Fear the Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 8 Recap: “Iron Tiger”

“What are you even fighting for?” The question that Troy (Daniel Sharman) asked Madison (Kim Dickens) to end last week’s Fear the Walking Dead premiere has an answer: “We take the fight to Troy.” After learning that Troy is alive and her daughter Alicia is dead, Madison, Victor Strand (Colman Domingo), and Daniel Salazar (Rub?n Blades) have Hawk (Triston Dye) take them to where PADRE got their fuel supply. PADRE picked up tankers from the Lowcountry Landing gas station, but the tanks are empty — and so is Madison’s patience. She wants to finish what she started back at the Gonzalez Dam in Mexico.

“He took a daughter away from me too. I know what you’re feeling,” Daniel reminds Madison, referring to his daughter Ofelia, who succumbed to a walker’s bite after Troy led a zombie herd to Broke Jaw Ranch. “But first, we do what we need to do to protect the island. Then we make Troy wish he died back at the dam.” Madison confides in Strand: she regrets not trying to look for Alicia and learning too late that her daughter was alive. “If what Troy said is true, if she’s still out there… I can’t let her walk around like that forever. I need to put her to rest. I need to bury her. All of her.”

The gas station is well-stocked with food, water, medical supplies, and what Strand calls a “relic of a bygone era”: a familiar cardboard sign reading, “TAKE WHAT YOU NEED, LEAVE WHAT YOU DON’T.”

Meanwhile, Madison draws the attention of a roaming walker missing its left arm. Strand realizes it’s not Alicia just before the walkers clawing at the window smash through the glass into the store, only to be gunned down by… Luciana (Danay Garc?a). She’s assumed the handle Polar Bear from Clayton and picked up where Morgan’s group left off in season 5, helping people on the side while making gasoline for PADRE during the last seven years.

Madison reunites with Luciana, and Luci with Daniel, who has been looking for his mija for years. Luciana explains PADRE recognized her experience working the oil fields at the Tank Town quarry and had her working in the shadows, refining oil from PADRE’s military reserves. They used Daniel against her: Luciana asked for his freedom in exchange for making gas, explaining why PADRE dumped Daniel in the swamp instead of killing him seven years ago.

The gas station is an outpost miles away from the refinery, which Luciana converted into a way station for travelers using supplies stolen from PADRE’s shipping containers meant to seed new communities across the United States. As “Polar Bear,” Luciana has been secretly operating 23 active locations and a network of roads running from Georgia through Arizona. Luciana agrees to give them gas for their fight against Troy’s army under one condition: Troy doesn’t figure out where the fuel is coming from. Luciana is concerned about protecting her operation and the people who run it, including a tanker truck driver with the handle “Iron Tiger.”

Luciana attempts to hide Iron Tiger’s identity… until Iron Tiger reveals herself as Charlie (Alexa Nisenson), now seven years older, and not dead from radiation poisoning. June Dorie (Jenna Elfman) didn’t have what she needed at Strand’s Tower to treat her radiation sickness, but PADRE did. Charlie wasn’t sent to the island with the other kids because they didn’t know whether Blue Jay’s experimental radiotherapy treatments work, so she’s spent the past seven years helping Luciana build up her network. Madison is confused: Why did Luciana try to hide Charlie? Because of what happened at the stadium?

“You haven’t told her,” Luciana realizes. “I didn’t think there was a reason to,” Strand says, because he thought Charlie was dead. Madison wants the truth, and it comes when Charlie confesses: “I shot Nick. I killed your son.” A contrite Charlie apologizes, but she’s whisked away by Daniel as Strand restrains Madison. She hammers out her anger as she thinks of Nick. Hugging her son. Nick on the bridge at the dam. Madison holding Nick in a hospital bed. Nick resting in a field of bluebonnets.

Strand has his own confession. He thought Charlie was dead, and he didn’t think it mattered. “You didn’t think it mattered that the girl I brought into the stadium killed my son?” Madison explodes, and then sobs. “If I hadn’t brought her in the stadium, Nick might still be here! If I hit Troy harder, Alicia might be here! If I just did it differently… they both might be here.” She rages again: How could they let Charlie in after what she did to Nick? “We gave her the same thing that everyone else wants,” he explains. “A second chance.” Strand then tells her that Alicia was the first to forgive Charlie, but no one is expecting her to forgive her son’s killer. Least of all Charlie, who confronts Madison and apologizes for being an 11-year-old girl who was scared and being used by the Vultures.

