‘Fear the Walking Dead’: We’re (gonna be) on a boat

Fear the Walking Dead
“The Good Man”
October 4, 2015

Time for the finale! Who’s gonna die? (As if we don’t already know.)

Madison and Travis, having learned that the military is about to “humanely” deal with the civilian population once and for all, have come to the reasonable decision that they need to leave town. Now. They pack their junk and inform Awful Daughter and Awful Chris that they are headed to the desert, but only after they pop into the military compound and pick up their loved ones. So that should be very easy.

First they swing by the torture basement, where they find Señor Barber about to kill Soldier Boyfriend. Soldier Boyfriend pleads for his life, promising to help them find their way around the military compound, and Travis is like, “You know, he makes some good points…” So everyone is like, “OK, FINE. But he’s your responsibility.”

Before they leave, Señor Barber has an uncomfortable conversation with Señorita Barber. “Lo siento about the whole torturing your boyfriend thing. And about being un monster back in El Salvador.” Señorita sighs heavily.

And then everyone loads up into their cars and drive past their unsuspecting neighbors who are just eating dinner like they’re not about to be slaughtered by the military or, conversely, eaten by zombies. LOL, bye, suckers! Good luck with the apocalypse!

Over at the military compound, things are looking a little harried. Ostensibly the military is arranging transportation for the medical staff and a few lucky others over to Edwards Air Force Base, but no, Awful Chris is probably not on that list, Ex-Wife, maybe you should have thought of that when you decided to run away from your family to “help others” and “do your part.” Dr. Untrustworthy argues that if they let her bring Awful Chris and Travis to safety, who next? The New Wife? New Wife’s Awful Daughter? The Salvadorans they have added to their extended family? Mr. Tran? The birthday girl from across the street? Where does it end? And Ex-Wife just sells everyone down the river, insisting that she only cares about Travis and Awful Chris getting to safety. So, I guess you can go suck it, New Wife and New Wife’s kids!

Upon arriving at the military compound, Señor Barber just walks right up to the gates and warns the soldiers that they are going to want to save their ammunition. You know, for the hordes of new friends he made up at the arena whom he has led straight to the military’s doorstep. (Or at least that’s what I think happened. Señor Barber released the arena dead, right? That’s where all these zombies came from? Put a pin in this, because I have other questions.*)

Shooting at the zombies. Shooting at the zombies. Shooting at the zombies. And so, having orchestrated the collapse of the military compound where hundreds of innocent people were receiving medical treatment and others were trying to hold together the last remnants of society, our “heroes” make their way inside so as to save three people.

dowager disapproves

 

Travis and Madison leave their awful children with the cars in the garage with instructions to head to the desert if they aren’t back in 30 minutes, and there is whining because there is always whining with these two awful children.

While the awful children wait, some soldiers in a panic arrive, drag them out of their SUV to commander it for themselves, which I’m pretty sure violates the third amendment, or it would if SUVs existed in the 1770s. Also, there’s a little threat of sexual violence against Awful Daughter, so Awful Chris stands up to the soldiers and gets himself punched in the Awful Head for his trouble.

Meanwhile, inside, as the compound falls into further chaos, your favorite new character, Strand, straightens his tie and instructs Nick to pull himself together, before asking him where home is. Nick informs him he’s from El Sereno, which Strand describes as one of the most diverse communities in Los Angeles. It most certainly is not. From Wikipedia, and I quote: “It is one of the least racially diverse neighborhoods in Los Angeles.”

And that’s when the lights go out. Strand announces that it’s time to go to Abigail, but when he reaches for his purloined key it’s missing. And it’s missing because his new little buddy, Nick, pickpocketed it from him. They’re quite the team!

best-friends-forever

 

On their way out, they don’t release anyone else because according to Strand, the key is not one-size-fits-all, and anyway, there’s no time. SORRY, LOSERS. Strand then seeks out the soldier he traded his cufflinks and watch to, who conveniently for Mr. Strand has been downed by zombies but has not yet turned making it easy for Strand to retrieve those ridiculous cufflinks. Not so convenient for Strand, not-yet-zombie soldier was supposed to be his ride out of here, and it’s looking less and less likely that’s going to happen.

