"The end is the beginning" is the key to the sixth season of Fear the Walking Dead, where a new enemy threatens the settlements where Morgan's (Lennie James) group of split-up survivors live under the rule of Pioneer leader Virginia (Colby Minifie). This as-yet-revealed big bad has Ginny shaking in her boots as she works to build the future for the more than 800 people living in her franchise of western settlements, including the Paradise Ridge community in Texas and the fortified town of Lawton, Oklahoma. As Fear continues to set up the villains behind that cryptic slogan, here's how they've factored into season 6 so far:
In the season premiere, "The End Is the Beginning," an unnamed Man (Joseph Castillo-Midyett) and his companion (Stephen Brodie) hire bounty hunter Emile (Demetrius Grosse) to track down Walter (Damon Carney), the owner of the key to a beached submarine in Galveston, Texas. The Man spray-paints "the end is the beginning" on the sub as they wait for Emile, who is killed by Morgan when he goes to claim the bounty put out by Ginny.
During episode 602, "Welcome to the Club," Ginny reveals her secret weapon when she names a group of workers led by Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) as "the key to our survival" after the group eliminates a walker threat. Ginny promotes Strand to Ranger and the leader of a newly-assembled army, telling him to be ready when the time comes for her to call on them for "the big show."
In 603, "Alaska," Ginny sends Althea (Maggie Grace) and Dwight (Austin Amelio) on a recon mission to determine the cause of mysterious deaths so that the settlements can avoid the same fate. While investigating a picked-over funeral home, a freshly embalmed walker attacks Al.
When they head into the city so that Al can reunite with CRM soldier Isabelle (Sydney Lemmon), their attempt to reach a rooftop helipad brings them into an office building defaced with the same spray-painted message and crawling with bubonic plague-infected rats. After providing antibiotics to the sick survivors in the care of Nora (Devyn Tyler) and Lee (Todd Terry), Al spots an emptied rat cage near a discarded can of spray paint.
Episode 604, "The Key," sees Morgan begin a trip to Humbug's Gulch with Emile's dog, Rufus, to sniff out a lead on the missing Grace (Karen David). The Man and his companion crash into Morgan's truck and ambush him to retrieve the key around his neck, but Morgan kills his attackers before asking aloud: "What the hell do you unlock?"
Ginny and Rangers Hill (Craig Nigh) and Marcus (Justin Smith) apprehend logger Paige (Ellen Locy) when they catch her tagging trees in episode 606, "Bury Her Next to Jasper's Leg." Paige and her group are behind felled trees spray-painted with "the end is the beginning," and Ginny wants to know why.
"It's not about you. It's not about any of you," Paige says, wielding a gun stolen from Marcus. "It's about what you're building. It's about the future." With a smile, Paige shoots herself and leaves Ginny without answers.
When Ginny travels to Tank Town to investigate a deadly explosion, it becomes clear the suspected accident was a deliberate attack when she spots "the end is the beginning" spray-painted on an oil tank. Among the wounded is quarry worker Wes (Colby Hollman), who is questioned by Ginny when Hill and Marcus find a collection of paints in his possession.
Ginny digs her finger into Wes' shrapnel stomach wound to force him to talk, suspecting he's with "them," but Wes denies her accusations. Wes says he paints because of his brother, Derek, who we learned was killed by walkers while on a supply run in season 5. Asked if his brother was "with them," Wes screams, "I don't know who 'them' is!"
June (Jenna Elfman), who fends off an attack from a walker with blades taped to its fingers, sedates Wes before the frantic Ginny can question him further. When another explosion traps June with a zombie-bitten Ginny, she says she came to Tank Town because she's "trying to save everyone from something that's affecting all of us. This ain't some ragtag group that doesn't like what I'm doing."
Ginny goes on to say Paige would rather kill herself than answer what they're up to, telling June, "These people care more about killing than about living." Whoever or whatever is after the settlements, Ginny says everything she does is to protect younger sister Dakota (Zoe Colletti).
More about this group is still to come in the nine-episode half-season still ahead.
Fear the Walking Dead next airs its midseason 6 finale, "Damage From the Inside," on Sunday, November 22. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD.