I was ready to write off ‘Fear the Walking Dead’. I was ready to spend this recap of the Season 1 finale talking about how the show proved to be a complete failure on all dramatic levels. Then what happens? The show goes and gives us a season finale that pretty much rectifies every problem I’ve had with this series up to this point.
It’s not enough to redeem Season 1, but it’s enough to keep me watching next season. To quote a famous movie line, “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in!”
The episode opens with some aerial shots of downtown Los Angeles (what is this, Season 2 of ‘True Detective‘?) and a reminder that a whole ton of Walkers are trapped inside an arena. Back at Madison’s house, she and Travis pack things up, ready to leave as soon as possible with a plan to head east once they rescue Nick and Mrs. Salazar from the military’s medical hospital. Daniel wants to kill Andy the soldier (who is still tied up), but Travis talks him out of it, insisting that he can help them navigate the hospital better once they get there.
While this is going on, Liza is still at the hospital. The medical staff there prepare to evacuate to what I swear they said would be Andrews Air Force base, which seems unrealistic considering that it’s on the other side of the country in Maryland. (Talk about retreating!) Anyway, Liza reminds Dr. Exner how she promised that her son Chris would come with them, and she wants Travis to be allowed to come along as well. Exner doesn’t seem keen on bringing either along, but placates Liza for the time being.
Unbeknownst to the others, at least for now, Travis doesn’t bring Andy with him when the family leaves the safe zone in three vehicles. They have no problem exiting, as the military has already abandoned the area. Outside the makeshift hospital, Daniel approaches the guards at the entrance and tells them that he’s the least of their worries right now. Behind him are a horde of Walkers, which Daniel has apparently freed from the arena and gotten to follow him. Finally, the series that has shown us so few Walkers during its first five weeks makes up for that by having a swarm of them attack the hospital.
Daniel, Travis and the others use the Walker attack as a distraction to get inside. Chris and Alicia stay in a parking garage to watch the vehicles while the others go in search of Nick and Mrs. Salazar. Nick is already in the process of escaping with Victor Strand, but Strand has to change his escape plan when he discovers that the soldier who was his ride out has been bitten. He gives Nick a clue to where they’re heading if they can escape by uttering the name “Abigail.” We’ll find out at the end of the episode what that word means.
Chris and Alicia are found by a trio of soldiers in the parking garage. They knock Chris out and steal one of the vehicles. Meanwhile, Nick and Strand find themselves trapped, with a locked door on one side of them and dozens of Walkers heading at them from the other end of the hall. Madison, Travis and the others see Nick and Strand on the other side of the door, but it’s Liza who comes to the rescue with a key card that frees them. Unfortunately, she can’t get the door locked in time again and our heroes must (finally!) do some Walker killing of their own as they make a break for it.
When the dust has settled, Liza finally has to tell Daniel and Ofelia that Mrs. Salazar didn’t survive. When everyone joins Chris and Alicia back in the parking garage, Travis’s decision to let Andy go comes back to bite him in the ass. Andy has followed them there and now plans to shoot Daniel. Ofelia intervenes, which results in Andy shooting her instead. This pisses off Travis like you wouldn’t believe. He puts the beat-down on Cpl. Andy, pounding him until his face is a pulpy, bloody mess. I don’t think the episode confirms if Travis actually kills Andy or not, but given his current state and the fact that the hospital is being overrun with Walkers, I think it’s a safe bet that he’s a goner.
Strand talks the others into abandoning their plans to head east and to go west with him instead. He says that he has a place with plenty of supplies near the ocean. They arrive at Strand’s house and it turns out that Ofelia’s gunshot wound isn’t fatal or even that serious. (Am I the only one disappointed by this? She’s one of this series’ least interesting characters.). Strand has some long-range binoculars set up outside his home and he finally shows Nick what “Abigail” refers to. It’s a large (terribly CGI’d!) yacht not too far offshore. However, Strand says he needs to leave to take care of some things, and tells Nick that he and the others are not allowed to stay in the house.
Liza goes off by herself down towards the beach area, and Madison follows her there. Liza reveals that she’s been scratched by a Walker. She knows that she’s a goner, and wants Madison to kill her with Liza’s gun. Hey, what woman wouldn’t want to kill her boyfriend’s ex-wife?! By this point, however, Travis shows up and finds out about Liza’s condition as well. After a long conversation, Travis agrees to do it and kills Liza. The episode wraps up with Chris coming upon his dead mother (after hearing the gunshot) and Madison comforting Travis on the beach.
I’ll confess, this was a really good episode. It’s too bad what transpired here couldn’t have happened earlier in the season. For the first time, I really want to know what happens to these people next. The character of Victor Strand is a great addition to the cast, and I hope we learn a whole lot more about him in Season 2. Given the original series’ treatment of African American characters (i.e. they all seem to wind up dead), I worry that he might not last very long, but I think he’s the kind of character – like Daryl Dixon on the primary series – who has the potential to become a fan favorite.
We also finally get to see Travis realize that he’s not in a civilized world anymore and deal with it appropriately. I’ve pretty much hated his character up until now (not for his morality, but for the wimp factor), but he’s another that I really think came into his own in this season finale.
What did everyone else think? Assuming you didn’t care much for this show before, was this finale enough to keep you interested for Season 2? If you did like the show up to this point, was this action-packed episode too much like the original series for your tastes?