Winding down its debut season, “Fear the Walking Dead” ended its frequently rocky maiden voyage with the death of a main cast member and reason for cautious optimism for season 2.
Most of the characters have what should be a terminal case of questionable decision-making. Annoyingly, it didn’t prove especially costly so it’s possible they’ll be making more eye-rolling decisions next time.
With the military preparing to evacuate in the morning, Travis and company planned their own departure after they retrieve Nick, Liza and Griselda (Daniel and Ofelia, you might want to sit down for this one…) at the military base.
Daniel rightfully says they should either leave their captive soldier Andy tied up or kill him before he can cause any future problems, but Travis balks at either option. Andy quickly sizes Travis up as the weak link in the command chain and when they’re alone, he convinces Travis to let him go.
As they head to the military base and watching their neighbors at their tables by candlelight, I’m reminded that Travis and Madison are some pretty crappy neighbors. It’s not like it’d be too inconvenient to tell them there’s a deadly virus going around and the military is gonna bomb the place in the morning.
Daniel continues to show why he’s the savviest character as he unleashes the walkers trapped in the stadium onto the main military base. As far as distractions go, it’s hard to beat a horde of walkers.
After learning Travis let Andy go, Daniel ominously warns him, “We’ll see what doing the right thing gets you.” It’s the kind of foreshadowing that deserved a better payoff and an essential early lesson for Travis.
In the base, Dr. Exner realizes the horde is going to prevent an evacuation for the medical staff and virus-free patients. With no other available option, Exner tells her staff (including Liza) off so she can ensure the patients won’t become future walkers. It’s a heavy moment and the bleakest undertaking for any of the characters thus far.
Taking advantage of the confusion, Strand and Nick leave their cell. Strand is a sensible character so his refusal to help his fellow captives makes far more sense than Madison and Travis bailing on their neighbors.
At this rate, I’m far more interested in seeing how the realist Daniel, Strand and Exner fare as opposed to Travis and his crew. They understand how drastically things have changed and are not afraid to do what’s necessary to ensure their survival without being so easily categorized as good or evil characters.
While Travis, Madison, Ofelia and Daniel search for the others, Chris and Alicia stay behind. Predictably, a trio of soldiers, who apparently are uninterested in the firefight and can only use one vehicle, attack Chris and take the group’s SUV. This was a clumsy scene seemingly just to reinforce that Chris and Alicia still aren’t prepared to deal with the unpredictable evil from other humans.
Liza is in shock watching the chaos unfold at the main gate, but finally snaps back in time to go back into the base. That also didn’t make much sense as this was Liza’s least likely option of reuniting with Chris and Travis instead of getting on the rescue chopper.
Strand recovers his cuff links from his soldier ally as he’s getting munched on by a walker. On one hand I liked this bit as it showed how cold Strand is to not even put the soldier out of his misery, but it was a little too convenient that the one (barely) alive soldier was Strand’s buddy.
Just when things look like they’ll actually get interesting as walkers close in on Strand and Nick with Travis and company on the other side of a locked door, Liza arrives with a key card and rescues them. Not that I wanted Strand to die, but killing off Nick would have been a ballsy move from the writers and a completely unexpected death.
Liza breaks the bad news about Griselda to Daniel and Ofelia and we finally get some serious Walking Dead action as the group has to fight off a horde of walkers. Escaping that conflict, the gang enters the base’s ER and see Exner devastated after killing all her patients. Exner is too shocked to leave, which was a shame as the reluctant death-dealing doctor had all kinds of potential. In another goofy coincidence, the group heads outside and sees a mass of burned bodies and Ofelia appears to spot Griselda’s body since it’s missing a foot.
Paying off Daniel’s warning, just as the gang reunites with Chris and Alicia, Andy somehow managed to avoid the slew of walkers to confront Daniel. Were there any justice since this was the result of Travis’ poor judgment, Travis would be the one facing the life or death situation. Despite having more than enough distance to fully connect, Andy shoots and only manages to hit Ofelia in the arm before Travis tackles him and beats him until Madison pulls him off.
Losing the SUV doesn’t prove a big deal as the group takes a truck and another car to head to Strand’s house on the beach. Strand’s end-game isn’t the beach house though, but rather his luxury yacht. It’s interesting seeing how much more together the other characters are than Madison and Travis.
Liza, however, has that far off look and is talking like she won’t be with us much longer before ultimately revealing to Madison she was bitten.
Calling back their previous conversation with the roles reversed, Liza asks Madison to kill her as doing it will break Travis. Perhaps the encounter with Andy finally emboldened Travis as he arrives in time to say his tearful goodbyes and be the one that pulls the trigger.
Liza’s death left me pretty disappointed for several reason — none of which involved her being that amazing a character.
For starters, the show only started to scratch the surface of the tension of Travis and his two wives. Not that it needed to be a multi-season problem, but that was a unique dynamic where there was no love triangle, but both Madison and Liza needed Travis for different reasons and the strain that would place on the entire group when he was forced to choose sides.
Additionally, Liza felt like such a safe kill. In the grand scheme of the show she never was developed beyond being a quasi nurse and Travis’ ex-wife and Chris’ mother. Her death won’t serve as a rallying point for the others as much as a precautionary don’t let the walkers bite you warning. Consider how much more impactful that final scene would have been had Madison or Travis been the one to have been bitten. At least three characters would be affected by their death while only Travis and Chris will grieve Liza.
Throughout this season, Travis has made some seriously bone-headed decisions as he stuck to a moral high ground that no longer applies in this new world.
Travis’ hard-learned education about the new status quo was the often frustrating driving story line this season. With the final image of the tide washing away the last bit of naivete, I’m hopeful that now Travis is ready to emerge as a character ready to face the new challenges ahead instead of wishing it away.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
The conclusion of “The Walking Dead’s” first season had me anxiously awaiting the next step for Rick and company. Travis’ crew had me hoping the kinks have now been worked out and we’re on a more consistent path to this other perspective of the walker world.