MAJOR Spoiler warning for the Season 3 Finale (Episodes 15 and 16) of “Fear the Walking Dead,” as well as all previous episodes of the series.
Wow. Wow. Wow. After a slight misstep with the previous episode, “Fear the Walking Dead” gets right back on track and delivers quite possibly its two strongest episodes ever with a double Season Finale that wraps up the various stories and leaves things open ended for Season 4. This is by far the wildest and deadliest finale as countless characters are killed off and a main location of the season is destroyed. With fantastic performances across the board, intense action and drama, a chilling fantasy sequence and a terrifying new villain, the third season comes to an end with a fitting finale that is damn (dam…put intended) near perfect on every level.
“Things Bad Begun”
I didn’t like the previous episode and the start of the first hour of the finale had me slightly worried that we would be in for a sloppy conclusion to the season. Opening with Nick collecting the heads of Infected to bring to El Matarife made me think the majority of the episode would follow him as he relapsed further, but this was only a minor part. El Matarife removes glands from the Infected heads and sells them, giving the consumer a high that boosts their fighting abilities; the science behind this is iffy as it seems like this would kill whoever ate it, but I can suspend disbelief on this. Outside of El Bazar, Troy overhears a conversation between a group of Proctors who are gearing up and preparing to leave; he alerts Nick to the fact that the Dam is in danger, prompting them to flee El Bazar to warn their friends and family. It’s clear that no one really knows what exactly to do, but Efrain holds steady on his belief that the water should be released to the people; Daniel states that this should be done as a last resort if their defenses don’t work. There is a tense tone established right off the bat as the characters gear up to defend their home from this dangerous threat; everyone has their job to do and the clock is ticking.
A portion of this episode is dedicated to Daniel’s quest to find out exactly what really happened to Ofelia; Taqa presents Ofelia’s rosary to Daniel as an act of compassion, signifying the immense love and care that they both had for her. Later, Daniel locates Nick and locks him in a room after realizing that he is being lied to about the herd that killed Ofelia; the Daniel we know and love comes to the surface as he shifts to his pre-series torturer persona, demanding information out of Nick, who continues to lie and even blames the herd on Jake. Daniel knows how to tell when someone is lying and let’s be honest, Nick isn’t a good liar; he does manage to twist the truth enough to put Daniel off for the moment by revealing that he killed Jeremiah. This scene reminds me greatly of the torture scene from the Season 1 episode “Cobalt,” wherein Daniel interrogates a soldier to gain the location of his missing wife. I know one thing for certain, I never want to be caught lying by Daniel. Elsewhere at the Dam, Strand and Madison get drunk, because that has always worked out well for them; remember when their drunken antics nearly got them killed at the hotel last season in “Los Muertos?” We do get a tidbit of information about Strand here that really plays into his arc this episode; he has never killed anyone and Madison warns that his day is coming…and she is kinda right.
This episode really delves deep into Alicia’s character and while her story is somewhat choppy, it is perfectly in line with what we have seen from her thus far. After the alliance was forged between Alicia and Diana, the two decide to drive to El Bazar to sell what they have collected; Diana tries to convince Alicia to sell her hair again, something that she should definitely consider, because long hair is a dangerous thing to have in this world as it can be grabbed way too easily. Out of nowhere, a car crashes into their jeep, sending them spinning out of control as a group of thieves try to steal from them; both Alicia and Diana put up a good fight, using their weapons to fend off the attackers. In the process, Diana receives a serious leg wound that will require immediate medical attention. The story oddly jumps ahead (it seems as though scenes were cut) as Alicia and Diana appear to be at El Bazar receiving treatment from a doctor. It’s rather difficult to tell where they are exactly and the writers didn’t do the best job at explaining what Diana’s prognosis is; she’s kind of forgotten after this point.
Alicia is taken to a man who we learn to be the notorious Proctor John, who demands that Alicia assist in a surgery to remove a tumor from his spine; he also tells her about his rapidly growing drug trade that he plans to stretch from the Gulf to San Diego. The surgery is underway and Proctor John makes it clear that he needs to be lucid for the procedure; this is where Alicia steps in as she talks to him and provides a distraction from the fact that there is a literal knife in his back. The surgery ends up being successful, a huge relief as there were orders to execute Alicia and the doctor if it was a failure. Alicia’s calm composure and willingness to provide care and support to a man that is clearly evil shows that she is at a crossroads; she still has her humanity intact and she isn’t a ruthless killing machine, but she might not be far off from that. While she is being forced to assist in the surgery of a madman, Alicia does so with grace and kindness rather than anger and hatred; considering she just lived through a horrific trauma, this is surprising, but it is consistent with who Alicia is. She is a person who sticks with her morals and doesn’t let others try to change her; in this world, that is some that is truly admirable.
