‘Fear The Walking Dead’: Nick’s Drug Habit Gets Him Taken Away By The Army

The army might be keeping their neighborhood safe, but is there a hidden agenda? Madison and Travis seem to have different opinions on their newfound 'safe haven' on the latest episode of 'Fear The Walking Dead.' On the Sept. 20 episode of Fear The Walking Dead, Travis (Cliff Curtis) is making friends with the army officers while Madison (Kim Dickens) is convinced that they are hiding information from the survivors. Things get interesting when a mysterious doctor shows up in the neighborhood, and it doesn't take long for Nick's (Frank Dillane) drug addiction to tear the family apart.

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Image Credit: Courtesy of AMC

The opening scene of this particular episode is bizarre, because as Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” plays in the background we see our family doing the most normal things. Nick is floating in the pool, Travis is out for a run and waving to neighbors on their lawns. If things kept up like this you would never know they were all living in the beginning stages of a zombie apocalypse. Thankfully, we are quickly reminded of the truth when we see Griselda’s bloody ankle being treated by her daughter Ofelia as Daniel watches Travis running from the bedroom window.

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Next we see Chris on the roof of the house filming the neighborhood with his camera. He narrates his own footage, letting us know what we’ve missed since “the calvary” arrived at the end of episode 3. More or less, the army put a fence up around their small neighborhood and Chris has been watching as houses burn in the middle of the night around them. Each house has been spray painted with some weird codes, just like we saw in episode 3, and the army hasn’t exactly explained what the codes mean.

As Chris continues to tell us that rumors have spread through their neighborhood about people packing up their cars and heading east for safety, the camera pans out on Travis running near the fence. We see memorials have been set up around the fence in honor of the people who were killed either by the disease or the army, and there are armed men outside of the fence that is keeping them all locked in. Are they able to leave when they want to?

“It’s safe inside the fence,” Chris tells us, sounding very sure of himself. “Outside? Everything’s dead. Everyone’s gone. This is day nine.”

We also get a better idea of how the army has taken complete and total control of these people’s lives. The fence around the neighborhood is motorized, though it’s unclear how they have power to open and close it. A large truck arrives and Chris tells the camera it’s “feeding time” just as people come out of their homes and follow the truck down the street. It’s a really bizarre scenario, but it has to be better than being outside the fence, right? I don’t know, I’m skeptical, and it seems like Chris is, too.

Just as Chris is about to end his video diary for the night he spots a house in the distance — miles and miles from their safe zone — where a light is flashing in a window. If everyone’s dead, who is sending light signals from the other side of Los Angeles? Hmm.

Madison Gets Cabin Fever From Being On Lockdown

Tension inside the Clark home is high. Madison seems restless, telling Alicia they need to paint a room inside the house again, and the angsty teen girl reminds her mom that the market isn’t exactly thriving right now. When Travis returns home he can see Madison is in a mood, and it might have something to do with the fact that the power hasn’t been turned on for the day yet. Apparently, the army allots the neighborhood power for a few hours each day. How generous.

Madison goes off on Travis to remind him that she’s doing everything she can to keep their “refugee camp” of a home together, and that she’s doing it alone. She also makes sure to get a nasty slip in there about his ex-wife, Eliza, disappearing every day instead of helping around the house. I can see Madison’s point, but Eliza is also a nurse… who can help people around the neighborhood if needed. Plus, Travis has apparently been playing nice-nice with the army guys instead of hanging out at home. Before the fight can continue Alicia starts yelling at them to stop because they are not just a normal couple having a normal argument in a normal kitchen. Their lives are over, and Alicia is brave for admitting that out loud.

After the fight, Travis heads to the roof to talk to his son, Chris, who is using a mirror and the sunlight to communicate with the flashing light across town. When Chris shows Travis the footage he brushes it off and instead makes his son go help his girlfriend around the house.

Meanwhile, Nick is still supposedly going through his withdrawals, and when Madison finds his painkiller abandoned on the kitchen counter she’s surprised. She’s even more surprised when he doesn’t want to take it, and even though he seems in a good mood as he swims around the pool, something’s off. It was only an episode or two ago he was in so much pain he had a seizure, and as you might remember at the end of episode three he was scoping out his neighbor homes and trying to break in through the window. How Madison hasn’t figured out that her son is definitely high on something other than the painkillers she was giving him is beyond me. Denial, much?

Travis Helps A Troubled Neighbor

Somewhere else in the neighborhood Travis, Ofelia, and Alicia watch as one of the army guys makes an announcement to share that they are officially “infection free” for a six mile radius. We also find out there are at least 12 safe zones in the area just like this one, but no real details are given. The officer also ignores questions from the people, including ones about getting medicine to loved ones, getting the phone lines back up, and when they can have their power back 24/7. Even worse? At the end of his speech he tells them to behave or he’ll have to shoot them. Um, awkward.

