Madison is the new Rick Grimes — and the survivors on Fear the Walking Dead needs her strength.
Season three, episode six of The Walking Dead companion series picks up with Madison, Troy and the rest of the militia finally returning home after having their gear stolen by Walker and the other Native Americans from the Black Hat Reservation. Troy wants to talk to his father privately about what happened, but the people at the Broke Jaw Ranch want answers. Militia member Mike is all too happy to spill the details.
Despite Troy telling his pal to “shut the hell up,” Mike warns the others that they’re all going to die if they stay at the ranch. The Black Hat Reservation wants their land back — and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get it.
After learning about the scalping, the ranch survivors are willing to leave the property if it means protecting their families. But does the land really belong to Walker and the Black Hat Reservation? As Jeremiah explains to Madison, all land has been bought, leased or stolen. But he did not steal the Broke Jaw Ranch. The land was sold to the people before him. Walker, a tribal lawyer, has sued them in the past for the land, but Jake has taken care of it. The Black Hat Reservation didn’t win their case when laws were still in place, and Jeremiah has no plans on giving up the land now.
Tension is high on the ranch. People are scared and mourning the dead. It’s during this time that a leader can rise — but Jeremiah is not that leader. Although he’s a founding father of the Broke Jaw Ranch, he’s struggling to hold it together. He returns to drinking and relies heavily on Jake to be who people turn to. The question is whether Jake is the right person for the job. Alicia thinks he could be the next leader of the ranch, but Troy feels differently.
Things at camp continue to crumble when Walker’s people set fires around the outside of the ranch. The flames don’t spread — after all, they want the land in one piece — but the fire does light a fire under the ranch survivors. Vernon, one of the other founding fathers, raids the pantry for his share of supplies and decides to leave with his family. He encourages others to do the same, and Jeremiah doesn’t stop him. Jeremiah looks to the bottom of a bottle to help drown out his problems, so Madison steps up to the plate. She knows that they’ll have to fight and that they’re weaker with every person who leaves. The challenge is convincing people to stay.
Troy tries to stop Vernon and his friend Mike from going, arguing that people died for them. It’s a moot point, though. Mike won’t look him in the eye and Vernon won’t get out of the car. Troy’s efforts only result in a family brawl. He strikes Jake in the face and Jeremiah punches Troy. Madison stops them from going any further, but by then the camp sees that the leadership is fractured.
This is where Madison really starts to channel her inner Rick Grimes. Knowing that she doesn’t have the power or respect at the ranch yet, Madison continues to mentally work on Troy. She tells him that it’s his job to stop people from making the same mistake of leaving the ranch. That triggers Troy to give one hell of a pep talk to his remaining militia. They need to be the example of what the Broke Jaw Ranch needs: order, discipline and a chain of command. They need to be the ones to make people feel safe. They need to be the ones to defend the ranch. After all, it’s all they have.
The next morning Jeremiah discovers one of Vernon’s horses at the ranch gate. Enlisting Madison and Nick’s help, the trio ventures out and discovers that Vernon’s RV had been driven off the road. The vehicle is covered in bullet holes and the entire family has turned. But Walker and the Black Hat Reservation are not responsible. They previously stole vehicles, weapons and boots — why would they leave that all behind this time? Jeremiah knows it was Troy, but Madison encourages him to lie to the others.
Madison returns to camp and gives a speech that would make Rick Grimes proud. She tells the survivors that Travis, the people at the outpost and now Vernon’s family, were all killed by Walker’s people.
“There is nothing out there,” she warns everyone. “If you leave, you’ll die.”
She continues that the Black Hat Reservation is not strong enough to force them off the ranch. They’re just trying to scare them — and succeeding.
“If we stay here together, we live,” she says.
Madison’s pep talk works. The others don’t know that Troy was really the one responsible for the death of Vernon’s family, and they’re all willing to stay put. But Nick’s afraid for his mother. He doesn’t blame her for lying to everyone, however, he is scared that she’s forgetting what Troy is capable of.
Madison knows exactly what she’s doing, though. She joins Troy at the fence where he immediately confesses to killing his friend Mike and the rest of his family.
“I didn’t go out there to do that, I swear,” he tells her. “He owed me.”
But Madison tells him that she doesn’t care why he did it. What she does care about is whether he can keep control.
“There is a fight coming and you have to save us,” she warns him. “Can you?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Troy answers.
The problem now is that Jake secretly left the compound to try to strike a deal with Walker — and Alicia went after him.
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