The situation at the Dam rapidly intensifies as Strand tells Nick to leave with his mother, something that confuses him at first; Nick is smart and he knows Strand though, so he quickly figures out that he is working with the Proctors to sabotage Lola and Daniel’s operation. Strand actually comes clean about his deal and reveals that the initial agreement with the Proctors would spare Nick and Madison’s lives, but he now worries that things will fall apart. As Madison and Troy rig the explosives to the Dam, they have a heart-to-heart about what they have been through together since their first meeting; its clear that Madison still does care for Troy and they both agree to move forward and keep the past to the past. That is until Nick arrives and spills the beans about Strand’s ridiculous deal, as well as Daniel’s suspicions about Troy; everything comes out as Madison discovers that Troy is responsible for the herd destroying the Ranch, along with the deaths of Ofelia and Jake. She demands answers from Troy, but all she gets is lame excuses and a complete lack of remorse or apology as he states that he would do it again. This is the final straw for Madison, she is no longer going to defend or protect him; all of her pent up rage comes out as she slams Troy across the head with a hammer twice, sending blood everywhere as he tumbles into a pit and dies. Paralleling Nick killing Jeremiah, Madison kills the last surviving Otto…and I can’t say I blame her (more on that later).
This is where shit really hits the fan as the Proctors arrive at the Dam and begin shooting up the place, killing several guards. In a pump room, Lola and Daniel investigate a water flow issue, but they are stunned when Strand shows up and holds them both at gunpoint; we always knew he was a conniving man, but is he really willing to kill to keep his deal with the Proctors? A struggle erupts as Daniel tries to disarm Strand and the two wrestle over the gun; Strand manages to pull the trigger as the barrel is pointed at Daniel’s face, blowing a hole in his cheek and throwing him to the ground. Strand flees as Lola rushes to Daniel’s aid; this is the moment that Strand goes from someone I defend to someone who may be past redemption. The chaos continues as the Proctors storm the Dam, gunning down several workers, including Efrain, who is killed in a hail of gunfire. Strand meets with a Proctor and lies about killing Daniel and “the Water Queen” before locating Nick and Madison and rushing them into a secure room. It has been clear since the Dam was introduced that this location was vulnerable, but I never could have predicted that one of our own would be a main player in its takeover. What I thought would be a slower first half of the finale, turned out to be a wild ride that perfectly sets up the final hour of Season 3.
Hour 2 of the finale kicks off with a trippy fantasy sequence that I will discuss later in the review. Alicia arrives at the Dam on a Zodiac raft with Proctor John and some of his men (how he is able to move around just hours after having a tumor removed from his spine, I have no idea); they are welcomed by Strand, who is lambasted by Proctor John for such a messy coup that resulted in the deaths of several Proctors. Strand quietly passes along the location of Madison and Nick to Alicia, but given the situation, there’s nothing either can do at the moment. In a room, Alicia tends to Proctor John’s wound and he makes it clear that he knows about her connection with Strand; Alicia explains that Strand was with her family when they fled Los Angeles and that they have survived together since. Proctor John is ultra creepy and presents Alicia with a chilling offer: come with him to Houston in exchange for Nick and Madison not being killed; it’s worth noting that this is one of many references to Texas, specifically Houston, this episode, which may be a hint to the upcoming crossover with “The Walking Dead.” We know that Abraham and Eugene were originally from Houston and they would still be there at this point in the timeline; could the “Fear” characters cross paths with one of the two at some point in the future?
