Fear The Walking Dead lowers expectations for a Madison & Alicia reunion… but can’t quite justify why. After playing Madison Clark since 2015, Kim Dickens exited Fear The Walking Dead in season 4, her character assumed dead after becoming trapped inside a burning, zombie-infested baseball stadium. Madison’s two children, Nick and Alicia, were left wholeheartedly convinced their mother died. Lennie James’ Morgan Jones (seriously, how good is Morgan at bumping into people he knows?) discovers otherwise in Fear The Walking Dead season 7’s finale. He encounters Madison working for PADRE in Louisiana, and while the pair get off on the wrong foot initially, they end the episode as post-apocalypse pals.
Madison explains to Morgan why she didn’t try reuniting with Nick and Alicia straight away. PADRE offered to help Madison find her kids if she “found” some kids for them. She reluctantly agreed, but each and every kidnapping nudged Madison deeper into PADRE’s anti-family philosophy. A combination of this new outlook and a guilty conscience convinced Madison that Nick and Alicia were better off without her, but she continued serving PADRE regardless, just in case they hunted her children down as a punishment. This works well enough as a justification for Madison’s absence between Fear The Walking Dead seasons 4-7.
Much less convincing is why Madison doesn’t go searching for Alicia once Morgan reveals the truth. He recounts the circumstances surrounding Nick’s death, confirming he buried the boy personally – not much to be done there. Morgan then assumes Alicia is dead (because she sounded rough last time they spoke over a walkie?) but admits he isn’t 100% certain, acknowledging that if anyone could survive such a grim infection, it’s Alicia Clark. At this point, viewers familiar with Madison Clark’s characterization would’ve expected she’d resolve to find Alicia at all costs. Her daughter could be alive, and was last seen struggling alone close to death. Surely, Madison would want a reunion before that happened, or to confirm Alicia’s fate herself – especially after learning about Nick. Morgan could even point the way towards Alicia’s last known location. Instead, Madison drops a bombshell – “Even if she is [alive] I don’t want to find her.”
Essentially, Madison feels so much guilt after kidnapping children for PADRE, she can’t bear facing Alicia. Madison describes herself as “gone” and assures herself Alicia would be happier believing her mother died at Dell Diamond. If Morgan had said, “Last time I saw Alicia, she was thriving in a safe community,” perhaps Madison’s excuse here would make sense. But hearing how Alicia was last spotted facing a painful and lonely death, it seems inconceivable that someone as fiercely maternal as Madison Clark wouldn’t be hopping straight in Morgan’s raft and rowing across that water like a Loony Tunes character. Abandoning Alicia to her fate – for reasons that are largely selfish in nature – runs counter to everything Madison has done in Fear The Walking Dead previously. It also runs counter to lengths we’ve seen Daniel Salazar – who also committed shady acts he was ashamed of – go to just for a few precious seconds with his own dying daughter.
Of course, the real reason behind Madison’s strange decision is hidden in plain sight. As Kim Dickens makes her Fear The Walking Dead comeback, Alicia’s actress, Alycia Debnam-Carey, leaves the show. So while Madison will enjoy a starring role in Fear The Walking Dead season 8, Alicia goes AWOL. Struck by this huge behind-the-scenes inconvenience, Fear The Walking Dead needed to perform the impossible trick of finding a narrative justification for why Madison wouldn’t at least try to find her daughter.
Madison’s logic might be tenuous in season 7’s finale, but Fear The Walking Dead season 8 can fix her reasoning. Rather than break character by explicitly stating, “I don’t want to find her,” Madison could instead decide she does want to find Alicia, but can’t risk leading PADRE to her daughter, so joins Morgan to take the villainous community down first. Not only does this delay Madison & Alicia’s reunion indefinitely without making the former seem like a terrible mother, it also gives Madison a more personal reason to help Morgan destroy PADRE.