Fear the Walking Dead returns from its season three hiatus with a two episode premiere, Minotaur and The Diviner. We pick up with an uneasy truce between the ranchers and the Indians. Followed by the revelation that the ranch reservoir has only six weeks of water. The subplot of Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades) at the border dam comes into focus. The water crisis looks to be the glue that will bring the scattered characters back together. It's a horribly contrived set-up. I had multiple issues with the way these episodes played out.
Minotaur opens with a new day at the ranch. Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), in a bit of foreshadowing, struggles to get water from a pump. Nick (Frank Dillane) and Troy (Daniel Sharman) clear walkers near the ranch. Madison (Kim Dickens) awakens and enters Jeremiah's room. Alicia takes the water to Jake (Sam Underwood), who is visibly sick. As the ranch militia heads back, they see a long convoy heading toward the gates.
Madison rifles through Jeremiah's files. She tries to open his desk drawers, but they are locked. Her attention turns to the gates outside as the entire ranch community has gathered. Taqa Walker (Michael Greyeyes) and the entire Black Hat Reservation has come to live on the ranch. Jake opens the gates. As the convoy streams through, the white ranchers are stunned that this is the price of their survival.
Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) enters the supply room. Troy doesn't want her there, but Taqa insists that she is allowed. Jake, Madison, Alicia, Ofelia, and Taqa walk to the armory next. Taqa wants the second key to the weaponry. Jake refuses at first, but is convinced by Madison to give up the key. Meanwhile, Troy and Nick are at Jeremiah's grave. Troy curses his father for allowing this happen, but Nick portrays him as heroic. In the commissary, Madison asks Alicia about Jake's health. Alicia responds that her mother should not undermine Jake by talking to Taqa behind his back.
At the border dam, Salazar tells Lola (Lisandre Tena) that she is the new Dante. She's disgusted by the comment. We then cut back to the ranch where the entire community is gathering for a meeting. Anyone who enters the tent is searched for weapons. Jake addresses the ranch. They must give up their grudges. The only way forward is to share resources. Walker agrees, Jeremiah's death meant all grudges are settled. They must learn to live as one community. As Jake and Alicia leave the tent, Troy tells his brother that he is sleeping with the enemy. Jake reminds him that the truce is the only way forward. Nick walks up the hill towards Ofelia's house. She wisely avoided the meeting. The relatives and friends of those she poisoned will never forgive her. Nick wonders if that bothers her. Ofelia replies no, she is her father's daughter.
Salazar and Lola take the water trucks into the city. Lola fills up the containers as Salazar looks into the crowd, always searching for Ofelia. A group of walkers moves toward them. Everyone runs away and the trucks return to the dam. At the ranch, Alicia follows Taqa into a field. He is burying the bones returned to him, but doesn't want his people to know. Alicia asks Taqa to only deal with Jake and not her mother, but he refuses.
Back at Jeremiah's desk, Madison has forced open the locked drawers. She discovers his deadly secret. The aquifer is almost dry. The ranch only has 124 days of water remaining. At the commissary, Terrence, the bereaved friend of Gretchen, pulls a gun on Taqa's men. His throat is crushed in the response. Taqa is furious; he wants justice and assurances this will not happen again. Madison points out that the culprit will die of his injuries. That is not enough. Madison, Jake, and Taqa agree that all the weapons in the ranch must be confiscated.
The Indians, Madison, and Nick go door to door collecting all the guns. They come to the Otto house. Troy refuses to give up his arms. He'd rather die fighting. Nick slams the door behind him and tries to talk to Troy. Taqa orders his men to surround the house and storm it. Madison begs him to stop. She and Nick will talk down Troy. In the house, Troy opens a panel hiding a machine gun. He opens fire on the Indians. It's a hail of bullets.
Troy unloads until his ammo runs out. He runs upstairs with Nick in tow, pleading for him to surrender. Troy reaches under his bed and takes out another rifle. Nick implores him to stop. He's destroying the peace that his father sacrificed himself for. Troy refuses. He is ready to die. Troy is surprised that Nick is the last one standing with him. Nick decides to tell the truth. He admits to killing Jeremiah. The reveal stops Troy in his tracks. He initially points the gun at Nick before surrendering.