In the depths of the Dam, Lola tends to a barely conscious Daniel; the look on Daniel’s face suggests that he is aware of his apparent immortality and it is weighing heavily on him. The fire didn’t kill him, the Infected haven’t killed him and this won’t take him down either. They both realize that the Dam is beyond saving and agree to leave, but Lola decides to go search for Efrain first. In the secure room, Madison and Nick get into a tense argument over the killing of Troy; Madison states that it was justifiable for all of the trouble he had caused, but Nick believes that he could have been redeemed. Nick questions if Madison would ever be able to kill him if the situation presented itself, something that she doesn’t give a definite answer to; he also wonders if she ever wished him dead during the midst of his active addiction. Madison flat out says “fuck you” (the second F-bomb of the season) to Nick, leaving me to believe that she would be able to kill him if she had to. Strand interrupts their chat and tells them to prepare for an escape, but Madison is hesitant to trust him; Strand tells them what he did to Daniel, angering them even more, but they ultimately have no alternative exits and must tag along with him. They change into Dam worker uniforms to “disguise” themselves from the Proctors; this is not the best disguise considering the Proctors are slaughtering all of the workers, but there really aren’t any other options. This scene showcases the fact that even though they may not get along always, our survivors are stuck with each other.
I didn’t think this episode could get more intense, but I was totally wrong. Lola sneaks around and makes it to the office where she finds Efrain gunned down; this fills her with so much rage as she was extremely close to Efrain, who was pretty much the most pure character in the series. Lola arms herself with a gun and heads to the top of the Dam after seeing a collection of Proctors on the security camera. Strand leads Nick and Madison across the top of the Dam, managing to get past the Proctors that are massacring the workers and throwing their bodies into the water. It seems as though they are actually going to escape until Lola arrives and begins firing her gun, killing multiple Proctors until John arrives and shoots her in the chest and head; Lola went down like an absolute badass, defending her home from the evil forces that wished to ruin everything. That being said, her last stand causes Strand’s plan to be foiled and Madison and Nick are captured; Alicia is present and the Clarks are together again, but these circumstances are grim and there really doesn’t seem to be a way out.
Being that Nick decided to stay and hang out at El Bazar, he is immediately recognized and Proctor John makes it clear that he doesn’t trust him or the rest of the Clarks. He orders their execution and has them lined up in the center of the Dam, but Nick takes a moment to hug his friend Strand first; in a last move to regain control, Strand tells Proctor John about the explosives and threatens to blow the place if he doesn’t let the Clarks go. There’s just one problem…he doesn’t have the detonator, Nick does; he swiped it from Strand during their goodbye, a fun callback to the Season 1 Finale “The Good Man,” when Nick stole Strand’s keys. This is the wildest predicament I think that I have ever seen in the “TWD” franchise as all of the main characters are in grave danger; this is the first time in either show that I have legitimately believed that any character could die. Nick orders Proctor John to let his family go or he will blow up the Dam and kill everyone, even going so far as to call this threat “his suicide note.” Alicia and Madison plead for him to come with them, but Nick can’t due to the detonator having a limited range; he is fully prepared to die and his family realizes this. Madison and Alicia flee from the top of the Dam with Strand as Nick holds Proctor John and his men hostage. Nick’s relationship with his family has always been rocky, but one thing is certain: fuck with them and you’re dead.
From below the Dam, Daniel weakly makes his way to a stairwell where he begs some of the Proctors for aid; this is simply a ruse and Daniel kills them with a literal bleeding gunshot wound to the face, proving he is by far the most badass character in the series. Strand, Madison and Alicia sail away from the Dam in their raft, but this proves to be difficult as the motor stops working; I get that there are few exits from the Dam, but why would they go into the water when they know Nick may blow everything up, effectively sucking them downstream? The Proctors realize that they must take Nick down now as he won’t blow up the Dam with his family still close by…and just as it seems as though the explosives are about to go off, a Proctor is taken out by a sniper rifle; its Taqa and Crazy Dog to the rescue after they previously stated that they were leaving. Daniel finds the body of Lola, prompting him to make a final stand as he rushes to Nick’s aid and shoot several Proctors; Crazy Dog snipes from afar and Nick realizes that he must end this once and for all. He gives a final look at his mother and sister in the raft and hits the button, setting off a series of explosives around the Dam; water cascades into the riverbed as Proctor John flees from the scene. The pressure of the water pulls the raft in closer to the cascade as Taqa and Crazy Dog watch helplessly; Nick and Daniel are left in the center of the Dam bridge as the structure buckles and collapses. Who survived and who died? We just don’t know. That, my friends, is how you do a cliffhanger; I’m looking at you, “TWD” Season 6 Finale.
