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Fear the Walking Dead 3.06 Review – ‘Red Dirt’

July 2, 2017 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
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Fear the Walking Dead 3.06 Review – ‘Red Dirt’  

This week on Fear the Walking Dead, every member of the Clark family is choosing a different member of the Otto family for their choice of leader and seeing who comes out on top while Broke Jaw Ranch tries to figure out what to do about the threat of Walker and the Native Americans. And we also learned that leaving Broke Jaw Ranch can have serious consequences.

The plot! When the scouting group from last week returns and informs everyone what happened, they not only heal from their shredded feet very quickly, they cause fear to spread quickly in the ranch. So much so that the Trimbols, a founding family, are packing it in and getting out of dodge. No one’s happy about it–Mike has been one of Troy’s friends for years, Vernon founded this place with Jeremiah, and Gretchen was a nice girl who was generally well-liked. Alicia tries to convince Jake to step up and be the person everyone looks to for leadership, Madison aims to help Troy achieve the self-control he needs to become that person, and Nick just tries to help Otto deal with his losses and cover up his falling off the bandwagon. When Troy goes rogue and ends up killing the Trimbols for leaving, Madison makes the decision to spin the whole thing as being the doing of Walker and his people in order to keep anyone else from leaving the ranch. Nick backs her play but tells her to not forget who Troy is, while Troy affirms to her that he’s ready to take control and lead. Meanwhile, Jake still clings to the old ways and heads off on his own to talk sense into Walker, and Alicia packs up to follow him so he doesn’t get himself killed.

I made the observation that last week felt like a ‘Part 1 of 2’ and lacked conclusion to the plots it set up, and I’m glad to say that this week solidly concluded them (with the exception of Daniel and Strand, whom we didn’t see at all). The arcs of all the characters are the ranch came to a good ending point, for now, and I like how they’ve all landed in the end. The way that each Clark has paired with a member of the Otto family, and not necessarily the ones you would have anticipated, is an interesting choice and one that works well for the story telling. None of them are ‘obvious’ choices, with perhaps the exception of Alicia and Jake, but they all make sense.

Madison has continued to back the dark horse in Troy, and also continued her well-crafted manipulations. But now she’s not only aiming to control Troy himself, but also the ranch at large. When she sees Jeremiah falling apart and refusing to make a stand, she quickly realizes that she needs to make sure as many people stay here as possible; the more people they have, the safer it is. For a while, in fact, I was starting to wonder if Madison was the one who went out and killed the Trimbol family, and she was letting everyone else think it was either Troy or Walker because that was her plan all along and it suited her purposes. But it turns out it was Troy after all. It’s an important reminder after his impressive and charismatic moment in the armory of commanding his ‘soldiers’ that Troy is not just a young man with strong emotions or even one who just needs a firm guiding hand. He is troubled in a very serious psychological way; he killed a lifelong friend and that friend’s enter family and shows remarkably little remorse for it. Sure, he admits he didn’t intend to do it, that things got out of control and then it just happened, but he says that with the same amount of remorse as you might allow for having posted something that was a dash too TMI on Facebook while tipsy. Madison’s stern reminder that he needs to rein it in gets an affirmative response, a soldier’s response, but Nick’s warning that she should not forget what Troy is comes to mind. Is Madison playing with dynamite and relying on her guidance counselor know-how a little too heavily, and will that get her (and others) into trouble?

Meanwhile, Alicia and Jake’s relationship becomes more interesting, which I was really hoping it would. Jake is so determined to try and hold onto a sense of law and order that he’s gathering up papers and deeds and whatnot before going off to find Walker and talk with him, thanks in part to Alicia talking him into stepping up. Naturally, as with any Lawful Good Paladin in the apocalypse, Jake manages to take this the wrong way and seek to end their external conflicts this way rather than stepping up inside the camp, which is what she was getting at. His efforts and ideals are admirable, certainly, and it makes sense that this is what he would fall back on. Not only did he handle such matters before the apocalypse, but he was raised as the sensible son on a ranch populated by doomsday preppers who believed that it was the government which wold fail them, not biology and then society as a whole. Jake has already stressed that he feels humanity needs more to live for than just survival itself; he’s the kind of person who could be helpful later on in this world, when societies are starting to reaffirm themselves, but here and now, his idealism is misplaced. But with Alicia heading off after him, will she stop him before he tries too hard to work diplomacy where that approach has become obsolete? Or will his efforts surprise us all and be more effective than anticipated?

Finally, there’s Jeremiah and Nick. This situation feels mostly like kindred spirits with a healthy dash of damage control. Jeremiah has been beaten down by loss and abandonment, so much so that he breaks his sobriety and hits the bottle. Nick knows well, of course, what it’s like to go back to one’s addictions in a weak moment, and no doubt he’s lost friends to both death and other paths in his life, considering. Jeremiah’s weakness is more about the vacuum in leadership it creates and the space that either (or both) of his sons could step into than, though, but for Nick, he’s being his most interesting self. He’s not being the addict, he’s not being untrue to himself, he’s not being annoyingly obtuse or inexplicably wise. He’s being observant, smart, and a survivor: he plays the situations well, staying out of the spotlight but helping to determine where it shines, learning more about the people around him and what makes them tick. He surprises his mother by saying outright he’ll back her lie about Walker having killed the Trimbols even though they both know it had to have been Troy, but he’s the one who reminds her to not forget who and what Troy is. Since it looks like Madison may be doing exactly that, I am curious to see how things play out. I don’t doubt that Nick will protect his mother and sister above anyone else–and he does have a gun now–but will the situation require him to do so?

All told, I very much enjoyed this episode. The beats of the plot were good, the arcs had conclusions, the action and story moved forward, and everything’s in an interesting position for going into the mid-season finale. What did you think of the episode? Where do you think will end up next week? Which member of the Otto family would you back?

Other Thoughts:
– Too bad we lost both Gretchen and Mike, I liked them and was interested in seeing if Mike witnessing Troy’s aborted attack on Madison would have any repercussions.
– “The rhythm method is bullshit, I told you that, right?” “Yes, when I was thirteen, I thought you were talking about a band.” LOL
– Those wounded soldiers seriously did a lot of walking for people whose feet were supposedly torn up and bloody. Wounds really have a way of not being all that important or lasting on this show.
– Once again, Madison hesitated in shooting an Infected when it was someone she knew. Once again, this didn’t endanger anyone, but I’m starting to suspect that at some point it will. Or that someone will take advantage of this.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
With a more satisfying conclusion than last week, 'Red Dirt' brought closure to the plots and questions asked then, showing us how the bonds between the various members of the Clarks and Ottos were affecting the ranch and the people there. Alicia and Jake's relationship stopped being boring and finally has some stakes, Madison's full backing of Troy as a leader in Jeremiah's stead is a risk that could yet pay off or go very poorly, and Nick is more or less Jeremiah's sponsor while staying just uninvolved enough in the power moves taking place.