By Nicole Prieto | Staff Writer
With an explosive finale filled with guns, death and deception, “Fear the Walking Dead” sends off its sophomore season with a couple of bangs — and a frustrating cliffhanger that introduces an all-new threat. Last week, Chris chose to leave with a pair of violent, careless strangers named Derek and Brandon over being with his father. Madison’s reckless decision to turn on the power to the Rosario Beach Hotel’s signage at night, in an effort to signal to Nick, instead attracted Travis — and crowds of desperate people looking for medical help and sanctuary. Now with Nick still in La Colonia, Ofelia out on her own and the rest of the group on edge in a hotel, the future looks grim as tensions continue to rise.
Here is a spoiler-heavy rundown of the good, the OK and the ugly of FTWD’s two-episode finale.
It is all about acting and characterization when it comes to the good that FTWD has clung to. Alicia undergoes a trial by fire all throughout the second half of the season, breaking away from her depiction as an innocent teenager. Actress Alycia Debnam-Carey makes the transition work. It is not a shocker when Alicia stabs Andrés in the chest after he nearly shoots Travis.
Nick’s character development is not to be understated, either. He remains fundamentally the same: a greasy, rough-edged, smooth talker prone to white lies. But his skills are honed in La Colonia to the benefit of the people he adopts as a surrogate family; he risks his life to cut drug deals between the colony and an armed gang, and he insists on prioritizing their safety, even as Alejandro loses his grip.
Victor’s transformation is perhaps the most dramatic. He changes from cold-hearted entrepreneur to a somber man contending with the loss of his partner and home. But regardless of his blooming, Daryl-esque heart of gold, Victor still keeps a cool head on his shoulder. He advises Madison throughout their tenuous alliance with the people of the hotel, and he ultimately helps her, Travis and Alicia escape after Travis makes a deadly error.
The truth is out: Alejandro is not actually immune to walker bites, a fun fact contending to be the least surprising revelation between “The Walking Dead” and FTWD thus far. Who else guessed that the high drug addict he was trying to save from a group of walkers was the one who really bit him in the neck? Frankly, anyone paying enough attention to the scene where he tells Nick the story. Trying to pass that off as a “big reveal” was weak, but at least it is not given much fanfare. Alejandro admits he lied, Luciana is visibly hurt, and Nick makes an effort to get everyone out before their once-hidden camp is raided.
Relatedly, it is hard to say whether the invasion of La Colonia is poorly executed or not. Unlike the Governor’s dramatic faceoff with Rick at the prison in TWD, FTWD dodges a showdown entirely. Nick convinces Alejandro to evacuate his people from their compound in time, after he sees a medevac helicopter land far to the north. When the raiders arrive, they find the colony empty — but Alejandro has stayed behind, laying a trap for them that involves a bus and a lot of walkers.
Chris was poorly handled all the way from Victor’s boat to his final moments in a tertiary character’s flashback. The TWD-verse cements its inability to depict mentally ill characters with much compassion or veracity, painting Chris as a villain while repeatedly saying that he is just a sick, impressionable kid among wolves.
His death becomes a prop for Travis’ pain. Upon learning that Derek and Brandon shot Chris after an accident, Travis abandons his long-held pacifism: He beats both men to death in a locked off room, accidentally brain-damaging another of the hotel group’s own during his outburst. The violent scene buys into the franchise’s obsession with depicting murder as a rite of passage in “the new world.” (If you thought you heard enough of that phrase or its many TWD variants from the past six years, think again.)
FTWD was set to have a satisfying finish. It killed that expectation with literal cheap shots and a dramatic dropkick to the gut. Just as a new home for the people of La Colonia is in sight, Nick and Luciana are held at gunpoint by armed militiamen. Ofelia, upon crossing the border, is taken by one of their own as well. Madison, Travis and Alicia arrive to see the aftermath of La Colonia’s botched raid, receiving a hint from a dying Alejandro that Nick was headed to the border. Victor’s fate is now to-be-determined in FTWD, but it is unlikely we have seen the last of him.
While Season 2 ultimately ends on a frustrating note, the unexpected confrontation with a new group holds some promise for a fresh direction for the series.