Spoilers below for Fear the Walking Dead’s midseason premiere, so be warned if you haven’t yet watched!
While few steadfast Fear the Walking Dead viewers would likely argue against the idea that the show has under-utilized star Alycia Debnam-Carey in recent years, the AMC drama is thankfully (I think?) giving her character Alicia some outside-the-box storytelling when she’s around. The Season 7 spring premiere put viewers directly inside Alicia’s sweat-covered head and into her memories for some of its runtime, adding to the Padre mystery of it all. Along with introducing the unfortunately short-lived character Paul, the episode also continued its potential adjustment of canonical science regarding the walker-turning process. (Unless that all turns out to be speculative window-dressing, I guess.)
While “Follow Me” didn’t necessarily shake things up too much regarding Alicia’s survival status, it did drive home just how feverish and close to the edge of death she seemingly got before she broke through to the other side. Even though it was more akin to going too far to one side of a Pac-Man level and coming back around cyclically to the other side. And now Alicia is listening to her own voice in pursuit of becoming a self-fulfilling Padre prophecy, in the hopes of leading others to Season 7’s “save haven” in the Tower, but while still seemingly suffering long-haul walker flu. By the end, I truly wondered if Paul was just a hallucination, and I’m not entirely convinced he wasn’t.
When Alycia Debnam-Carey and other Fear the Walking Dead stars spoke with press including CinemaBlend ahead of Episode 709’s debut, I asked what insights she could give into her character defying the odds and surviving everything she’s suffered in the past season or so. Understandably, the actress had to play it safe by keeping things vague, but still maintained the idea that there’s something mysterious going on with Alicia. In her words:
My first speculation-driven instinct regarding this situation is to think that the show is setting up some kind of quasi-immunity built up within Alicia’s blood that would connect back to her mother Madison Clark, what with Kim Dickens returning at some point in the back half of the season. Of course, our first look at Madison’s return didn’t seem to reveal any amputated body parts that would explain how she survived her presumed flaming ballpark death in Season 4 in ways that make this theorizing easier.
Even if it’s not something directly connected to Madison, it’s still a point of interest, and among the many questions that it has inspired, I have to wonder if hallucinatory dreaming is meant to be part of walkers’ headspaces. In any case, Alycia Debnam-Carey continued, saying:
With the assumption that Fear the Walking Dead has a gameplan in mind for how Alicia’s story will play out by way of her being potentially long-term infected, and whether replicating that could be humanity’s first big step in putting a stop to — or at least an obstacle in front of — walker-dom being the only outcome from being bitten.
Of course, “Follow Me” may have offered another clue by way of Arno’s survival at the episode’s end, which also revealed that massive and uninviting pit of sun-soaked, radioactive walkers. The way Arno’s hand looked, it appeared as if he suffered a bite at Paul’s house or in the aftermath, and while he expressed a need to get it taken care of before certain death, I’m fairly certain he should have lopped that hand off immediately if it was in fact wounded by a walker’s mouthy attack. Maybe they’ll say he was hurt in another way that had nothing to do with the zombie that launched on him when he shot Paul. Or maybe Arno and Alicia share something in common by way of prolonged survival in the face of zombified infections.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond did introduce the idea that there are indeed people out there readily working on a way to cure the threat of walkers and the like, even if nothing was so overwhelmingly successful on their end. So it makes as much sense as anything for Fear the Walking Dead to crack open a potential breakthrough simply by having Alicia Clark live long enough to be the hero. Too bad Al isn’t around anymore to document her progress, or else we might know what’s happening every time she passes out in the middle of the road.
We’ll have to wait for next week’s episode to see John Sr. and June back in action together, while likely not learning a whole lot more about Alicia’s current situation. But be sure to tune in to AMC every Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. to see what’ll happen next. And check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what other new and returning shows are popping up soon!