Is Madison Clark a Villain in Fear the Walking Dead Season 8?

[Warning: This story contains spoilers for Sunday’s Fear the Walking Dead season 8 premiere, “Remember What They Took From You.”] No one’s gone until they’re gone — and Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) isn’t gone. Fear the Walking Dead appeared to kill off the Clark matriarch when she sacrificed herself saving her children Nick and Alicia from a walker horde in the season 4 episode “No One’s Gone,” only for the season 7 finale to reveal that Madison survived when she crossed paths with Morgan Jones (Lennie James). But the mother of all surprises was the truth about what Madison was doing when she was feared dead.

As we learned in Fear‘s season 7 finale, PADRE recruited Madison to become a Collector and “rescue” children: stealing them from their parents and delivering them to the island settlement where he’s building a better future. But PADRE used her own kids against her, manipulating Madison to keep her collecting children — including Morgan’s one-year-old daughter, Mo.

Sunday’s season 8 premiere, “Remember What They Took From You,” reveals that after Madison helped Morgan escape the island with baby Mo, PADRE locked her in a cell for seven years. PADRE’s right hand, Shrike (Maya Eshet), has been drawing Madison’s blood once a week and keeping her alive despite multiple suicide attempts. When Madison realizes that the PADRE-raised Wren is actually eight-year-old Mo (Zoey Merchant), she makes another attempt to get the girl off the island and reunite her with her father.

The only thing stopping Madison from saving Mo is Morgan, who willingly gave up baby Mo to PADRE to save her after their first escape failed and nearly ended in their deaths seven years earlier.

“There are some pretty amazing crimes she’s committed in season 7 that go against her whole theme of motherhood,” Dickens tells ComicBook. “She’s going to have to reconcile that somehow. I think there are some ghosts to reconcile with as well from her childhood, what she did with her father, [and] decisions she made early on in the apocalypse.”

The woman who put her life on the line for her family since Fear‘s first season has not only lost her children, she’s lost the last seven years of her life. “It’s a lot to unpack for Madison,” says Dickens, returning as a series regular for the first time since season 4. Before his own series exit at the end of season 3, Fear co-creator and original showrunner Dave Erickson envisioned a potential seven-season arc culminating in Madison’s evolution into a “full-on villain.” Will Madison stay the course to save Mo and the other children from PADRE? Or will post-time jump Madison emerge as a villain?

“I agreed with Dave Erickson. He wasn’t telling me anything specifically, but I kind of thought she was torpedoing towards being a villain. I think she has been a villain,” Dickens notes. “Whether or not she can come back from that, I think that’s part of the journey that this season offers for her arc. She’s got that moral compass out again, and it’s just spinning around haywire.”

“I don’t know,” Dickens teased with a smile. “I think she’s going to have her moments.”

New episodes of Fear the Walking Dead premiere Thursdays on AMC+ and Sundays on AMC. Stay tuned to ComicBook/TWD and follow @CameronBonomolo and @NewsOfTheDead on Twitter for more TWD Universe coverage.