Directed by Janice Cooke and written by Channing Powell and Alex Delyle, this week's episode of AMC's Fear the Walking Dead brought the focus back to one of the biggest question marks I've had since she was captured. What's been going on with Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey)? In this weekend's episode "Mother," we get our answer… and more answers… and more questions. And without heading into specific details before throwing on the "MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!" sign, let's just say that Dakota (Zoe Colletti) isn't the only familiar face that makes the scene. And as the beginning of the end before a "new beginning" gets one step closer to reality- while choices are made that there may be no going back from, So with all of that build-up in mind, here's a look at my thoughts on "Mother"- after the spoiler image buffer.
So "Mother" is a tough one for me to pin down, so let me start off with what worked for me. First, the combination of Glover, Debnam-Carey, and Colletti drove home the importance of Powell and Delyle's words, crafting yet another powerful examination of the importance of mothers and motherhood. Teddy, Dakota, and Alicia are all products of their respective mothers, for better or worse. For Teddy, it was a mother who rejected him when she came to him with his thoughts- looking to have him locked away. With Dakota, you have a mother in Virginia (Colby Minifie) who also in a way rejected her child. In both instances, their respective mothers would be killed (one by their own hand the other beaten to it by Jenna Elfman's June)- with Teddy and Dakota in a way "inspired" by their respective maternal rejections to become killers who kill when they feel it's necessary.
But what about Alicia? Once again, the impact of a powerful mother comes into play- but the flip side of the coin. Madison (Kim Dickens) believed in a higher calling and the need to bring people together and preserve life when possible- that at their core, people have the capacity to be better angels. That was passed along to Alicia when her mother apparently perished at the stadium. Yet when faced with the opportunity to not kill Cole (Sebastian Sozzi)- the head of the stadium survivors who have now turned to a more brutal way of survival- Alicia can't help but look at Cole as a slap in the face to everything she holds dear. Worse than that, Cole and the stadium survivors not doing better with the lives Madison gave them with her own life was spitting on Madison's "grave." So Alicia removed that "sinner" from the earth- not killing her own mother, but killing in the name of her mother. But did Alicia need to? We'll get to that in a minute.
The other things we're digging a ton are Teddy, Riley (Nick Stahl), and the "The End is the Beginning" folks. Viewers were promised a threat unlike any the TWD universe has ever faced, and they weren't kidding. I can actually imagine a scenario where they could pull it off and the time underground could be used to explain a time jump that might match things up with the TWD timeline. Are there a hundred holes in that dream I just wrote? Sure, but that's one of the things that's made this season of Fear TWD so much fun- you really could see this season ending with a mushroom cloud. As for Glover, leave it to an expert character actor like him to convey a big bad with serious "mommy issues" without going the Norman Bates route. And props to Stahl for doing an excellent job at simmer rage beginning to boil over. Riley is torn between continuing to loyally follow all of Teddy's orders and his loathing distrust of Alicia, and Stahl hits those notes perfectly. And Teddy's "final words" to Alicia? The stuff great closing cliffhanger comments are made of.
That said, two points are flicking at the back of my brain's earlobe. First, the episode felt a little long- not that it was dragging at any point but it was the first episode this season that felt like its length. Second, I can't shake the issue I'm having with Alicia killing Cole and her attitude towards the other stadium survivors. Mostly because I never bought the group as irredeemable- we're not talking Saviors or Terminus here. For what it's worth, there was even that point in the episode where Cole makes her an offer to join them- not exactly a "cutthroat killer" move. Which is why Alicia's decision both surprised and bothered me because it didn't feel like there wasn't another way. I'm hoping we see some kind of ramifications from Alicia's killing of Cole and that it doesn't just become something storyline-disposable. And since you're here…
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