Season one of Fear the Walking Dead came to an end with the October 4, 2015 episode titled ‘The Good Man.’ The first season of AMC’s The Walking Dead prequel consisted of only six hour-long episodes and while the final two were the best of the lot, they weren’t quite entertaining enough to make up for a short season that showcased a mostly non-eventful start to the zombie apocalypse. Throughout season one the characters did the opposite of what they should have (or what seemed logical), and of course 99% of the population of the small community at the heart of Fear the Walking Dead failed to act or react with any conviction or sense of urgency. Thankfully the finale amped up the pace of the show, the action, and the feeling of dread as the characters began to accept the idea that zombies are real.
The season finale picked up with the military pulling out and our small pack of survivors arguing over whether to kill the soldier, Andy, they had kidnapped and tortured. They’re finally getting the heck out of Dodge, but have to go get Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spindola), Nick (Frank Dillane), and Liza (Elizabeth Rodriguez) first. After much discussion, Travis (Cliff Curtis) wins out and frees Andy but not before getting all of the information he has on how to rescue their people from the military compound. Travis might believe he’s doing the right thing by saving Andy’s life, but you know that decision to allow Andy to go free will come back and bite him in the butt.
In order to get to their loved ones, they decide the best thing to do is sacrifice everyone else by setting the horde of zombies held at the arena free to attack the hospital/military complex. Is it a fair trade off, three for hundreds? That question is never openly addressed, so apparently it’s a given that the answer is yes.
Meanwhile, down in the locked holding area Nick and Strand use the distraction to set themselves free and to ignore the pleas of their fellow prisoners, leaving them to die. As Travis, Daniel (Ruben Blades), Ofelia (Mercedes Mason), and Madison (Kim Dickens) are working their way through the compound, Nick and Strand (Colman Domingo) are working their way toward the outside.
Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) have been left in the parking garage to guard their escape vehicle because the best thing to do on a rescue mission when you’re fighting/fleeing from a zombie horde and squaring off with the military is to leave two teenagers by themselves far from help. As you’d expect, Alicia and Chris are attacked by soldiers who want to use the SUV themselves to escape.
Travis and crew arrive just in time to unlock a door (thanks to Liza) and save Nick and Strand. The group now makes their way out, pausing briefly to mourn the fact Griselda didn’t survive her injuries and long enough to try and convince Dr. Bethany Exner (Sandrine Holt) to come with them. She declines. The hospital is overrun by the infected and the soldiers are all killed in the battle, as well as the sick and wounded. Maybe our small group should have taken a little more time to work through the “let’s turn the infected loose” plan.
As the gang prepares to leave (why was guarding one specific SUV so important in the first place?) to head off to Strand’s mansion where a yacht is prepared to take them to safety, Andy pops up and shoots Ofelia after a brief discussion. Why Ofelia when he was tortured by Daniel? It doesn’t make sense, even if his desire was to cause Daniel pain. Travis attacks Andy, beating him within an inch of his life but leaving him alive. Ofelia doesn’t die, but there’s a final hiccup before the season can wrap up. Liza was bit during the escape and she knows she’ll soon be dying and then ultimately turning into one of the infected. She begs Madison to kill her because she doesn’t want her son to see her like this or Travis to have to be the one who ends her life. Madison agrees but Travis, The Good Man in the title, arrives on the scene before Madison can shoot Liza. They share a special, heartfelt moment before Liza’s life comes to an end with one shot.
The group is now emotionally devastated. They sacrificed the lives of hundreds and saved two. Will they all pack up and escape on Strand’s yacht? What would that mean for season two? Could it follow them as they visit different cities picking up supplies and gassing up? Will that mean less zombie attacks and more human drama? We’ll be kept guessing until next summer when season two arrives, but my vote goes to not boarding the yacht or getting off at its first stop in a new city and expanding the cast with new, more interesting survivors.
Of all the survivors, Liza seemed to be the most level-headed and useful. Plus, she was a tough, fast-on-her-feet character the show desperately needed. It’s a shame she was the one who had to be killed off in the season one finale as I had her low on the list of characters I’d like to see become zombie food.
The finale was much better than the five episodes that led up to it, and finally the characters were allowed to grow and act like real human beings. They were also finally allowed to embrace the fact the zombie apocalypse has arrived, quite playing dress up and worrying over silly things, and act like their lives were truly in peril. The action was fast and furious, and the zombies actually played a larger part in the episode than in all of the previous episodes combined. After episodes two and three I couldn’t have cared less what happened to either the Salazar or Clark families. The finale did a good job of finally making these characters interesting enough that viewers will care where the families go from here and whether any of them will survive the zombie apocalypse. Fear the Walking Dead isn’t nearly as good as The Walking Dead, but there’s now hope that investing time in watching season two will be worthwhile.
GRADE: B (for the season finale)
GRADE: C (for the first season)
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