THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 614, “MOTHER”
In this week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead, Alicia is reminded of her mother, Dakota rages against the memory of her mother, and Teddy has just plain old mommy issues. While on an errand, Teddy and Alicia run into friends from her past. Teddy takes the opportunity to teach Alicia a lesson, and to cryptically explain his plan for the world.
In the first time in a long while, the show opens up with a flashback to before the pandemic. I think showing snippets of the fall of man is interesting, but it reminds me that the audience was robbed of a full scale collapse of civilization on the series. I always expected this show to focus on the madness of a city under siege from the undead, but it mostly skipped over that part. Though the show has come a long way since that first disappointing season, I’m still a little salty when reminded of what we missed out on.
But here we see Teddy Maddox on death row, cheerfully telling a doomed man on his way to the lethal injection table that “The End is the Beginning.” While Teddy stares lovingly at a photo of his mother and some clippings from his killing days as the Mortician, the sirens cannot be ignored. When all the cell doors open, it heralds the arrival of the new world. The world that Teddy wants. After a brief struggle with an undead guard, Teddy dispatches his first walker with a pencil.
“I was right. I just needed to be patient,” Teddy babbles as he talks about Revelation. Being right proves to be a theme of the episode. Teddy is a firm believer in fate and patterns. If Teddy was looking for a sign, a world ending apocalypse is kind of the mother lode. In more ways than one.
SCHOOLHOUSE OF NO ROCK
The indoctrination of Alicia has begun. Alicia is locked in a schoolhouse with an endless loop of Teddy preaching blaring over the intercom. This reminds me of middle school when the principal decided to blare motivational talk radio over the loudspeaker for 15 minutes one day a week. Fairly certain I looked like Alicia does here: straight up murder face.
Teddy’s preaching talks about the patterns of humans and how we are doomed to repeat them. Riley visits a couple times to see if Alicia wants to convert, but Alicia is as resistant as she always is to peer pressure. Teddy says he had hoped for Alicia to have a revelation in lockup like he had, but instead, Alicia has proved she is no Teddy. Teddy switches gears and invites Alicia to go with him on an errand while the compound moves to their new, unburned digs.
Riley objects, but Teddy manifests what has heretofore been purely metaphorical: he grabs Riley by the balls. Cowed, Riley agrees to leave Teddy alone with Alicia. When a group of new arrivals delivers Dakota to the door as Alicia is leaving, Teddy notices the animosity between Alicia and Dakota. Dakota admits that she had attempted to kill her own mother, but someone else had succeeded where she had failed. Excited to see a kindred spirit, Teddy invites Dakota along.
While Teddy steps away to chat with Riley, Dakota tells Alicia that she infiltrated the group in order to save Alicia. Alicia has zero interest in an assist from Faster Pussycat Kill Kill, so she tells Dakota that she does not trust her. Dakota claims she wants redemption, and she tells Alicia every morsel of info that she had picked up on since joining up. “There is no we here. There never will be,” Alicia stresses.
The errand takes the threesome near Madison’s destroyed stadium haven. Alicia asks Teddy if he had planned to take her to the place her mother’s dream had died along with her. With a smile, Teddy claims that fate has brought them in the vicinity of the stadium. Teddy says the reason for the coincidence will reveal itself.
The final destination of the trip is actually the final destination of Teddy’s mother. Teddy cracks open a mausoleum, and he kisses and affectionately strokes the decayed corpse inside. As Alicia manages to stifle any emotion on her face, Teddy explains that the remains of his mother are part of a new beginning. “When we are finished, all this will be gone,” Teddy says as he sweeps his arm in the direction of everything.
Once back in the truck, Teddy points out that all three occupants have lost their mothers. Teddy waxes philosophical about their need to break the patterns of the universe and yet they are all bonded by a common loss. To free himself from the pattern, Teddy says he had decided to “preserve everything I loved and destroy everything I didn’t.” Teddy claims the key will unleash a new future and break the patterns of man.
On the trip back, Teddy’s truck hits a board with nails in it. When Teddy, Alicia, and Dakota get out to radio for help, a man steps out onto the road. “Cole?” Alicia says in disbelief. Shocked, Cole explains that after Madison sacrificed herself, he had escaped with a few others from the stadium. Cole says that after they had been unable to find Alicia and Nick, they had given up. Alicia asks for help, and Cole offers to escort them to a nearby auto parts store for tires.
On the walk to the store, Dakota cozies up to Teddy and asks him questions. I suppose the questions are under the guise of gathering information for Alicia, but it is painfully obvious that Teddy has a new disciple. Dakota also talks briefly with Alicia, and she confirms that she has zero remorse for killing John Dorie. Dakota says she did not have a choice. This child has more in common with Teddy than anyone at the dam village, and I can probably count on my hands the number of minutes before she makes a heel turn on Alicia.
At this point, Cole’s reappearance is very suspect. Cole gently probes Alicia with questions about Teddy and his group. This situation feels like a test from Teddy for Alicia. We are left to wonder for a bit whether Cole is in on the test, but ultimately he does not know Teddy. Cole is unknowingly a large part of the test that Teddy runs. Teddy’s point for the whole excursion was to prove that none of the people that Madison had saved were alive.
