Spoilers ahead for Fear the Walking Dead's “This Land Is Your Land,” because hey … it's a TV Recap.
After last week's intense episode that saw a walker horde hit the Ranch, this week we get another potboiler of an episode that forces Alicia to take a leadership role. While there are plenty of plot holes in “This Land Is Your Land,” Alycia Debnam-Carey, who plays Alicia, does a fine job taking the lead in this episode.
“This Land Is Your Land” opens with Alicia and the Ranchers (and people from the Nation) looking shell-shocked after just escaping the zombie horde outside by barricading themselves in the pantry bunker. No sooner do they begin to comprehend their situation than a couple of problems are discovered. Some of the people have been bitten, and the one and only vent to the outside is blocked.
Alicia does the math and figures out they have two hours of air. What to do when you're the unofficial leader of the pantry? She reluctantly suggests that fewer people breathing means less carbon dioxide, which buys them more time. So Alicia goes to the group and tells them what's happening. Then she asks for those who've been bitten to come forward so they can be taken care of, which will leave more air for the rest.
It's an incredibly raw development that would have been a lot more heart-wrenching if we knew who any of those sacrificing themselves were. We also get a powerful couple of scenes between Alicia and rancher Christine (Linda Gehringer), who we never met before (although she was in last week's episode). She tells Alicia, “I know it's hell, but those people have done their part. You need to do yours. They need you. They need you because you're strong. Don't break on them now.”
We also get a strong performance from one of those bitten, who I think was Blake ... maybe? He seems to know everything about the pantry. But again, no time was spent developing these characters before this episode, so there's only so much we're going to care about these two.
A vent, walkers, and a helicopter
While the pantry people are dealing with lack of air ... (Why can't they crack the door open and see if the walkers are still on the door after hours?) … Ofelia and Crazy Dog head up the vent shaft to try and clear the vent. For some reason it takes them a long time to get there, Crazy Dog has a panic attack, and the entire problem appeared to have been caused by one walker blocking the fan.
Outside the pantry bunker, Troy's trying to dig a grave for Jake with his hands. Nick tells him they don't have time and they have to save everyone Troy tried to kill with his walker horde attack. It's not clear why it's such a rush to save them, since the pantry bunker people seem safe and have all the supplies. Nick doesn't know about the air.
The plan is to get close enough to the gas reserves and blow them up, which would draw the walkers away from the pantry. However, when Nick shoots and blows up something with the big gun, why can't they blow up the gas that way? Maybe they're too far away. But rather than wait for the walkers to do more than turn toward the explosion, the guys set off in a truck and start to mow down walkers, with Troy laughing and Nick hanging on for his life. They crash and barely get out of the truck in time, running to the helicopter, where they hold up.
“It's going to be okay.”
Down in the pantry, Alicia and bitten guy who knows about the pantry have started giving the bitten morphine and then stabbing them in the brain. The bodies have piled up, and Alicia is down to bitten guy. As she gives him morphine she tells him, “It's okay. It's going to be okay.” No, it's not. It's really not.
With the air getting thin, Alicia and Christine bond some more. Christine gives her some sage advice that “even when you're hopeless, hope is all you have. You've given us a few precious hours. There's no shame in that ... Promise me you'll never make decisions based in fear.” And then everyone loses consciousness except Alicia. She suddenly gets attacked by one of the people who've turned. Apparently walkers don't care if they're only breathing carbon dioxide. She fights the walker and kills it, but then loses consciousness herself.
Meanwhile, Ofelia has her own walker battle, but when the walker clears the vent it frees the fan. Oxygen begins to flow back into the pantry. Alicia wakes up with the dead walker on top of her. She pushes herself free and realizes that several of the people have turned. Since she appears to be the only lunch that will do for the hungry walkers, she pulls an unconscious Christine into the weapons locker with her and slams the gate shut behind her. She grabs a gun and starts shooting the walkers coming toward the gate.
Just in time to save almost no one ... they're back!
Above, Nick and Troy are still trapped in the helicopter. Things do not look good. Then suddenly there's an explosion.
