Five episodes have ticked past. The promise of watching a world struggling to deal with a zombie outbreak was replaced with watching a world struggling to deal with how terrible it could be under the watchful eye of the military, while you’re locked in your safe zone. Sure, things were bad for the survivors in LA, but there didn’t seem to really be a lot of movement on the whole “zombie apocalypse” thing, and the complete crumbling of society. But, hey, if they threw all of that information out there right away in the first season, we wouldn’t ever get a second season, right?
So we spent five episodes getting to watch a group of clearly dysfunctional individuals try to make the best out of what was largely a mildly uncomfortable situation. Being familiar with the world of The Walking Dead, we know that it’s only going to get worse, which made both the slow build and the sheer incompetence of many of the characters a potential for frustration. Clearly, the deck was being stacked, and the question remained whether or not the sixth episode, and first season finale, would raise the stakes.
We should have trusted. While still not on par with many of the story arc-ending episodes from the original show, the season finale of Fear the Walking Dead did indeed raise the stakes. It showed the characters starting to realize that survival is more than just getting along with the people down the street. Strengths were put on display (except from Nick, who still feels largely worthless, but maybe that’s just his drugs talking), and, in true TWD fashion, we had to say goodbye to someone who was starting to show some serious potential. Let’s close out the season, and find out what it takes to be The Good Man.
Quick note before diving into the list proper: Liza almost found herself firmly in the number one spot. It really looked like she was going to follow through with her plans without telling any of the others what she learned about the infection. Thankfully, that was averted, and her sacrifice can remain relatively unharmed by stupidity (or, at least, top 5 stupidity).
This spot almost went to Nick, for stealing the key from Strand, but the kid’s just too worthless at this point to even merit stupid points. Again, early TWD Carl would look at him and call him useless (probably while being nowhere near the damned house). Instead, this one goes to Chris, for the way he stood up for Alicia. Look, kid, I totally get the WHY for what you did. After all, she’s clearly going to be part of your nuclear family in this new reality. Plus, she’s about your age, and, well, you two have already bonded a bit. So, yes, it actually did make sense to defend her honor from the soldiers. The problem is that you decided to stand up to three soldiers, all of which were bigger than you, all of which were armed, and all of which were clearly not in a mood to even so much as argue. Still, good for you for the simple fact that you didn’t let them do anything especially untoward with regards to Alicia. That was a well-earned shiner.
It was already mentioned that Strand made the mistake of thinking that there’s something of value in Nick. And, clearly, there will probably eventually be, once he kicks the drugs completely. And maybe Strand even has enough of a soft spot that he really doesn’t think it’s a big deal that Nick stole the key from him. But that brings us to their escape. While leaving the pens, and moving through the complex, Strand makes a point of closing a door behind them. Maybe an alright idea if you’re pretty sure you’re being followed. But when you don’t know what you’re heading towards? You just closed off a potential escape route. Then Strand decides that he just isn’t content with maybe ensuring that he gets trapped, but he also feels the need to take back his cufflinks from the guard he bribed. Problem? The guard is currently being turned into walker lunch. Like, at that very moment. Of course Strand feels the need to have a brief conversation with the man as well. It’s a good thing that the soldier clearly tasted delicious, or maybe we wouldn’t have seen Strand’s Abigail.
After everything that happened to Adams, it’s understandable that he might not really be thinking clearly. Getting lured by Ofelia to their home lead directly to his torture by Daniel. Then, the family made their escape plans shortly after Adams told them all about Cobalt, and it would be easy to imagine that Adams had made a break for his own protection (more on that in a bit). Instead, he comes back for some reason(?) to get revenge against Daniel, but instead decides that the person who really NEEDS to be shot is Ofelia. So he does, driving a bullet into her arm. Now, aside from the whole situation that lead to him getting tortured in the first place, Ofelia was relatively innocent. Sure, she might have been playing him for medicine, but he didn’t seem to mind that much. And she was the only one who kept stressing the need to let him go even before the information about Cobalt was gathered (well, her and Travis, but even he relented). The only way it makes any level of sense would be if Adams was trying to take out Ofelia as a way to make Daniel suffer, but he certainly didn’t try to get his revenge in a smart way. Oh, and his actions also meant that Travis, in a move reminiscent of the scene with Rick and Carl and Joe’s gang, unleashed his inner fury, and proved that maybe he isn’t completely worthless in the apocalypse after all.
Fine, I’ll admit that it was incredibly amusing to watch Daniel saunter nonchalantly down the street towards the military compound. Ignoring the logic that is Daniel successfully getting the arena open, getting the horde on his tail, and then not being noticed until he was at the front gate, it was a pretty triumphant moment for one of the characters who actually has some skills to help him survive. It was also a powerfully stupid idea. Not only did you take the Army’s original stupid idea of locking 2,000 some walkers into an arena, but you expounded it by letting them all out at once and basically guiding them into a conga line of death. This could literally be the moment that turned the outbreak from something that would’ve been terrible, but ultimately manageable, into the situation we know of today. Also, your whole plan is to get into the compound to get back Griselda, Nick, and Liza. Wouldn’t that task be slightly easier if you didn’t have to potentially contend with walking corpses, too? Yes, you needed the zombies to get the soldiers to lower their guard against the living, but couldn’t you have at least gotten them headed somewhere other than the front door?
Above, I admit that Travis actually shows that maybe, just maybe, he does have some of what is required to make it in the world of The Walking Dead. He destroyed Adams for shooting at one of his group, and he was willing (and able) to fulfill Liza’s last request before the infection turned her. But let’s look back to the beginning of the episode, as the family is leaving. Travis immediately lobbies for them to take Adams with them, arguing that the soldier will know exactly where the missing members are, and could help them get through the gates. In the end, Travis gets his way, and Adams is not just left behind in the neighborhood to experience Cobalt personally. So what happens when they get to the trucks? Adams points out that he’s going to be killed by Daniel, and that he should be let free. In the earlier conversation, it was brought up that they couldn’t just let Adams go because he knew about their plan. So what does Travis do? He LET’S HIM GO. Because of course he does. Listen, Travis, you’re getting better (marginally), and you showed a stunning bit of logic at the end of the episode, but that doesn’t forgive you for the beginning. Ofelia’s bullet wound is on your hands, all because you flip-flopped faster than a short order cook being asked to make three hundred pancakes.
That wraps up Fear the Walking Dead for the first season. A second season is coming, so maybe we’ll get to find out how our heroes (to use a term loosely) make it on the water, at least for a little bit. Maybe we’ll even get a nice homage to the Italian Zombi 2, with a great fight between a walker and the ocean’s top predator. Meanwhile, since the beginning has just ended, it’s time for the end to begin again. The big show returns to us all next Sunday, so buckle up, folks. The Ricktocracy is about to take over once again.