The two episodes of Fear the Walking Dead airing last night marked the end of a fitfully frustrating, maddening and occasionally entertaining second season. In fact, the final two hours were much like the season as a whole: Some good, some bad, and just barely enough promise to keep most viewers hanging on for a third season. There were certainly some missteps in the finale, but none so egregious as to inspire large numbers to rage-quit, especially after the compelling tease in the final seconds.
Here’s an overview of what worked and didn’t work in the Fear the Walking Dead season finale.
Worked: The Introduction of Dayton Callie
Honestly, though he had only a few seconds of screen time, my favorite moment in the entire episode was the brief introduction of Sons of Anarchy and Deadwood alumni Dayton Callie, who took a few shots at Ofelia before welcoming her to America. He arrived about three-quarters through the first episode of the night and sadly didn’t show up again in the finale. However, that guarantees that Callie will return in the third season for what hopes to be a long arc on the series. After all, the man’s character survived cancer for seven seasons of Sons of Anarchy, so if anyone can outlast the zombies, it’s Dayton Callie.
What it means for Ofelia is also of interest, of course. Callie’s character is not likely to kill Ofelia, because that would be pointless. It would also prevent the inevitable reunion with Madison and Travis. He is more likely to help Ofelia find her way back to Madison and Travis and hopefully become a regular cast member on the series, because Dayton Callie would be an instant fan favorite on a show in desperate need of fan favorites.
What Didn’t Work: Ofelia’s Storyline
On the other hand, Ofelia was something of a nonentity throughout the second season. In the front half, she had no role in the series outside of her relationship with her father, but after his death, we were promised more independence for Ofelia. We certainly saw that, but only after she mulled over killing herself, abandoned Madison and Alicia with their truck, mooned over her long lost love, and struck out toward the American border only to have her journey interrupted by Dayton Callie’s character. Ofelia remained largely marginalized this season — her character only appeared sporadically and never seemed to serve the larger overall story. She was wasted.
What Didn’t Work: Chris’ Death
Chris has surpassed Lori Grimes as the worst character in the history of The Walking Dead. We suffered with Chris for 20 interminably long, agonizing episodes. Chris was awful. His character made no sense. He was a completely unlikable, unredeemable sociopath. We deserved to see him die an amazing death befitting his status as the show’s worst character. What we got, instead, was a lousy flashback scene that saw Chris fall asleep at the wheel, crash his car, and injure himself. Thanks to the pinky promises of his new group, Derek and James shot him in the head and put him down like a horse with a broken leg. Boo! Lame! Chris deserved so much worse. He deserved the kind of spectacular death that befell Lori Grimes or Andrea. He deserved to be ripped to shreds by zombies. Chris got off way too easy.
What Worked: The Consequences of Chris’ Death
While viewers were robbed of a satisfying death for Chris, the same cannot be said for Chris’ two obnoxious friends, Brandon and Derek. They tossed off racist comments while being held in the hotel parking lot and were nearly exiled from the hotel for being jackasses. However, once Travis summoned them, the real fun began. Travis questioned them about the fate of Chris, and eventually, he managed to beat a confession out of them. And I do mean beat. Travis unloaded on them in a way we haven’t seen since he pummeled Andrew Adams (Shawn Hatosy) to death in the first season. Travis was unrelenting, and in those moments of rage, we saw where Chris got his sociopathy from. In some ways, it was a Rick Grimes moment for Travis. A wake-up call. A reminder that it’s a different world now, and sometimes bad people — even bad people who pose no direct threat — need to be dealt with. Travis put them down in one of the season’s most satisfying death sequences. Unfortunately, there was also some collateral damage.
Push: Madison and Alicia Leaving the Hotel
I suppose it was inevitable, but I had hoped the main cast members on Fear the Walking Dead would pick up a few friends in the hotel and bring them into the next chapters of the series. By inadvertently killing Oscar, Travis sealed his own fate and that of Madison, who wrote the rule on sequestering violent members. The always sympathetic Alicia decided to stick by her step-father and even convinced her mom to leave the hotel with Travis. There was, however, some violence in the end, and Alicia ended up stabbing Andres to death to save Travis, but the three eventually made it out alive.
It was, however, an odd choice for Strand to remain behind. To be honest, Strand’s character has also been a nonentity in this latter half of the season, and his decision to help Alicia/Madison/Travis escape and remain behind puts him in a pickle. How will Elena and Hector regard him after he helped Travis escape? However, his decision to stay behind does still keep the hotel, Elena and Hector in play for next season, and those two characters do seem to have some potential. Likewise, as we have seen all season long, the show is much better when it can keep characters separated and weave together three or four separate storylines.
What Didn’t Work: The Alejandro Mystery
We covered this separately in a post last night, but the mystery surrounding Alejandro’s zombie immunity ended in disappointment. After teasing viewers all season long about the possibility of a character being able to survive the zombie infection, we learned that no such thing happened. In the end, Alejandro was bitten by another zombie, succumbed to the infection, and admitted that he wasn’t immune, after all. The original “zombie bite” on his shoulder was actually the bite of an out-of-control drug addict. Those hoping for a wrinkle in The Walking Dead mythology were left disappointed.
What Did Work: Alejandro’s Redemption
It took way too long for Alejandro to come around and convince the people of La Colonia to leave before the supermarket gangsters invaded the community and killed them all, and I have no idea why it was necessary for Alejandro to pump himself full of Oxy to survive the night. However, in the end, Alejandro did the right thing. Not only that, but he set the wall of zombies loose on the supermarket gangsters, killing them all. With his final words, he was also able to direct Alicia to Nick’s whereabouts. Alejandro died a hero. Sort of.
What Did Work: The Nick Cliffhanger
Again, Nick’s storyline was unnecessarily protracted, but in the end, he was able to convince Alejandro to let Luciano and the rest of the colony go with him toward the border, where Nick believed he saw a refugee settlement. However, in the finale’s most thrilling moment — once the colony finally reached the American border — they were met by scores of what looked like border agents still protecting an apocalyptic America from border-crossers. (Donald Trump, I’m sure, would be proud.) In the shootout, several La Colonia citizens were killed, Luciana was shot (but survived, for now) and the episode ended with border agents restraining Nick and Luciano. Will Luciana survive? What’s at the refugee settlement? Will Madison and Alicia find Nick? Will Ofelia find her way to Nick, as well?
Those questions will have to wait until the third season. However, it was the right kind of cliffhanger: It teased the future direction of the show without leaving us hanging too badly, because no one actually believes that Nick and Luciano are in danger. We are, however, curious to see what the show has up its sleeve about the refugee settlement.