Massive spoilers ahead for “The Unveiling/Children of Wrath” because hey... it's a TV Recap.
The Short Version: In the two-episode midseason finale, war broke out between Walker's people and Otto's people, with the Clarks caught in the middle. While Jake and Alicia try to broker a peace, Jeremiah refuses to negotiate and Madison escalates the situation, which leads to lives lost on both sides. As war is about to break out, we learn Ofelia has been with Walker's people, and she is involved in an attack on the ranch. Meanwhile, Nick joins the militia and Madison tries desperately to protect both of her children, leading her to take drastic steps to force a peace. Elsewhere, Strand finds his boat, the Abigail, and confronts his past.
Goodbye peace, hello war
Secrets are revealed, sacrifices are made, and Madison risks everything in the two-hour midseason finale. We find out where Ofelia's been and what happened to her after her run-in with Jeremiah last season. We learned a very telling detail about Madison and why she'll do whatever it takes to protect her loved ones. And we learned what happened in the past between Otto and Walker's tribe and why they've been in an unofficial war for a long time.
“The Unveiling” opens with Jake heading to Walker's “tribal headquarters,” a gas station with a few businesses along a roadside. Alicia catches up with him and tells him about the Trimbols' murders, unknowingly passing along her mother's lie that they believe Walker's people did it. Jake and Alicia sit down with Walker, but he tells him, “You're 200 years too late for peace, Jake, but just in time for lunch.” But when Jake offers a parlay, Walker reconsiders. He wants the water reserves from the ranch, and Jake agrees to try to sell that to his father.
The long-missing Ofelia pops up to serve Jake and Alicia lunch. It turns out she's gotten close to Walker and has joined his tribe. Ofelia takes a moment to apologize for leaving the hotel without telling Alicia and her mother where she was going. She goes with Jake to the ranch as his hostage, while Alicia stays with Walker as his hostage while the parlay is being considered.
And then Madison goes mad
As soon as Madison hears that Alicia is with Walker, she decides they need to storm the gates and save Alicia. Sure, Jeremiah refuses the parlay, but Jake probably would have just waited till his dad was drunk and taken the water, as he eventually ends up doing anyway. Once again Madison makes a stupid decision for no good reason, without any real knowledge of the situation, and lives are lost.
At Walker's, Alicia isn't in any immediate danger, although she gets angry when she sees the helicopter that was shot down when Travis was killed. Walker's been showing her his ancestor's artifacts that he's been protecting, which are in a big motor home. Meanwhile, Madison believes she has to rescue Alicia, and she convinces Troy and Nick to join her, along with some of his militia guys. While Troy gets in quiet and finds Alicia, things get noisy and violent real quickly as four of Walker's people are killed.
At the ranch, once Jake learns what happened, he takes the water and Ofelia back, and Walker nearly scalps him, until Ofelia stops him. Walker promises that all the Ottos will die soon, but he lets Jake go.
In a strange jump, we go from seeing Jake on the ground at Walker's suffering a cut along his scalp to Ofelia beaten up and dumped at the ranch from the back of a motorcycle. She tells them Walker thinks she gave Madison information that led to the attack and that she's lost her home, but it doesn't make much sense. Ofelia offers to help out in the kitchen at the ranch. And what could possibly go wrong?
Well ... a few hours later at night, three guards on the gate at the ranch suddenly get violently ill. They die and turn, creating a walker bomb where the dead attack the living. Then Nick gets sick too and throws up. They realize Ofelia is behind the attack.
The second hour of the midseason finale, “Children of Wrath,” opens with a flashback, with Ofelia walking along the border and finding a way across through a broken fence. Several shots are fired at her feet, and Jeremiah appears. He tells her she can go, gives her a drink of water and leaves. But as she travels through the desert with no water, it doesn't take long before she collapses from the heat.
While she hallucinates her father, she's saved by Walker. Apparently it's the desert, but it's a popular desert, considering she runs across both Jeremiah and Walker. Walker takes her back to his facility and cares for her. Why it took so long for us to get the story behind Jeremiah and Ofelia's first meeting and learn where she was makes no sense at all. There were no surprises here. It wasn't a shock that Jeremiah didn't save her. Why would he? He certainly shouldn't have taken in Madison. It's not the kind of world where you go out of your way to help others, especially considering his racist attitudes. He tells her she wouldn't like it where he's going because she's “brown.”
The writers really haven't seemed to know what to do with Ofelia through most of the series. I like her with Walker and the strength she seems to have gained in his world. And it's interesting to see her used as a weapon against the Ottos. But when one minute she's stopped Walker from scalping Jake with a look and a word, and the next she's beaten up and dumped at the ranch? And Madison's supposed to keep an eye on Ofelia and she's left alone to poison the coffee? Why would anyone trust her when they are practically at war with her boyfriend?
Madison decides there should be peace
Back to the present. Ofelia runs, trying to get away from the ranch, but Madison catches up with her and takes her down.
