Whew. We made it, everybody. We completed another full season of Fear the Walking Dead. To be honest, I wasn’t sure we’d cross this particular finish line. It does feel a little telling that this week was hyped up as a big “2 hour season finale”, even though it was just taking two normal episodes and cramming them together. But, hey, one of the calling cards of this show is moving through plot points far too quickly, with no real resonance, so this particular set-up to end the second season just fits the mold.
One thing that the original Walking Dead is able to do is raise the stakes for the survivors who are left. And it is important to mention “who are left”, because the finales often change the game so much that there are inevitably fewer left to move forward. Fear doesn’t seem quite as adept at handling that, and possibly because everything just jumps too quickly. This is also a show that has problems fulfilling promises made by the people behind the scenes. After what Daniel did in the mid-season finale, we were told we could expect to see him again in the back half. Unless they were trying to reference the fact that somehow Ofelia became an incredibly tough survivor in her own right, this never came to pass. Much like we were told we’d see the outbreak from the very beginning, only to almost immediately be thrust forward into the military quarantine zones. Needless to say, this is a show that has often seemingly gone out of its way to bring certain levels of Wrath down upon it, and that’s without contriving a reason to point us North.
So let’s look at Wrath, first. There’s plenty of stupidity scattered throughout the first episode showed this week. We’re not even talking about the glaring way that the show has turned Ofelia into an amazing badass, despite her seeming willingness to give up mere days before. So let’s dive into the list.
Apparently all Ofelia needed to do was just convince herself that there was no reason to keep trying to survive, because she’s proven herself to be pretty great at it ever since that moment. Zombies are nothing to her, and she’s shown a remarkable ability to adapt on the fly. Of course, when the truck she’s driving overheats, she doesn’t take the time to scope out the area, but instead just pops the head and finds herself in an ambush. True, she survives, because she’s become just that awesome, but it also allows her to later bring a knife to a gun fight. Good thing for her this particular militia man was more interested in welcoming her to America than leaving her a dehydrated corpse.
Nick is going to make a deal with Marco. Everyone knew that wasn’t going to go well, which is why Alejandro didn’t want him to do it. Nick knows that Marco knows where the colonia is, but he thinks that a few drugs will help out (drugs that, we should recall, Nick was forced to cut to extend the supply of, just to help the colonia’s residents). When he realizes that there was no good deal to be made, Nick returns, is there to help bail out the people as one of the patients goes bad, and then tries to get Luciana to abandon everything she currently cares about, while packing books. Books! Because you want something heavy weighing you down, that’s also terribly ineffective as weaponry.
3. Brandon and Derek
Okay, guys. You have realized that you’ve ended up in the same place as Travis. You’re the only ones who know what happened to his son. True, you didn’t really have time to work up a convincing story in advance, but couldn’t you at least have paid attention to what the other was saying, while it was being said? Oh, right, we wanted to see Travis fly off the handle, especially with the “previously on” reminding us of Madison’s decree about violence.
You know what happens to people who pass away, without suffering the appropriate head wound to stifle the virus. You’ve been running an impromptu hospital, but apparently aren’t bothering to keep track of how close people are to dying, since there was absolutely no attempt to sequester anyone. Now you’ve got two more people sent out beyond the fence, and your story about being immune is full of holes. Good thing Nick was there with his thumbs of steel, or it could have been so much worse.
Madison makes one of the most misguided decisions possible in the first hour (don’t worry, she gets to make another one in the second hour). After meeting with Brandon and Derek, she realizes that they’re the same guys Travis had mentioned as being involved with him and Chris. She proceeds to decide to escort them out of the parking garage, in order to kick them out the hotel, but doesn’t tip her hand to anyone else, which understandably makes everyone else staying in the garage believe that there’s special treatment given to fellow Americans. Oh, and when Travis sees them, there’s no attempt to keep Travis away; instead, he’s given a pass to talk directly to these two. It’s almost like Madison wanted to see Travis snap, but it leads to two more immediate bodies, and one severely injured ally.
But that wasn’t all, folks. There was an entire second hour to wade through, and the actions of the first hour had to be dealt with. In North, we saw our family pushed out of their safe zones, which were varying levels of safe, because we need to try and merge the storylines back together, and letting them stay in any area might mean we have to lose some of the less-interesting pieces of our story. How did North fare? Follow along with me.
