The season finale actually had some zombies! And a lot more besides.
Well, here we are at the end of the line for this short first season of Fear the Walking Dead. For those complaining about the lack of walkers, well there were a whole sports arena full of them, and they stormed the compound like a bunch of tweens at a Justin Bieber concert.
There have been complaints that the spin-off is a bit slow to build, and that’s valid, but this episode really BROUGHT IT in terms of tension and gore. For the first time, the show began to show its horror bones with the flickering lights, tense fight scenes, and gore. The finale wasn’t perfect; it still felt like set-up for the full season next year, but already we can see that there is going to be a lot of human drama, and unlike original flavor Walking Dead, we’re going to be spending a lot of time on a boat, which has tons of narrative possibilities.
Fighting on the Front Lines
Called it last week when Daniel decided to open up the Sports Arena doors and use the walkers as a distraction to rescue Nick and Griselda. Question: how exactly did he get all those walkers to follow him to the compound? Because those are some mad herding skills. That, or L.A. walkers are just really organized.
Note to self: Stop asking for logic on a show about zombies.
As we can see, the military is no match for the walkers, there are too many, which explains why in the Walking Dead we rarely, if at all, see any members of the military. Since the show is focused on the early days of the pandemic, chances are we’ll see more of a military presence on this show, especially because it’s a dynamic that isn’t explored on the mothership. If our characters set sail, then maybe we’ll have them come up against the Coast Guard?
So far what we’ve seen are two different types of soldiers. The first are the soldiers that are legitimately trying to do their job, and don’t want to shoot civilians. The second type are the mercenaries who are out for themselves and will steal trucks from teenagers, and somehow despite being under siege from the undead still have the time to sexually harass Alicia. Priorities, people. Jeez…
Also, that “humane” extermination of the neighbors involved basically torching people until they were piled up in a giant mound of ash. If that’s how the military deals with a problem (and again, these people weren’t infected) then how are they going to deal with anything and anyone they perceive as a threat? The walkers may not be the only dangers that face our protagonists next year.
Because this show is more focused on characters, we are being set up for some interesting dynamics in the next season, so let’s take a look at who is going to play F***, Marry, or Kill.
Travis and Madison
Well, he may have stepped up a bit this episode, but Travis is still kind of useless. The title of the episode, “The Good Man,” obviously refers to Travis, but he still makes bad decisions and can’t handle the truth! He might have put a bullet in Liza’s head, but he still breaks down on the beach. Madison is there to comfort him, but how long before she gets tired of his bulls*** and tells him to man up. The dead are rising from the grave and nobody has time for your man tears, Manawa. Either Travis is going to pull it together next season, or he and the pragmatic Maddie are going to be at odds.
Alicia and Chris
Still a waste of plot space, but hey, at least they enjoy each other’s company. Let’s hope the writers next season are able to give them something useful to do.
Daniel and Travis
Don’t think that because Ofelia survived her gunshot wound that Daniel is going to be thanking Travis for his boneheaded decision to free Adams. Daniel doesn’t have time for pre-zombie morality or waffling. Travis might want to watch his back (or at least his skin) – just because he beat Adams to a pulp to assauge his own guilt, doesn’t mean that Daniel won’t want payback. Look for these two to butt heads as they continue to argue over how to survive.
Nick and Strand
A dynamic duo has clearly been born here with our junkie Nick and the dapper man with a plan, Strand. Both men see the fall of civilization as a place where they can make their mark, but there are also hints that at some point down the road (let’s say season three) their paths might diverge. Strand embraces the chaos, while Nick likes the idea that everyone is now at his own level of crazy, so early on the seeds for darkness (Strand) and heroics (Nick) are already being sown.
Travis and Chris
Chris is now left with his least favorite parent, and when he finds out dad pulled the trigger, he’s going to turn up the teen ANGST to eleven. Prediction: this will be a tedious storyline that nobody likes because nobody likes teen protagonists in these types of shows (Carl, we’re looking at you). Travis will be ineffectual, and probably angsty too. Not looking forward to this.
Madison and Strand
Strand likes Maddie, and this could be an interesting dynamic. Madison is willing to do what she has to to protect her family, but she’s not fully hardened. Strand likes her survivor’s instinct, but he has an agenda. Either Maddie will come around to Strand’s way of thinking, or she’ll be suspicious of his plans for Nick and she’ll go the full “mama bear.”
