This Fear the Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
Fear the Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 3
It may be odd to suggest that after three seasons, a major character death could be sudden. And yet here we are, sucker-punched by Fear the Walking Dead’s nascent fourth season. Seriously, major spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.
Okay. So, yes, Nick Clark is dead—killed by the very person he was trying to save. And yes, it’s a bit shocking that Fear would kill off anyone named Clark. But in watching “Good Out Here,” I couldn’t help but wonder if Madison herself is dead. But more on that in a bit. In the meantime, let’s talk about what may or may not be a changing of the guard.
How you feel about Nick’s (untimely?) death may largely depend on how long you’ve been watching Fear. If you followed Morgan over from The Walking Dead, Nick’s demise may not be quite as shocking as it might be for viewers who’ve been with Fear since the very beginning. I fall squarely in the latter camp, so I’m still reeling from this episode. “Good” is not Nick at his most noble or his most heroic. If anything, he and the rest of the remaining cast members have not been portrayed in the most sympathetic light so far this season. Indeed, Fear loyalists could even argue that the Clark group has been relegated to second-fiddle status on their own show.
To that end, it’s easy to think of Althea, John, and Morgan as newbies, but only because they’re new to Fear. They’ve been out in this same world as Nick, Alicia, and the rest, surviving similar horrors, battling similar demons. In the postapocalypse, no one survivor is unique or special. In any case, “Good” is the first time we get any kind of extended interaction between old and new characters. As we’ve already seen, both groups get off on the wrong foot and things literally go downhill from there. But the episode picks up steam once Nick and Morgan are left alone.
Of the Clarks, Nick has certainly been fleshed out the most this season. We know he’s struggling to find himself in both the “BEFORE” and “NOW” timelines. In one of the episode’s extended flashbacks, in the shadow of an abandoned church, Nick tells Madison, “You try to do the right thing, you end up doing the worst.” In essence, Nick is trapped out in the world, afraid of becoming his worst self. And by hour’s end, the worst does come to pass for Nick. Assuming he’s avenging Madison’s murder, Nick subscribes to the darkest parts of his nature, subsuming the very goodness that sought to rescue Charlie from herself.
That being said, I wish we could have arrived at Nick’s death more organically. By jumping ahead a few years, we’re robbed of time we as viewers could have spent with the character. As the show continues to delve into the “BEFORE” storyline, seeing Nick again will prove to be bittersweet, knowing his fate as we do. But for loyal Fear fans, this is a bitter pill to swallow, especially since his death coincides with the arrival of new characters. That one of these new arrivals comes to Fear by way of TWD won’t do much to smooth things over, either. For anyone unfamiliar with TWD, as brilliant as Lennie James is as Morgan Jones, he’s not a consolation prize for losing a major Fear protagonist.
And speaking of Morgan, had he come along sooner, I wonder if he could have saved Chris Manawa from himself. If you’ll recall, Chris was content to be a malcontent. He embraced his own worst qualities, viewing them instead as strengths. Had he survived, he could easily have become a Vulture—or even a Wolf or a Savior. But unlike Chris, Morgan is a loner, the type to get lost in his own dark thoughts, his own manias. We saw Morgan at his worst in one of TWD’s best episodes, season three’s brilliant “Clear.” So when Morgan tells Nick it’s never too late for redemption, he knows what he’s talking about.
Now, if you’re new to Fear, then that likely means Morgan is one of your point-of-view characters. (Ditto Althea and John Dorie.) This is worth mentioning because this new season of Fear exists in two timelines, with two sets of entry-point characters. So the question from a creative and narrative standpoint then becomes, who are our heroes? Who are we meant to root for? The obvious answer is no longer the obvious answer.
If you’re a new viewer, Alicia, Strand, and Luciana remain mysteries. And Madison, this show’s Rick Grimes, has had barely any screen time at all, save for sunnier flashbacks. We know she embodies a hard-fought optimism (which is a 180 from the Madison we’d known previously). And we’re led to believe she’s likely been murdered by the Vultures. If so, new viewers have no choice but to hang their hats on the characters who are likewise new to the party.
In the end, because Nick had such a complicated journey, overcoming his addiction to become a self-sufficient survivor, I’m truly sad to see him go. He wasn’t perfect, but that was one of his many charms. And I was deeply moved by Alicia and Luciana’s tears. Their loss is ours, too, after all. I’m hoping the show truly digs into their stories, beyond overcoming their grief. And if Madison is indeed dead, I hope we come to this revelation honestly — and sooner rather than later.
Some closing thoughts
It’s important to remember that Luciana left last season after Nick sided with Jeremiah Otto, an unapologetic racist. To Jeremiah, Luciana wasn’t as worthy of survival and only begrudgingly took her in. Nick may have been looking for a father figure in Jeremiah, but he drove Luciana away in the process.
It was interesting to hear Morgan speak of Eastman, the postapocalyptic mentor who set him upon a path of peace. For anyone not familiar with this character, he appeared in TWD’s excellent season six episode, “Here’s Not Here,” which is one of my favorites of the entire series. “Clear” is another one of my favorites — and both are Morgan episodes.