TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘Wrath’ & ‘North’

"The old rules of conduct no longer apply."

| October 3, 2016

Spoiler Warning for the two-part Season Finale of “Fear the Walking Dead”

Mercedes Mason as Ofelia Salazar. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Mercedes Mason as Ofelia Salazar. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

The sophomore season of “Fear the Walking Dead” has reached its climactic and bloody end in a two-part season finale that delivers on every level imaginable. These two episodes aren’t without their problems, but they do stand as two of the strongest episodes in the entire series. The swift hand of death claims countless lives in this double feature, leaving the remaining characters spinning out of control.

Wrath”

Following her abrupt departure from the hotel several episodes ago, Ofelia has arrived at the United States-Mexico border. Her truck breaks down and she gets out to inspect the engine, but several Infected appear and attack her. Using her hammer (this seems to be her signature weapon), Ofelia takes charge and eliminates each of the Infected without a single look of fear on her face; she sees a herd of Infected marching toward her nearby. Ofelia walks for miles along the border until she comes upon an opening in the fence. She crosses into the United States and begins walking through the desert with a jug of water in hand. After trudging along for a while a series of gunshots ring out as Ofelia runs for cover, dropping her supplies along the way. A single man (Dayton Callie), armed with a rifle, appears and approaches Ofelia; “Welcome to America” he slyly tells her. This is pretty much the extent of Ofelia’s story this episode; she doesn’t even appear in the final episode. What awaits Ofelia in Season Three and will she ever reunite with the rest of the group?

In La Colonia, Nick quietly leaves behind Luciana in his bed and meets up with Reynaldo (Cuauhtil Jiménez V.) to leave for their meeting with Marco’s gang. Nick and Reynaldo arrive at the supermarket and speak with Antonio and Marco. Nick offers to deliver the OxyContin on time each week, but Marco explains that they have no need for it anymore. Marco tells Nick that he plans to take La Colonia over and shows him the executed bodies of Francisco and his family as evidence that he isn’t messing around. After returning from their meeting, Nick speaks with Luciana and warns her about Marco’s threat. They alert Alejandro and Nick urges him to order an evacuation of La Colonia immediately. Their discussion is halted as an Infected patient rolls out of bed and lunges for Nick. Alejandro pushes Nick out of the way, but is bitten on the arm. Nick tackles the Infected down to the first floor of the infirmary, where two patients are bitten; one is bitten on the nose, while the other has a finger ripped off. Nick plunges his fingers through the Infected’s eye sockets, puncturing the brain as blood pours out. Alejandro looks on as he grimaces in pain, but assures Nick and Luciana that nothing is wrong. It is worth noting that this entire sequence is one of the most graphic in the entire “The Walking Dead” franchise; both of the final episodes are also jarringly graphically violent in the most necessary way possible.

At the Infected Wall at La Colonia, Alejandro speaks to the residents as the two patients that we bitten say their goodbyes before sacrificing themselves. Nick expresses his worries about Alejandro, but Luciana reminds him that the faith will keep him alive. Nick returns to his home where he begins packing his bags and begs Luciana to join him. Alejandro meets up with them and Nick orders him to reveal his secret to Luciana. Alejandro admits that he is not actually immune to the infection and that he wasn’t actually bitten by an Infected early on like led everyone to believe. Luciana is shocked and saddened by this reveal, but asserts her stance on the fact that La Colonia is still her home.

The remainder of the episode follows the survivors at the hotel as they deal with the arrival of Travis. Madison spends the night watching Travis as he sleeps and tries to comfort him when he wakes up. Later, Alicia brings Travis breakfast and opens up to him about the guilt she feels for what happened with Chris. Travis makes it clear to her that she didn’t do anything wrong and that Chris is simply sick. This heart-to-heart scene between Alicia and Travis solidifies the parental bond that Travis has always had with Madison’s two children. Alicia is shown taking care of the many sick and injured refugees in the parking garage. In a corner, Brandon and Derek can be heard loudly complaining of the lack of treatment and the fact that they have to be in the same area as the other refugees. Madison speaks with them and finds out that they were in a car accident after they allowed a sixteen year old boy from Los Angeles to drive while they slept; the boy apparently didn’t survive the crash. Madison quickly realizes that they are talking about Chris and storms off in a panic to confide in Strand. After explaining what she has learned, Madison is advised by Strand to keep everything a secret from Travis. Strand explains that Nick and Alicia are what gets Madison up in the morning; if Travis learns that Chris is dead, he may lose the will to keep going. Strand is definitely Madison’s most trusted confidant.

