Fear the Walking Dead’s double-episode finale took the necessary steps to reveal just how far Madison is willing to go protect her family, especially after Travis and everything else that they have gone through since the infection began. It’s a success in that respect, nicely paced while it worked towards one pivotal moment – and a slight twist – that cemented some semblance of peace between Broke Jaw Ranch and Walker’s through blood and betrayal.
The first part, “The Unveiling”, brought back Ofelia and worked her into the overarching “cowboys vs Indians” arc by highlighting that she was very much on the side that opposed Broke Jaw Ranch, hence opposing her former friends. This was thinly veiled at best, working in cliches towards a trojan horse scenario in which Ofelia unknowingly poisoned the ranch’s army (including Nick) with anthrax, causing a mild zombie breakout and episode seven’s main, meaty action sequence. It would have been a mark against the finale, and the writers, had the following episode not kicked off with an immediate flashback to Ofelia’s time spent wandering alone, half-dead in the desert. Jeremiah Otto was the first to find her, but after some racist words and an arrogant disapproval, he left her to die of thirst. Of course, this means that Walker’s people find her, give her shelter and save her life; hence, her being on their side. It’s not the most complex material to work with, but it did it’s job, adding a layer to Ofelia’s loyalty to Walker and insistence that they are the good guys, even if she didn’t know the poison was lethal enough to kill.
The other half of this episode was held up by Alicia and her strength as a character outside of just being Madison’s daughter or Nick’s sister. Her uneasy sympathy with Walker, even after learning they were indeed the ones that shot down the helicopter, helped to build her as someone who can read complex situations for what they are, rather than stick to black-white thinking. She proved brave as well, stubbornly telling Jake to leave her behind as the hostage instead because the camp needed to hear about Walker’s deal from him, not her. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree it appears, and Alicia’s realistic, grounded and rational reason for putting herself in danger for the sake of the bigger picture mirrors that of Madison trying to convince Jeremiah to sacrifice himself for the greater good at the very end.
Of course it wasn’t Madison that ended up killing Jeremiah, it was shockingly Nick making quick use of Father Otto’s favourite antique pistol and putting him down, killing him in cold-blood so Walker would agree to back off the ranch. This sets some very interesting dynamics up for Troy and Jake who will undoubtedly be sticking around despite this Otto arc coming to a close.
What the finale also did well was give Jake something to do other than be “the soft one” trying to keep the peace. He conceded that it had come to war and was willing to fight, giving his character the nuance that up until that point had only been granted to Troy, as far as the Otto brothers go. Now both interesting characters in their own right, it’ll be great to see what the writers end up doing with them for the rest of this season 3, and if they make it beyond that.
Fear the Walking Dead may not be on par with it’s bigger sister quite yet, but things are now moving in a consistent direction as opposed to the up-and-down quality of previous seasons. There’s a long way to go before these characters become as interesting and distinctive as a Rick, a Glenn, a Maggie, a Sasha, a Carol, a Daryl, and a Morgan, but through this excellent double-episode the writers have proven that they at least know what they’re doing.
Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
When the second half of Fear the Walking Dead’s third season returns it will screen in Australia on FX, Foxtel every Monday express from the U.S at 7:30pm AEST.
Feature Image: Michael Desmond/AMC.