Meanwhile, the military is just straight up abandoning the compound: if you weren’t on an evac helicopter by now, it’s too late. Dr. Untrustworthy instructs everyone, including Ex-Wife to leave and go get on transport downstairs, promising that she’ll take care of the patients. OH, SHE’LL TAKE CARE OF THEM, ALRIGHT. ~warms up bolt gun~

But when Ex-Wife goes outside, full-on crazy has erupted (Gracias again, Señor Barber; that was muy cool, Señor Barber.) and after watching a bitten soldier just wander face-first into a helicopter blade, Ex-Wife reconsiders her options and heads back inside, just in time to open a locked door for a trapped Strand and Nick. Such luck! Much fortunate!

Elsewhere, Madison and Travis have found the holding cells, and they take a few moments to break some of the locks for the unfortunate souls trapped inside. Of course, it’s the least they could do having been party to UNLEASHING HUNDREDS OF ZOMBIES ON THEM.

Eventually all of our “heroes” meet in the compound’s kitchen, where Ex-Wife pauses to take a selfie with some of her new friends:

ftwd_106_jm_0618_0259
Just hanging out, eating fruit salad. #zombies #industrialkitchen #fruitsalad #doomed (Justina Mintz/AMC)

… before one of her new friends mistakes her arm for fruit salad. Shooting at the zombies. Shooting at the zombies. Shooting at the zombies.

Eventually, the zombie threat is minimized enough that we can get to some salient plot issues: Strand is Nick’s new friend who saved his life; Señora Barber is muerto, and no, there’s nothing of her left to see. Sorry.

The group makes their way into the infirmary where Dr. Untrustworthy is spending a little quality time with her bolt gun and some dead bodies. She refuses to come along with our “heroes” for reasons, but instructs them that there is a way out of the compound through a sublevel stairwell. Thanks Dr. Deus Ex Machina! Wait, what are you doing with that bolt gun, Dr. Deus Ex Machina? …

But there’s no time for doomed fatalists. As the group makes their way back to the garage, they discuss what’s next: Madison and Travis plan on heading to the nearest Yogi Bear Jellystone Camp-RV Park, but Mr. Strand suggests that they instead head west to his place on the water. Coastal real estate in California? OH YES, PLEASE. If you’re going to die in the zombie apocalypse, you might as well do it with a nice view.

When the group arrives in the garage, however, they learn that the awful children lost the SUV, and that Soldier Boyfriend has somehow escaped and managed to get his hands on a gun which he waves at Señor Barber for a while before shooting Señorita Barber in the arm. This displeases Travis who beats Soldier Boyfriend’s stupid face in. Travis has had a hard day, and this was not a good time to betray his trust, dude.

Everyone loads up into the cars and they drive through Los Angeles via the Los Angeles River because apparently it’s just super easy to get filming permits for the Los Angeles River. And the Los Angeles River leads them straight to Mr. Strand’s ridiculous coastal mansion. Somehow. Don’t worry about it.

Once at Mr. Strand’s preposterous palace, Madison apologizes to Nick for “letting” them take him away, but Nick is like, “no big deal. Anyway, I’ve been living like this for a long time, now everyone is catching up with me.” Because he’s a liminal being, not the hero, like I said a while ago.

Mr. Strand starts packing his things, explaining to Nick that he has to stay in constant motion. “Cool, so I guess we can stay in your sweet pad, then? I mean, since you’re not going to be using it?” But Mr. Strand insists that no, that’s not cool, either. No one can stay there — they have to go to Abigail, which, as it turns out, is a yacht just offshore. Clever writers.

Meanwhile, after checking on Señorita Barber’s not-life-threatening gunshot wound, Ex-Wife goes inside, cryptically hugs Awful Chris, cryptically tells him that she loves him and cryptically walks out to the beach, not that anyone but Madison actually noticed that she was being all cryptic. But Madison did, which is why she follows her down to the water, and why Travis then follows Madison.

Before he gets there, though, Ex-Wife reveals to Madison that she’s bit, pulls out a gun and asks her to take care of the situation. After all, it wasn’t all that long ago that Madison was foreshadowing all of this making her promise she’d do the same for her. But before Madison can get rid of her husband’s pain in the tookus Ex-Wife once and for all, Travis arrives, and everyone’s like, “OH BROTHER.” He tries to stop this craziness by being all, “Antibiotics, maybe?” But Ex-Wife is like, “Dude, it’s over. For real though. If someone doesn’t double tap me in the head, I’m going to come back. We all come back,” thereby spoiling the big secret the CDC Guy has for Rick Grimes over in Atlanta. She makes him promise to take care of Awful Chris who is awful, which he does before taking the gun from Madison so as to do the honors.