Cliff Curtis as Travis Manawa and Kelly Blatz as Brandon. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Cliff Curtis as Travis Manawa and Kelly Blatz as Brandon. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Madison meets with Brandon and Derek again and alerts them that Andrés will need to fix his shoulder in a more private area. This is simply a ploy to gain more information about Chris without Travis knowing. As Brandon and Derek are led to another area of the hotel, the remaining refugees begin to lash out in anger after realizing that the Americans are seemingly receiving preferential treatment. Travis notices the unruly crowd from a window and is able to pick out Brandon and Derek. He calls out for Chris and rushes down to learn more about the situation. Madison and Travis lead Brandon and Derek to the hotel cafe and Andrés tends to Brandon’s shoulder injury. Travis begins questioning the boys about where Chris is. Brandon explains that after leaving the farm, they ran into several herds of Infected and groups of bandits. They allowed Chris to drive the truck as they slept in the back, but that he must have fallen asleep at the wheel and the truck crashed, rolling multiple times and leaving Chris dead on impact after being thrown from the window. Travis asks where the body is and Derek explains that they pulled him from the wreckage and buried him under a tree. While walking away, Travis picks up on several inconsistencies in their story and decides to lock himself in and beat the correct information out of them. Brandon speaks as flashbacks show the true series of events after the crash; Chris received a major leg injury and proceeded to crawl away. Brandon shoots Chris directly in the head, leaving him in the street. This prompts Travis to beat the life out of both Brandon and Derek. Madison pleads for Travis to stop, but the rage overcomes him and no one can do anything to stop him. The entire fight sequence is expertly choreographed and serves as a massive turning point for the character of Travis.

Lorenzo James Henrie as Chris Manawa after the crash. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Lorenzo James Henrie as Chris Manawa after the crash. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

“Wrath” features the death of Chris, the first “real” main character death (I am still not convinced that Daniel is dead) since Liza in the first season finale. His death is handled in an extremely odd way with it being explained and shown through dialogue and flashbacks. After nearly two seasons of buildup, Chris is murdered in cold blood unceremoniously away from all of the other characters. It almost seems as though this was a last minute decision that was made to remove the character of Chris from the series; I assumed that he would be around for several more seasons, potentially becoming a major villain. While odd, it does serve as a tragic consequence of Chris’ actions and his hubris. He is killed in similar fashion to that of James in last week’s episode; Travis warned him that this would happen and he still left. The death itself is also very true to the brutal realism of the world as not everyone would be surrounded by their loved ones in their final moments. Here we have Chris, who is still technically a child, dying alone, without the comfort of his family and being left without a funeral; a truly heartbreaking end to a very polarizing character. The series also loses the acting talent of Lorenzo James Henrie, who was been a strong presence since the very beginning. As irritating as he was, I am saddened to see the character go, especially in such a tragic fashion.

“North”

Frank Dillane as Nick Clark. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Frank Dillane as Nick Clark. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

“North” focuses heavily on Nick and the residents of La Colonia as they prepare for the attack by Marco’s gang. Nick continues to beg Luciana to join him and leave the community, but she stands firm in her decision to stay; she does tell him to leave, however. Nick does leave the community and begins wandering through Tijuana, but spots a helicopter flying over an area on the United States side of the border. Alejandro gives a speech to the residents of La Colonia about protecting their community at all costs. Nick makes his way back to La Colonia and confronts Alejandro about what he has just seen. Alejandro is clearly suffering from the debilitating effects of the walker infection, but still shares his desire to protect the residents. Nick explains that he and Luciana can lead the residents north to this camp in search of safety. The next morning, Marco and his gang arrive at the walls of La Colonia armed with guns. They make their way into the Infected Wall area and begin shooting to clear a path to the bus. They enter the center of the community and find it abandoned with no signs of life; Alejandro creeps behind a building, still incredibly weak. Alejandro makes his way to the bus as the gang members celebrate their new home by firing off their gun. Alejandro manages to start the bus and drive forward, releasing the hundreds of Infected into the community. Marco and Antonio notice the situation, but there is nothing that they can do; La Colonia only has one exit and it is now blocked by the Infected.

Alejandro speaks with Nick about the future of La Colonia. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Alejandro speaks with Nick about the future of La Colonia. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

At the hotel, Travis sits in the locked cafe in a daze after brutally killing Brandon and Derek. During the altercation, Oscar attempted to enter the room, but had his head slammed by the door. Elena orders Travis to be taken away while Andrés begins treating an unconscious Oscar. Madison tries to calm the situation, but Elena flips the script and uses Madison’s own rule to her disadvantage. Strand makes several points to keep Madison from escalating the situation and explains that he made his choice and should deal with the consequences. Alicia deduces that they must leave with Travis as he will not survive on the outside by himself. Madison meets with Elena and Hector, who both wish to banish Travis for what he did. Elena, however, feels as though she owes Madison and allows Travis to be free until the next morning when he will be forced to leave. Meanwhile, Andrés works to save the life of his brother, who has suffered severe brain trauma. He drills into Oscar’s brain to remove a skull fragment that is causing the brain to swell. Hector and Elena stand by as Oscar dies on the makeshift operating table; Andrés and Hector lash out in anger over the death and begin plotting their revenge.

