The Clark’s and the Otto’s. The Otto’s and the Clark’s. By this point in the season, it is becoming hard to tell who is really in charge of Broke Jaw Ranch. Once more ‘Red Dirt’ plays a focus on the relationship springing up between Troy and Madison as the Ranch is faced with the threat of Walker and his men.
This week’s episode was solely based at Broke Jaw Ranch, there was no Strand or Dante and this seemed like a strong play as this season really needs to ramp up the tension before the mid-season finale next week. ‘Red Dirt’ managed to do that by introducing the threat of Walker to the entire Ranch in the first few minutes. It wasn’t long before the survivors were divvying themselves up between those who wanted to stay and those wanting to leave.
By this point in Fear the Walking Dead, the Clark’s have almost completely integrated themselves into the life of the Ranch. Alicia is dating Jake, Nick has his own house, Madison is taking on a leadership role. They have all found their place within the Ranch and are intent on making it their own.
This episode was a slower episode than previous ones, the action only coming in the second half, however this benefited the show greatly. Viewers were treated to a whole new side of Jeremiah as he strongly stood up for his own beliefs, that Walker wasn’t a threat and they were safe on the Ranch. It wasn’t until Vernon (Hugo Armstrong) and his family, including Alicia’s friend Gretchen (Rae Grey), attempted to leave the Ranch that things grew heated.
The leaving of one of the Ranch’s founding fathers left the place crippled and it was good to see that Jeremiah wasn’t okay with this. At this point in the show it feels like the Clark’s are effectively running the place. Madison is a voice in Troy’s ear, Nick is learning and influencing Jeremiah, and Jake listens to Alicia. There was a lot of talk of leadership this episode and it seems that Jeremiah’s fate on FTWD is going to be short-lived. There a few possible contenders for leadership role but it feels that when it comes down to it, the role will fall to one of three possibilities. Nick, Madison or Troy.
‘Red Dirt’ dealt with a lot of these characters setting themselves up to make leadership decisions. While Jake is Jeremiah’s chosen heir, he spent this episode planning to run and confront Walker at his reservation. Troy, however, is showing the potential to rule a violent leadership. The militia is under his control and he has them primed and ready to go. But it is Madison and Nick who are showing the most potential.
After the return of one of Vernon’s horses, the two of them and Otto set out to find out the fate of Vernon. They find them all dead and turned and quickly execute them all. Upon returning to the camp, Madison shows the bodies to all and delivers an impassioned speech calling the people to arms and to protect their home. Nick, however, believed this was done by Troy, but still backed his mother’s play.
Luckily, the show didn’t hold out the mystery of Vernon’s family’s deaths for long. In the closing moments of the show Madison confronted Troy and he confessed to the murder of the family. Madison truly is a voice in his ear at this point, playing the role of the mother he never had. She comforts him but gently berates him for his actions making him promise not to do it again and that she will help him become a leader.
In an episode that dealt with the imminent threat of Walker and his crew, it was nice to see the Clark’s step up and be the leader they need to be for the Ranch. It shows they are serious about keeping this place and it feels like Madison is truly keeping her promise of taking the place, by force if necessary, from the first episode.
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