Madison has always been willing to do whatever it takes to protect her family, but this week she went further than ever into total immorality to do so, lying to the residents of Broke Jaw Ranch about who killed the ranch's defectors in order to keep them in line, giving a race-baiting speech to them about how it was Walker (Michael Greyeyes) and his tribe and how they have to stay together on the ranch to stay safe. Then she manipulated the real killer, Troy (Daniel Sharman), into asserting himself as a leader, which will probably in the long run put her in a position to take over the ranch, because Troy is too unstable to lead.
This is potentially a huge shift for Madison as a character. We've seen her do some bad stuff, but never be so Machiavellian. Last week, I wrote about how it seemed unlikely that Madison would help start a race war against a Native American tribe because that would be beyond the pale, but it's looking like that's what's going to happen. She doesn't seem to think that more people necessarily have to die right now, but she is wrong. People always die.
The possibility is still on the table that she'll play both sides, though, and work out some kind of deal with Walker, who she may have a crush on, as Jeremiah (Dayton Callie) pointed out.
She'll have to make an adjustment somewhere, because her speech pushed her daughter toward danger. Instead of falling in line behind her mother, like Nick (Frank Dillane), Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) set out after Jake (Sam Underwood) to visit the Black Hat Reservation to talk with Walker. Alicia still has a moral compass, and she's willing to try to talk it out before more violence erupts.
Fear the Walking Dead seems to be moving toward making a Breaking Bad-esque thematic point about how people do hateful things in the name of love. Madison is trying to protect her family, but losing her humanity to do it. This sort of death-to-anyone-but-us tribalism might not serve anyone in the long run when really there are only two tribes: the living and the dead. Maybe. The theme is still not clear, and may not ever be.
And it's possible Madison is up to something even bigger than we yet know. We'll see.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.