“I really am sorry that I took Nick from you. I’m so sorry I took him from the world.” Charlie has spent the past seven years taking that hurt and pain to “turn it into something more” by helping Luciana help people, telling Madison: “As bad as his death was, something good did come out of it, okay? And if there’s anything I can do to help you see that good, just tell me. I’ll do it.” Charlie snuck into the stadium and fooled Madison, Alicia, Strand, and Nick — and now she needs her to do the same with Troy. But Madison doesn’t want Charlie to be a spy… she wants her to be an assassin and kill Troy. “You took the stadium from me. You took my son from me,” she says with venom. “This is the least you can do.”

Daniel is wary of sending Charlie into the viper’s nest and offers to go in her place, but Madison says it has to be Charlie because Troy doesn’t know her. “For years, I thought you and Luciana were dead. Now that I have found you, I don’t want to risk losing either of you again,” Daniel tells Charlie, only for her to assure him that he won’t lose her. She wants to do this — needs to do this. Charlie also tells Madison she’s going to try to find out what happened to Alicia, because “she was the one that helped me see that I could start over,” she says. “I know you don’t believe me, but I really am sorry about everything. I wish I could take back what I did to Nick. He was like a brother to me.” Madison spews hate: “Then you wouldn’t have shot him!”

Daniel is right to fear for Charlie: her ruse fails, and she’s captured by Troy. Strand is concerned about what they’re doing to protect PADRE. “What’s the point of saving it if we turn into the opposite of what Alicia wanted us to build?” Madison, not willing to let Troy take the island from her too, assures Strand: “If Charlie meant what she said about Nick, she’s gonna show us by taking care of Troy.” Madison has a change of heart when she sees Charlie left her a coffee can containing Nick’s ashes. Luciana explains: some time during those seven years, they were clearing roads in North Texas when Charlie wanted to see where Nick was buried so she could apologize.

When Charlie found out why Nick was buried beneath a tree on the side of the road in Hill Country — because of Alicia, Strand, and Luciana’s ruse to get a weapons cache to kill the Vultures — she said he deserved something better. So they exhumed Nick’s body, cremated what was left of him, and brought him here. “It didn’t mean anything to you?” Madison asks, heartbroken. “Charlie’s right. He deserves better.” That’s what Luciana and Charlie want — and Charlie thinks Madison knows best where she should lay her son to rest.

Madison radios Charlie with a message to come back to bury Nick — “If you brought him all the way back from Texas for me, then you should be there when we say goodbye” — but it’s too late. Troy’s soldiers have Charlie hostage at the commandeered Emissary Suites, which means Madison can finally take the fight to Troy. Back at the hotel, Troy’s soldiers remove the left arms of caged walkers with orders to release them after he’s finished with Charlie. She asks why he killed Alicia, but Troy doesn’t answer. “Seeing as it sounds like I’m not the only person to have killed a Clark,” he deflects, “is what Madison said true? Did you kill Nick? “He was a friend of mine. More like a brother, actually. Yeah, we were better suited to this world than the last one. At least that’s what I thought until I heard what happened. So why is Madison trying to protect you?” The answer: she’s giving Charlie a second chance.

Troy wants PADRE because they need a place “that people like Madison can’t take from us,” he says. They took the Emissary Suites in an afternoon, and no one is taking PADRE easily — and taking PADRE from Madison is icing on the cake. Charlie doesn’t know where PADRE is, but a map in the tanker truck lists all of PADRE’s fuel drop sites. It would be a good tip… if the rigged-to-blow tanker didn’t suddenly explode outside the hotel. As Troy’s soldiers try to contain the blaze, Madison, Daniel, Strand, and Luciana race to the hotel to find the flaming wreck drawing walkers (many of them missing their left arms).

Over walkie-talkie, Madison warns Troy not to hurt Charlie. Troy taunts Madison about what Nick would think about her protecting her son’s killer. “He’d get it. People change, Troy,” she tells him. “They can do shitty things and come back from them.” Charlie hears it. If Madison thinks that, she’s going to have to give up PADRE to save Charlie’s life. Daniel wants to make the trade. Charlie doesn’t.

Outside the hotel, it’s a standoff as Madison’s army and Troy’s army negotiate Charlie’s return for PADRE’s location. (“If you hurt her…,” Madison threatens Troy, “I’m gonna make you wish I only took the other eye.” If Troy hands over Charlie, she’ll tell him where to find PADRE. Troy wants the location first — then they get the girl Madison sent in there to die. There’s a back-and-forth about getting Charlie or PADRE first, but Madison is willing to give up PADRE if it means Charlie lives. It’s decided Strand will escort Troy’s right-hand man, Russell (Randy Bernales), to PADRE so he can verify the location. And then, only then, will he release Charlie. “I really don’t give a shit about the girl, Madison,” he says as nonchalant as one can be when trading lives. “I just want a safe place to live.”

