Spoiler Warning for the mid-season finale of “Fear the Walking Dead”

Frank Dillane as Nick Clark and Kim Dickens as Madison Clark. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
Frank Dillane as Nick Clark and Kim Dickens as Madison Clark. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Everything comes tumbling down in the frightening mid-season finale of “Fear the Walking Dead.” After the revelation in last week’s episode that the Baja house isn’t as safe as originally thought, the characters come into conflict with each other and themselves. Impossibly difficult decisions are made in the name of survival, but what consequences will these choices have?

The episode begins with Daniel and Ofelia waking up in their bedroom to the sound of a gunshot. Daniel rushes outside with Ofelia behind him, but Ofelia begins complaining of pain; Daniel turns to her as she peels skin off of her face. Daniel wakes up and realizes that he was having an absolutely horrific nightmare. This sets him down a dark path for the duration of this episode. He reunites with Ofelia outside and worriedly embraces her. In another room, Celia confronts Strand about his decision to shoot Thomas in the head, therefore preventing him from reanimating. Nick tries to calm Celia down, but she angrily tells the group and Strand to leave by sundown the next day. Outside, Travis asks Alicia to help search for Chris, but she refuses and explains that Chris was last seen standing by her bed with a knife. Travis manages to spot Chris in the vineyard, but he runs away into the darkness.

The next morning, Madison tells Alicia and Nick to pack their belongings and supplies so that they can leave the estate. She also warns them of the danger of Celia, but Nick shuts down Madison’s claims by stating that Celia is simply upset. Madison watches on the horizon for Travis, but Alicia questions if he will ever return. This parallels the first season episode, “The Dog,” when Alicia wondered the same thing about Travis when he left to collect Chris and Liza. Nick leaves and later returns covered in blood with Infected Luis as a peace offer for Celia. Nick speaks with Celia about allowing the group to stay at the estate; Celia accepts, but forbids Strand from staying. Madison confronts Nick about his new-found interest with the Infected and soon learns that he now shares Celia’s belief that the Infected are not actually dead. This moment represents a shift in Madison and Nick’s relationship; Madison is beginning to realize that Nick is truly a survivor, as he was before the world ended. Nick confidently boasts that he will not die and offers to go out and search for Travis and Chris. Madison later asks Strand about Nick’s behavior, which Strand explains is not shocking to him at all; Celia saw Nick as a vulnerable addict and jumped at the opportunity to take him under her wing.

In a nearby town, Travis tracks Chris by following a trail of dead Infected on the ground. After walking all night, Travis comes upon a house with a man inside. There is a clear language barrier as the man only speaks Spanish, but Travis does his best to communicate to him the fact that his son is missing. Travis left the estate in such a hurry that he forgot to put on shoes, so by the time he meets the stranger, his feet are bloody and raw. The man offers Travis a pair of shoes and urges him to leave, but Travis realizes someone else is in the house. He opens a door to find Chris holding the man’s son hostage with a gun. Chris explains that he feels as though he has been ostracized by the rest of the group. Travis is able to disarm Chris by knocking the gun out of his hands, but Chris runs out of the house. Travis catches up to him and tackles him to the ground, but Chris fights back with a knife. The fight comes to an end after Travis knocks the knife out of Chris’ hand; he repeatedly tells Travis “I’m no good.” Nick eventually meets up with Travis and urges him to return to the estate, citing the fact that Madison needs him. Travis explains that he needs to help Chris and that they cannot return yet; he tells Nick to go back, but not mention finding him or Chris. This predicament demonstrates the harshness of the current state of the world; in a normal world, Chris could receive professional help, but in this world, the options are very limited. If he continues to prove to be a danger to the rest of the group, will Travis be forced to kill Chris out of mercy? Is this something that Travis is even capable of? A similar dilemma occurred during the fourth season of “The Walking Dead” with Lizzie and Carol. Regardless, it’s hard to place complete blame on Chris, especially after looking back on everything he has been through in such a short amount of time; not to mention the lack of support that he has received from Travis in the past.

Back at the estate, Strand digs a grave for Thomas as the various workers watch on, clearly angry at the fact that Strand “killed” Thomas. Daniel urges Strand to not bury Thomas on the estate’s property, believing the grounds to be cursed and unholy. Later, Celia hosts a funeral ceremony for Thomas and delivers a eulogy that highlights the fact that she viewed Thomas as her son, even though they were not biologically related. Daniel leads Ofelia to the main gate where he says that his dead wife, Griselda, is waiting for them. Ofelia realizes that Daniel isn’t in a great state of mind and pulls back, prompting some of the workers to intervene. Daniel uses a razor blade to fight back and ends up slashing a man’s face. Ofelia asks to see her father, but Celia refuses to allow her, claiming Daniel is dangerous to himself and others. Daniel is revealed to be being held in a storage room, tied to a chair. Celia arrives and offers him some of her homemade pozole, which he immediately refuses. A gripping scene follows as Celia tells Daniel that he needs to seek forgiveness from the people he has killed in order to gain closure; Griselda’s voice joins in on the conversation. This is just one of many examples that showcase Celia’s skill of reading other people and understanding their various mindsets.

