Continuing Fear the Walking Dead‘s streak of great episodes, ‘Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame’ picks back up again with the core family at Broke Jaw Ranch. For the last few episodes, the titles have had a direct reference within the episode itself. This time around, the title references Charles Bukowski’s book of poetry, which Jake offers to Alicia, but she declines. It’s a reference to the crisis that she struggles in regards to the new world.
At the ranch, no time has passed since Episode 3, so we pick up on the very same night. After a fire that burns down a house on the ranch, Madison finally goes out on her trip with Troy and his men in an attempt to find the people who shot down the helicopter. With their mother gone, we’re able to focus a bit more on Nick and Alicia individually and how they interact with the ranch residents.
This is an episode where each of the Clarks gets a member of the Otto family for a day. Nick and Jeremiah have some time to get to know each other as they fix up the house together. It seems that in the apocalypse, Nick is finding parental figures that are anyone but his own mother. Like we saw with Celia last season, Nick is quite impressionable, and it seems that may be happening once again with Jeremiah. Luciana is also back on her feet and is already insisting that she and Nick leave the ranch, but Nick slowly comes to realise that the ranch may be the best place for them. Luciana doesn’t seem to have an issue with it, but when Nick wakes in the morning, she’s already gone.
Madison and Troy’s adventure leads them to a very interesting development. There’s a lot of dead on the way, including a disgusting scene where the back of a man’s head is being eaten by a crow. Eventually, we meet a man named Walker, who Troy is already familiar with, and Madison realises he shot down the helicopter. Walker is a Native American man who wants to reclaim his people’s land back from the Ottos. This makes him a complicated antagonist, and another we have yet to see in the Walking Dead universe. Madison also proves herself to be a capable leader once again, and she’s still manipulating Troy in her own way.
This episode adds another layer of depth to Alicia’s character, as we see her trying to grapple with the fact that she’s not going to be normal again. In this instance, this includes her hooking up with Jake. While it’s hard to be invested in them as a pairing, the decision for Alicia to sleep with him seems very consistent and in character. As we saw at the beginning of Season 2, Alicia has been craving a connection with someone since the end of the world. Last time, with Jack on the radio, it led to the group being in danger. Now, she’s a lot less attached, and a lot more cynical. Jake reminds her that there are still things to live for, and by the end she seems to be embracing that philosophy.
We also catch up with Strand and Daniel, who start the episode arguing like a married couple. They’re continuing on their way to the hotel, where Strand is keeping up his lie by saying the group is still there. Daniel doesn’t seem to completely believe him either. They finally arrive at night, and see that the hotel has been completely overrun. Once Daniel finally learns the truth about Ofelia and the group, he leaves Strand at the hotel surrounded by walkers.
By the end of this episode, it’s unknown where several of the characters will go from here. Strand is trapped with no means of escape, Luciana has run away leaving Nick behind, and where is Daniel going to go now? It’s another solid episode, even if the Ofelia absence is still a problem. The show should only get stronger once characters begin to reunite with one another.
THE REEL SCORE: 8/10