Fear the Walking Dead: Third Season Finale

(This is a combined review of 3.15, "Things Bad Begun" and 3.16, "Sleigh Ride.")

This finale was their best so far. And wow, talk about a cliffhanger.

Nick, Victor and the Dam

That amazing confrontation on top of the dam with Proctor John and his Sons of Anarchy had to be Nick's best moment in the series. It was crystal clear that Nick would hit that detonator and die for his mother and sister, and the confrontation was so intense that I actually believed they were going to kill off the character.


I'd thought at the end of the last episode, "El Matadero," that Nick was on his way back to useless, but no. The finale began with Nick not drugging out as I expected, but making money by collecting heads in a shopping basket. (That was some visual, like a really bad day at Wal-Mart.)

And then Nick survived an encounter with an infuriated Daniel Salazar, who was understandably obsessed with finding out how his daughter Ofelia died. When Daniel locked the door and sat Nick down, it took me back to that soldier in "Cobalt" and I actually got a frisson of fear for Nick. Even though he's rational, Daniel often feels like a human bomb walking among people who can't see him for what he is. Daniel feels unkillable, too. Victor shot Daniel in the face, and Daniel was still running around taking out bad guys. He was on the bridge shooting them when the dam came down, almost as if he was coming to Nick's rescue. Maybe he was.

I wish I could say that Victor betraying Lola and Daniel by giving up the dam to Proctor John was a surprise, but it wasn't. Victor is a complicated character and I absolutely believe he cares about the Clarks, but he does tend to make bad and selfish decisions, doesn't he? Troy and his evil destroyed the ranch, but Victor's lies took down the dam.

Loved the way Nick hugged and kissed Victor goodbye, and picked the detonator out of his pocket. That went all the way back to when they were strangers imprisoned together in season one.

Alicia and Proctor John

Is it wrong of me to hope that Proctor John (Ray McKinnon) survived the explosion, too? In just these two episodes, he became the most interesting and frightening apocalyptic cult leader we've had so far on this show. He actually wanted to set up trade routes, like the Santa Fe Trail.


It was skillful writing to start Proctor John out as nearly helpless, too, with a growth on his spine that was slowly killing him, like Benjamin Linus on Lost. It gave Proctor John an intriguing mix of brutality and vulnerability. As the clever doctor Eddie (nice performance by James Le Gros) was operating, Alicia kept Proctor John's attention and got him through it, showing how much more there is to Alicia than her pretty face. There was some good acting chemistry going on there, and I wish we'd gotten more of it.

At the same time, I have no desire to see Alicia trade her "services" for Madison, or to try to survive in a Saviors harem type of situation. Fortunately, or unfortunately, that possibility went up in smoke during the attack on the dam when Proctor John was sharp enough to immediately pick up on the fact that Victor and Alicia were concealing the fact that they knew each other.

So who died?

Anyone could have died when the dam came down. The only main character who survived, as far as we know, was Madison.

I'm so very glad that Madison killed Troy in part one. They all lost the ranch because of Troy. I thought at first that we weren't going to get closure, that maybe Troy had somehow survived Madison's hammer to the head, but no – they showed the water from the dam washing over his body. He's gone. As much as I've enjoyed Daniel Sharman's work with this character, and he was terrific, Troy was a rolling disaster that just kept on happening. He had to die. It was time.

Nick and Alicia, only nineteen and eighteen, have become strong adults and never more so than they were in this finale: the last thing I want is for either of them to leave the series. I really want Victor Strand and Daniel Salazar to make it, too. And as I mentioned above, I'd love it if they managed to hold on to Proctor John and his motorcycle club, too. (On Talking Dead, Chris Hardwick was calling them the Sons of Dam-archy.)

When Walker and Crazy Dog, unwilling to die for the dam, left at the beginning of the two-parter, I thought that was it and we'd never see them again. During the confrontation when the sniper fire started taking out the bad guys and they cut to Walker and Crazy Dog behind the rifle, I actually cheered out loud. I like these two characters a lot. Is there a way to bring them back and make them part of the cast?

