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TV Review: Fear The Walking Dead 1.6 “The Good Man” (Season Finale)
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Fear The Walking Dead 1.6

Fear the Walking Dead
Season 1 Episode 6 “The Good Man” (Season Finale)
Directed by Stefan Schwartz
Written by Robert Kirkman & Dave Erickson
Starring Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Lorenzo James Henrie, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Ruben Blades, Mercedes Mason, Patricia Reyes Spindola
AMC
Air Date: Sunday, October 4, 2015, 9pm

Tonight saw the end of Season 1 of Fear the Walking Dead, AMC’s prequel series that was supposed to show us the start of the zombie apocalypse that resulted in the events of The Walking Dead. This prequel spin-off was only six episodes, and the first four episodes alone had a lot of set-up, where people were becoming infected and it was assumed at first to be the flu. That supposed illness turned into the infected dying, and then coming back to “life” somewhat, attacking the first responders there to help them. But, even when witnessing these unbelievable altercation, people found it difficult to comprehend that something was truly wrong here and most ignored the warning signs that things were going to get worse.

Last week’s episode, 1.5 “Cobalt,” finally saw some action, with a lot of revelations, and was the most like its parent show. The season finale (Episode 1.5 “The Good Man”), on the other hand, was a lot less shocking, and pretty predictable.

Spoilers…

The group of Los Angeles survivors that this series centers on have been housed in one of the twelve Safe Zones that the military has created. According to the shell of a military and government, these safe zones are all that’s left of the population in the area, and they are “safe” there. Yeah, OK. The central characters are Madison (Kim Dickens), her drug addict son Nick (Frank Dillane), her teen daughter Alicia, (Alycia Debnam Carey), and her do-gooder fiance Travis (Cliff Curtis), as well as Travis’s ex-wife Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez) and their son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie), along with Daniel (Rubén Blades), his wife Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola), and their daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason), and they are housed together in Madison’s home in one of the safe zones. Griselda is injured, while Nick is detoxing, so they are both carted away to a field hospital, where Liza, a nursing student, has volunteered to go to help out. But, the rest of the group feels that something is not right about the situation — and, of course, they are totally right.

In the previous episode, the group learned from Cpl. Adams — via torture, courtesy of Daniel — that the troops were readying to enact “Cobalt,” the secret military operation to evacuate from the LA area, and humanely exterminate the remaining civilians. With little time left, they must figure out a way to retrieve Nick, Griselda, and Liza from the military compound, and then head East away before the troops complete their mission. That’s where this season finale begins. No, actually, it begins with the rattling chain-locked doors of the nearby arena, but we’ll get back to that.

So, how is this group of unprepared, unskilled civilians going to get into the compound and save their loved ones?

First, they need to take Adams along with them so he can get them in and tell them where to go. Daniel wants to kill Adams, since he thinks the soldier will warn his comrades. Travis, always the moral compass, decides to let the soldier go — yeah, we know where that will lead.

To impede the Cobalt operation, Daniel — in a move that is either insane or pure genius — releases the walkers from the nearby arena, and leads them to the compound. Daniel slowly walks up to the gates, where watchtower soldiers tell him to halt, but he tells them they have more to worry about then him. Cue the walkers — 2,000 of them! I thought it was really cool of the infected flesh-eaters to wait in the background until Daniel properly introduced them for dramatic effect. SO cooperative!

While Chris and Alicia wait by the car, Madison, Travis, and Daniel get inside and find Nick, who’s already escaping with Victor Strand, the mysterious well-dressed man he’s been locked up with. They do manage to all meet up, and then fight off some walkers, who have now infiltrated the compound. There was lots of great action during this sequence, as well as some more revelations about the characters’ themselves: While Strand left his fellow prisons behind to die, Madison and Travis found the captives and set them free. Then, Strand meets up with Melvin, the soldier he bartered his cufflinks to for his freedom who was to be his ride out of there. Unfortunately, Melvin was being chomped down on by a walker, and begged Strand to kill him. Melvin declines, saying “You’re well on your way,” as he takes back his cufflinks. (Damn, Strand is cold!) And, it was great to see Nick saving his mom by bludgeoning a walker with a ball peen hammer.

One of the best parts of the finale was when Dr. Bethany Exner (Sandrine Holt), who I had until that point felt had a sinister streak in her, realizes that the compound has been compromised and that the evacuation team would not be rescuing her and her patients. She tells her staff, including Liza, to save themselves, and then she stays behind to humanely euthanize her critical patients. And in the end, even though the group tells the doctor to come with them, she stays behind, as if she knows that she made her bed, and now she must lie in it.

More consequences arise from Travis’s choice of compassion for Adams, who decides to return to find the group and threaten them with a gun. I mean, why leave the compound that’s filled with attacking undead, when you can go back and get revenge? Sounds like a good idea. He wants Daniel to suffer, so he shoots Ofelia, prompting Travis to tackle the soldier and pummel his face in. This is a side of Travis you don’t want to see. He’s a kind, gentle soul, but don’t hurt his people. I wonder if Travis will be less trusting in Season 2. Anyhow, I thought for sure Ofelia was dead, but it turns out she was just shot in the arm/shoulder area, and miracle worker Liza patches that up quick.

Minus Griselda, who didn’t survive her initial injuries, the group – now including Strand – make their way out of the compound, following Strand’s directions to head to his home to the west. Once at Strand’s house – a seaside mansion in the hills – we learn the man’s plans: he has a yacht he calls “Abigail” out on the water, and that’s his means of escape. So, looks like it will be Fear the Walking Dead Season 2: Fear At Sea. What I want to know is if Nick will finally change out of his old man clothes, or will he continue out to sea with his stolen baracuta jacket and baggy slacks?

On The Walking Dead, the showrunners kills off characters all the time, including those who are beloved. So, since this was the season finale of the prequel, we knew a central character wouldn’t make it for the Abigail cruise. Turns out, it’s Liza, who discovers she was bit during their escape. Her death was meant to be very emotional, especially since Travis is the one who had to end her life, and her son had to lose her mother, but I felt worse about the death of the high school principal in a previous episode. Part of this is likely because Liza left her son behind to go to the compound. Yes, it’s important to help others, but abandoning her son without explaining herself was harsh, even though she didn’t mean it. Also, she was so snippy in the beginning. Plus, earlier in the finale, she tells the doctor that she wants her son and Travis saved, not caring about what happens to the Madison and her family.

While the season finale gave us the action the beginning of the series sorely lacked, as well as gave us some hope for the future of this group, it didn’t contain a big payoff. Sure, there’s a boat, but that doesn’t mean salvation. At this point, I’m not even sure I care what happens to these characters; it might be more entertaining if they got on the boat and it immediately capsized and that was the end of these people. Although, I think part of my indifference is that this debut season was only six episodes, which wasn’t enough to time to get to know these people before the infection hit, see them through their first crisis, AND get the action that a series like this requires. If only Season 1 had been 10 episodes.

I still love The Walking Dead universe, so I have a feeling I’ll revisit Fear again in a binge-watch capacity and possibly feel differently. I do want to know what else is in store for this post-apocalypse world when Season 2 airs next year.

Video

Sneak Peek: Episode 106: Fear the Walking Dead: The Good Man

Next on: Episode 106: Fear the Walking Dead: The Good Man

[Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC. Used with permission.]

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