Taqa wants justice for Troy and Nick's actions. Madison counsels he cannot kill Troy or he will become a martyr. Exile is the best option. Taqa decrees that Nick must also be punished. Madison is against it, her son tried to help. But there is no alternative for Taqa. Nick will be allowed to stay, but he must also pay a price.
At the dam, Lola tells Salazar she saw him looking in the crowd for Ofelia. She says the search will consume him. They take the water trucks back to the city. As they fill water buckets, the crowd becomes angry and restless. They curse Lola for controlling the dam. She is hit in the face by a rock. Salazar pulls her away from the mob. A truck rescues them from their attackers and they drive away.
Jake informs his brother of the sentence. Troy requests Madison drive him. They hug goodbye. Taqa gives Troy a backpack of supplies, a knife, and a gun with one bullet. Madison and Klah, one of Taqa's men, drive a blindfolded Troy away. They pull up on the side of a dirt road. Troy knocks out Klah, then subdues Madison. He asks her why it wasn't her that killed his father. He thought she needed him? Madison wrestles the gun back. She points it at Troy, but does not kill him. Troy takes the supplies, he gives her a lingering look before walking away.
Fear the Walking Dead Episode ten, The Diviner, opens with Nick locked in a hot box. This is his punishment for helping Troy. He hallucinates seeing Troy approach with the keys to escape. At the depleted reservoir, Madison tells Taqa the truth about the water levels. They decide to keep the situation secret to preserve the fragile peace. They will go to a trading post that Taqa's scouts found near the border to find more water.
Madison and Taqa tell Jake, Ofelia, and Alicia that there is a need to preserve the water supply while they look for a back-up source. Madison and Taqa shut down all water access except for the primary well. They decree a ration of two gallons per person each day. Then Taqa assigns armed deputies to distribute the water while they are gone. A disgusted Jake storms away. Madison tells Alicia the truth the about the water shortage. There is only six weeks of water left. She gives her a long-range walkie talkie. Madison visits Nick in the hot box, giving him a canteen of water before leaving with Taqa in a supply truck.
Nick is finally freed by Taqa's lieutenant. He threatens Nick before Alicia takes him to the Otto house. She gives him salt and water. As Nick starts guzzling, she tells him of the water rationing and their mother's mission to find more. That night in his attic, Jake is besieged by angry ranchers. They are furious about the rationing. Alicia interrupts their bitching. They would all be dead if not for Jake. It's much worse out there than at the ranch. Trust Jake to get them all through this.
Madison and Taqa are camping by a fire. Madison uses the radio to check in on Alicia. She finds out that Nick has been released and is fine. Madison tells Alicia she will contact her again at the same time tomorrow night. Taqa chides her for being too mindful. He tells her a story about his three dogs. Madison shuts him down, he doesn't have children or a clue what he's talking about.
Nick is awakened by people entering the house. He grabs his knife and tackles the intruder. It is Blake, Coop, and a few other members of the militia. They praise him for fighting back with Troy. Nick says the militia is dead. They claim it isn't. The people are with him. Nick counters that they have no guns. Blake gives Nick their last, secret pistol. He should be the one to hold it. They tell him to rest up before leaving.
The next day, there is a long line at the well. Ofelia sees a young girl waiting in line. She brings her a glass of water, but the girl knocks it out of her hands. As Nick stands in line, an Indian woman walks by with a bucket. Blake tells Nick he saw that woman get water earlier in the day. The Indians are double dipping.
Madison and Taqa arrive at the bazaar gates in Mexicali. They see people chained to the gates fighting off walkers. Madison wants to help, but Taqa says it might offend their hosts. They approach the heavily armed entrance. The gatekeeper wants a fortune for them to enter. She sees Madison's walkie talkie and offers that as payment. Madison begrudgingly obliges, handing over the radio. Thus getting two days access to the bazaar.
