Fear the Walking Dead Ends With Death, Destruction, and—Most Importantly—a Point

Illustration for article titled iFear the Walking Dead/i Ends With Death, Destruction, and—Most Importantly—a Point

The first season of Fear the Walking Dead ended Sunday night with a finale that brought some much needed action, drama and character building to a series that has struggled mightily to find its voice.

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Six weeks ago, when we first sat down to watch this spinoff to The Walking Dead, we were promised a glimpse at how Los Angeles fell to the zombie infection; a prequel to the mayhem in Atlanta. We got that, but on a very micro scale, as we’ve meticulously followed two teachers and their respective families through the initial shock, denial, adaptation and eventual acceptance of what’s occurring. In fact that last bit, acceptance, was the focus of the finale, especially on the shoulders of Travis.

The finale began with some beautiful shots of a pitch black Los Angeles, providing the kind of widespread scope the show rarely gave us a glimpse of. Later, after the action-packed invasion of the military base, we got those views again as the characters dove through the Los Angeles aqueduct. Both these scene were welcome band-aids on the show’s very insular view of the city’s fall and showed up just in time.

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Illustration for article titled iFear the Walking Dead/i Ends With Death, Destruction, and—Most Importantly—a Point

Between those scenes, we witnessed the show’s biggest action scenes by far. Actually, that’s almost an understatement, as Fear the Walking Dead has certainly not been known for its action. Travis, Madison, Daniel and the crew finally left the safety of their own home to execute a plan that’ll save Nick, Griselda and Liza from the military base, which involved Daniel unleashing thousands of zombies who were locked in a stadium to distract the soldiers as everyone makes the rescue. Now, this was probably the most horrific and selfish thing done so far on this show—sacrificing God knows how many to save just three people—but I’m okay with it. That’s the attitude humanity would likely have in a awful situation like this and, despicable as it is, it tells you something even more important about Daniel. He’s not a good person, and never has been.

Illustration for article titled iFear the Walking Dead/i Ends With Death, Destruction, and—Most Importantly—a Point

The zombie distraction worked and through some very dramatic near misses, everyone gets out. However, just as they’re about to leave, the soldier Daniel interrogated from the previous episode, Andy, returned. Travis had let him go earlier and now that decision backfired. In that moment, seeing his trust in people betrayed, Travis snapped. He attacks Andy and beats him to a pulp. It was the first of two big moments that would finally reveal what this first season of Fear the Walking Dead has actually been about.

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Once they got out, the salesman Strand suggested the group not go east to the desert as planned, but west to his beach house. (Fun fact: The beach house he’s is in Palos Verdes, California, and was also the house Turtle owned in the Entourage movie. I’m guessing Turtle and the Entourage boys have been eaten by zombies.) The beach house seems like a good place for them to hold up but no. Strand isn’t having it. He wants to be mobile and potentially teased to Nick that he has a yacht they could use. How convenient.

Illustration for article titled iFear the Walking Dead/i Ends With Death, Destruction, and—Most Importantly—a Point
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Then, in the show’s closing moments, we found out Liza—Chris’s mom and Travis’s ex—had been injured. She’s infected and wants Madison to kill her. “Don’t let Travis do it, it will break him” she said. In that moment, Travis arrived, tears were shed, and he shot his ex-wife—the mother of his son—in the head.

As Travis cried on his knees on the cusp of the ocean, the whole point of this very divisive, often boring, season of Fear the Walking Dead revealed itself. Madison may get top billing, but from episode one she was ready for this. No, season one has been about Travis. The character who denied what was happening the longest. Who quickly adapted to protect both his families despite not really being sure what’s going on. Who was diplomatic to even the worst enemies and who has finally been broken by killing his own ex-wife for the survival of the greater good. In that arc, we see the arc most of us would hope to have in a situation like Fear the Walking Dead. We’d want to remain the best person we could be... until we couldn’t.

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In the season’s final shot, the camera pulled back to reveal a huge section of southern California. It then panned left and swooped down over the ocean. Will season two actually see our characters take Strand’s yacht? What dangers are there on the water? And how far will they make it? Could Los Angeles only be the setting for season one? Lots and lots of questions that we’ll presumably get the answers to next year.

