Fear the Walking Dead: Midseason Finale

[This is a combined review of episode 3.7 "The Unveiling" and 3.8 "Children of Wrath."]

"We're on the wrong side."

That's really what this entire two-hour midseason finale was about, wasn't it? The Clarks realized that they were indeed on the wrong side of the Broke Jaw/Black Hat conflict, and they did something about it. And it wasn't about drawing a moral line in the sand about where evil began, and not crossing it. Or was it? How much of what happened was because Walker was in the right, and how much was it about the Clarks realizing that Walker was going to win?

Jeremiah Otto was a despicable human being. The "red dirt" under the adobe cabin floor concealed the bodies of Walker's murdered father and uncle. The long-awaited reveal of what happened to Ofelia showed that Jeremiah Otto simply abandoned her in the desert. He left her to die of thirst and exposure because she was brown.

Not that Walker was all sweetness and light, what with the nearly scalping Jake, the pig head for lunch, and threatening to burn Jeremiah Otto alive. (Michael Greyeyes, who plays Walker, was so believable; he's an impressive actor.) But Walker also stumbled over Ofelia, near death, and he saved her life and took her in. It's no wonder that Ofelia repaid Walker's kindness by becoming a double agent and poisoning Troy's militia. Also not a surprise that Ofelia never would have done it if she had realized it was anthrax.


I think Walker finally won me over just a bit when he showed respect for Alicia's courage and maturity in offering herself as a hostage instead of Jake. Walker and Alicia were able to communicate and relate, even after Alicia found the concealed helicopter and confronted him about killing Travis and nearly killing her.

After two seasons of trying to discard his family, Nick is finally all in. In order to keep his enemies closer, Nick cut his stringy, straggly hair and joined Troy's militia. Initially charmed by Jeremiah Otto's stories and the ranch's history, Nick dug up the floor of the adobe cabin and discovered the truth about Jeremiah for himself. And when Madison couldn't get Jeremiah to acknowledge his own guilt and protect his sons by killing himself, Nick shot Jeremiah in the head. (What cool foreshadowing that Jeremiah said Nick looked like a ghoul right before that happened.)


But when it came right down to it, this episode was really about Madison. In my review of "Red Dirt," I said that writing out Travis was a smart thing for the writers to do and I'm doubling down on that, because we are now getting the unvarnished Madison Clark. If she had told Nick and Alicia before the apocalypse that she had murdered her own father, they would never have been able to accept it. Here, they swallowed it right down, no chaser required.

Is Madison good or evil? Is she Rick Grimes or the Governor? At this point I'm going with Rick Grimes, because I remember a key moment when Rick killed a man by ripping his throat out with his teeth because Carl was in danger. I just don't believe Madison enjoys murder the way Troy does. She has always done what she had to do to protect the people she loves. Madison even brought Walker a bag with Jeremiah's head in it. Did she cut it off his body by herself? Of course she did.

I'm totally intrigued that Madison shot and killed her own father when she was a little girl because she was sick of watching him get drunk and beat her mother. It's also interesting that the "burning the ballot boxes" comment suggested that Madison's politician father was a racist, like Jeremiah Otto. With that and the alcoholism, Madison must have been experiencing quite a bit of deja vu during her time at the ranch.

I thought this midseason two parter would be about bringing the deadly situation with Troy to a head. (Okay, painfully clumsy pun, it was about Jeremiah's head.) Maybe they're saving Troy for the season finale. Then again, maybe Troy is going to stick around for awhile and turn out to be Madison's enforcer. It's hard to tell at this point.


Meanwhile in another corner of the apocalypse, Strand happened upon the Abigail, run aground and full of border guard walkers. I really enjoyed watching Strand say goodbye to his past, and to his lover Thomas, by drinking that one last bottle of Dom Perignon. I can imagine that if I were emotionally strung out and stoned on champagne, getting a message from space might seem a bit unreal, but honestly, it was adorable the way Strand and the unfortunate cosmonaut exchanged the last words of famous people. "Either this wallpaper goes, or I do." "Last words are for fools who have not said enough."

The cosmonaut, trapped in space and facing his own death, confirmed that the apocalypse had affected the entire earth, but encouraged Strand to go on living. Maybe that was the ultimate message of this episode? Strand set the Abigail on fire, and moved on with his life. It felt like an ending. I hope this isn't the last we see of Strand. This series would be a lot poorer without Colman Domingo.

Bits:

-- Madison is originally from Montgomery. That could be Alabama, although there is also a Montgomery in Georgia. The producers mentioned somewhere once that Madison's southern accent was intentional. Maybe we'll eventually learn what Madison's connection is to the parent show.

-- I liked how former addict Nick woke up and puked from the anthrax, and said to Alicia that it was just like old times.

-- Walker told Alicia that the word "apocalypse" meant "great unveiling," not the end of the world as we know it. I liked what Alicia said about the afterlife not making sense because it was so hard to get out of this life.

-- I also really liked the photography in these two episodes: the strangely shaped shadows at the Black Hat, the bright starkness of the desert where Ofelia nearly died. Also loved the shot of Strand with the flames reflected in his sunglasses. Go big or go home, huh?

-- I've often complained about Frank Dillane's hair in my reviews. It's finally a lot shorter, but it still looks weird, doesn't it?

-- Strand and Daniel weren't in part one, and Daniel was only Ofelia's vision in part two. Did Daniel return to the dam?

-- According to Chris Hardwick on Talking Dead, the second half of this season begins airing on September 10.

Quotes:

Alicia: "Is a hostage the same thing as a prisoner?"

Jeremiah: "I hear Alicia volunteered. Guess the apple don't fall far when it comes to pain-in-the-ass predicaments."
Madison: "She's only eighteen."
Jeremiah: "In the old days, what? a couple of months ago? eighteen was considered an adult."

Jeremiah: "This parlay? Snakebit."

Jake: "What does your death wish look like?"

Ofelia: "So am I a prisoner here?"
Madison: "We're all prisoners somewhere."

I thought this two-parter was solid and entertaining, and thank you, producers, for not making it gross. Three out of four bottles of Dom Perignon,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves science fiction but hates horror, and is confused about why she loves The Walking Dead so much.

1 comment:

Patryk said...

I don't know what they will do with Troy now, but him being Madison's enforcer would be a better story then just another villain to kill at season end. I would guess that Jake would be a lot more pissed if he knew the truth who killed his father and is more likely to end up as an enemy.

But all in all what worked for me the most is Strand's chat with the cosmonaut and the striking image of flames reflacted in his glasses.