Daniel and Ofelia
Ofelia has trust issues and, like Alicia and Chris, isn’t a particularly compelling character, so if her subplot is just whining that Daniel lied to her, then audiences are going to push the mute button when she’s onscreen. Let’s hope Daniel gives her some lessons in badassery.
Daniel and Madison
These two characters already have an interesting relationship. Both are willing to do whatever it takes to help their families. Madison might not always agree with Daniel, but she is flexible enough to come around to his way of thinking. The alliance between these two is what is going to keep this group going, but it may cause conflict with “good guy” Travis and with Strand (who doesn’t seem like the type let others lead for long).
The Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma Dressed in an Expensive Suit that is Strand
Strand continues to fascinate as a character, but there is still so much that we don’t know about him. When he and Nick escape, he refuses to stop and let people out because “helping them could hurt us,” which, when you’re in a hurry and aren’t a big fan of humanitarian gestures, makes sense. However, why does Strand play perfect host to Nick’s extended family of survivors and not once put up a fight about bringing them along? Does Strand really need a heroin addicted Artful Dodger in his posse?
Last week, I speculated that Strand might be a military plant but I’ve revised my opinion, and now I wonder if he is a scientist or researcher. Strand is loaded, and unless he is one of those end of the world survivalists types (hint: they don’t have sweet beach front property in Malibu) he is way too prepared for the pandemic. Now it has never actually been confirmed what caused the outbreak of the zombie virus (just that everyone has the virus lying dormant inside them), but there are a number of theories.
What if Strand worked for a drug company that, during their research, created the virus activator? There has to be a reason that the first character we met was Nick, a heroin addict, and he discovered his girlfriend who died of an overdose was a zombie. Could the outbreak have started with addicts, and this is why Strand was so intent on befriending Nick? Is Nick a twitchy lab rat to experiment on? Or, could the outbreak have come from contaminated food or drink? The military was in the know – could the outbreak have come from biological weapon being manufactured by a defense contractor? Either way, Strand has inside info and may have actually had a hand in the madness.
On the Good Ship Abigail
Next season it seems we are hitting the high seas. If Strand knew what was going to happen, why didn’t he just hide out on his yacht? Or was it part of his plan to get the lay of the land while in detention? Did he hire a crew (are they even alive?), and if not, is that why he was so inviting to Maddie and the rest of the crew? Or, is Strand just really into Gilligan’s Island LARPing and thought that Nick would make a great Gilligan to his Skipper?
It’ll never happen because it’s not that kind of show, but raise your hand if you’d love our protagonists to run into a crew of zombie pirates? Anyone?
Putting everyone on a boat is going to create a claustrophobic atmosphere, but is also offers the potential to explore not just the California Coast, but the Pacific and beyond. There is safety on a boat to a point but it’s when you have to dock that things get dicey. The characters on TWD stay on the East Coast because they are reliant on foot travel and vehicles (with not enough gasoline to go around) but with a boat you can go anywhere and we can see just how big this outbreak is on a global level.
Liza got a great send-off. She made sure that her son was ok and that Ofelia wouldn’t die. She knew that there was no cure, made sure that Madison and Travis understood that, and went out on her own terms. Her death will also act as a running emotional catalyst for a number of characters next year.
No, Nick. Being a heroin addict and waking up as a walker are not comparable experiences. Eye roll.
It is the rules of TV and film that when someone tells you to stay in the car, that person, usually a dumb character like Chris, will immediately get out. Safety is for nerds!
It made me feel better that Strand told Nick that no, they were’t going to stay in his sick Malibu pad, because my notes initially read that I didn’t think it was a good idea to stay in a house made of all windows. Logic wins.
Logic loses when Strand decides to pack all his fancy white dress shirts. Doesn’t he know that everyone wears leather jackets and brown t-shirts in the post-apocalypse? Pretty sure it’s a fashion rule. Hope he also packed Tide bleach sticks.
Good to know that even when the zombies take over, people in L.A. will still argue about which freeway to take. Also, the L.A. Basin is a quicker route than Willoughby.
How soon before Ofelia and Nick become romantically involved? I predict episode nine of next season.