Daniel (Rubén Blades) hallucinates his late wife, Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola). (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
Daniel (Rubén Blades) hallucinates his late wife, Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola). (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

The vision of Griselda is open to interpretation by the viewer. One could say that her ghost is haunting Daniel during this difficult time of his life. Based on what we have seen and heard, Griselda was the part of Daniel’s life that kept him grounded and sane. Losing her has sent him down a dark path that has festered before culminating in this episode. Daniel speaks to Griselda about the various people he has killed in his life, most of which were during his time as a soldier in El Salvador. Griselda asks Daniel to share a story that bothers him now; he chooses the story of the very first person he ever killed. Flashbacks show Daniel as a child standing in a muddy pool of water that is littered with dead bodies. Rain pours down as a lone survivor reaches for help, but Daniel is handed a gun and is told to shoot the injured man; Daniel shoots the man, but Griselda corrects him by telling him “the first victim was you.” Meanwhile, Madison confronts Celia about the fact that she has rubbed off on Nick. Celia offers to help Madison explain why she views the Infected as the next stage of life. Celia takes Madison to the wine cellar where she keeps several Infected. Luis is among the Infected and Celia asks Madison if she would take care of her children, regardless of their situation, referring to the limited capabilities of the Infected. Madison answers as she locks Celia in with the feasting Infected; Celia looks at Madison, seemingly unsurprised. This is a drastic move taken by Madison to protect her family, even though Celia really didn’t have the intent to harm the group; Madison and the others also had the choice to leave. This action taken by Madison establishes her character as a potentially antagonistic force in the overall story.

A still tied-up Daniel is offered food once again by one of the workers. The worker unties Daniel’s hand, allowing him to attack the man and escape as Griselda urges him on. Outside, some of the workers lead Strand to the main gate where he makes a humorous exit before waving goodbye to Alicia. Daniel makes his way to the wine cellar with a container of gasoline. He enters the cellar, pours the gasoline and stands before the feasting Infected, who slowly transform before Daniel’s eyes into the many people he has killed. Griselda emerges from the Infected and stands opposite of Daniel, smiling as he drops a lighter to the floor. Flames engulf Griselda and the room before spreading to the rest of the estate. The cinematography of this particular scene is hauntingly beautiful and serves as the metaphorical burning away of Daniel’s sins to bring closure to him. Outside of the estate, Nick watches on as the fire spreads rapidly. Madison frantically searches through the inferno for Daniel before rushing to Alicia and Ofelia. Alicia holds back a frantic Ofelia as Strand arrives in a pickup truck to rescue the group. Nick walks up and tells Madison that he wasn’t able to find Travis. He asks where Celia is before explaining that Celia was in fact right about what kind of people this group is made up of; “we destroy everything” he tells Madison. A distraught Madison pleads for Nick to join her and the others, but he refuses and turns away. Strand grabs Madison and pulls her into the truck as the workers arm themselves with weapons and the Infected begin entering the property. The truck drives out of the main gate as Nick walks with the Infected and the fire rages on. This half of the season began with flames engulfing Los Angeles and ends with fire burning the Baja house; a truly interesting parallel.

“Shiva” is a brilliant mid-point to an exceptional season of “Fear the Walking Dead.” This episode features a large amount of character development, specifically for Daniel, Travis and Nick. The performances are also worth praising, specifically those of Marlene Forte, Patricia Reyes Spíndola and Rubén Blades as Celia, Griselda and Daniel, respectively. The episode ends on multiple cliffhangers that will keep fans guessing until the show returns. Did Daniel survive the inferno? What about Celia, who was presumably devoured by the Infected? The general rule in “The Walking Dead” franchise is that if you don’t see a character die, they probably aren’t dead. Will Nick live among the Infected or will he join forces with the remaining workers? When will we see Chris and Travis again? Where will Strand, Madison, Ofelia and Alicia go? As Strand mentions in the episode, it is possible that the Abigail will not still be docked when they return. “Fear the Walking Dead” returns for the eight-episode second half of the season on Aug. 21 at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Jeffrey Kopp is the Community Editor of the Niner Times. He is a senior double majoring in Communication and Political Science. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead."