Fear the Walking Dead Recap: "Blue Jay"

Seven years have passed since the survivors set sail for PADRE. The island settlement turned Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) and Morgan Jones (Lennie James) into Collectors code named Lark and Nightingale, tasking the parents with collecting children for mysterious reasons. On the mainland, someone is leaving maps marked as warning signs: "TURN BACK. PADRE WILL TAKE YOUR CHILDREN." "PADRE IS A LIE. TURN BACK." "COLLECTION ROUTE AHEAD. STAY AWAY." Fear the Walking Dead season 8's "Blue Jay" reveals it's June Dorie (Jenna Elfman), wielding an air rifle and wearing camouflage, waging a one-woman war on PADRE.

The nurse-turned-commando has spent years sniping PADRE's Collectors with tranquilizer darts and collecting their severed trigger fingers, looting their weapons and ammo she keeps in a cache hidden in her solitary cabin in the woods. But Adrian (Jonathan Medina) has tracked June down, and he's the person who has been defacing her warning signs with messages searching for his seven-year-old daughter, Hannah.

June has settled in the area where Collectors took Hannah five years earlier. All Adrian has left of Hannah is her picture and a matching red-and-white striped bracelet. June doesn't know Hannah, or Adrian. She doesn't want to know her, or him. And if she sees Adrian around her cabin again, she'll shoot him dead. The father calls her bluff: she's trying to scare him off and it's not working. "There are a lot of like-minded people out here who would help you with what you're doing," Adrian tells June. "We're forming an army to take on PADRE. You could be part of it."

"If PADRE has had your daughter this long," June warns, "you're not getting her back. Because they use the people you care about the most against you." Her hideaway blown, June ditches her cabin, taking nothing but guns and her jar filled with fingers.

June tries to run — only to run into Red Kite and Starling: Dwight (Austin Amelio) and Sherry (Christine Evangelista). The couple was sneaking their seven-year-old son, Finch (Gavin Warren), to a clinic to undergo surgery for appendicitis when their paths crossed. It's the first time in years Dwight and Sherry have been together: Red Kite has been teaching the kids combat training for PADRE, and Starling was working in the nursery until she was reassigned. PADRE doesn't know that Dwight is Finch's father — and Finch doesn't know about either of his parents.

The former nurse agrees to do Finch's appendectomy if Dwight and Sherry get her a boat to leave the area. The deal leads them to the Coastal Railroad Museum, the site of an old train car converted into a hospital. As Finch undergoes anesthetic for surgery, Adrian follows June to the train, mistaking Dwight and Sherry for Collectors. A scuffle causes a gun to discharge, hitting the control panel and shutting off the train's electricity. June can't do Finch's surgery without power, so Dwight needs to reach the emergency override at the back of the train. But getting there won't be easy: the train is full of the dead.

June explains that she used to work at this black site hospital. Shrike (Maya Eshet) experimented on zombie-bitten test subjects with radiation treatments for PADRE, who tasked her with finding a way to stop infected walker bites. But the radiation was slow, painful — and worse than dying from the bites. Shrike tried to force her to administer the treatments, so June ran away.

As walkers encroach the hospital, Dwight and Sherry go through an access hatch to reach the emergency override at the back of the train. Inside the train car, Adrian tries to convince June to help him find Hannah and get Finch back to PADRE, but she insists she can't help him. "You said PADRE used the people you cared about against you. You can't run away from that," Adrian says to June. "I'm sorry for whatever happened to you, truly. But if that stops you from getting close to anyone again, what exactly are you living for?" 

On top of the train car, Dwight and Sherry get the power back on as Finch's anesthetic starts to wear off. Being with her husband and son has made Sherry doubt returning to PADRE, which now feels like Negan's Sanctuary. June knows all of PADRE's collecting routes and where he'd look for them, so once they find a place to settle their family, they can find a way to let everyone on the island know the truth about PADRE.

But the floor gives out beneath Sherry and Dwight, dropping them into a train car of zombified test subjects. Dwight radios June to do Finch's surgery with a promise to take care of him if they don't make it back, but she makes her way through the train of radiation-burned patients — and nearly dies. Adrian saves June in more ways than one, telling her: "We're a lot alike, you know that? The only difference is, I still have someone to live for. You need to find yours. I told you: there are more people like us. Together, we can take down PADRE." But he's not doing it for June. He's doing it for Hannah. 