Sprinkled throughout the episode are a strange series of fantasy sequences that aren’t given context until the end. The cheery song “Sleigh Ride” plays as the Otto household is shown, decked out in Christmas decorations; in the kitchen, Madison cooks her famous turkey before walking outside into a cemetery as the music becomes distorted. She walks past the graves of Jeremiah, Jake and Troy before finding Nick standing with Luciana, who is holding a baby; the camera pans down to reveal a grave with the inscription “Alicia Clark” on it. Nick and Luciana walk away from Madison, but not before we hear the baby growl like an Infected. Madison hosts a dinner party with Taqa, Daniel, the Ottos, Coop and Strand; it’s a celebration and everyone is smiling and getting along until Madison takes the lid off of the turkey plate, revealing Jeremiah’s head. Things take dark turn as Jeremiah’s decapitated body spews blood and Taqa chops off Jake’s arm, soiling the perfect Christmas dinner.
Later, Madison visits Jeremiah’s grave, possibly representing the guilt she feels for Nick having to kill him; she is pulled into the ground by a hand as the scene cuts to her underwater in the rush from the Dam. Debris and bodies swirl around her as Madison tries to get to the surface; her hand reaches through the dirt and is grabbed by none other than Travis, who desperately tries to pull her out, but she sinks back in. This is meant to symbolize Madison being brought to the brink of death where Travis will pull her to the afterlife, but it just isn’t her time yet; she still has a purpose in this world. She finally reaches the surface of the water before swimming to the side of the river, where she is greeted by a young girl and several locals who have come to river to collect the released water. It’s a bittersweet end, because while Madison did survive, we don’t know if anyone else is alive; did Daniel and Nick get off the Dam before it collapsed? Did Alicia and Strand make it to shore? The season comes to an end with a beautiful shot of the river flowing freely as music plays. While I typically don’t like “who died” cliffhangers, this was done exceptionally well and makes we insanely excited for Season 4.
— The Walking Dead World (@TWalkingDWorld) October 16, 2017
— The Walking Dead World (@TWalkingDWorld) October 16, 2017
— The Walking Dead World (@TWalkingDWorld) October 16, 2017
It’s time to mark the casualties of the Season 3 finale…and there are way more than I was expecting. First off is Troy Otto, who went out far sooner than I had hoped, mostly because he is one of “Fear’s” most interesting characters. What initially seemed like a standard villain, Troy revealed himself to be incredibly deep and full of fascinating traits. His entire family was offed this season and he made some troubling decisions that led to deaths of countless people, but even so, I still found myself rooting for him. He could be charming and maniacal at the same time, proving that Daniel Sharman is wickedly talented and I am truly sad to see him leave the series. I have mixed feelings on Troy being killed off as I think their was plenty of untapped potential, but I think it is fitting that Madison is the one that put him down. Next up is Efrain Morales and while he wasn’t a major character, he certainly had a lot of heart; he saved Daniel and brought him back to life. I would have liked for Efrain to be given a more ceremonious death, but it is fitting that his wish to have the water released to the people was carried out. Finally, Lola Guerrero also met her end and while I also think she could have been developed further, it was certainly fitting to have her die protecting the Dam; in her final minutes, Lola switches from a kind-hearted person to a gun-slinging warrior. Lisandra Tena really blew me away in this final performance, tapping into immense raw emotions.
The 2-part Season 3 Finale of “Fear the Walking Dead” is one of the wildest things I’ve ever seen come from the “TWD” franchise, mostly because of the high stakes, the crazy level of intensity and the massive scale. This season has been deadly with SIX series regulars being killed off in 16 episodes, and while I may not have agreed with them all, it is clear to me that we are entering into a new era of “Fear.” As original showrunner Dave Erickson departs, Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg (of “Once Upon a Time”) step in to usher us into that new era, along with Scott M. Gimple (showrunner of “The Walking Dead”) joining as an executive producer. This open-ended finale will allow the new team to craft their own stories in Season 4 and beyond. This finale succeeds on nearly every level and reinvigorates my love for the series, especially after the terrible previous episode. These concluding episodes prove that “Fear” is becoming more unpredictable and ruthless to match the decaying apocalyptic world. While we don’t know what will come next, I am more excited than ever for the future of this series; Season 3 is a fan’s wildest dream and this finale encapsulates that.
While Season 4 isn’t expected to air until 2018, “The Walking Dead” is set to return for its 8th Season on Oct. 22. Stay tuned to the Niner Times for continuing coverage of both shows, including weekly reviews of “TWD.”