Although this second season of ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ is planned to run 15 episodes in all, the season has been split into two short halves, the first of which ended with Episode 7. I hesitate to call it a “finale” when the show will be back in August, but it sure plays like a season ender.
The episode opens with a flashback to Salazar as a young boy in El Salvador, present at the scene of a massacre. He then awakens to the sound of a gunshot (Strand shooting his lover Thomas). He jumps up out of bed and immediately grabs his daughter Ofelia to get her the hell out of Celia’s plantation. He knows better than to wait around for the bad shit to go down. On the way out, Ofelia stops him and reaches up to peel the flesh off her own face. Salazar wakes up in bed again. It was a nightmare inside a nightmare.
Honestly, that’s kind of a cheesy device, but the point of it is to show that Salazar is suffering PTSD issues that will only get worse over the course of the episode.
In the regular waking world, Celia is furious at Strand for what she sees as murdering Thomas. She believes that the zombies are still people, and that killing them is a sin. As the Abigail family housekeeper, she raised Thomas since he was a boy and considered him practically her own son. Enraged, she tells Strand that he and all his friends have one day to get off the property. They can’t live with her.
Nick tells his mother that Celia is just upset, but that she’ll calm down and listen to him if he talks to her. Nick is the only member of the group that Celia likes… perhaps a little too much.
After the incident with the knife, psycho Chris ran off into the fields and hasn’t been seen since. Travis heads out to find him. He comes across a corpse with a knife in the eye that looks like Chris’ doing. He takes the knife but doesn’t notice an empty holster on the man’s belt. Chris already has the gun.
Strand spends most of the day digging a grave for Thomas. He refuses to leave without giving his lover a proper burial. Salazar, distrustful of everyone, sneakily picks up a metal tool that he can sharpen into a blade.
The fields on the property are apparently vast and never-ending. Travis searches for Nick for hours and hours, and walks until his feet are throbbing. He limps toward a ramshackle servant house and goes inside looking for Chris. Instead, he comes across a field worker who doesn’t speak English (or at least acts like it) and isn’t happy about the intrusion. Travis, who doesn’t speak any Spanish, struggles to communicate with the man and ask if he’s seen his son. The man orders him out, but Travis has to sit down. He peels off his shoes to reveal that his feet are all bloody.
After disappearing for a few hours himself, Nick returns to the plantation covered in his disguise of blood and zombie guts, dragging Zombie Luis behind him. Celia is incredibly grateful to see her son again. She tells Nick that he and his family will be allowed to stay, but Strand still has to leave.
Maddie chastises Nick for doing something so dangerous and foolish, but he thinks he’s invincible. He tells her that he has no fear. “I will not die,” he boasts. Yeah, that’s going to end well…
Salazar interrupts Strand’s digging to warn him that the ground is unholy and that anyone buried there will return evil. He’s clearly losing his shit. Strand can’t deal with it and gets back to digging.
Salazar grabs Ofelia and tells her that they’re leaving. She doesn’t know what’s going on with her father and resists. A group of servants witness this and come to help the girl. Salazar lashes out, cutting one with his blade.
As the man is a little too eager to usher him out of the house, Travis puts two and two together and realizes that he’s hiding something. He forces his way into a bedroom and finds Chris there, holding the man’s son hostage at gunpoint. Chris says that he just wants to be left the hell alone, but Travis won’t give up on his son. They struggle and Travis chases him out of the house. Chris moans, “I’m no good.” He’s not wrong about that.
Back at the main house, Celia gives a eulogy for Thomas and then tells Strand that it’s time for him to get out. Strand senses Maddie’s unease and offers to bring her back to the boat with him, but she won’t leave her family.
After his violent incident, Celia locks Salazar up, tied to a chair in an empty stable. She says with kindness that she’ll take care of him, and suggests that he should confess all his sins. By this point, Salazar has had a full-on mental break and also hears his dead wife talking to him, angry that he didn’t bury her.
Blood-covered Nick searches the fields until he finds Travis. He tries to bring him back to the main house, but Travis won’t leave Chris. He says he owes his son that much, and asks Nick to tell Maddie that he never found them.
Maddie talks to Celia about Strand and about Nick. She says that she wants to understand Celia’s beliefs about the dead. Celia brings her to the building where all the zombies, including her son Luis, are locked up. She opens the cage and says that there’s nothing to fear. This is what everyone will become eventually, and they should embrace it. As Celia takes a step inside, Maddie closes and locks the cage behind her. Celia is disappointed, but not afraid, even as the zombies turn to her.
Salazar escapes his captivity. Still tormented by his wife’s voice, he goes to the zombie building and douses the place with gasoline. Notably, we see many zombies inside the cage, but Celia is not among them. Perhaps she just hasn’t turned yet, or perhaps her faith was truly strong enough and the zombies did not attack her?
Night has fallen. As Strand is escorted to the plantation’s gates, he turns and sees an enormous fire back at the main house. He turns the truck around and drives back. He finds Maddie, who tells him that Salazar died in the fire. Nick, who has fully drunk all of Celia’s Kool-Aid, is furious about what happened and refuses to leave. Strand has to drag Maddie into the truck before the zombies overrun them. As the growing flames illuminate the night, Strand, Maddie, Ofelia [and apparently Alicia, though I’ll be damned if I remember her being in this episode at all] speed away from the plantation heading for the boat, with no Nick, no Travis, no Chris and no Salazar.
I’m surprised that the show has already destroyed the plantation setting. I expected that, much like the way things work on the parent ‘Walking Dead’ series, this stronghold would remain the characters’ sanctuary for the rest of the season until they’re eventually forced to find another one, and Celia would be the primary villain. (I’m still not entirely convinced that Celia is dead.)
There’s no way Salazar died in the fire. We’ll see him again, that’s clear enough. I really don’t care for the turn his character took in this episode. He has consistently been one of the most interesting characters on the show, and making him go bonkers like this really cheapens him, no matter how the episode tries to justify it.
I’m also not fond of the way things end with Travis and Chris. Even though I just recently said that I like the idea of Chris turning psycho, he of course has to wind up being a really whiny and annoying psycho. He should have died in this episode. Frankly, it’s time for Travis to bow out as well. They’re both useless dead weight.
The show will return from hiatus on August 21st. Will all the characters remain separated for the rest of the season? That seems like a mistake. How long could some of them (especially Travis and Chris) survive on their own? I hope the show doesn’t go that route, though it sure looks like it will.