Well, the opening season of Fear the Walking Dead, the companion show – or prequel, if you prefer – to The Walking Dead has come to an end. Before I delve into my recap and review, I will say this: if the entire season played like the last 30 minutes of the finale, it would have been a lot less painful for me and my reviews. The question is: Does it merit a second season? Let’s dig in and render a decision.
The final episode opens with a shot of a moonlit, blacked-out Los Angeles, and we see some sections of the city on fire. We then flash to the doors of the auditorium where Danny Boy was at last week; something really wants to get out of there and it just may get its wish.
After the opening title shit we see Travis, Madison, and the extended family packing to head west. Chris and Alisha tell them they saw the soldiers in transit when it is explained they are retreating. Travis reassures Chris that he will get Liza and Nick before they depart. Daniel has gotten all he wants from the soldier and feels it is time to sever ties with him . . . you know, the old-school way. Any guesses who opposes? Anyone? If you guessed Travis, you get a gold star. Travis argues to keep him and Andy argues his case saying that they will need him as a guide. Not everyone is keen on Andy tagging along, so Madison tells Travis that Andy must ride with him.
Daniel enlists an angry, agitated Ophelia when he tells her they are going to find Griselda and bring Andy. She is still upset about Dad’s torturous past and feels like she was lied to her whole life. She thought he was a victim; in some ways, I’m sure he was. Daniel, of course, sees it as protecting her. The caravan is packed up and ready for the rescue.
At the compound, Dr. Bethany is on the two-way radio briefing the retreating soldiers who can leave. Liza questions her about bringing Chris and the rest of the clan. Dr. Bethany says she must make a limited choice, so she picks Chris and Travis. We then zip on over to Andy pleading with Travis in the truck to turn him loose because Daniel will kill him. See, Andy knows who to play: our sensitive hero, Travis. As they leave the community, they find the gates unmanned and closed. Never fear; as I’ve stated before, this is a talented, resourceful group of individuals. Daniel gets out and effortlessly operates the gate.
After a cut scene, we see Daniel rounding the corner of the compound with soldiers stationed in a tower. The soldiers pull their arms and tell him to stop or they will shoot. Daniel coolly tells them to save their ammo, they will need it. Yep, you guessed it; the crew stopped at the auditorium and let out, as we viewers know them, the walking dead. The soldiers open up fire on them and our crew sneaks past during all of the calamity. They get to the parking garage, where they all get out of their vehicles to discuss the plan. You guessed it: our sweet hero Travis let Andy go, and this makes Daniel unhappy. I will say that throughout everything Daniel keeps a calm, even demeanor. Is it bad acting or is it his character? I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and say it’s his character, because of his past. Before departing, Travis tells Chris and Alisha to wait in the vehicle and if things go awry, to leave.
We are now inside the compound with our favorite cell mates, Strand and Nick. The power is starting to give out as we hear alarms and gunfire in the background. Strand says it’s time to go but can’t find the key. Surprise, the cavalcade of talent rolls on: Nick is a magician and he has the key, which he gives back to Strand. Dr. Bethany and Liza are on the roof observing the chaos as Travis and the crew make their way into the compound following Andy’s directions. Dr. B is on the radio trying to get an extraction scheduled, to no avail. She goes back inside the infirmary and tells the workers to leave, and that she is staying. She encourages Liza to go, which she reluctantly does.
Back in the parking garage, Chris and Alisha are having a little tiff over Travis, during which Chris actually sticks up for him, stating, “At least he tries.” Of course, emo Alisha’s argument is that not everyone can be saved, which upsets Chris. The apple definitely does not fall far from the tree. Suddenly footsteps are heard and they retreat into the vehicle and hide. Cut to Nick and Strand leaving the celled area and ignoring all pleas for help. They are going to Abigail; I hope she is at least hot! Back to hiding in the vehicle, someone is trying the door handles. Suddenly the windows are smashed in and soldiers yank Chris and Alisha from the vehicle. They ask Chris for the keys and he refuses and gets tossed around. Alisha says she has keys and soldiers begin to make lewd passes at her and tell her to come with them. Chris objects; while attempting to be chivalrous, he gets knocked to the ground.
Our crew makes their way through the compound. Liza attempts to leave and soldiers fire away at the walkers. Just as the walkers break through the fence, Liza watches one chomp on a soldier. Badly bleeding, he staggers to a departing chopper that will not allow him passage and he stumbles into the tail blade, CG blood everywhere. After taking in the scenery, Liza retreats back inside. Nick and Strand are walking the halls and go through a door that magnetically locks; they see walkers lunching on some soldiers. Nick protests walking through, asking Strand if he is crazy. Strand confidently swaggers through and retorts, “No, they’re slow”; apparently Strand is experienced. Just then, Strand finds the soldier he was paying off; he’s not in good shape, so Strand reaches in his pocket and removes the cufflinks and coldly tells him to keep the watch. More walkers show up . . . time to run!