Though Teddy was wrong about the stadium survivors, Teddy is positively giddy over the fact that the survivors they found have devolved into a band of savages. At the store, Cole’s group ambushes Teddy, Alicia, and Dakota. Teddy tells Alicia that most people do not break their patterns, and Cole’s group is proof of that. Pleased, Teddy notes that he wants to destroy the world to rid it of the patterns. Teddy tells Alicia that he wanted to show Alicia her mother’s legacy so that Alicia could realize her own potential.
Desperate for resources, Cole threatens to destroy the corpse of Teddy’s mother if Teddy doesn’t tell him where to find the fully stocked bunker. At this point, Teddy fesses up that the corpse isn’t his actual mother, and that the whole day was a way to prove his point about humanity to Alicia. Frustrated, Cole gives Alicia an ultimatum: join up or die with Teddy. Again, Alicia doesn’t do peer pressure, so she tells Cole to go to hell.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
The group puts Teddy, Alicia, and Dakota on their knees in the road, a sight that never bodes well for anyone involved. But all the commotion has kicked up the dead, and they quickly surround the group. Cole’s merry band of survivors go down quick, which really makes you wonder how they survived this long on their own.
After Alicia dispatches the dead with the help of Teddy and Dakota, she points a recovered gun at Cole. Alicia reminds Cole that Madison died so that he could have a second chance. “You were supposed to make it mean something, and you threw it all away,” Alicia growls. As Cole tells Alicia to let go of the past, Alicia shoots him between the eyes. Alicia turns to Teddy and tells him that he does not need to destroy everything to make a better world. “Just people like him,” Alicia says.
MAN ON A MISSION
Dakota tells Alicia that she wants to believe in something better. Fresh out of patience, Alicia tells Dakota that Dakota gave up any chance of something better because of her actions. Teddy argues that Alicia has let go of her past and in doing so, broken her patterns. When Alicia calls Teddy crazy, you can see by the look on his face that the word triggers him. Teddy tells Alicia the full story of how his mother had threatened to institutionalize him, and he had instead killed her and buried her in the yard. The thriving blooms of marigolds on her grave had given him the idea that people like his mother could thrive in a world without the patterns of people like him.
Alicia asks Teddy again about his plan, and this time he shares it. Teddy’s group found a beached submarine near Galveston and with the keys Teddy recovered from Morgan, he can launch a missile to destroy the world. With a grin, Teddy says, “Cole isn’t the only person to get rid of to make a better world.” With the information she needs, Alicia threatens to finally kill Teddy. As expected, Dakota intervenes. It seems Dakota has grown very fond of the idea of Teddy mentoring her second chance at life.
Teddy tells Dakota that he needs Alicia alive. With the small leverage she has, Alicia takes Teddy’s radio and reaches out to her group. Victor responds. Before Riley and his team arrive, Alicia communicates where to find the missile. It is interesting that in her short conversation with Victor that she asks if she can trust him. I know their recent history has been rocky, but I am a little surprised that Alicia would believe that Victor has teamed up with Teddy’s group. As a survivor, he is more than motivated to avoid a missile strike.
BUNKER RESORT & SPA
Riley escorts Teddy, Dakota, and Alicia to a resort that had a bunker built underneath it in the 1950’s for government bigwigs. Teddy asks Dakota to hang back outside while he shows the new bunker to Alicia.
Here is where things get a little complicated. Teddy talks about how he had expected Alicia to kill him, and he had wanted her to do so to prove his point. As Riley pushes Alicia down a hallway toward the bunker, Teddy explains that he wants Alicia to rebuild the world. Teddy says that when he went to prison, the world had not been suited for him. But this current world is suited to Teddy just fine. The repeated references through the day by Teddy to compare Alicia to his mother, underlines why he wants Alicia here. This world is not meant for someone like his mother or Alicia. So he wants Alicia to give hope to the people in the new world. Teddy is the end. Alicia is the beginning. Riley shoves Alicia into the bunker, and he seals the door.
Since this is the episode when Teddy reveals all, it is kind of required viewing. However, the end is a bit muddled. Frankly, I’m not even sure I translated Teddy’s lesson right. I think he is saying that he wants to annihilate all the bad people with a missile, but I am a bit surprised that Riley and his buddies don’t have a problem with this. Is it a death cult? Are they willing to sacrifice themselves to create a better world with the right people? Or is Riley just as confused as I was by Teddy’s explanation?
I will say it was nice to confirm that Dakota’s redemption arc is fully off the table. There is always the chance that she is still deep undercover, but I think that would be a bad idea. Sure it would be a twist, but not a good one. Dakota made it clear that she did not regret shooting John. Anyone that thinks John of all people had that death coming can not and should not be redeemed. Besides, although some children of the apocalypse have adjusted far better than adults, there will always be those that are like Lizzie or Dakota. That is what makes this world continue to be one of the more interesting dramas on TV.
ODDS & EGGS
- Teddy gives off a real Norman Bates vibe this episode, much like the episode title.
- The resort Appears to be named Franklin, like the city north of Houston.
- Teddy seems to have a death wish, but like many things, he is leaving that to fate.
- Still no explanation for what part the emabalmed walkers play in the plan. I’m wondering if Teddy says it is part of the plan, but it really is just because he loved his Mortician work so much and wants to relive his glory days.