Major spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched the Fear the Walking Dead midseason finale for Season 4.
For all the obvious changes happening on the screen in Fear the Walking Dead Season 4, perhaps the biggest came behind the scenes, with new showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg taking over for Dave Erickson. The shift was immediately obvious, with the first half of the new season jumping far beyond the events of the Season 3 finale to introduce a batch of new characters that all affected the lives of O.G. survivors Madison, Alicia and the rest. (Well, some of the rest.) And while I was impressed overall with so many of these installments' positive qualities, quite a few questions remained when the dust finally settled on the midseason finale.
Some of these inquiries are balanced and from a relatively curious place, while others are more of the "wide-eyed and pulling hair out" variety. So let's start things off with the biggest shock of the episode, the season, and possibly the whole series.
This isn't an emotional plea to the showrunners asking for motivations, since they've already discussed those. Rather, this is about sheer practicality and common sense existing within a tense moment. I'm not altogether convinced Alicia and Nick were truly and helplessly trapped in that vehicle, since we've already seen that walker-swamped situation get resolved within this franchise. But even so, why was Madison's martyrdom the one and only solution? Assuming all those walkers would actually follow her tiny flare, as opposed to getting distracted by full-on flames sprinkled around, why didn't Madison lead them all into the stadium, lock it up, and just hide out somewhere until everyone outside got settled and was able to save her? Plus, Alicia was able to zip through stadium zombie herds like butter when going after Al in the present-day timeline, so why couldn't Madison do that?
As soon as it became clear that Now Alicia hated Now Naomi, even after their water park bonding, Fear the Walking Dead fans were likely tipped off that things were more complicated than they seemed. Except they were actually a lot less complicated. Alicia's bloodlust for Naomi, which put John in the crosshairs, was due to Naomi being directly responsible for Madison's death. But it was revealed Naomi actually fled the scene like everyone else did, though without getting mauled to death like everyone else did. She did return later, when it was too late, but Alicia just thought Naomi had perished. So...where was the moment where Naomi did anything to Madison that warranted Alicia trying to murder her? Hell, Naomi even tried telling Madison to leave the stadium before the herd arrived. She should be able to say "I told you so" louder than anyone.
Similar to how Naomi drew tons of wrongful ire from Alicia and the others, Mel was the target of a lot of people's anger and guns, despite the fact that he was barely more than an irksome gnat throughout the eight episodes. For all intents and purposes, Ennis was the only true monster within the Vultures, and legitimately deserved any impaling that came his way. But Mel, beyond all his shitty intimidation tactics and walker-accumulating, actually tried to thwart Ennis' deadly plan by giving Madison & Co. a foreboding heads-up. (Alicia and Nick even saved him from a potential roadside death, so plentiful are their morals.). But because his brother Ennis' act killed Madison, Cole and the other randos, Mel had to face down everyone's rabidly vengeful feelings, leading to his fairly nondescript death via shootout. But was any of it justified?
Fans are well aware that the Walking Dead franchise has rarely delivered interesting child characters that serve as more than plot-advancers, and Alexa Nisenson's Charlie isn't winning any awards for being different. Nearly every single thing Charlie has done so far has been to the detriment of a protagonist, from her backstabbing silence in the beginning to shooting Nick (and more), and yet the only reactions she inspires within other characters are signs of sympathy and urges to comfort her. When Alicia took Charlie quasi-hostage in "No One's Gone," I thought a legitimate act of revenge might go down, but no. Althea is now all about keeping Charlie safe for no discernible reasons, which probably means Charlie is going to end up destroying all the tapes that Al protects so dearly.
At this point, we're not even sure if we'll ever learn the straightforward details about what happened to the main crew after the dam blew up in Season 3. There were a few passing references here and there that still make it plausible, but it would be very peculiar for Fear the Walking Dead to kill off both Madison and Nick only to then show us how the two managed to survive, reconnect, and travel up through Texas. For a season that started off with Morgan's smartly edited journey away from Alexandria, there was a stunning lack of season-to-season backstory to supplement the time-flipping plot involving the baseball stadium. I definitely don't mind the narrative picking up far after the dam business, but SOME kind of explanation still needs to happen. And not in like a tie-in comic book, either.
Since the beginning, Fear the Walking Dead has been largely unable to keep Rubén Blades' Daniel Salazar around for a full season at a time, and his fate has been completely up in the air ever since the dam exploded. Considering he'd previously escaped certain doom-by-fire, we know Daniel is a trooper and is almost definitely still alive out there. But, beyond the logistics of long distances and few vehicles and Blades' music career, why didn't Daniel every meet back up with Madison's group at some point? The showrunners only addressed his return to the franchise somewhat recently, and even then, it was made to sound like Daniel could be popping up on something beyond Fear the Walking Dead, such as the flagship series or a video game. Which is fine, but I don't understand why Daniel has to be the one to get sidelined for full half-seasons at a time. Not even a video tape easter egg.
Remember in Fear the Walking Dead Season 3 when it looked like the whole racist Rancher situation was going to bleed into the slimy Proctor John taking over as the resident antagonist for a while.? That would have been great, since Sons of Anarchy and Deadwood vet Ray McKinnon would have felt right at home in the hectic drama. Unfortunately, Proctor John apparently went the way of the dam after the events of the Season 3 finale, and he hasn't been heard from since. Of course, there's still a chance he may appear later in Season 4 or beyond, since it was clearly pointed out that his crew was heading to Houston. It's assumed that Alicia & Co. will be hitting the highway when the season returns, to get away from Vulture-land, so perhaps a road trip to Houston will be in order.
This is perhaps the biggest question in all of Fear the Walking Dead Season 4, at least when it comes to wondering about recovering gunshot victims getting twice their daily allotment of sodium. Following the big reveal that Madison died, those final moments of the midseason finale were kind of nice, with the surviving characters sitting around the fire and having a first meal together as a relatively single-minded group, and Morgan was only too happy for this kind of peaceful resolution to play out. However, it doesn't look like anyone thought to bring any noodles to John, who had a new lease on life inside Al's truck thanks to Naomi's skills and supplies. Don't they know he needs sustenance to live? And even if they did bring him some, it's not like he's able to sit up straight and feed himself. Won't someone please think of the John Dories?
We could probably find more Fear the Walking Dead elements to question and discuss, but there are only so many days left until the show comes back. Catch its return to AMC on Sunday, August 12, at 9 p.m. ET. To see what shows are coming to the small screen in the meantime, head to our summer premiere schedule.