Our heroes are in the cell area now, asking for Nick. One woman states that he is with a rich guy in a suit. The crew begins to release the people from their cells. As Nick and Strand are running, they get to the magnetically locked doors. How unfortunate. As the horde of walkers slowly makes its way toward them, the lights flicker, giving this well-shot scene a very creepy feeling. Nick pounds on the doors while Strand empties his clip. Just in the nick of time, the crew shows up, but . . . Oh no, they don’t have a key card to open the door! After attempting to open the door to no avail, Nick looks at Madison and tells her to go. No worries; Liza happens to be in the area with her key card and gets them out in the nick of time. Again, remember that I told you how amazing these people are. They are in a huge compound, yet they all find each other just in time. On their way to the parking garage, they have to fight off a number of walkers and then lock them in the cafeteria. Nick then introduces Strand as the guy who saved his life. Liza tells Daniel and Ophelia about Griselda. Ophelia wants to see her but Liza says there is nothing left to see. Madison stocks up on meds from supply. We get to see Dr. Bethany again. The crew asks for the way out and she tells them there is one, but nowhere to go. They encourage her to come but she stays silent; she looks busy making kill shots with the air gun. Strand tells the crew going west is not safe; it’s better to go east to the coastline. Apparently he has a house on the water that has supplies.
As the crew makes their way out, it is now daylight. We get a view of piles of charred remains, which I’m assuming is what they do with the infected once dispatched appropriately. Ophelia sees this sight and breaks down. We make our way down to the parking garage and the crew begins yelling for Alisha and Chris. Daniel protests, saying the dead will hear. Finally it happens: Travis’s balls drop and he jacks Daniel up against a car. Alisha and Chris come out of hiding. Another character emerges from the shadows: our old pal Andy, who is upset and armed. Andy takes aim at Daniel and Ophelia tries to reason with him. Andy turns the gun on Ophelia and shoots her. Feeling it now that he grew a set, Travis jumps Andy and pummels him. He doesn’t just beat him up, he pounds him to a bloody pulp until Madison calmly stops him. This is a Travis I can get behind!
The crew members get into their vehicles and begin the trek to Strand’s hideaway. We get some nice shots of the abandoned city along with walkers just making their way along the roads. We even get to see a crashed copter with a soldier turned walker wanting to get out of the wreckage. They make it to Strand’s palace (this place is sweet) on the coast. Madison and Nick have a conversation while taking in the beautiful scenery. Nick states that he’s felt as though he’s been living like this for a long time and now everyone else is catching up. Ophelia is on the couch getting checked by Liza, who says she is healing and gives Daniel instructions on how to take care of her. She then goes to see Chris, who is very happy they made it out. He hugs his mom and she tells him she loves him. As we start putting two and two together, something is afoot. Liza walks away and Madison follows her.
Strand is in his bedroom packing as he tells Nick to stay in constant motion and that no one is staying at the palace. Nick questions him as to the whereabouts of Abigail. Nick also questions as to why they went to the palace if they are not staying and Strand says the only way to survive a mad world is to embrace the madness. Strand takes Nick to a telescope and reveals Abigail, his yacht.
Madison follows Liza down to the shoreline, where Liza reveals she has been bitten. She gives a gun to Madison because she doesn’t think she can do it herself. She also does not want Travis to do it; she says it will break him. Just then Travis comes on the scene and asks what is going on, they explain. Travis tries to talk her out of it but she explains the bite doesn’t turn you; the infection is untreatable, it kills you and then you come back no matter how you die. In a heartfelt scene, Travis and Liza have an emotional exchange where she makes him promise to protect Chris. Travis then takes the gun from Madison. We go to a serene scene where Chris and Alisha are eating ice cream on the overlook and a shot rings out. It gets everyone’s attention as Chris and Alisha race toward the sound. Here we get some nice slow-motion cut scenes of Travis emotionally drained kneeling on the beach, and Chris hugging a dead Liza as Alisha looks on. We then go back to Travis on the beach; Madison comes and just wordlessly throws her arms around him as the water comes in washing over them. The camera pans away revealing the coast and cityscape in a gorgeous shot. We then get the camera flying over the ocean as the speed builds, and as the camera goes further out, a lot of debris is shown in the ocean. I watched again to see if I could make out what it was, but I couldn’t. Is it perhaps something that has contributed to the start of the dead coming back? What exactly is Strands deal? These questions may be answered in season two.
This episode of Fear the Walking Dead was directed by Stefan Schwartz, who has done previous directorial work on hit shows such as The Walking Dead and Dexter. The episode was written by Robert Kirkman of The Walking Dead fame and Dave Erickson who has worked on Sons of Anarchy. For me, this is the show I was waiting to see all along. Is it too little, too late? I’m going to say no. I will watch the second season with high hopes, so fellas, don’t let me down! The direction of this season finale was well crafted, using both beautiful and creepy imagery. The writing was the best it has been all season. Let’s call this a stepping stone to possibly much better things, I hope.
Fear the Walking Dead “The Good Man” (3.5 / 5) on the Thug meter