At that moment, June and Adrian see a small pair of long-dead hands clawing at the window of the next train car over. As Dwight and Sherry reunite with their son, telling him the truth about their family, another family reunion happens in the other car. Except this one doesn't have a happy ending. The walker at the window is wearing a familiar red-and-white striped bracelet. Hannah. 

June tearfully confesses that she tried to save Hannah, who she treated for asthma when she first came to PADRE. "She was just a scared kid. She missed her dad. She reminded me of my daughter. And I wanted to take care of her and make her safe. I thought she was," June says. But when Hannah went on an off-island scout, she was bitten on her back. June couldn't amputate the infected bite, so she tried to save Hannah with Shrike's radiation treatment. 

But it wasn't Shrike's treatment. It was June's. "I saw someone survive a bite longer than anyone I had ever seen," June explains of Alicia Clark, "and she had been exposed to radiation, so I thought if it worked for her, it could work for Hannah." June treated Hannah with radiotherapy equipment scavenged from a hospital and managed to stop the infection, but the amount of required radiation made things worse. June wanted to end Hannah's suffering. But Shrike ordered she let the girl turn so PADRE could study her and the amount of time it takes to reanimate.

June tearfully recalls how Shrike coerced her to conduct the radiation treatments. "She held a gun on me and she said as long as her finger was on the trigger, I had to keep the experiments going, or other people would pay the price. That's how this whole place happened, because I tried to save someone I cared about. And PADRE made sure that other people suffered as a result." To make sure PADRE's right-hand woman couldn't do to anyone else what she did to June, she took Shrike's trigger finger. And because they couldn't do the experiments without June, staying away from PADRE — and away from people — meant no one else she cares about could get hurt.

Adrian finally understands why June wants to be alone. He opens the door and hugs Hannah last time. June can only watch as the zombified girl sinks her teeth into her father, his guttural screams of anguish echoing through the train as the test subjects tear Adrian apart. After June performs Finch's surgery, she tells Dwight and Sherry to arrange for a boat. But things have changed. 

When their son wakes up, they're taking him away from here to try and be a family — and they want June to come with them. She's family. "We can't let you end up like Adrian," Sherry says. Dwight explains, "As someone who doesn't have anybody to live for. I've told you before, but I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you and John. I have a family because of that. And I want you to be a part of it. If you want to." 

Adrian saved her so she could find someone to live for, so June tearfully accepts. Before she can put down Adrian and Hannah to end their suffering, they're captured by Shrike and PADRE guards. Calling June "Blue Jay," Shrike explains that the experiments were "about saving lives and protecting the future of PADRE."

"No one wants these children safe more than PADRE. That is why this place is so important," she says, arguing that the treatments could have protected children from "carrion" (walkers). "But Blue Jay ran off before she could perfect the cure." June scoffs at the word: every test subject treated with radiation died. "That was then," Shrike says ominously. "I have faith you'll get it right this time. PADRE's got something big planned. Something expansive. He wants these children to be as safe as they can be."

But June refuses. To motivate her, Shrike threatens the unconscious Finch with Adrian's decapitated and reanimated head. Dwight and Sherry try to wake Finch from the anesthetic, but it's too late: the gnawing walker sinks his teeth into the boy and takes a bite out of Finch's shoulder. Only Blue Jay's treatment can save him now. Blue Jay's experiments will continue, and new patients are already on their way to the train. But first, Shrike severs June's trigger finger with a scalpel.

Elsewhere, a PADRE truck transports Morgan and Madison after taking them prisoner last episode. She wants to know why Morgan won't be with his daughter, Mo (Zoey Merchant). "I've been thinking about a thing I did. Actually, a thing I didn't do a long time ago," Morgan answers. It's something he doesn't know if he can ever fix. Madison tells him, "You need to do whatever it takes so you can move forward." Suddenly, Madison suffers an asthmatic attack. Morgan convinces the guards to stop the truck and give her oxygen, but it's a ploy: Madison's struggling gives Morgan time to escape. "Morgan, go," she yells. "Go! Do what you need to do!"

New episodes of Fear the Walking Dead premiere Thursdays on AMC+ and Sundays on AMC. Stay tuned to ComicBook/TWD and follow @CameronBonomolo and @NewsOfTheDead on Twitter for more TWD Universe coverage.