First, Luciana is so dedicated to the idea of keep the colonia’s faith intact, she won’t let Alejandro admit that the bite he suffered is going to kill him. Despite knowing that Marco and his gang were coming for them, she’s intent to continue staying behind, because, hey guys, Mexico be poor and stuff, and nobody there ever had a home before, right? Yeah, terrible bit of writing, and then when finally convinced to leave with Nick and the rest of the people, she proceeds to show how comforting and heart-warming this moment is supposed to be by carrying a young girl. And then kissing said young girl on the cheek. Yes, sure, that is a nice moment, except that the girl, like everyone else in the colonia, was smeared with zombie blood so that they could escape through the mass of walkers around. Good thing that apparently there’s no way to spread the more immediate infection through getting blood in your mouth, right?
Strand actually makes a good point to Madison when she’s struggling over what is going to happen to Travis. She’s making it clear that she needs to go along with, and Strand points out that he already abandoned her once. Of course, he doesn’t push the issue too hard, but there’s a moment where he could actually end up keeping Madison and Alicia inside the secure hotel, instead of once again scrambling for shelter with a man who is clearly a little unhinged, even if it is understandably so. However, at the end of the episode, when there’s suddenly a cabal of people trying to get rid of Travis the old fashioned way (why was Hector suddenly best buds with the people who wanted to kill him just a couple episodes ago?) Strand helps get the family out to a van. And then he stays behind. If this is just a way to write Strand off of the show, it’s a fairly weak way to do so. Staying at the hotel is pretty much a death sentence for Strand, especially now that the gates have been destroyed. I’m going to hold out hope that he somehow knows Daniel survived at Celia’s compound, and the two are going to join forces and be badass all across Mexico on a show that we’ll never get to see.
Alicia has had a strong dedication to her mother, but she has a moment where she can stand strong and be on her own two feet. Especially given how she’s already seen Madison throw caution to the wind, Alicia very well could, and maybe should, have decided that Travis broke the rules (whether he knew them or not was debatable), and she wasn’t going to abandon safety just to stay with him. But no, she’s going, and she punctuates that decision by stabbing Andreas. This whole turn of events, one that could have been mitigated through conversation or at least with just the one guilty party being punished, forced the family to leave in the middle of the night, which is clearly the safest time to be traversing unknown territory.
First off, Marco somehow never really knew where the colonia was, despite the fact that Luciana and the runners always approached from the same direction, and had to return pushing overloaded grocery carts. Secondly, apparently he needed to interrogate Francisco, but never thought to check his wallet for a home address (let’s just ignore that the home address would not have been this random shanty town built quickly as a cobbled-together home for survivors, since the show certainly did), only eventually getting the urge to send his own troops out to scout after Nick upset him. And finally, for a guy who is supposedly smart enough to amass a group under his command, he doesn’t notice an obvious trap when he walks into it? Sure, he wanted to believe that the people of the colonia simply abandoned the place, but even if they had, why would he assume that the empty area would be completely safe. Marco walked his squad in, and is directly responsible for the death that followed, because he got too confident and way too cocky.
Ultimately, the biggest driving force behind everything Madison does, and by extension everything that those clinging to Madison do, is all for Nick. It’s been the case every since before the apocalypse hit, as Madison was willing to sacrifice all on the hope that her drug-addicted son would come back to her whole. In just the last few episodes, we’ve seen Madison ignore that Nick turned his back on her completely, and she jeopardized the hotel by flicking the lights on, off of a passing description she heard that could have been him. Alicia called her out on it, but that moment doesn’t matter any more, because hey, now that they’ve been kicked out, Madison is going back on her wild Nick chase. First, El Pelicano, where she finds Marco and his gang gone (because they took everyone and everything, instead of sending a smaller crew to confirm, right?) but Francisco’s wallet with home address still intact. Then she pushes the group to the colonia, only to discover that they’re too late there, and almost get themselves caught in the same trap that took down Marco. Of course, had she actually stuck by her own rules originally, things wouldn’t have gotten to the situation they did, since Travis clearly broke them. But hey, we’re stuck with this family being the central forces of the show, and heaven forbid we actually spend a little time with them spending any time whatsoever rebuilding their strength, enjoying safety. Good thing everyone reunited at the end of the episode… Oh, wait.
That does it for the second full season of Fear the Walking Dead. We’ve got a few weeks to rest and relax, because The Walking Dead doesn’t come back until October 23. Enjoy this time away, and get ready to say goodbye to one of our favorites, because Lucille has come calling.