Fear The Walking Dead is stockpiling hype ahead of Kim Dickens’ return as Madison Clark, but painting Strand as Alicia’s father figure might just be the spinoff’s most significant tease yet. Madison anchored Fear The Walking Dead for 3-and-a-half seasons, evolving into a protagonist worthy of those Rick Grimes comparisons. Believed dead after sacrificing herself in a burning, zombie-filled baseball stadium, not everyone was convinced Kim Dickens’ final scene was as final as claimed, and those suspicions have been justified by Fear The Walking Dead season 7 in which Madison makes her long-awaited comeback. Though she’s not yet appeared in an episode proper, Fear The Walking Dead’s trailers show Madison at some strange facility, possibly connected to PADRE or the CRM.
Before focusing on characters from the past, Fear The Walking Dead still has business in the present – namely the ongoing battle for control of Victor Strand’s Tower. Morgan Jones spent half a season raising an army to fight Strand, only for those soldiers to stand idly outside while Morgan himself took a badly-timed a boat trip. Instead, Alicia Clark and Daniel Salazar infiltrate the Tower alone. Several fever breaks and a few grenades later, everything boils down to Alicia sharing a heart-to-heart with Victor Strand as they shoot their way toward the Tower’s roof.
For most of Fear The Walking Dead season 7, Strand and Alicia have been either estranged or bickering. Strand kept yo-yo-ing over whether he wanted Alicia at the Tower, and Alicia was too obsessed with a zombified senator to care at one point, but “Divine Providence” digs into the heart of their relationship and unearths something beyond simple friendship or post-apocalyptic camaraderie. Strand openly refers to Alicia as a “daughter” and “the closest thing to family I have left” before finally acknowledging his love for her as a father figure. Though she doesn’t outwardly respond, Alicia’s expression all but confirms Strand’s sentiments are reciprocated. Having already lost her brother, step-father and mother, Alicia has come to view Strand in a parental light.
Fear The Walking Dead already told us how Strand built the Tower community with Alicia firmly in mind, but “Divine Providence” is the first time Fear The Walking Dead draws a concrete father-daughter line between them. From Alicia’s perspective, Strand is the last remaining link to her family. Strand, meanwhile, can’t help but feel protective over a young woman he watched slowly lose every single family member she had. Victor probably also feels the ghost of Madison on his back murmuring “watch out for my daughter.” By virtue of viewer privilege, however, the audience knows better. Alicia’s mother is still out there, somewhere, and has presumably been prevented from reuniting with her beloved daughter by external forces (the trailer points toward brainwashing or memory loss). Fear The Walking Dead season 7’s “Divine Providence” shows how Alicia’s inward search for a parental figure has brought her emotionally closer to Strand, but the wannabe Civil War general isn’t exactly father-of-the-year material, placing even greater significance upon Madison’s return as someone who can finally restore the familial connection Alicia has longed for.