SPOILER ALERT! Major spoilers for tonight's Fear the Walking Dead Episode 312, "Brother's Keeper," ahead!
Tonight's episode of Fear the Walking Dead Season 3 was, without question, a game-changing hour of television. Essentially three-quarters of the main characters in the show are in mortal peril going into next week, and one is gone forever (alas, poor Jake, we barely knew ye).
But there's one word that was uttered during the episode that encapsulates the situation so nicely. One single word that tells you everything you need to know about the apocalypse in general. When Jake and Nick head out to investigate what Troy warned them about, they see it off in the distance: a horde. This is the largest assembly of walkers we've ever seen in this universe.
Nick says, simply, "F***."
It's the first time an F-bomb has been dropped on the show, and in The Walking Dead universe in general outside of DVD/Blu-ray releases. While it's been added back into episodes of the flagship series on those home releases, it has never been on air. Thanks to the TV-MA rating and the air time, the FCC allows the usage, but it's still considered taboo. AMC did allow Breaking Bad to use the word, long considered the harshest of curse words, on air one time (again, it's used much more in home releases).
So why now for the first on-air F-bomb in the Walking Dead universe? Well, Fear the Walking Dead has been playing from behind, for sure. Season 3 is getting a lot of critical acclaim, and seems to be building up a considerably larger fanbase for the show, but Fear is still nowhere close to the ratings behemoth the core The Walking Dead series has been. While it may sound cynical, the attention-getting aspect is definitely a part of it.
When we saw a large group of walkers on the original series, they were called a herd, and our heroes successfully steered the herd around quite a bit. Here we hear the group called a horde, and from the moment we see it, we know it's an inevitable force. The horde will overtake the Ranch. The horde will devastate their way of life. The horde will kill a large number of the characters we've seen this season. That's what goes through Nick's mind when he sees them, and the only way to express that was one four-letter F word.
The fact that it took 10 seasons between the two shows to drop an F-bomb puts much more weight behind it. They probably won't start using it on a regular basis, maximizing the impact if it's ever used again.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.