark to infiltrate the ranks, and likely had something to do with the cooties that infected his crops. But … whatever.

The second comes from Alicia, who reveals that she also tucked a walkie in with Mel (though that could have been so they could listen in on him, too) and then, when her truck is surrounded by oily walkers, hollers for mama that they don’t have much time, but that’s not their fault because “we had to come out here. We had to try to save him. We couldn’t just hide. We didn’t mean to do this to you. But it was the right thing to do.”

Never, not ever has that been Alicia and there’s no way on Earth it would be now. But in any case, mama — her beatific face illuminated by flames — is comin’ to the rescue. And likely her demise.

6. I’m still not convinced that Charlie and Naomi are strangers

Make no mistake about it, there is no real warmth or whiff of recognition between them, even after Mel and Ennis are both goners. So I’m not convinced they’re aren’t strangers, either.

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But who knows how old Rose was when whatever happened to her happened. Maybe she is Charlie and doesn’t recognize Naomi, but Naomi knows her girl. Mel could’ve been mistaken when he said Charlie’s parents died before her eyes.

If she was telling the truth about the kid and searching for medicine when Ennis and Co. attacked the FEMA shelter (explaining why the walkers were locked in at the outpost and some useful stuff is still there), the Vultures could have mistakenly ID’d her parents and a sympathetic Mel rescued the little nipper.

Another possibility: Naomi knows Charlie from the FEMA compound, is not her mother, but if one child was spared, is hopeful that her Rose might have survived, too. And is now tailing the Vultures, who wouldn’t recognize her if she was away, because of it.

But what’s really most important about this episode is that …

7. BBQ’d walkers are all kinds of cool

Admit it. You gasped when Althea rammed her truck through the gate, the smoke cleared and the place was filled with charred beings just this side of skeletal. Naomi knew that Ennis and Co. stripped the outer vestiges of the compounded but wouldn’t venture inside, which makes Althea suspect of why they’re now about to bust in with a half-dead fellow and kid in the truck.

I’m suspect, too, because even if Naomi is the fastest supply getter ever, at least some of those guys are now free-range burnt up walkers, because the gate is in ruins and ain’t no way Al’s truck has enough ammo, even in the big guns, to take them out. With Ennis and Mel both gone, along with a host of the other Vultures, what good can come of this?

So what do you think, Fear fans? Are you confused, too. Obviously, Alicia and Nick survived their predicament in the Burning Man plan, but did Madison sacrifice herself to make that so? What do you think is the real deal with Charlie? Is Morgan her new daddy now? Will Naomi lead the others to the Vultures’ current home base? Will that include Alicia, Lucy and Strand, or are battle lines redrawn?

Hopefully, we’ll find out when …

The Season 4 midseason finale of Fear the Walking Dead premieres Sunday, June 10, at 9/8c on AMC