Directed by Sharat Raju and written by co-showrunners Andrew Chambliss & Ian Goldberg, the seventh season finale of AMC's Fear the Walking Dead catches up with Morgan (Lennie James) and Baby Mo as they set up camp along the shore while awaiting word from the rest of our survivors on where their rafts have landed. Of course, that calm doesn't last long as a group of hooded survivors accuses Morgan of abducting Baby Mo- like what happened to them with their kids having been abducted. Well, it turns out that the returning Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) knows a whole lot about those missing kids… since she's the one who's been taking them. At this point, we're going to need to throw on the "MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!" sign and throw down an image spoiler buffer because… well… let's just say that "Gone" found a way to work as a season finale while crashing & burning as a proper "welcome back" for Madison.
Okay. I'll admit it. Fear TWD S07E16 "Gone" was a head-scratcher for me when it came time to assign it a final score because it functioned on such a "Jekyll/Hyde" level. So much so that we don't even have any "Random Thoughts" to throw your way this time around; instead, we're going to dive right into what worked and what didn't:
Okay, So Here's What Worked… James has been offering us a version of Morgan as emotionally complex & confident as we've ever seen, taking on a much more proactive approach to things. Dickens is an on-screen presence who always keeps our attention (USA Network's Rosario Dawson-co-starring Briarpatch being a recent example), and that didn't change here. Add into that mix a solid directorial vision from Raju, and you can see why this review should've easily ended better than it's about to. Plus? It cleared the bar when it came to one of the most essential missions of a season finale: it left us needing to know what happens next. The vision of the boat, PADRE adhering to some kind of "no family, no affiliations," the use of the term "eggs" for the taken children, and a number of other possible clues have us curious as f**k to know if we have any "bigger universe" connections on the way. Commonwealth? CRM? Something connected to those global speed-walkers? And then putting Morgan on the clock by having him offer up the others as bait to get those PADRE people to trust him was another quality call.
… And Here's What Didn't: As showrunners, I think Chambliss & Goldberg have done an amazing & under-appreciated job of revitalizing the original TWD spinoff series. But as episode writers? I haven't been too impressed and "Gone" did not do them any favors. Look, at this point? I'm not saying that Chambliss & Goldberg have some deeply embedded hatred towards the original Fear TWD cast… but I'm also not saying that OG fans don't have a serious argument to make that they do. And they've got receipts. As much as we're now under the impression that PADRE isn't the nice place everyone thought it was (though we're expecting some more twists along the way), we don't know if we could ever absolve Madison of having abducted kids from their families only to hand them over for whatever PADRE is doing with the "eggs." Let me be clear so there's no misunderstanding. They brought back Madison Clark as a serial child abductor with bad lungs who was doing it so she could have help finding her own kids… only to turn down the offer… and then go back to abducting. What?! And even after she's reached some level of cooperation with Morgan as they're being boated away to PADRE, Madison still has to own up to one more lie about not telling Morgan she actually doesn't know where PADRE's located. Wow! We're not buying into the "overkill" backstory Chambliss & Goldberg gave Madison for the time that she was gone, and Madison's "revelation" & coming around to Morgan's way of thinking was too clean & neat. While the end scene definitely opens up a ton of possibilities for the eighth season, Dickens deserves a better Madison. And Madison Clark deserves better.