On a side note, Ofelia and one of the officers are heavily, heavily flirting and giggling at each other when she and Alicia go to pick up their boxes. There’s hope for the single people of the apocalypse after all!

Things get even weirder when the officer asks Travis to help him get a neighbor he barely knows to let the army clean sweep the house. They must be doing this often to make sure there are no infected people anywhere, and now this guy, Doug, is refusing to let them in his house. Travis is hesitant to go inside and talk to him because their relationship is barely existent, but when the officer says he’ll have to “put [Doug] down”  he finally caves.

Inside the home things seem… well, less than normal. The wife is terrified, the kids are wearing surgeon masks and plastic ponchos, and Doug is hiding in the bedroom bathroom crying about the world’s end. He tells Travis he’s losing his mind because his kids keep asking him questions about what’s going on and he doesn’t have any answers. Somehow Travis reminds him that he’s just got to tell them that everything is going to be okay no matter what. Neither one of them seem to believe it, but eventually Doug is feeling much better and allows the army to come in and check on him. Was this foreshadowing something worse, or are we just seeing the contrast between how Travis feels about everything going on as opposed to the rest of the world?

For whatever reason, Alicia decides to break into her dead neighbor Susan’s house while everyone else is distracted. Inside she finds Susan’s suicide note, and even though we don’t know what it says it’s obviously hard for Alicia to take. Susan was her babysitter, after all, and the last time she saw her she was getting her head blown off by the army.

Chris Sparks Curiosity In Madison

Back at the Clark house, Chris shows the video of the flashing light to Madison, and at first she seems uninterested. When he tells her he also showed his dad and that he didn’t really care she agrees saying it could be a piece of metal or something. Chris tells her that’s not true, that there’s someone out there who needs their help, and he finally grasps Madison’s attention. It seems like Travis is in severe denial, and everyone else is starting to realize that things are not as great as they seem.

Oh, and we finally find out Nick’s secret: he breaks into the old couple’s house next door and sticks the morphine IV into his foot while the man who actually needs it is sleeping. Once a junkie, always a junkie.

We also find out that Ofelia and her soldier friend are more than just flirtatious with one another. He ignores a call on the walkie while making out with her in the back of his truck, and things get incredibly hot and heavy for a moment until Ofelia puts the brakes on them. They barely know each other, but they like each other, and being cooped up for over a week with nothing to do usually leads to trouble. However, when Ofelia asks him about the medicine she needs for her mom, he gets really frustrated and angry very quickly. Is she using him? Or does he know something she doesn’t?

Nightfall lands, and we learn almost immediately that Ofelia isn’t the only one getting hot and heavy with someone. Travis and Madison finish up a round of “make up sex” in the car, but she becomes upset and distant as soon as it’s over. Madison tells Travis that she’s upset about there not being any news from anywhere, that she heard about quarantine camps somewhere, but Travis doesn’t care about any of that. He wants to know why she is constantly going and keeping herself busy, why she never relaxes. Madison tells Travis that he needs to pay less attention to the army and more to his son, Chris, and then she also brings up the tape. Travis reminds her that there really isn’t anything they can do, and she responds angrily that it’s the army’s job to save whoever that person is. They promised them power, medicine, information, and they’ve gotten none of it, according to Madison, who is clearly starting to feel the effects of being locked behind a fence for nine days.

“Maybe they don’t want the phones to work,” Madison tells Travis after reminding him how bizarre it is that no one can get a land line or a cell tower to work. Before they can continue the conversation the wife of the neighbor Travis had to speak to earlier is banging on their garage door. Her husband is missing, and he took his car with him. Uh oh.

A Neighbor Mysteriously Goes Missing

The next morning Madison sits on the roof flashing her flashlight in the direction of the light Chris saw the day before. At the same time, Travis walks the fence around their neighborhood looking for Doug. He finds his car abandoned in a field against the fence, and in the background you can hear what sounds like the faintest scream. It could be a rooster, it could be a horse or a bird, but it definitely sounds like a scream. It’s unclear if Travis hears it or not. That’s when Madison sees the light that Chris saw with her very own eyes.

Later in the morning Travis approaches the army sergeant about Doug, and he finds out that they picked him up in the middle of the night. They found him crying in his muscle car so they removed him from the safe zone and sent him back to headquarters. I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds like “we killed him and you’ll never see him again.”

Travis seems more upset that they didn’t tell Doug’s wife where he was, but the sergeant tells him that’s not their job. Before Travis goes to do it for them he tells them about the light, but the sergeant says it’s “impossible.” He tells him they went from house to house and that there is no one out there. We all know he’s lying… but why?

