(WARNING: Huge spoilers for Fear the Walking Dead's Season 4 midseason finale below!)
Fear the Walking Dead's midseason finale finally revealed where Madison's (Kim Dickens) been in the NOW timeline. The answer: she never made it. She sacrificed herself back at the stadium so that her family could live.
The episode started in the past, with Madison sneaking up on Althea (Maggie Grace) as she camped. It was Al's first appearance in the BEFORE timeline. Madison, pointing a gun, demanded that Al give her the keys to the SWAT vehicle. But then she tripped over a wire Al strung at ankle level and dropped her gun as it went off, shooting Al's cup o' noodles.
Madison — who apparently won the skirmish despite getting tripped by Al — tied Al up in the back of the truck, demanding the keys. She was tearing the place apart looking for them and found Al's tapes. She demanded both just as Al cut herself free with the knife up her sleeve. Madison managed to knock Al out, and when the journalist came to, she found the tapes and her camera missing. Cut to Madison driving away with the tapes.
Madison watched Al's tapes, hoping to find Nick and Alicia. No such luck, so she cried bitter tears of frustration. Al and her assault rifle popped up and demanded her stuff back as well as Madison's story, starting with who she's looking for. Al tied her up and interviewed her, asking who it was she lost that she cared about, listing off all the possibilities, pretty much all of whom are people Madison has lost. But the ones that hurt most were the kids.
Madison explained that she'd thought she'd found a safe place at the ranch. This scene was taking place before they all made it to the stadium. Madison said she was now looking for a place where her kids wouldn't have to do what she did to Al to survive. She explained what exactly she was looking for by telling a story. When Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Nick (Frank Dillane) were little, they nursed an injured bird back to health. They called the bird Wilhelmina, Amina for short. The kids were determined to not let the bird die, even though Madison was sure it would. "She lived because my kids didn't give up on her...There's not a whole lot of them left anymore," she said. That's why she needed to find a place where they'd be safe, because she needed to keep that part of them alive. Nick's sensitive part and Alicia's caring part.
In the present, Alicia saw the cups o' noodles, realized that Madison had met Al, and then found the tape marked AMINA and confirmed it. Madison never told Al any names, so Al didn't make the connection. Alicia went to go find Naomi (Jenna Elfman) and kill her, and when she found her she finally said why exactly she was so set on killing Naomi.
"My mom is dead because of what you did," Alicia said.
But Morgan (Lennie James) talked her down, saying that she didn't have to be this way, which he knows, because he used to be a killer like her, but he changed. Morgan feels responsible for her brother's death, because he stepped aside and allowed Nick to kill Ennis, which in turn led to Nick getting killed by Charlie. So this time he will not step aside and allow Alicia to kill Naomi. Death begets more death. It sounds like Morgan will teach Alicia the way of the stick in the future.
Back in the past, Al gave Madison some cups o' noodles and sent her on her way. Shortly after, Madison found her traveling companions. "Ran into someone on the road who helped me out," she said when Strand (Colman Domingo) asked where she got the noodles. "Food's not the only thing I found out there." What she found was her humanity. Shortly after that, they found the stadium. Nick thought it was too big, but Madison said that they weren't thinking big enough before. She explained that this time, they were going to invite people inside with them. "Someone helped me when she didn't have to," she said. "I think it's time for us to do the same." Al's act of kindness gave Madison the idea to build the stadium community. They're all on the same side.
Al asked how Madison's story ended, so the people who were there took her back to that night. Rather than try to help, the other people in the stadium ran, including Naomi (who revealed that her real real name is neither Laura nor Naomi — it's June). Nick and Alicia were surrounded by the walkers let loose by the Vultures, so Madison lit a flare and drew the walkers away. They followed her into the stadium, where she locked herself in. Over the walkie, she said "I was afraid to lose this place because I thought you needed it to stay who you are right now. But you know it: no one's gone until they're gone." Then she tossed the flare on the ground, which lit the gas fume-and-straw-covered stadium up. She sacrificed herself to save her family, both blood and found.
Fear the Walking Dead has now killed off its lead, and all of its Season 1 characters except Alicia, Strand and Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades), that latter of whom is missing and will show up sometime when Blades' schedule allows, but not this season. Alycia Debnam-Carey is now the only remaining cast member from the pilot. Now that the BEFORE and NOW timelines have converged, the show will only proceed on the NOW timeline without Kim Dickens and Frank Dillane. Instead, Madison's sacrifice will animate the action as the survivors search for a place to build a new community.
Pretty shocking stuff. What did you think of the midseason finale?
Fear the Walking Dead will return for Season 4B Sunday, Aug. 12 at 9/8c on AMC.