When Madison asks why Troy cares so much about PADRE, he tells her: “You took everything from me. I’m just doing the same for you.” The psycopath laughs it off when she asks if his vendetta is about his father, Jeremiah Otto, and the ranch. It’s much more personal. But before Troy can tell Madison what she supposedly took from him, Strand wants assurance that the Germans who vacated the Emissary Suites for PADRE — including his family, partner Frank (Isha Blaaker), and their son, Klaus (Julian Gray) — won’t be harmed. Troy says he wants the settlement, not the people, so it’s a deal. But before Madison can hand over the map to PADRE, Charlie escapes her bonds, stabs a guard in the neck, and threatens to kill another. “I’m not gonna watch another place you built fall because of me,” Charlie tells Madison over walkie-talkie, not letting Madison talk her down from her penance for killing Nick.

“It’s not for her. The place she’s building, it’s what Alicia wanted. And it’s how Nick’s death can mean something,” Charlie says, despite Madison’s pleas. “On the rafts, when we left the Tower, Victor told me that’s what Alicia said to him when she thought she was dying. ‘Make it mean something.'” She knows that if Troy kills her, he doesn’t get PADRE. “You won’t have to give him PADRE if he doesn’t have anything to trade.”

Charlie puts a gun to her chin. Memories flicker through her brain: Nick and Charlie at the stadium. Madison. Daniel. Alicia’s forgiveness. Nick smiling. Daniel. Alicia and Charlie. Closing her eyes. She thinks of the beach. Charlie always thought of the beach. And then —


“She’s dead,” the guard reports. Daniel is destroyed. In his rage, he has to be pulled away from Troy lest he tear him apart with his bare hands. Troy wants Madison’s map, but his priorities change when Russell reports that Tracy is missing. Madison is surprised to learn that Troy’s people have kids in the hotel. “Why do you think we wanted PADRE?” he says, panicked. “The same reason as you!” Troy races after Tracy, wading into the walker-filled hazy smoke of the burning tanker truck. As the dead swarm the hotel, Madison figures out that Tracy is Troy’s daughter. “Why didn’t you tell us what you wanted instead of trying to take it?” Madison asks, exasperated. “What,” Troy shoots back, “so you could just take my daughter from me, too?” Madison still doesn’t know what — or who — she took from him, but Troy blames her for Tracy’s mother’s death.

Madison’s anger boils over when she realizes it’s Troy who has been cutting the arms off walkers, making her think Alicia is everywhere she looks. She attacks Troy, swinging her sledge hammer and interrogating him about Alicia: “Why did you kill her?! Who do you think I took from you?” Troy tells her, “The woman who rescued me from the dam. The woman who gave me a second chance. Please. I need to find my girl.”

Everyone deserves a second chance… but not Troy. In her fury, she tells Troy that he’s “gonna know what it’s like to be wondering where your kid is.” To that, he says, “Mine could still be alive.” Strand tears Madison away to escape the area under threat from flames and infected, but it wouldn’t be the first time Madison made it out alive. Troy takes off to find Tracy, leaving Madison, Strand, Daniel, and Luciana to deal with the fallout of Charlie’s death.

The fallout: Luci gives Madison a ration of fuel and stern notice that’s all she’s getting. Luci is angry that Madison got Charlie killed and exposed her people to Troy. Daniel, not wanting to lose Luci like he lost Ofelia and Charlie, cuts ties with Madison. In Spanish, he says to Luci: “One time, I told you we were family, remember? Allow me to come with you. To help you and take care of you, as I have wanted for years.” Daniel and Luci leave together with Charlie’s body, their familia going from four to two as they leave Madison and Strand behind.

More fallout: Madison tells Strand she can’t go back to PADRE. It’s her fault Charlie is dead, and she can’t ask anyone to follow her because of it. “We’re not building PADRE for you. We’re building PADRE for Alicia, for Nick, for Frank and Klaus,” he reminds her. If Madison stays, PADRE doesn’t happen. “You have to do it,” she says, handing him the keys to the tanker. “You have to keep the promise you made to Alicia.” He can’t do it alone. “You’re gonna have to.” Madison, carrying Alicia’s arm and Nick’s ashes, walks off. Alone.

Iron Tiger out.

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