RIP, Lola and Efrain. I thought it was lovely that Daniel left Ofelia's rosary in Lola's hand.

The Christmas metaphor thingy

At the beginning of the two-parter, Madison and Victor were again talking about what Madison really wanted out of life: safety, family, holiday meals and Christmas cookies. I liked how that scene was shot, with the two of them up high, all that scenery around them, like a visual reminder of the massive life-changing decisions they were about to make.

In part two, "Sleigh Ride," we saw Madison's Christmas fantasy play out in her mind as she was drowning at the dam. It was a surreal Christmas at the ranch, and everyone was alive: photos of her loved ones on the wall, presents under the tree, Johnny Mathis singing as Madison pulled the turkey out of the oven. Interesting that her children weren't included: Nick and Luciana had a baby that was growling (I think) and they wouldn't come into the house, and there was a tombstone right at the start for Alicia. Madison's Christmas table was all men, and mostly dead men.


And then Jeremiah Otto's head was under the cloche, instead of the Christmas turkey. Blood poured out and covered the table. There were tombstones everywhere, and then Madison was buried alive. It was touching that Travis (Cliff Curtis) returned for that one moment, to pull Madison out of her grave and back into life. A nice callback, considering the season began with his death.

The end of the dam, with all of the people coming to get the water they needed to live, was an obvious message of hope, too. Giving the water to the people was all Lola ever wanted. Too bad she didn't live to see it happen.

Bits:

-- Ray McKinnon (Proctor John), like Dayton Callie (Jeremiah Otto) and Kim Dickens, was in Deadwood. Another Deadwood reunion. McKinnon also created and executive produced Rectify, another show I've reviewed.

-- I have to mention that it's pretty much impossible for someone to be running around directing an attack on a dam when they just had back surgery with limited anesthesia. Right?

-- Victor did shoot Daniel, but technically, he still hasn't killed anyone. Even though what happened at the dam was Victor's fault. Except Proctor John probably would have attacked the dam, anyway, so never mind.

-- In a critical moment, Nick asked Madison, "Don't you wish I were dead, too?" and Madison told him, "Fuck you." (Our second F-bomb of the season.) Nick said that someday Madison would have to kill him, anyway. Can I just say that I hate the idea that Madison might have to kill Nick?

-- Alicia's apocalypse buddy Diana is still alive, although she broke her leg and it didn't look good. That car accident attack was a shocker. Diana's continued insistence that Alicia sell her hair was pretty funny. Alycia Debnam-Carey said on Talking Dead that her hair staying pretty is a standing joke on the set.

-- When Victor tried to take Madison and Nick out of danger as undercover prisoners, I thought, it's the Wookiee. And right then, Madison gave a version of the famous Star Wars line: "I don't have a good feeling about this."

-- Scott M. Gimple is taking over Fear the Walking Dead next season. But it's never good when a showrunner does more than one show at a time. Ask Joss Whedon.

Quotes:

Madison: "You got two options in life, Victor. You can be lonely or irritated."

Madison: "Killing drives some people mad. It never quite gets you what you want. Worst of all, it gets easier every time."

Daniel: "People don't change. We just walk in circles."

And that was echoed by...

Troy: "Life's funny, ain't it? You know, we walk around in circles, and here we are all together in Mexico of all places."

Alicia: "You have a high pain threshold."
Proctor John: "Years of living with a white Buddhist with a sharp tongue and a yoga mat."
Alicia: "I hear narcissists are drawn to Buddhism."
Proctor John: "The truth of the real self is a lie, as it is in every religion. And I detest liars above all else."

Madison: "I don't have a good feeling about this."
Victor: "You don't have a choice. And I haven't had a good feeling about anything since 1997."

Proctor John: "What fresh hell is this, gentlemen? What fresh hell?"

Victor: "Nick, don't touch the other button!"
Nick: "What, the one that says 'detonate'?"

Nick: "I'm not negotiating, John. This is my suicide note."

Proctor John: "The bravado of the junkie Christ."

