“The Holding” properly introduces a new threat and greatly imperils another fan-favorite character in the process.
This recap of Fear the Walking Dead season 6, episode 11, “The Holding”, contains spoilers.
The cold open of “The Holding” features a voice coming over a tannoy, discussing the inevitable entropy of the planet, and that’s about as uplifting as you can expect a show about the apocalypse to be, I think. But it’s deliberately idiosyncratic. It plays as smiling faces move among a well-ordered system, carrying fresh produce to cooks, and sliding hot meals onto plates; a whole little life cycle playing out in microcosm. The voice on the tannoy quickly changes its perspective. Death becomes life. It’s all a matter of perspective. This, it turns out, is the titular Holding, and it’s due a few new guests, ones in bad shape rescued from the road. The elevator doors slide open and out come Alicia, Al, Luciana, Wes, and a couple of others. The guy who greets them says he thinks they’re going to like it here, but I’m not so sure. The graffiti on the wall, bright, optimistic yellow text above a drawing of a tree, reads, “The End is the Beginning.”
This is the place, then. The voice belongs to Teddy, who everyone talks about as if he’s some kind of deity, though apparently, he’s very much alive. And Teddy will be interested in the path that led them to this place. This place is unusual. People there grind up walkers for compost — they call them “posters” — and grow food and feed livestock from their bones. The walls are adorned with murals. The centerpiece is a walker affixed to a piece of food, foliage growing all around it and within it. Their host, Riley (Nick Stahl), asks them what they see in it. There’s apparently no right answer.
This is a cult, isn’t it?
When more people return, among their number is Derek (Chinaza Uche), Wes’s brother. Derek is the resident artist, the guy who has been daubing the graffiti all over the place. What ostensibly important role Derek is fulfilling at the Holding now is, at least according to him, something Wes isn’t ready to hear yet, not until he can “see” like him. That word keeps coming up a lot. The people in the Holding seem to be obsessed with seeing one thing or another. But what is there to see beyond the obvious?
There are things to see in Derek’s bunk, including notes and plans for the sabotage of Tank Town, a lot of it with CRM insignia. That’s what Derek does for the Holding — he plans the raids. Wes is appalled but still determined to save him, to take him back to Morgan’s flourishing community, especially now Virginia is out of the picture. “They’re not helping you see, they’re blinding you,” says Wes, which seems fair. Derek seems receptive but he’s worried if he’s caught trying to leave he and all of them will be killed.
Alicia doesn’t trust Derek, and it turns out she’s right not to. When the gang’s first escape attempt is foiled, Riley starts asking them where to find Morgan, whose name Wes only mentioned to Derek. Derek even aids with the interrogation when Riley threatens everyone with being embalmed. Morgan’s name isn’t worth much around here, apparently. Derek takes Wes back to the artistic walker installation, to ask him again what he sees, and this time he has an answer: “Someone who’s still walking even though he’s dead inside.” He’s talking about Derek, obviously. Wes goes for his gun, a scuffle ensues, and Derek is killed by the art — a fitting end for such a creative, really. Wes saves Alicia from embalming and the group duck into another room that’s essentially a meat locker, walkers, embalmed and with their jaws wired shut, suspended from the ceiling by chains. Al and Alicia realize that the embalming fluid is flammable, so Alicia slices open the walkers and sets their entrails alight to cover their escape, but she stays behind to do it.
With Alicia’s fate unknown, Morgan starts up the beginnings of a rescue operation, while Al, having found the CRM materials, sets out to find “beer lady”. But Fear the Walking Dead season 6, episode 11 doesn’t leave us to ponder what happened to Alicia for long, since it’s revealed in the very next scene that she’s still being held at the Holding. She fights and kills one of her captors, but soon Riley returns with Teddy (John Glover) himself. He wears sandals, which is the appropriate style choice for a cult leader, I think. He’s impressed enough with Alicia’s self-sacrifice that he wants to “save” her. And apparently, he has been looking for someone just like her for a long, long time. I wonder what for?