REVIEW: Fear the Walking Dead, S3 Eps 15&16 – Things Bad Begun/Sleigh Ride

Fear the Walking Dead concludes its third season with a massive explosion and the introduction of a sinister new villain in Proctor John.

No matter how the story tries to separate its main cast, Fear the Walking Dead always finds a way (not always a convincing one) to bring them back together. They may wander far from each other and have very different experiences of the apocalypse, but the Clarks, Salazars, and Strand always somehow end back together. And so, even when Alicia tried to break away from her family a few episodes ago, she still finds herself on the way to the dam when she crosses paths with Proctor John.

Meanwhile at the dam, tensions rise between the Clarks and Daniel and Lola. And with Strand having made a shady deal with Proctor John for the control of the dam, he tries to warn Madison and Nick to run for safety before the enemy storms the gates. Strand making deals to save his skin should come as a surprise to no one at this point, especially to Madison and Nick, and yet they still seemed surprised.

In some strange scenes, Nick was seen wandering around, slaughtering walkers and collecting their heads for his new friend El Matadero. There’s clearly something wrong with Nick again these days and he has decided to simply give in to the madness of it all, along with his new friend Troy.

Daniel, still reeling from the death of Ofelia, somehow uses his great intuitive powers to deduce that Troy was behind the horde that killed his daughter. Granted, Troy’s general aura is of shadiness and one cannot help but suspect him of wrongdoing. But this was just Daniel having superpowers. He nearly tortures the truth out of Nick, who manages to withstand the interrogation by saying Jake unleashed the horde. Why Nick is so keen on protecting Troy is a mystery. Granted, they have bonded over certain similarities, but Nick still isn’t as dark and twisted as the last remaining Otto.

Who turns out to be the last Otto to fall. When Madison finds out that he was behind the horde, she snaps. In her dark quest for survival and the protection of her children, she has allowed Troy to get away with some heinous crimes but this apparently was a step too far. She bludgeons him to death with a hammer at last. And though we get one glimpse of his dead (or unconscious?) body as the dam floods, there is a hint that he might survive this finale.

In fact, for all the bloodshed of the episode, one isn’t sure if anyone is really dead on Fear the Walking Dead. Sure, the new characters are either dead (Lola, Efrain) or leaving the main plot (Walker, Crazy Dog). But the main cast still feels intact. Daniel miraculously survives being SHOT IN THE FACE by Strand and joins Nick as he watches the dam collapse. I’m fairly sure Alicia and Strand survived the flood, otherwise Nick’s suicidal sacrifice would have been for naught. Proctor John got away because it would have been lame to introduce him at the last minute only to kill him off. And we all know Madison got out okay in the end. So the stakes were not so high despite the impressive visuals of the flood.

The most poignant scenes in the finale of Fear the Walking Dead were the unsettling fantasy scenes of Madison preparing a normal holiday feast, with guests around her table smiling and laughing despite being dead or enemies in real life. It was jarring to see all the Ottos, Daniel, and Strand all dressed up and shaking hands like they were family. Of course, there was also the scene of Madison looking across a graveyard where the names of her children were carved on the headstones. And that whole scene of her falling into the depths of the water and briefly seeing Travis was especially powerful.

In the end, we’re only sure that Madison survived but again, I’m betting the body count of this finale was not as high as it seemed. Fear the Walking Dead ended on an intriguing note and, with a crossover with The Walking Dead planned, I’m intrigued to see how the rest of the story plays out next season.