‘The Good Man’
The Walking Dead is back! Oh hang on, wrong review? Forgive the cheesy starter, but it seems fitting that in the week the main show returns, Fear the Walking Dead finally caved into fully emulating it’s elder sibling. I’ve been banging on all season about my worry that once we escape the introductory period of chaos, all we’d get is an echo of the main show. And while there have been hints and similarities up until now, this, the finale, was the week where the show just couldn’t avoid the inevitable, with an army of walkers, a ‘secure location’ being overrun, enough gore to make Hannibal look like Great British Bake-Off, and our rag-tag dysfunction family truly on the run. And what a brilliant episode of television it was.
We can worry about how season two will play out a year from now, but at this point in time there’s no denying that this was the best the show has to offer; every element – the visuals, the acting, the suspense – turned, to paraphrase Spinal Tap, ‘up to 11’. Frankly, it’s episodes like this one that make reviewing a bit more difficult, given that there wasn’t just one outstanding aspect – the entire episode was sublime.
We opened as we ended last week, with everyone converging on the army base; everyone, as it turned out, including the biggest walker horde the show has featured thus far. The frequency with which so many walkers appear in TWD means that the characters aren’t so shocked anymore, making the genuine terror and shock on the faces of the soldiers on the gate in FTWD a welcome sight, along with the understatement of the century, that there were ‘multiple’ walkers at the gate.Cue periodic shots of the same soldiers slowly but surely being overwhelmed, complete with the brutal image of one poor, bitten soul wandering into the blades of a helicopter. This walker infestation turned out to be the horde hidden in the stadium from last week, a diversion of Salazar’s making to allow them unseen access to the base. Yes, it’s ruthless, not to mention ridiculously dangerous, to use an unstoppable force of so many as a basic distraction, but then that’s just Salazar all over, so this was nothing but consistency. Continuing into the ‘confrontation’ part of the episode, and finally the group was back together, along with Nick’s new best mate Strand, who I can’t decide is just ominous by nature, or is actually hiding something. Either way he’s a deliciously grand character, made all the better offset against the (logically) serious and downbeat world of FTWD.
And that serious and downbeat world is only getting worse, with the death of Liza late on. I’d have to rewatch the episode to see exactly when and how she bit the dust, but it’s an interesting if unsurprising choice to see her bow out here. Someone had to go, and her departure will surely fuel most of the characters in varying ways next year. But that doesn’t take away from Elizabeth Rodriguez’s effective performance this week, tying up some great work from her this year. She’s rarely had centre stage material, as basically the third wheel in the parenting stakes, and second-in-command to Dr. Exner (someone I was surprised didn’t become part of the group), but has always held her own.
So we come to the end of the first run of Fear. If the show can get the next season right, it has the potential to get even better, but for the stage the show is at right now, this was absolutely the best finale the writers could have delivered.