Previously on Fear the Walking Dead, there was a deliberate effort to kill off any of the reasons people may have wanted to actually keep watching the show (Daniel. I mean they killed off Daniel). After that moment, we got to watch Chris go more fully psychopathic, we witnessed Madison ignore her own declarations about how to stay safe, and we got to sit by as Travis just kept Travising his way through the post-apocalypse. With a second season like that, what could they possibly do in the third season?
Well, for starters, they could drop both of the first episodes together into a supersized season debut, giving us all absolutely no real time to adjust to the new reality before it gets stripped away again and replaced with yet another rebuild of a more successful Walking Dead set piece. They could also try and up the stakes, which implies that the audience as a whole is doing other than rooting for total destruction for these characters. Oh, and they could bring back one of the few compelling stories, and give us all a chance to once again scratch our heads at this man who seemed to start out his existence in this world playing mutli-dimensional chess, but is now apparently settled on Connect Four. When presented with the Eye of the Beholder, do we really get a New Frontier? Or do we just plod along with more of the same?
Since this was a double-episode, that means I’ll be delivering a double list. Let’s start with our friends during Eye of the Beholder.
5. The Soldiers/Troy
Let’s just start with the most obvious of things. DON’T CREATE WALKERS! Sure, the soldiers may have convinced themselves that they were doing it for scientific purposes, trying to learn about how long it takes for different people in different circumstances to reanimate, but really, it all just boiled down to being a bunch of jerks, killing people, and creating a potential hazard in your own space. Something about not doing certain things where you sleep.
You’ve been creating walkers, and the time has come to evacuate the fortress you’ve been living in. While leaving, you hear scratching in the walls. It’s probably a good idea to just ignore the scratching, keep your head down, and leave. After all, why do you care if there are rats in the walls? You’re not going to be around to deal with it. Of course, Willy isn’t around to deal with it any longer, thanks to his odd curiosity, that lead to him being pulled into the wall by hidden walkers. Next time, dude, just leave.
You’ve got plenty of evidence that the people running this fort are not super-connected to reality, especially in relation to how the world used to work. You know what’s going to go strongly in your favor? How about you spend time antagonizing them, and taking the strangest route towards appeal by calling their actions “criminal”. Oh, and let’s just pretend that “criminal” means the same thing with how society has deteriorated. Travis is lucky that he didn’t get jumped to the top of the list, before he could formulate a plan.
Escape is imminent. You’re going to get out of this enclosure, and you’re going to get your wounded girlfriend to safety (admittedly, without knowing whether safety was really on the other side or not). Don’t be Nick. Nick didn’t really have a lot of choice about sending Luciana into the tunnels first, but he probably could have tried anything other than shouldering the gate securing the other end, so that it was broken beyond repair. Oops. Now the walkers outside have a clear path to the buffet.
Troy almost lost his eye during Madison’s escape effort, thanks to a well-placed spoon. The eye wasn’t lost, but it was heavily bandaged. When the dead invaded, and Troy was forced to take up arms to try and get everyone out, he made a point of aiming down the barrel, which is good for someone trying to line up the head shots needed to take out the walkers. However, his aim put the barrel and sights perfectly in line with his bandaged eye. I get not being able to adjust to your non-dominant eye on the fly like that, but maybe just try not to take the extra time to aim down a bandage?
So that was the first episode of this third season. But wait, there’s more! It was a FTWD sandwich, with episodes surrounding some commercials as the meat (well, depending on how you watched it, I guess). So what happened in The New Frontier?
Let’s see. You’ve made it to what appears to be something resembling a safe space. You could embrace the safety for a short time, formulate a plan, and see if their family reunites your family. Or you could be Nick, and try to head out, with no idea of the surrounding geography, or where the missing members of your family might be. Make sure to be a petulant asshole about the entire experience!
When looking for Charlene, Jake split from Alicia, giving her a sidearm just in case there was a need. The group had already lost Travis through no fault of their own, and there was no desire to lose any more. Jake’s personal connection to Charlene may have clouded his judgement somewhat, but the man got to the edge of a rise, looking down on where Charlene had probably gone. It’s fairly clear he knows where the edge is, right up to the point where he blindly takes one step forward and falls, almost ensuring his own demise.
You’re heavily outnumbered. You’re also heavily outgunned. You’ve spent your entire time in this particular encampment being upset that you have to even pretend to play nice. They see your wounded girlfriend, see that she’s wounded, and see that it’s doubtful she can pull through. She’s also another mouth to feed, and one that can’t contribute a lot in the immediate future. In a lot of ways, the ranchers had the correct idea with what to do about Luciana, and letting Nick be the one to take care of things was actually a compassionate move. Leave it to Nick to decide that, hey, I’m just going to threaten Troy, aiming the gun at him. That’s taking a huge risk, given that he doesn’t actually know how the family feels about Troy, and that the ranchers wouldn’t just immediately eliminate all of the new people in their midst.
Remember when we met Strand? He took Nick under his wing, because he saw a certain special something. There at least seemed to be some level of calculation in what Strand did, and, while that did backfire with regards to the entire family being brought about his boat, it didn’t really change who he was. Now he’s wandering through life, his fellow survivors having moved on, and the love of his life having succumbed to death’s final embrace, and he’s shifting his entire concept, saving people seemingly at random? Sure, the people outside of the hotel gates were likely to force their way into the hotel, taking out those who kept the gates locked as revenge. But Strand is the type of character that previously would have found a way to connive his way to safety. Well, that was before. Now, he’s the type of character that opens a balcony window for a clear suicidal, and doesn’t think to keep a close watch on either it or her.
“We are not civilians”. Okay, SuperJunkie. Okay.
That does it for this week’s back-to-back premiere! How will the family fare without Travis there to try and talk his way into and out of every situation? Will Alicia again be given the magic of silky, conditioned hair, just because she’s been able to rinse it off with something other than rain water? Will Nick just keep being a complete jerk to everyone around him, until even Madison can’t take any more? And will Strand continue to strike out on his own, eventually leaving for a better quality show? Only time will tell.