Alicia feels the explosion and realizes this might be her chance to escape. But all the people she was trying to save before have turned into zombies, and it doesn't look like she's going to make it as she fights them off. Out of bullets, she struggles to get by them with a knife, and just as they're about to pull her down shots ring out and walkers die. It's Madison, Nick, and the others to the rescue.
While everyone is anxious to get to safety, Alicia has one thing to do. She goes to Christine and tries to wake her up, but when she realizes she's dead Alicia puts a knife in her brain. There will be no walker afterlife for Christine.
One tough day
Away from the ranch on a road somewhere, Madison looks over the land toward the ranch. “It could have worked. It really could have worked,” she says. She tells Nick that they'll go to the Trading Post to get supplies, and then back to the dam where it's safe. But first Madison tells Ofelia that they've seen her father and that he's alive and at the dam.
It's been a tough day for the Nation, with only Walker, Ofelia, and Crazy Dog making it. And tougher for the Ranch, with only Troy surviving, if you don't count Madison's family and Strand. Nothing Alicia did saved the people in the pantry. Nothing she did mattered, and for some reason she was the only survivor from the pantry.
Alicia gets out of the water truck where she was resting. She realizes she hasn't seen Jake, and Nick reluctantly lets her know that he's dead. Nick also lies and tells her that Troy warned them about the horde, but not that he created it and led it to the Ranch.
When Madison tells Alicia that they're going to the dam, Alicia says she's not going. “Stop pretending any place is safe. It's not. We keep searching for something that doesn't exist. We kill for it and die for it.” When Madison tries to convince Alicia she's just in shock, she tells her, “I am not in shock. I'm seeing things more clearly now than I ever have. Your way doesn't work. It won't ever work ... I can't do it anymore. We die as quickly together as we do apart. I need to find a way to live for myself. And I can't do that running in fear. I can't do that with any of you.”
Alicia heads off on her own toward the cabin Jake told her about the last time she saw him. Nick convinces Madison that he should follow her, to scout out the area just to make sure Alicia gets where she's going. So the family splits up again as Alicia heads to the cabin, with Jake and Troy following her, and Madison, Walker, Strand, Ofelia, and Crazy Dog heading toward the dam.
RIP Broke Jaw Ranch
And so we say goodbye to the Broke Jaw Ranch, which could withstand anything except the Typhoid Mary of the Apocalypse and her family, aka Madison, Nick, and Alicia. Entire communities are just fine until they come along, and suddenly that community gets wiped out. It may not be their fault, but it sure feels like it is.
If Madison and Nick hadn't been responsible for Otto's death, who knows what would have happened, but there probably wouldn't have been a walker horde. If Nick had let Walker's people kill Troy when he wouldn't give up his guns, there would have been no walker horde to kill everyone. If Madison hadn't insisted that Troy be banished from the Ranch and they had killed or imprisoned him, there would have been no walker horde. If Madison and Walker hadn't rushed off at the first sign water was going to be a problem, before the two groups on the Ranch were stable, they might have been able to take care of a walker horde. If Madison hadn't stolen Walker's gold to save Strand, they might have gotten back in time to die or to save everyone.
As for the Ranch, when it comes down to it, Otto really wasn't set up very well survival-wise. Why didn't they have a better evacuation plan? Why was there only one vent in the pantry bunker? In fact, why wasn't the pantry set up better? Why weren't there any oxygen masks? Why did Alicia survive when everyone else died? Why didn't anyone peek out to see if they could open the doors for a bit to let in some fresh air?
Beyond that, why is Nick lying to save Troy's butt? He's responsible for the deaths of dozens of people. And why isn't Walker furious that Madison's theft of his gold to save Strand kept him away from his people so long? Nearly all his people were wiped out. As for the Ranch people, there's no one left alive (Troy doesn't count) to be angry about it getting wiped out. But Walker should be spitting mad.
As Fear the Walking Dead heads off into a new chapter to find a new home at the dam, it's not boding well for the people at the dam. Typhoid Madison is headed your way.