Walker: "Nice headshot."
Crazy Dog: "I was going for a heart lung combo."
Walker: "Must be the wind."

Totally enjoyed these two episodes. Four out of four heads in a shopping cart,

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

8 comments:

Patryk said...

I saw Cliff Curtis in the opening credits and I spent most of the finale dreading they would pull a miracle ressurection so I was really glad with the dream scenario in part 2 which of course was the only place he appeared.

I doubt anyone died offscreen so Daniel, Nick, Proctor John, Victor and Alicia must be alive too.

I for one will miss Troy who even showed some signs of sanity the last 2 episodes. Maybe actually getting to know fear would change him. Now we'll never know.

Henrik Bennetter said...

I didn't take away at all the same feelings you had from this.

And yes, even though I said a few episodes back that I had lost heart, I continued watching - but will now drop this show entirely.

For one - I absolutely HATE dream-sequences. It's a lazy way to go, in my opinion, plus it very rarely adds anything to a story. In that way it's the same as sex-scenes. If it's not necessary for the story or adds something to a character then it's uninteresting.
Just like this dream-sequence. It didn't add a thing to Madisons character-development. Especially not since Travis grabbed her hand...and the let it go? Stupid, lazy, writing.

So. No. I'm done with FtWD now. Just like I thought there was just yet another confrontation. There will inevitably be yet another, and another, and another. It's now too tedious and repetitive.

Not even sure I'll be watching the parent show, for much of the same reasons.

I had, for a moment, a sense that following Taka and Crazy Dog on an epic road-trip (by foot) would be cool. But then I thought "Where would they end up? What would be the point?" and dropped that thought to.
Everything that will always happen on this show and it's parent is;
Our heroes divided. Find a community of sorts worth fighting for. Rise through the ranks. Find internal or external conflict that results in a clash that reduces everything to ashes.
Rinse. Repeat.

I hope I'm wrong and that those of you that stick with the show are happy with it. (if you feel I'm missing out on somehting when the next season premieres - don't hesitate to ping me somewhere :D)

Patryk said...

I didn't like the dream sequence per se. I just ment that I liked that it appeared because Cliff Curtis was in the credits so there was a bit of danger that the writers would contrive that Travis survived falling out of a helicopter somehow. Other then that was kinda pointless, unless we are ment to take it as some foreshadowing for later events.

Billie Doux said...

I actually did like the dream sequence. It was weird in a surreal sort of way. How many times do you get to see a severed head instead of a Christmas turkey?

Patryk, I thought the same thing when I saw Cliff Curtis' name come up. Having him turn up alive would have been jumping the shark, though. No one lives through falling that far out of a helicopter. :)

Henrik, I get it. Pretty much all television is watching characters in a specific situation that is full of conflict. Pretty much all television has a shelf life, too. People eventually get tired of the characters, or the situation, or both. The Walking Dead and its spinoff, Fear, has been giving us the zombie apocalypse for seven years. I'm still enjoying it but I'm the first to admit that it's been getting repetitious for awhile. I even considered dropping TWD after "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be," but in the end I decided to stick it out awhile longer.

Henrik Bennetter said...

Patryk: my comment was in no way critique of your feelings toward the dream sequence, just want to make that clear.
And Billie, I really hope and wish that TWD and FtWD will continue to deliver quality TV, much like this site always delivers high-end reviews ��
And may I be so bold to add; the readers/followers of this site/blog ROCK!!! Such a shame that FtWD doesn't anymore (imho).
"The good place" on the other hand, well that's another story (and review).

Billie Doux said...

Thanks, Henrik. :)

Patryk said...

Henrik: I'm just glad I provoked a discussion about the episode and general state of Fear the Walking Dead.

In other news: I try to avoid spoilers but somthing cought my eye on the web: one article claimed that this finale all but spelled out what character will crossover between FtWD and the parent show. I might not have paid enough atttention to character backstories cause I did not see any clues at all.

Billie Doux said...

I haven't read anything about the possible crossover character, but the discussion about Texas in this episode made me think of Abraham. I'd certainly love to see Abraham again.