I’ve previously suggested that there was a certain bravery to showrunner Dave Erickson’s decision to take a completely different path than The Walking Dead. That remains true, but some of the decisions that are being made with the series at this point can only be described as baffling. It’s not only that Fear the Walking Dead is a completely different show than The Walking Dead, it’s that Fear the Walking Dead is a completely different show in the midseason finale than it was three episodes ago. The personalities of the characters have changed practically overnight. The writers are throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks, and not much was sticking in the midseason finale. In the year of fake deaths, there were two more to add to the pile on Fear the Walking Dead, in addition to a few bewildering decisions by Nick and Travis.
After a much improved second season of the series, Fear the Walking Dead lost a lot of goodwill in the midseason finale, and it will need to work hard in August when the series returns to make sense of what happened this week.
Here are a few questions we have after the finale.
Is Daniel dead?
Daniel went completely crazy, saw his visions of his dead wife, and ultimately torched the entire village, and presumably himself. He was standing in the damn flames when the village lit up. He has to be dead, right? Maybe. Probably. Or maybe not. We never saw his body, and this is The Walking Dead universe, where no one is dead until we see their body. Madison only saw the room where Daniel had been tied up. It’s possible that Daniel survived the fire, somehow. AMC’s Story Sync seems to suggest that he is dead; however, on Talking Dead, producer Gale Anne Hurd says not so fast: “In the minds of the producers, he’s not dead.”
Is Celia dead?
Ditto for Celia. She was left among the zombies by Madison, and presumed dead. However, we didn’t see her body among those that Daniel burned. (We didn’t even see the zombified body of Luis in the prison cell). It’s theoretically possible that Celia (along with Luis) sneaked out the jail cell when Daniel opened the door to burn the rest of the zombies. It would be a stretch, but this is the same universe where Glenn Rhee escaped death by hiding under a body and slipping underneath a garbage Dumpster. Unless we see an actual dead body, it’s impossible to say. Moreover, Story Sync did not say she was dead, and someone on Reddit spotted a possible escape route. In fact, it may even be possible that Celia saved Daniel at the last moment. Recall, the last thing that Celia said to Daniel was, “I don’t want you to worry, Daniel. I will take care of you. There is a place for you here.”
Of course, it’s possible that Celia meant that she would take care of the zombified version of himself, and the “place for you here,” meant one of her prison cells.
How did Strand get back inside the estate?
We saw Nurse Ratched close the estate gate on Strand. Alicia waved goodbye to him. Minutes later, Strand was driving a pick-up truck around the estate inside the gate to pick up Madison, Alicia, and Ofelia. How did he get back in? Is that a continuity error? In the last frame of the episode, we saw Strand driving out of the gate he had just been locked out of. That’s just sloppy writing there.
What the hell is going on with Nick?
Nick’s situation is unlike anything we’ve seen before in The Walking Dead universe. He thinks he’s invincible. He thinks he can walk among the zombies forever. He refused to escape with Madison and Strand. What does Nick think he’s going to do? Live out his days with the zombies? Hang out with Celia’s burnt zombies? If Celia is dead, there’s no one to protect him from the rest of the surviving residents. Why would he stay? Has he completely lost it? Have the writers completely assassinated their best character?
Nick continues the trend of sudden character transformations. It took him two episodes to become a zombie cult leader. Chris practically went psycho overnight, and Daniel went crazy and started hearing voices in only two episodes.
Is Chris a psychopath?
He took a boy hostage. Mentally, Chris is gone. Travis is staying with him out of obligation, but Travis knows he is gone, too. Is there a chance he snaps out of it? Maybe. In the meantime, where are Travis and Chris going to live? Last we saw them, they were walking around outside the gates. What was their plan? To simply walk around until Chris finds his wits? Honestly, that plan makes zero sense. It’s perplexing.
Will Madison, Alicia and Strand actually leave?
Presumably, Madison and Strand’s plan is to take Alicia and Ofelia back to the yacht and get the hell out of Baja, Mexico. Are they going to leave Travis, Chris, and Nick behind (and potentially Daniel)? Will the second half of the season see the central cast split apart? If Madison and Strand get back on the yacht, how will they ever reunite with Chris, Travis and Nick again? What is even going on with this show?
Is Fear the Walking Dead a zombie story or a ghost story?
There is some weird business going on here with Celia and now Nick’s belief system. They believe the zombies are “changed ones,” but not dead. Just at the “next stage of life.” What does that mean? Do they expect that they will snap out of it at some point? That God will transform them back into themselves? Because God won’t. We’ve seen six seasons of The Walking Dead. The zombies only continue to decay further. They continue to kill. Do they think they will eventually decay into ghosts? How religion warps the mind in a zombie apocalypse just isn’t something The Walking Dead has explored, and it’s not something that Fear the Walking Dead has explored very well.
Are Strand, Madison, Alicia, et. al, the actual monsters?
This goes back to the theory that the real villains in this story are Madison, Strand and the rest of them. Are they the monsters? They do seem to kill most everyone with whom they come in contact. Madison basically fed Celia to the zombies. Daniel burned down the village. Chris nearly killed a kid. Strand admitted that he uses others for his own means. They are not particularly good people. On the other hand, the speed at which the personalities of these characters shift suggests that the series has not been thought out very well. Given the events of the midseason finale, suggesting they are villains in their own stories gives too much credit to the writers at this point.
Nothing makes sense in this world. I have no idea what is next, but it will be interesting to see if Erickson can pull it back together when the series returns. It seems as though he’s written himself into a corner. How does he get out of it in the second half of the season? The trailer for the next episode hints of some kind of warlord, a trip to Tijuana, and maybe even Nick resuming his drug addiction. Also, Nurse Ratched is still alive.