Move over Jeremiah, there's a new leader in town, and her name is Madison Clark!
On Fear the Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 6, news of a major threat spread through the community like wildfire. While many of the members of the ranch contemplated on leaving, Madison took charge and basically drew a line in the sand, showing everyone the harsh reality outside the ranch walls.
Madison, Troy, and company finally made their way back to the community safely, but not without incurring a nasty case of athlete's foot!
Luckily, that's all they received after their run-in with Walker. McCarthy, who was another founder of the ranch, wasn't as lucky though.
If it weren't for Madison's quick thinking on Fear the Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 5, Walker would have likely killed them all where they stood. Fortunately, Madison convinced Walker to let them leave to bring a message back to the ranch.
The message of course being: leave or die.
It was enlightening to learn that Walker's community is the Black Hat Reservation. From the sound of it, they likely have a good deal of resources at their disposal, so Madison is right to be very cautious of Walker and his people.
There's a fight coming. Everyone who leaves, leaves us weaker.Madison
Of course, Jeremiah continued his stubborn ways by taking Walker's words as an empty threat, which only came back to haunt him later. I can't fault Jeremiah for wanting to keep the potential threat of Walker a secret since mass panic is the last thing you want for a community.
Jeremiah immediately shut down Madison and Troy on even thinking about retaliation.
It's difficult for anyone to be open to a new way of doing something, when you've been set in your ways for so long.
But at the same time, these people need to know what they're up against.
Naturally, the news of McCarthy's death didn't sit well with many of the ranch's inhabitants. Vernon, another founder of the community, decided he and his family would be safer on the road.
Madison has become the voice of reason this season. While Jeremiah was willing to let Vernon and his family walk, Madison made complete sense in saying that if one of the founders feels the need to leave, what's keeping anyone else from following suit?
Troy wasn't having any of it though and wasn't about to let them just wander out. Thankfully, Jake and Jeremiah intervened before things could escalate.
When Jeremiah noticed that one of the animals Vernon's family left the ranch with had returned, something was obviously terribly wrong. The investigation led Jeremiah, Madison, and Nick to Vernon's bullet-riddled RV, seemingly deserted.
If we stay together, we live.Madison
Upon closer inspection, they found the entire Tremble family murdered, and shambling about as newly infected.
At first glance, it appeared as if Walker's men were behind this. Yet, something just wasn't adding up.
Why not take the animals, food, and vehicle? Walker's people are scavengers and easily obtained the boots and weapons from Troy's group last week.
That's because Walker wasn't behind it.
Kudos to Nick for figuring out that was, in fact, Troy who gunned down Vernon and his family. While it didn't surprise me that Troy killed the Tremble family, I was surprised he willingly came clean to Madison.
Troy has some degree of respect and apparent trust for Madison, and she appears to have found a way to manipulate Troy in return. Everyone seems loyal to the Ottos, and the militia seems willing to follow Troy.
Yet, no one is aware that Madison is the one pulling the strings.
It's the perfect setup for the Clark family. They're basically in total control of the ranch now with Troy as Madison's lap dog, and she will continue to exploit it.
I'm not entirely sure if Madison believes that Troy is a superior leader to Jake or if she is merely using that as a means to further gain his trust.
Based on what I have seen from both Troy and Jake, I'm inclined to see Troy as the better leader. That is a big 180 from my first impression of Troy's leadership on Fear the Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 1.
Sure, the guy is a bit touched, but he's shown that he is willing to do whatever is necessary to protect his people.
Jake, on the other hand, who I'm sure has the same intentions, feels going to Walker alone is the best route. If Jake doesn't end up getting himself killed, he will, at least, get captured. With that, Walker can easily use him as leverage against Jeremiah.
Either way, it doesn't bode too well for him.
Alicia also seems to be developing some feelings for Jake, since she strongly urged against him going on what she believes to be a suicide mission.
Madison hit the nail on the head when she stated that the people at the ranch have been sheltered. They really have no idea what it's like beyond the confines of the ranch walls.
Her ultimatum was also made crystal clear: If you stay, you live. If you leave, you die.
Seeing the remains of the Tremble family on the flatbed, was all that the rest of the people needed to see to realize that leaving is not an option.
That, along with a little bending of the truth.
I do believe it was the right call for Madison to use the Tremble family as an example of what's waiting for the rest of them out there. I also agree that it was the right choice for Madison to lie to them about Walker being responsible.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and keeping the rest of the people from leaving is a top priority. Sometimes, you have to go the extreme route of fabrication to keep others safe.
How do you tell a lie that big, and sleep at night? How do you do that?Nick
After a rather dull installment, things were kicked up a notch this week. The point was driven home that Madison is clearly the one in charge now, and the best part about it is that no one even realizes it! Since Jeremiah has fallen off the wagon, the ranch needs a strong leader now more than ever.
Granted, as strong as Madison has become, her family is still her weakness. It was evident by her hesitation to put down the infected Gretchen simply because of her similarity in age to Alicia.
There is indeed a fight coming. Let's just hope Madison can whip these people into shape before it hits.
What did you think of "Red Dirt"? Do you agree with Jake's decision to try and talk things over with Walker by himself? Do you side with Jake or Troy's method of leadership? Was Madison right to lie to the community about who killed Vernon and his family?
Sound off below and let me know what you thought of the episode.
Fear the Walking Dead Returns Sunday, July 2 at 9/8c on AMC.
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Steven Ford is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.