Everything is for sale in the market. Taqa and Madison walk by flesh peddlers, tattoo artists, even a motorcycle auction. Back at the ranch, Alicia approaches Ofelia about the Indians double dipping. Ofelia denies the accusation. She warns Alicia to watch her own people before accusing them. At the same time, the militia members are meeting with Nick. They want to fight back immediately. Nick implores them to stall for time. They cannot win a direct conflict.
Back at the Otto house, Alicia has found Nick's hidden gun. She chastises him bitterly for having it. He explains the situation with the militia. Alicia tells Nick she knows the truth about Jeremiah's suicide. How will the militia and ranchers react when they discover what he did. She thanks him for relieving her of the burden of being their mother's favorite. Nick responds he did it to keep them all alive. Alicia retorts that their mother is broken. They cannot keep fighting for her love. That night, Alicia tries to contact her mother via the walkie talkie.
At the bazaar, Taqa and Madison have found a water dealer named Maria Lu. Madison asks her for 10,000 gallons. Lu only has half that much, and it will be costly. Taqa opens a metal tube filled with silver coins. There's more where that came from. Madison hears a commotion behind her. She is stunned to see Victor Strand (Coleman Domingo) being accosted by the bazaar security. She grabs a shovel and knocks out his attackers. Strand leads them to his hiding place. He is trapped there because of his debts to the owners. Taqa takes an immediate dislike to him. Victor says that he is a survivor. He tells Madison about the dam.
At the ranch well, Alicia catches a woman stealing water. The woman refuses to put the water back. Alicia screams the truth to everyone. There is only six weeks of water left. A melee ensues as everyone tries to get to the well. Ofelia and Taqa's men shoot off a round. They walk towards the well to claim it. Nick blocks them, he will not allow them to control it. He brandishes his gun, much to the surprise of Ofelia. The ranchers and militia stand with Nick. Taqa's men back down, they will keep the peace for now.
Madison wakes up to find Taqa gone. She and Victor catch up from their time in the hotel. Madison says her children are alive, but Travis is dead. The door is flung open. Market security have found Taqa snooping. They capture Victor and chain him up with another group. Madison inquires what her friend did. She wants to talk to whoever's in charge. Victor tells Madison to leave, go back to her children. The world is lost. But he will win, that's why his mother named him Victor. He tells her not to worry her pretty blonde head as he is taken away.
At the ranch, the militia is preparing for a fight. Alicia looks at them from the house, but then sees another group in the distance with a divining rod. Madison is getting drunk at a bar in the bazaar. Taqa walks up to her. He has made the deal with Maria Lu for the water. At the Otto house, Nick has gathered the militia. He believes they should disarm the Indians. End the tit-for-tat conflict. We then cut back to the outside of the bazaar. Victor is chained to the gates, a group of walkers approach him.
The next morning, Taqa goes back to the truck to get the silver for the deal. The tubes are empty. Victor is about to be overcome by walkers when he is released by the bazaar security. Madison picks him up and takes him towards their truck. Taqa is furious. She has bought Victor's freedom with the silver. Madison retorts that she has saved them all with a permanent solution. At the ranch, Nick and the militia slink up the hillside to Ofelia's house. The Indians wait for the attack to come, but will not draw first blood. Nick then sees that Alicia is digging a new well with the Indians. He leaves the militia and starts helping her to dig. Ofelia and Taqa's men see this. They put down their guns and join the others digging the well.
Water being the most valuable commodity is a believable source of conflict. The idea that the white supremacist ranchers would give up their guns is laughable. As well as the premise that the Indians could just move unto the ranch and take charge so easily. Then you have Troy, the most dangerous wildcard, being allowed to live. And what happened to Jake for the entire second episode? He vanishes like a fart in the wind when everything starts coming apart. Isn't he the leader of the ranchers? I won't even get into the cookie-cutter set-up of bumping into Strand at the bazaar. The entire thing is nonsensical, even in the apocalyptic world of zombies. Tune in to AMC next week for the Madison, Strand, and Salazar reunion at the dam.