So that’s season one of Fear the Walking Dead. For the most part, I was horribly disappointed by it. But this finale was solid, a great mix of what the show was and what the show could be. I’m confident that, with season two, things will escalate a bit more quickly, get a bit more dramatic and live up to its namesake. And if it really does become an international show, that would be awesome. Either way, a strong finish.

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Contact the author at germain@io9.com.

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DISCUSSION

Cool_Breeze
Cool_Breeze

Embrace the madness.

I’ve said it before, so forgive me if I sound like a broken record, but this isn’t a show about zombies (walkers, skinbags, etc.) This is a show about people and their relationships and how they adapt to the world falling around them. In this case, the catalyst for that fall is the dead rising.

Even the The Walking Dead is more about the people involved than the actual walkers. The walkers are now to a point where they really only pose a threat in groups or when you aren’t careful. Otherwise, they’re part of the landscape.

Fear has been about these two (three, really) families and how they survive in the early days of the walker uprising. But, similar to Walking Dead, the skinbags aren’t really the threat, until they are in a group. A damn big group. But we’ll get to that. And more than just three families working together, this show (all season long, and is even a question in Walking Dead) asks: What is family? Blood or Bond? Because really, we started this season with three families in the sense that we are familiar, but over the course of the season, it became one. They may not all be related, but they are a unit; They need each other. Much like Walking Dead, where five seasons in and Rick has been warning people to stop messing with his family (he hasn’t called them his group since like season two or three), we have Madison and Daniel and Travis looking out for their family.

1. Man, that tracking shot of downtown Los Angeles in the dark was pretty trippy. Most of the show has only showed downtown off in the distance (save for the one time they went into town and Lt. Pyle got his) as the safe zone was revealed to be in Cerritos, which is approximately 20 miles from downtown. That actually helps justify the lack of skinbags that people had been complaining about. Los Angeles is more than just a small metropolitan area; the suburbs stretch for miles. The reason we haven’t seen a million-skinbag hoard yet? Because if there is one, it’s 20 miles away. Remember: Rick didn’t find a hoard of walkers until the second episode, and he literally went around a corner and saw them. Until they hear something tasty, what motivation do they have to move? Same rule applies to downtown Los Angeles. There wasn’t anything going on in Cerritos that would draw their attention.

2. Speaking of tasty, holy shit Daniel let them out of the arena. That was diabolical. I love it. Those skinbags weren’t making a fuss until Daniel got there to check on Corp. Ex-Boyfriend’s story. Once they turned, they were content until they heard something tasty (Daniel) get close.

Another point about that: Daniel was able to walk a little quicker than the skinbags when he took them to the hospital. The skinbags aren’t this group’s biggest threat. Other people are. Much like Walking Dead, they are part of the landscape.

3. I loved how cold Ophelia was about the rest of the neighborhood when they were bugging out. Those people didn’t do anything when the gub’ment came and got their family, so why should they help them get out of dodge? The neighbors are going to have a rude awakening when they wake up and there aren’t any guardsmen around.

First, I would like to comment that all of the action that occurred last night was central to the hospital in downtown Los Angeles. When they left their neighborhood, there wasn’t any real skinbag threat to their neighbors.However, THEY LEFT THE DAMN FENCE OPEN. THAT IS JUST RUDE.

4. Travis is going to get more people killed. Well, he is a lot less likely to get people killed after seeing what he went through this week, but he’s still a softie and people are going to pay. Up until this episode, Travis has been (mostly) sheltered from the realities of this brave new world. He thought what Daniel did was horrible, and thought that Corp. Ex-Boyfriend was telling the truth. In a way, he did, but there’s the torture dilemma again: He said what he thought would help get the pain to stop or get him out, but he wasn’t going to just run, he wanted revenge. You could see the gears click as he pointed the gun at Daniel in the parking structure, and the instant he decided to shoot Ophelia. I think that was a mix of making Daniel suffer and punishing Ophelia for not helping him once she found out. He was betrayed.

Travis was right to run the train on Corp. Ex-Boyfriend, but it was about 30 minutes too late. I bet he doesn’t make that mistake again. (Also: We didn’t see Corp. Ex-Boyfriend die. I wonder if he meets up with Lt. Pyle sometime in Season two?)