And somehow, despite the fact that the house is waaaaaaay up on the top of a cliff beside the ocean, and the deed was done further down on the cliff, the gunshot is so loud that everyone in Mr. Strand’s Magical Castle hears it, and Awful Chris and Awful Daughter come running down to cry over Ex-Wife’s body while Travis emotes out towards the ocean. The end.

And now an exclusive gif from next season on Fear the Walking Dead:

on-a-boat

 

Aside from that surprise revelation, the rest of the finale episode felt fairly predetermined. We knew that our heroes were going to have to infiltrate the military compound to retrieve their loved ones. (*Although, I still am unclear on the logistics of Señor Barber’s pied piper routine. 1. How did he open the arena without being swarmed himself? 2. How close was the arena to the compound? 3. Did he just calmly lead all those zombies down the street like NBD? I find the whole thing preposterous. It’s cool! But it’s preposterous.) We knew that Los Barbers needed to learn that Señora Barber was dead (R.I.P. Señora Barber). We knew someone important was going to have to die. And some of us knew that would be Ex-Wife. ~cough~

I suppose what is more interesting is the transformation of Travis from the man referenced in the title of the episode, a “good” man, into someone scarred and hardened by this new, harsher reality. Even after everything that has happened to him: after witnessing Calvin resurrect from the dead, after seeing his neighbor eat a dog before lunging to eat his own face, after being asked to shoot Kimberly the donut zombie, after seeing a military unit be overrun by zombies and abandon their own, Travis still believes somewhere in his heart that the old world could come back, that the old rules could be reinstated if they just hold on hard enough. However, when Soldier Boyfriend betrays his trust and shoots Señorita, that’s his breaking point. That’s the moment when Travis begins to realize that the old codes of honor that he has lived by might no longer apply.

In monomyth terms, Travis has (somewhat frustratingly) spent the first five episode of this six episode season in the early transitional stages of the hero’s journey, specifically in the Call to Adventure (Wait, what? Zombies?) and The Refusal of the Call (There are no zombies. Everyone is just a little sick. If we just sit tight and not shoot anybody in the face, everything will be totally cool.) stages. In this episode, Travis has FINALLY Crossed the Threshold and has begun the Initiation process of his journey. His first test: accepting Ex-Wife’s assertions that there is no cure, and being the one to take the step to protect his family.

This doesn’t mean that Travis will suddenly become as pragmatic as Madison or Señor Barber. He is still going to struggle to accept this new reality, to be the man that can deal with this new world, and it will be difficult for him to shed the trappings of an old moral code. But by making this painful sacrifice, Travis has at least finally accepted that things are different, and the old, known order of things is disappearing.

And once more before we wrap this up, not to complain too much about this season — because for the most part I did enjoy it as sort of a lesser Walking Dead — but I can’t shake the feeling that we rushed through what this series was supposed to be all about: the fall of civilization. In fact, I almost feel like we don’t even need to continue following Travis on his journey: we know where it’s going to lead — with him becoming a world-weary Rick-like leader, determined to protect his family at all costs even if it means betraying his previously strongly held moral beliefs. We all see this coming, right? This is just turning into Walking Dead: Drought Edition.

Instead, if I had my way, Fear the Walking Dead would remain focused on the fall of society, and each season would follow some other set of individuals as they contend with the zombie uprising. While it could remain in Los Angeles or Southern California, more interestingly, it would journey across the country or even the world, becoming an anthology series of sorts. And because each story would be its own stand-alone season, it would free up the writers from telling the same predictable story over and over again. In fact, they could kill off “the hero” and really keep the viewers on their toes. (And, AND! They could then use some of these dead heroes in other seasons, or on The Walking Dead, as zombie Easter Eggs! PUT ME ON THE WRITING STAFF.)

But since that’s not going to happen, I will have to content myself with the Zombies on a Boat premise they have set up for next season.

sloth-boat-yolo

 

In the meantime, you can content yourself with two things: 1. This delicious hint that Madison might have ties to The Walking Dead and 2. AMC’s web series, Zombies on a Plane “Fear the Walking Dead Flight 462.” Reportedly, one of the characters from this 16-part series will be on next season of Fear the Walking Dead. Place your bets on who it will be now.

Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on AMC.

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