The lies continue when Eliza finds out the elderly man  she was helping take care of (aka the one Nick was stealing morphine from) was taken out of the house by a woman named Dr. Exner. This woman literally appeared out of thin air and took Hector away… but to where? Dr. Exner and Eliza sit in another room to “talk privately” about Hector’s condition, and that’s when we find out Eliza is not really a nurse. Like, at all. She lied so that Hector’s wife would trust her and she could keep her husband alive. Thank goodness it worked!

While that’s happening we watch as Madison goes completely rogue. With a pair of wire cutters in hand she sneaks through the neighborhood to find an isolated place to cut through the fence, then heads out into the city unarmed and completely unaware. The streets are dead and bare, with no signs of life anywhere. She passes a massive memorial that almost stops her in her tracks, but thankfully she’s smart enough to keep going. A few blocks away she stumbles onto a street where she finds that people — likely walkers — have been shot, killed, and left to rot in the street. It’s definitely not a sight for the faint of heart, and she makes it very obvious that the smell alone has completely caught her off guard.

Before she can explore the situation any further she hears the faint sound of a walkie talkie coming towards her. She hides underneath a truck where a woman’s body is rotting just inches from her face, and a few army officers on foot come down the road wearing gas masks. They survey the area without looking too hard and then continue on their way without even realizing that Madison is under the car.

Is Dr. Exner Really There To Help Everyone?

Back in the safe zone Eliza is taking Dr. Exner through the neighborhood to everyone she’s been helping treat. First Griselda, whose foot/ankle injury is now infected and needs surgery, and then Nick. Nick is pretty pissed that Eliza outed him to the doctor as a junkie, but he’s also still trying to play off the fact that he is no longer a drug addict. Dr. Exner is not an idiot though, and she notices that Nick’s heart rate changes when he overhears the elderly man he’s been stealing drugs from has been taken out of the safe zone.

Madison finally returns home to find Daniel in the living room, and he immediately knows that something is up. He asks her what she saw while she was out there and she tells him about the bodies, and how some of the people who had been shot weren’t even sick. That’s something I can admit I didn’t catch while I was watching earlier, so it’s pretty shocking to hear.

Daniel tells her that “if it happens, it will happen quickly.” Madison seems to understand what he means, but not quite, and he just tells her to keep her son close. He also asks her to care for Ofelia in case he and Griselda never return, which means he thinks the same thing I do: there is no headquarters or facility. There is only death by paranoid army dudes. Daniel might be the smartest person on this show.

After her chat with Daniel, Madison goes on a walk through the neighborhood, likely to hope she can forget what she saw earlier that day. It’s during that walk she notices that the gate to Hector’s house is open, and when she goes inside to check it out she finds Nick rummaging through the old man’s belongings in hopes of finding some more morphine. “What do you want me to say?” he asks her, and in return he gets slapped in the face. Again. And again. Until he’s curled up in a ball on the floor and his mother has to pick him up by his collar to slap him again. When Madison walks out of the room, Nick is left sitting on the floor stunned at what he just experienced. Madison finally lost it on him, and rightfully so.

Nick Finds Himself In Serious Trouble With The Army

Then, things really take a turn for the worse. The army shows up at the Clark house that night to take Griselda, and when Daniel tries to go with her they refuse to let him leave the house. Instead they say they are taking Nick, and when Alicia realizes what’s happening she tells her brother to run. Unfortunately he doesn’t make it very far because they catch him in the living room, tie up his wrists, and drag him out of the house while other army officers point guns at Madison, Chris, Daniel, and everyone else in the home. Travis stands in front of his son and tells them to stop, but it’s not until Griselda and Nick are packed away on a truck that they finally leave. No one even gets to say goodbye, and even Eliza begs Dr. Exner to leave Nick behind because he’s not a risk. It doesn’t work.

Instead Dr. Exner somehow convinces Eliza to leave her son, Chris, behind and join her at the hospital where she is allegedly needed. I’m still skeptical about this hospital, and I’m definitely skeptical when they say they will “come back to get” Chris later on. Why not just take everyone now? It doesn’t make any sense.

As the episode draws to a close we hear Alicia’s voice reading Susan’s suicide note. She tells her husband she’s sorry, that she loves him, but that what she witnessed the day she died wasn’t “unnatural” it was prophesied.

Alicia’s words continue as Travis sits on the roof stressing over what just happened, especially since Madison clearly blamed him for bringing Eliza there and allowing her to do this to them. But his attention is stolen immediately when he hears gunshots firing in the distance. The gunshots match perfectly with the quick flashes of light coming from the very same window Chris originally saw signals coming from. When Travis told the army officers about the signals, he basically signed a death certificate for whoever was sending them.

Tell us, HollywoodLifers — Do you think the army can be trusted? Will Madison be able to convince Travis they are bad news? Comment below with your thoughts!

— Lauren Cox