Sunday's episode of Fear the Walking Dead, "Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame," introduced another new threat to Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) and her family in the form of Walker (Michael Greyeyes), a Native American warrior with a long-standing grievance against the Broke Jaw Ranch that's finally boiling over. He was the one who shot down the helicopter and killed Travis (Cliff Curtis).
When Madison and Troy Otto (Daniel Sharman) and their crew were heading to check on the outpost of Broke Jaw Ranch and what happened to a group from there who went to investigate the helicopter crash site. When they arrived at the site, they found that the wreckage of the chopper had been hauled away. There were spent shells on the ground, evidence that there had been a gunfight.
When they got to the outpost, they found it creepily desolate. They went around to the back and found a pile of burning bodies. About a hundred yards from the bodies sat a guy absently reciting the poem "Antigonish" as a crow picked at his brain, which a gruesome head injury had opened to the air. As Madison slid a knife into his brain to put him down (much easier than having to go through the skull like they usually do when stabbing brains), Walker appeared behind them, almost like he'd materialized out of thin air.
"Have you lost your mind, Walker?" said Troy. "Have you any idea what you've just done?"
"Defended our land," Walker replied.
Walker explained that the bad blood between him and McCarthy, the guy who got his brain-can opened, went way back, and McCarthy killed two of his men yesterday.
Troy almost passively insinuated that Walker had started a war, or at least condemned himself to death, but then Walker revealed that his men had the Broke Jaw soldiers surrounded. He ordered the Broke Jaw soldiers to turn over their guns, vehicles, supplies and boots and hoof it back to Broke Jaw to tell Jeremiah (Dayton Callie) what happened.
"Tell your people it's time for justice," he said. "The land you've lived on needs to be returned. Abandon the ranch."
Troy said no on the basis of having sacrificed too much to secure the ranch and Walker was like "oh, you're gonna talk to me about sacrifice, pinkeye?"
Madison stood up and demanded water. Walker told her she bought into a lost cause by joining the survivalists, and she replied that she bought in when he shot down that helicopter, taking one of her people.
So now Madison has yet another enemy, now that things with Troy are really bad (he held a knife to her throat while she slept later in the episode).
There are two ways this new relationship could go: Madison fights alongside Jeremiah in order to get revenge against Walker for killing Travis, or she could ally with Walker to help take the ranch, which she wants for herself. That of course would lead to another crisis of leadership down the road, but her insider knowledge could at least help her negotiate a better position with the tribe than she has with Jeremiah. It will probably be the latter, because Jeremiah is untrustworthy and racist, and Fear the Walking Dead isn't going to have its hero help a white supremacist exterminate Native Americans. The show makes some weird choices -- introducing a "Native Americans want to reclaim their land from white people" storyline is itself a pretty weird choice -- but putting its heroes on the wrong side of a race war seems beyond the pale even for a show that traffics in moral ambiguity. It seems likely that Madison will draw the line at "start a race war" for things she's willing to do to protect her family.
As for Walker, we still know pretty much nothing about him. It's hard to even say he scalped McCarthy, since grabbing hair is a necessary part of scalping and McCarthy was bald, but the audience was supposed to think of scalping. But two things are for sure: Walker is definitely going to be a major player in the rest of Season 3, and showrunner Dave Erickson's "border story" is going full Blood Meridian (the character McCarthy's name is a clear nod to the Southwestern author Cormac McCarthy).
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.