Ever since Madison Clark popped back up after most characters thought she was dead, I wondered how the series would handle her reunions with the people from her past.
Fear the Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 3 was a satisfying hour of this Walking Dead spinoff because it had a clear focus, many reunions, and significant shifts that will drive the final three episodes of the first half of Fear the Walking Dead Season 8.
We'll start with Madison and June. Kim Dickens and Jenna Elfman are two of the finest actors, and they managed to deliver the raw emotion required to make the pair crossing baths both believable and impactful.
If you watch Fear the Walking Dead online, you know Madison saved June's -- and everyone else's -- lives when she blew up the stadium with herself inside as a sacrifice.
Madison's fateful decision made a lasting impression on the lives of many of the others at the stadium because, truthfully, they would have perished without her intervention.
For that reason alone, no matter what Madison has done since the stadium shouldn't be looked at as a judge of her character.
She's been driven by her desire to survive in the post-apocalyptic world since, and while she's made some big mistakes while being a collector for PADRE, it's who she is now that matters.
Madison: You're part of this, too.
June: Not by choice.
Madison: You the one who had them drawing my blood all those years?
June: It wasn't me. I didn't even know you were alive, Madison, until Shrike just gave me your records.
Madison: What happens now?
June: I've done everything I can to put her off.
Madison: From what? What is she gonna do to me?
June: Shrike has ideas on how to heal Carrion bites. They're based on Alicia surviving a bite as long as she did.
June: And now she wants to test it. That's probably why she was collecting your blood. She thought maybe it was something besides the radiation, something hereditary.
Madison: Could she be right?
June: Anything's possible, but there's a... There's a boy who seems to be responding to the radiation, but it hasn't even been a week. If I don't do this, Shrike will, and your chances of it working are better with me.
Thankfully, June, Daniel (yes, that one!), and even Mo understand Madison's actions. It's hard not to worry about where Madison's arc is going, and I wouldn't put it past these showrunners to have her make the ultimate sacrifice again.
There's an element of intrigue with Madison because she was off the screen for so long, but it's clear she's still struggling to compute that both of her children are dead.
One thing I did pick up on when June said Nick and Alicia were unrecognizable after they thought she died: Did June ever see Nick again?
Everyone was split up again following the destruction of the stadium. Then again, maybe June wanted to give Madison solace when she needed it.
June being told to experiment on Madison wasn't surprising when considering how long Alicia survived after being bitten.
No matter how the writers frame Alicia's exit, it's hard to believe we didn't get concrete on-screen proof of her demise.
I've been wrestling with whether Fear would be allowed to give more context about the virus with several spinoffs on the horizon, but it seems we'll be taking a deep dive into the search for a cure in the final episodes.
Daniel: Seven years ago, Morgan told PADRE we were out there, and they found us and brought everyone to a ship to assess us before deciding where we were gonna be sent according to our skills and usefulness. Some people went to the mainland. Others went to the island. Others, I don't know where they went. PADRE thought that I was too old to be of any use, so they dumped me in the swamp.
Madison: Sorry, Daniel.
Daniel: Eh. He was right about one thing. I was old. But he wrong about everything else, because being old doesn't mean to be useless. I can take care of myself. So could everyone in the group. Except for Charlie.
Madison: What happened to Charlie?
Daniel: Morgan didn't mention it?
Madison: He didn't get a chance to tell me much before PADRE figured out what we were up to and separated us.
Daniel: She was very sick. She had become like a daughter to me by then. I said that I would stay with her till the end, so she wouldn't have to die alone, like Ofelia. And I broke my promise. I wasn't there for her. I wasn't there for Luciana, either.
Madison: I'm sorry it happened that way. I know Morgan would be too.
Daniel: I had no purpose. And then I found these folks, this angry, desperate group of people in search of their kidnapped children. It motivated me, gave me a reason to stick around. So I organized and trained them, turned them into an army. Strong, getting stronger, because there's more of them out there. I lost my family, Madison. But I'm gonna fight with everything I got to help these folks get back to theirs.
If the scientists on The Walking Dead: World Beyond didn't get a concrete cure by the end, it's hard to imagine June and her team developing a solution that will lead to many results.
We've spent countless hours in this universe, and any potential cure would be challenging to pull off unless we're approaching the end of the universe as a whole.
Finch looks fine despite being bitten and experimented on with radiation, which adds weight to the theory that radiation prevents the spread of the infection.
The unfortunate part is that -- at some point -- the radiation will be too much and probably kill Finch. If so, Dwight and Sherry will go after PADRE like never before.
Speaking of PADRE, I'm still not sold on them. Shrike desperately wants people to think she's cutthroat, but she should have killed Madison, June, and anyone who opposed her while she had them in her sights.
The flashbacks to the group's origins were exciting and helped flesh her out as a character, but she's not scary. There should be menacing villains at this stage in the game, and these two are not cutting it.
The series has some interesting ideas about PADRE, but if they are the big villains, then we need more. Perhaps whatever's on the docks will lead to some big answers.
Odessa could blossom into the big villain because she's driven by rage and her want for revenge. She doesn't understand why Madison did what she did, but her not understanding she was following PADRE's orders was more tedious than exciting.
This brings me to the resistance and Daniel being the "Commander." Daniel legitimately has nine lives at this stage, so he will pop back up when we least expect it.
Soldier: Our parents abandoned us. Diane: We didn't. We've been fighting this whole time.
This time, though, it's exciting that he's leading the scorned parents of children snatched by PADRE because he knows what it's like to lose a child.
Daniel's reunion with Madison and recognizing she's not the villain his people thought she was harkened back to their past.
They didn't always agree on decisions, but he understood that Madison wouldn't willingly kidnap children. His chat with Madison about the past was sad because it certainly hinted at people like Charlie, Luciana, and other MIA characters being dead.
Killing many characters off-screen is a slap in the face to the actors and fans, so hopefully we're being strung along, only for many of them to pop back up before the series is over.
The series is building towards a conclusion, and the only way it will be satisfying is if all of the MIA characters are accounted for during the final battle.
Another thing that came out of the left field: Why the heck does Madison think Morgan will be such a good leader?
He's resourceful, sure, but it feels like a contrived development to bring Morgan back to the forefront.
Over to you, Fear the Walking Dead fans.
What does Madison know about Morgan? The parents didn't want Madison to lead because she was a collector, but didn't Morgan have the same job?
What are your thoughts on the origins of PADRE, Fear the Walking Dead fans?
Are you buying the brother and sister as the final season's big villains?
What are your thoughts on the reunions?
Hit the comments below.
Fear the Walking Dead continues Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on X.