The morning after the attack, everyone is trying to save the sick in a makeshift infirmary. The sick are handcuffed to their beds in case they turn, and Nick is among them. Madison grabs Ofelia and takes her to Walker with a gun to her head to find out what the poison is. Walker admits it was anthrax and that there is no cure. But he says Nick will survive if he's strong enough.
Madison returns to the ranch as the dead are being buried. There's a lot of them. Madison wants to broker a peace, but she doesn't think it will work with Walker. However, Alicia has an idea that might help. In another night raid – you'd really think Walker would put some guards around his gas station – Madison and Troy grab the artifacts trailer at the cost of some more lives. As Madison, Nick and Alicia come up with the plans and raids, you'd think at some point they'd consider the lives they are risking, but there's no evidence of that. The militia guys appear disposable to them, as do the lives of Walker's tribe.
So that's why Walker's so angry
Meanwhile, Nick gets better but begins to suspect something's going on with Jeremiah. He breaks the floorboards where Jeremiah shot up his adobe cabin. There he digs up a skull with a bullet in its forehead. Jeremiah admits that he killed four of Walker's people, including his uncle and his father. The skull is Walker's father's.
Suddenly we understand what this war has really been about between Jeremiah and Walker. It started over land, but it goes much deeper than the white man vs. Native Americans, and it's a fascinating development. And when Madison tries to negotiate with Walker, offering the artifacts for peace, he turns her down. He wants something much more important to him.
Madison has been a rich character all along. She was stronger than Travis ever was, and for a good reason. As she tells her children a story about a little girl who took a gun and killed her abusive father to protect her mother, we quickly learn the story is about her. Apparently Madison's been protecting people all her life, no matter what the cost.
Madison pays a visit to Jeremiah, who's working on reinforcing his place to make his last stand. Madison admits that she did make a deal with Walker, Jeremiah's life for peace. She gives him a gun and tells him he should kill himself. Jeremiah tells her he won't do it, not even to protect his sons, and he tells her she should just shoot him if that's what she wants to do. Things escalate, and Nick comes in just as Madison is pointing a gun at Jeremiah, but Nick shoots him first. Jeremiah dies, and Madison tells Nick what they need to do next.
Jake and Troy arrive to find their father dead, and it looks like suicide. They take his wrapped body out of the cabin and put it into the back of a truck. Madison meets Walker one more time and hands him a backpack with a head in it. He looks in the backpack and then leaves with it.
Now that we can look back at the entire season, it was deep on character and extremely light on zombie action. The walkers were almost an afterthought. Psycho Troy, who appeared to have a big part to play, ended up being a pawn for Madison. Travis's shocking death did have an impact to some extent, but not as much as it should have. Except for a couple episodes, Strand and Salazar seemed very removed from the story, although Strand did pop up briefly to find the Abigail, kill some walkers, talk to a Russian cosmonaut in space, drink some champagne, and then set the Abigail on fire as he walked away.
The season was actually about Madison taking over the ranch and sacrificing whoever she needed to to make that happen. While I really wish they'd make Madison more consistent and have her actions be as smart as she's supposed to be; there are few characters on TV with as much depth as she has. As for Alicia, she's grown as a character, and as long as she stops putting herself in danger (which leads to Mom doing stupid stuff), I'm liking her growth. And regarding Nick, he joins the militia for some reason that didn't make a lot of sense to me. And I have no idea why he went and shot Jeremiah, as if it was personal between Nick and Jeremiah when it was only really personal between Jeremiah and Walker. He seems like a completely different character from last season, and it's been disappointing.
Lingering Questions: That box? The ratings?
As for the questions that we can contemplate until the rest of the season returns, what was in the body-sized box that Madison was staring at at the end of the episode? Will Troy and Jake discover what really happened to their father? Will Alicia be able to stop being so mad at her mother? Will Madison be able to maintain peace with Walker and run the ranch?
However, the biggest question is whether the producers and writers of Fear The Walking Dead can stop the massive ratings slide. Will they stop with the annoying single-character episodes? And what about the regulars? Will Salazar pop up and reunite with Ofelia? Will Strand make his way to the ranch? What happened to Luciana? And will walkers become a threat again?
Lines of the Night:
"I was thinking the idea of an afterlife doesn't make sense. It's so hard to get out of this life.” - Alicia
“After the apocalypse all of this will be returned to us, the first humans.” - Walker
“Tell your father I'll finish the scalping of his oldest son when I see him next. I will cut apart his youngest son and feed him to the hogs. Tell your father he will remain alive to watch this before we burn him alive ... Safe travels.” - Walker
“If I wasn't busy keeping everyone else alive I would have time for feelings. I'd love that luxury. I'd love to indulge myself, but someone has to be strong. Someone has to keep everyone else together. You have no idea what I carry.” - Madison
“Last words are for fools, but not said enough.” - Strand
Best Line of the Night:
“My kids aren't going to die because some old prick has too much hate and pride to do the right thing.” - Madison