5. “Save your ammunition.” Holy shit that was intense. Those poor guardsmen didn’t know what to do. My favorite part of World War Z (the book not that zombie movie that borrowed it’s name) was the part where the gub’ment wants to put on the “shock and awe” campaign to destroy the zombies, but quickly realize that big bombs and spray-and-pray does not work. It takes a head shot to do the deed. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the machine guns of our military (and others) aren’t made for complete accuracy. They’re born from World War II and Vietnam, where you couldn’t really see your enemy that close. The idea was suppression. Spray. And. Pray. True, soldiers are trained on accuracy, but in the heat of battle, in a conventional modern war, unless you are going door to door, they are taught to shoot and shoot a lot for the center mass. Again, this does not help against hoards of skinbags who can only be killed with a shot or hit to the head.

These guardsmen at the hospital fell back into their conventional training, even after about a week and a half of realizing that it took head shots to down these skinbags. They panicked, and didn’t have to command structure to help them adapt, and were sadly, outgunned.

Also: look at those four dbags that took the Durango. WHO TAKES A DURANGO? Again with the common theme: Skinbags aren’t the biggest threat; people are. Especially people with weapons training and superiority complexes. Maybe the Governor was right at the beginning of Season three...

6. Speaking of head shots - these skinbags are observably harder to kill. They are a lot fresher than the walkers in and around Atlanta. The combination of time and humidity has made the walkers softer. These skinbags in Los Angeles are fresher. It is not easy to bash someone’s brains in (um, apparently), and this episode showed that. The scene with the skinbags in the kitchen area showed that readily. These people had to work for that freedom, dammit.

7. Chris tried, like Travis does. I’ll give him an A+ for effort. He just made a fan for life out of Alicia (if he hadn’t already when they played dress-and-fuck-shit-up).

8. The skinbag (well, almost skinbag) kill of the season was the guardsman doming himself on the tail-roter of that helicopter. BRRRRRRRMMMHPPHH.

9. Madison showed her situational awareness when she immediately started taking medications when Liza led them back to the sick ward. I also felt bad for Dr. Feelgood, because it seemed like although she was a company woman working for the system, she was really trying to help as many people as she could. I think the quick two second scene of her getting ready to old country herself was worse than seeing that she euthanized everyone in the room. Harsh.

10. Strand. James Strand. Can we all agree that he is one cool cat? Tobias was the poor-man’s survivalist; learning everything about this on the intergoogle and trying to protect himself with a (tiny) knife. Mr. Strand here is what Tobias would have been with money. A freaking compound. Generators. Supplies. A FUCKING BOAT. He is completely out for himself, but at least he has a contingency.

How much did Mr. Strand see before he got corralled at the detention center? He knew the skinbags were slow. He’s an interesting fellow, and I bet he likes his martinis shaken.

11. Going back to the beginning where we saw Los Angeles in the dark, it was really cool to see the panning shot of Los Angeles as they headed to the coast. I especially liked the touch of the wildfires clearing out neighborhoods. That would be a bigger threat than skinbags to someone holding out in their house. That, and fire-skinbags. Yikes.

12. We had two full circle moments this week: Nick back in the Los Angeles River (yay!) and Travis’ women worrying about him coming undone. They must be Weezer fans.

But seriously, I’m glad Travis was the one that offed Liza, because had Madison done it, he (and Chris) would have resented her for the rest of their lives (lets be real, Madison isn’t dying any time soon). Also, it pushed Travis over the edge. He’s not completely in this new world now. This is Rick after Lori died territory, people. HIDE THE PHONES.

Speaking of Travis. Now he has wet sand all up in his gootch. You thought the dead rising was bad? Try running with a loaded diaper in your jeans. Rookie move. You’re from Los Angeles, YOU KNOW BETTER.

13. Mr. Strand had the same idea as I do (lets be real again - we have zombie plans) with the boat. I would suggest an island of some kind (ahem CATALINA) with some infrastructure and limited population. Or a 150 foot yacht with a lot of gas. That’ll work, too.

Fear The Walking Dead Season Two: I’M ON A BOAT

I’m glad The Walking Dead is only a week away, but I really will miss this show. It was fun.

BONUS: Flight 462: It was about a minute and a half long, and takes place a few episodes back. They are just grounding flights, and we learn this on a Plane that is about to take off. I bet that kid ends up on next season.