Upstairs, Madison and Travis stand on a balcony and discuss the decision Travis made to kill Brandon and Derek. Madison tells Travis that she doesn’t blame him for doing this and reveals the fact that she killed Celia at the Abigail mansion to protect Nick. She also alludes to dark activities from her life before the apocalypse. Suddenly, Andrés and Hector burst into the hotel room and begin beating Travis. Andrés pulls out a gun and points it directly at Travis’ head. A tense sequence follows as Alicia stabs Andrés in the chest (her first human kill), prompting Hector to retaliate against Alicia. Travis steps in and handles Hector as Strand grabs the gun and orders everyone to leave. Madison, Travis and Alicia rush outside and load into an SUV, however, Strand chooses to stay behind at the hotel. They drive off of the hotel property, slamming through the front gates as they leave. This is the last we see of the hotel and Strand this season. A major problem exists in rapid escalation of the hotel situation. Elena and Hector suddenly drop their bond with Madison’s family and align with the wedding guests. I don’t really understand why Hector had such a passionate response to the death of Oscar; is it possibly guilt over his role in the wedding massacre? Regardless, the writing seemed to lose some sense of realism just to assure that Madison’s family would leave the hotel.

Andrés holds Travis at gunpoint. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Andrés holds Travis at gunpoint. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Madison’s group head to the supermarket in Tijuana to search for clues about Nick’s location. They find the supermarket completely abandoned, except for the bodies of Francisco and his family. Madison recognizes them and tries to find any information about La Colonia. She finds an address that leads them to the community and Madison searches the village with Travis, while Alicia investigates the stalled bus. In the center of La Colonia, Madison and Travis find nothing but the hundreds of Infected, now including Marco’s gang. They find Alicia on the bus comforting a dying Alejandro, who reveals to Madison that Nick is making his way to the border. Alejandro dies shortly after and Madison mercifully prevents him from turning by stabbing him in the head. The death of Alejandro serves as a closure to the La Colonia storyline. This character stuck to his guns the entire time and went out protecting his people and assuring that they will never have to worry about Marco’s gang again. Paul Calderon consistently delivered fantastic performances as Alejandro, a true man of convictions and faith.

Everything points to a rather peaceful ending to the season as Nick and Luciana lead the residents of La Colonia through the streets of Tijuana; everyone is covered in Infected blood. Luciana tells the young girl who lost her father that they are headed north. The group of survivors arrive at a border crossing that is overrun with abandoned vehicles, likely from the earliest days of the outbreak when the border was sealed. Nick uses binoculars to look far off into the distance, noticing a helicopter rising from what seems to be a massive refugee camp. Suddenly, a group of militia members appear and begin firing on the La Colonia residents; Luciana is shot in the shoulder, while Reynaldo and others are killed in a hail of gunfire. Nick grabs Luciana and the two hide behind a building while the residents flee for their lives. The gunmen locate and capture Nick and Luciana, separating and forcing them to the ground. The clothing of the gunmen is similar to that of the man that captured Ofelia; could they be part of some sort of civilian-run border control group? What will they do with Nick, Luciana and Ofelia?

“Wrath” and “North” are hands down two of “Fear’s” best episodes to date. The events of the past two seasons have built up perfectly to this thrilling finale. The characters remain separated and there isn’t all that much hope of a reunion; Ofelia, Nick and Luciana have made it to the United States while Travis, Madison and Alicia are at La Colonia. I am very much interested to see what happens with Strand in Season Three; will he choose to remain at the Rosarito Beach Hotel or will he change his mind and try to search for his new family? How will Elena and Hector play into the story? This finale features a multitude of deaths, most notably that of Chris. Travis is likely to be headed down a very dark path in Season Three after losing his only child; it is worth noting that this is the second season finale in a row where Travis loses a loved one. How will Madison and Alicia deal with Travis’ grief? Looking back, Travis sure has come a far way from his days as a friendly English teacher. Season 2 of “Fear” stands strong, albeit with a large number of problems and inconsistencies. AMC has ordered a third season of sixteen episodes that will premiere sometime in 2017, likely soon after Season 7 of “The Walking Dead” ends. Being that there is no source material to draw from, the possibilities for the third season are endless. Be sure to tune in to the Season 7 Premiere of “The Walking Dead” on Oct. 23 at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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Category:Arts and Entertainment, Television

Jeffrey Kopp is the Arts & Entertainment Editor of the Niner Times. He is a junior double majoring in Communication and Political Science, with a minor in Criminal Justice. 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.”

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Jeffrey Kopp is the Arts & Entertainment Editor of the Niner Times. He is a junior double majoring in Communication and Political Science, with a minor in Criminal Justice. 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.”

Twitter