Where We Left Off:
The season 4 premiere saw Morgan make his official crossover, after walking (and running and driving and walking some more) all the way from Virginia to Texas, after unsuccessful attempts from Rick, Jesus and Carol to get him to stay with the group. He met up with a mysterious, lonely gunslinger named John Dorie and a journalist named Aletha, and the three of them got out of a jam infused with zombies and hostiles alike. The skirmish saw Morgan catch a bullet in the leg, and he agreed to continue traveling with his newfound allies (despite a preference for solitude) until the wound was all healed up. However, in the end, they fell into a trap laid by the Clark children, Strand and Luciana, with Madison nowhere to be seen. The two or three year time jump to catch up with Morgan’s story was jarring, and it will be interesting to see where we go from here.
What Went Down:
A title card reads “Before,” and we open to shots of various cast members waking up and starting their day in relative comfort inside a baseball stadium. They have electricity, bedrooms, showers, coffee, gardens, and even some livestock. A man announces on the PA that it is the one year anniversary of “The diamond,” so that takes care of at least a good chunk of the time jump. There is a quiet little girl named Charlie, new to the settlement, but she isn’t interested in answering any of Madison’s questions about her family or previous living situation.
In a nice showing of democracy, Madison and other members of the group discuss Charlie, and they agree to go out and look for her family while they scavenge. This is a far different, kinder Madison than we saw in season three. She goes out with Alicia, Strand and Luciana and they happen upon a burnt up camp next to some oil basins. When they happen upon a survivor, a skirmish with walkers breaks out and Madison risks herself and the groupto save the woman, named Naomi. Before they leave, they spota banner with numbers spraypainted on it, just like the one Morgan, John and Althea found last week.
Back in the stadium, Nick tends to the crops, including a batch of turnips infested with weevils. Growing concerned with his family’s wherabouts, he decides to search for them, but he is clearly terrified to leave, stricken with PTSD from the dam incident (and whatever came after). He crashes his truck just as his family gets home. However, they aren’t alone.
A new group called The Vultures arrives, led by a man named Mel, and they round up all of the dead in the parking lot in the back of a truck, painting another number on a banner afterward. Madison meets with Mel, who says they don’t intend on stealing anything. The group can either give up all their stuff, or The Vultures will just wait for them to die and take it then. He says places like this have a natural life cycle and that he’s had this conversationa hundred times before. He calls Charlie over (plot twist, she’s a mole!) Madison says they won’t leave or hand anything over and they part ways with The Vultures setting up shop in the parking lot. The group comes together in a search for normalcy despite the danger outside the door and builds a room inside the dugout for new member Naomi.
Back in “Now,” the Clarks (minus Madison) hold Morgan, John and Althea at gunpoint and question them about the painted banner they have in the back of the SWAT truck, which has nothing to do with them. They load the three into the truck and they all drive off together.
Where We Go From Here:
Clearly, something awful had happened with The Vultures, and the diamond (or at least the Clark family’s involvement in it) is no more. There is a stark and obvious contrast between the bright, sunny color of “Before” and the harsh, muted tones of “Now,” and that helps us partially understand the change in the Clarks. The parallel storytelling device is new for this show and I’m anxious to see how they use it to tell this new chapter in the story of the Clarks.
What did you think of this week’s episode?
Will The Vultures wait out the group, or are they plotting an attack using the dead they captured?
Have The Vultures captured Madison by the time we get to “Now?”
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