Who knew hostage situations could be the best thing to ever happen to our various groups of survivors?
Finally, "Fear the Walking Dead" was ready to provide some answers as two vastly different storylines found resolution through the same shocking, yet simple methodology: communication.
It's shocking how challenging that can be in a world where it seems everyone is just awful, out only for themselves, and willing to kill or do worse to just about anyone for no real reason at all.
That's the problem Victor has been facing in trying to convince Daniel that he is a changed man, and that's the problem Morgan and his group of survivors have been dealing with in trying to get that trio of kids to trust them, or really make any sense of the world they live in.
"TWD" universe is a shoot-first-ask-questions-never kind of place, which is why it took three bizarre hostage-like situations to create the opportunity to actually take a beat and listen.
It's also interesting that it's children who were instrumental in each case in mitigating the possibility of violence. They tend to bring out the best in wary adults, and their own nature tends to be decidedly more optimistic, no matter the circumstances. Or maybe the word is hopeful, even in a world with so little.
Daniel and Charlie
For Daniel, he was consumed by a blind mistrust for Victor. It was well-earned, but he was not allowing for the passage of time and life experiences to have changed Victor for the better. Instead, when Charlie snuck into his car as part of the gang's ill-fated attempt to steal the plane they needed from Daniel, it created a unique opportunity.
When first she arrived, Danield told her, Victor and himself that he would be doing a favor by saving her from Victor. But then he started talking to her, getting to know her and see what kind of a person she was. And she advocated for Victor and their genuine need for the plane.
It didn't take long for Daniel to fall for Charlie -- though it could be because she maybe reminded him of his own daughter -- and so he changed his heart completely. Not only that, he was ready to sacrifice himself to save her and the rest of the gang by proxy by leading a herd away from his warehouse.
This created an opportunity for Victor to do the right thing -- again at Charlie's insistence -- and since he is a changed man from the one Daniel knew, there was no hesitation. Doing so even cost them the very plane they were hoping to use to save the rest of their friends. But if their group mission is to help people, then they can count this as a rare victory.
Can we take a moment to appreciate that "The Walking Dead" franchise continues to try and come up with unique and interesting takes on the living dead?
Already this season, we've seen irradiated walkers and walker walls made by tying their intestines together (gross!). And we've seen John do a trick shot where he killed two walkers by literally splitting a bullet with an ax. Sure, that one was a little ridiculous, but it was nothing to Victor's ultimate solution to save Daniel.
When Al's machine gun armored tank malfunctioned, Daniel was trapped under the vehicle (though he could have just crawled out the other side and kept going). Instead, though, Victor lured the walkers around the vehicle and then straight into the propellers of the very plane he was looking to fly. It was blood and guts and instant obliteration as they quite literally walked to their deaths.
Luciana and Dylan
Meanwhile, in the danger zone -- or so we're calling the bizarro land Alicia, Morgan and the rest found themselves in -- Dylan took on the role of Charlie, only it was himself and his own siblings he had to convince.
As part of the kids' plan to get these newcomers to just leave, Dylan pretended his siblings were dead and infiltrated the group. What he learned was that their not as bad as Annie thought and they were genuine in that they really were just trying to find Al so they could leave, and they were genuine in wanting to help the kids as well.
Dylan first stuck to the plan and lied to Morgan and Alicia, but after Max and Annie got themselves into some trouble, he confessed the truth and sent the pair to try and rescue them instead. It was another remarkably fast turnaround facilitated by the simplest of things ... time and communication.
Both are extremely risky in this world, and that's why it only worked because both Dylan and Daniel were put into situations where they had no choice in either situation. The time was there due to the circumstances, and listening was a byproduct of that.
That's not to say it always works, as time and trust has revealed plenty of bad people across this and the parent series, but never giving time or communication guarantees the worst possible outcome.
It also leads to isolation and loneliness, the very thing our gang is battling. It was Charlie who made this point for Daniel after he said it was hard to find people, reminding him that a person showed up at his doorstep looking for help. Daniel had just forgotten how to open that door.
The sames goes for Annie, Max and Daniel. After everything they've gone through, they refuse to trust in the goodness of anyone. They essentially hide from everyone they encounter, as we saw tonight with the environment-suited person, run away or turn to violence. It's understandable, but it's the same battle Rick Grimes battled within himself, as did Morgan and even Alicia, Luciana and Victor when we reconnected with them last season.
