Alicia’s Fever Fake-Out Is Worse Than Walking Dead’s Glenn Controversy
FTWD finally resolves season 7's running mystery around Alicia's fever - and pulls a fake-out even worse than The Walking Dead did with Glenn.
The Walking Dead caused great controversy with its Glenn death fake-out, but Alicia’s Fear The Walking Dead fever storyline might’ve just topped it. Character deaths and controversy are natural bedfellows, and The Walking Dead found itself in a spot of post-apocalyptic bother with season 6’s “Thank You.” Steven Yeun’s popular Glenn Rhee got caught in the middle of an undead herd, and as the zombies descended upon his prone body, death looked unavoidable. Four episodes later, we learn Glenn was protected by his companion’s corpse and managed to slide safely under a dumpster. Reaction to the fake-out was broadly negative, and the scene has been cited as a contributing factor toward The Walking Dead’s viewership decline.
Alicia Clark has endured a similarly rough time in Fear The Walking Dead season 7. A bite from the zombified Senator Vasquez forced Alicia into amputating her arm. The trick successfully prevented her turning undead, but left Alicia with a permanent fever she’s been stuck with since Fear The Walking Dead season 7 began. As antibiotics prove ineffectual, Alicia becomes convinced her illness is the zombie virus slowly taking hold, and her condition gradually worsens until “Amina,” where she can barely walk without help. Then Fear The Walking Dead takes a plunge in plausibility. Alicia bids farewell, resolving to use her final days helping strangers at the Tower. She waves to her friends, collapses on the beach… then reawakens completely healed with her sweaty “I am not well” make-up replaced by a healthier shade of peach.
Fear The Walking Dead leaves Alicia’s survival frustratingly open to interpretation. “Amina” suggests the fever broke naturally, as Alicia’s younger self points out, “Isn’t the fever what’s gonna kill the infection?” Alternatively, Alicia might’ve died on the beach and her miraculous recovery isn’t real (though heaven resembling a nuclear zombie apocalypse doesn’t really track). Whatever the science might be, Alicia’s fever vanishing is designed as a symbolic moment. The protagonist’s overarching goal throughout Fear The Walking Dead season 7 has been protecting her people – making all their sacrifices mean something. She achieves that (sort of?) when her friends paddle across the water in rafts, so the fever lifting is almost a metaphor for the weight of responsibility lifting. Nevertheless, Alicia’s fake-out makes The Walking Dead’s “dumpstergate” incident seem pretty tame by comparison…
There’s no getting around it – pretending to kill Glenn was poor form on The Walking Dead’s part. The cliffhanger was a cheaply executed rug-pull that added little to the plot. Alicia’s own unlikely escape from death commits the same sins as dumpstergate, but on a bigger scale. A frequent criticism of Glenn’s faux-demise was how The Walking Dead dragged out his fate across four whole episodes. Had the cliffhanger been resolved the very next week, The Walking Dead might’ve got away with just a few disappointed groans. Fear The Walking Dead has been peddling the “Alicia’s gonna die” line for over half a season, making Glenn’s fake-out look positively swift.
The Walking Dead also faced backlash due to the nonsensical nature of Glenn’s survival. Nicholas’ corpse conveniently shielded Steven Yeun’s character from zombie bites, then Glenn managed to pull himself beneath the dumpster despite all that weight – unlikely, at the very least. Again, Fear The Walking Dead goes one better with Alicia. Somehow, this character has endured a constant fever for months, and although all regular medications failed, a beach nap does the trick. Glenn’s fake-out stretched suspension of disbelief; Alicia’s forsakes it entirely.
But perhaps the biggest problem with how Fear The Walking Dead resolves Alicia’s fever is that the storyline genuinely looked to be leading somewhere. Maybe Alicia was experiencing a previously unseen phenomenon of the zombie virus. Perhaps her desperate search for a cure led Fear The Walking Dead toward a more advanced community like PADRE or the CRM. The fever might’ve simply been how Alicia met her end. Ultimately, however, the fever was just… nothing – symbolism at best, a fake-out that promised much more at worst. For all the problems behind Glenn’s dumpster controversy, The Walking Dead at least signposted its intentions by not giving Steven Yeun the traditional Talking Dead sendoff, and positioning the dumpster prominently enough so viewers could theorize how Glenn might escape.