It's too easy to become the villain in the story when you harden your heart and your soul to others. It's safer that way, sure, but it's also a darker path to be on and not one with any fulfillment or happiness on it. Again, something that seems to be easier for kids to see, as evidenced this week.
Hell, it was Dylan who suggested to Luciana that Victor's failure to secure a working plan did not mean they needed to give up. They had the plane they arrived in, so why not at least see if it could be fixed and they could leave that way? But as October wastes away, they'd better hurry up as they don't want to be trying to cross the mountains in the winter by plane or car or foot.
Annie and Dylan
Morgan and Alicia, after being redirected by Dylan, were able to save Max and Annie, only to find themselves surrounded by a whole posse of children, armed and ready to take them down. Why? Because Annie doesn't trust them and refuses to believe them.
But she has been shut down from communications. She refused to engage with them honestly before, assuming they were lying to her. And so she lied to them in turn and now was ready to kill them because she couldn't believe they would want to help.
In this case, as the eldest sibling and leader of the child tribe, Annie was acting as the adult, with all the cynicism and doubt and general pessimism that comes with the territory. And in this case, it was her younger brother Dylan, with an assist from the also-younger Max, who convinced her to at least give them a chance.
It helps that both Morgan and Alicia have been where Annie is, finding it easier to just kill anyone in your path just in case they turn out to be the enemy. Better safe than sorry just means sorry in the end. And so they are genuine in wanting to help her see that there is another way.
Finally, the kids relent and suddenly we have so much more clarity as to what is going on in this part of the world.
Who's What Where Now?
Last week, we broke down just how confused we were by all the different factions and their motivations in this strange new land. Now we have some understanding of what all is going on and we at least know about most of the players.
Alicia, Althea, Luciana, John, June, and Morgan crash-landed here in an attempt to offer aid, only to find they were tricked into leaving their safehouse, which has now been taken over by Logan. We know their motivation is just to help ... really whoever might need it.
Grace is wandering around by herself, dispatching irradiated walkers out of guilt that the water treatment plant she ran proved her workers' doom, rather than their salvation. Her motivations are simply to take care of all of her workers before she dies from her own exposure. She seems to have no affiliation with anyone else there.
Annie, Dyland and Max represent a larger group of children, who are tragically the children of the parents found dead at the sleepaway camp in a previous episode. We don't know yet how their parents died or how none of them did, but they at least appear to have no allegiance to anyone but themselves Also, it's not entirely clear why they're making the walker-barrier perimeter or what they're hiding at the center of it.
The A helicopter from "The Walking Dead" -- or one just like it -- made a return appearance this week, solidifying the connection between the people who whisked Rick and Jadis away and the three-circle militia group that abducted Al in the season premiere of "Fear."
So What's Next?
With Dylan's suggestion that they just fix their own plan, it seems that the "away team" now has three different objectives. They need to fix their plane to escape this hellhole. They need to rescue Al and maybe learn whatever they can about the helicopter people. And Dwight, John and June, who were absent from this week's proceedings, need to satisfy Dwight's quest to find his wife ... or at least satisfy that she's not here.
As for the "home team," they seem to have a couple of objectives of their own. Presumably, they'll begin the search for another plane or another way to save their friends on the other side of the mountain. Alternately, if they are satisfied that the "away team" is going to solve their own problem by fixing their plane, the "home team" might decide to go get their home back.
At the same time, it would be disappointing for this to be farewell again for Daniel Salazar. He left the group to take care of some unfinished business, leaving them the warehouse and his cat in Charlie's care. That seems a rather final farewell, but hopefully his story isn't done. Maybe we'll follow along on his adventure, too.
Next week, it looks like it might be a solo Al adventure, which could either be a flashback of her story before we met her or a look at what's happened to her this season since she got abducted. Either are possible, based on the clips we saw, or perhaps even both. She's an interestingly mysterious character, with her almost stoic persona and passion for stories, so hopefully it offers some insight into who she is.
Let the fragmenting of characters and storylines continue, only be careful you don't take it too far, "Fear," as that's part of what made the parent series drag in its off seasons and lose viewers.
"Fear the Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.