The first half of the third season of Fear the Walking Dead closed out rather admirably as they offered a two-part conclusion to the deadly conflict between Walker and the Ottos. This part of the story brought Ofelia back to the forefront in a rather important way, but that’s not all; it also showed us what it is like to be in the midst of the zompocalypse and be on the wrong side of this blood feud. This is exactly what Madison has to deal with. She has to face Troy and deal with the burden of his wicked ways and to top it off, she found that the reason the entire Broke Jaw Ranch situation was about to fall apart due to the past sins that had been committed by the founders against the local Native American tribe.
But, all this time, Madison is not worried about sides at all. All she is after are the barriers and resources of the ranch and has to go against people who have a legitimate bone to pick with the owners. While dealing with this situation, she had to listen to her kids chastise her and call her cold and heartless so she decided to give us a glimpse of her own past, which provided some excellent context to her character. Hearing Madison talking about her childhood was great because it added more credibility to the fact that she was someone who was ready to make the difficult decisions in a world that’s ending in disaster.
When she was young, Madison had to kill her own father who was abusive, which means she is primed for the zombie apocalypse and will handle anything that threatens the people she loves. This revelation pushed Nick into pulling the trigger on Jeremiah. He used the same antique pistol that the older Otto liked to put him down. For this part of the story, it was a good conclusion and was paced rather nicely too. There were no zombies in sight except for the ones that showed up at the ranch when Ofelia accidentally killed a group of gunmen with a poisoning tactic used hundreds of years ago, but this time coffee and anthrax were in the mix.
It was a revealing and gripping human story that didn’t need the addition of unnecessary zombie maulings. This one remained light as far as the undead were concerned apart from some walkers being spear-gunned down on the Abigail by Strand. It was understood that there would not be many ghouls lurking about in this sparsely-populated and arid part of America and as there are no herds or swarms out, it is understandable that there is only human conflict. However, it has to be said that this is tough to accomplish on a Walking Dead show because they are solely relying on characters for pushing the story forward.
This means we have to understand their motivations properly. Luckily, the season focused on getting the Clarks back in order so they reached a point where the disagreements don’t feel fickle or arbitrary. The arguments are reasonable and no one is doing things to put everyone else at risk. Last season, one of the biggest issues was Ofelia stealing the truck and abandoning everyone else at the hotel. But, we have finally found Ofelia. There was a good chance that she would be part of Walker’s crew. A brief flashback to her and Jeremiah revealed the true nature of the old man.
In the early season episodes of the third season, the racism had flowed like an undercurrent and eventually did surface when we were left to wonder if the camp wasn’t very welcoming to Luciana. The past viciousness of the four founders and the true origins of the ranch, which were brutally bigoted, made it easier for us to swallow Otto’s death. It was also pretty awesome when it all ended with Madison calling out Jeremiah to kill himself, even though we knew he was never going to be that selfless to sacrifice his life for others.
Yet, Madison and Ofelia were on different sides here and this beef had a lot of little complex things involved. Madison’s problem with Ofelia was justified, but then the complaint against Jeremiah that Walker’s tribe and Ofelia had was also correct and Madison was aligned with him. There was an attempt at peace, but it remained unsuccessful. The only thing that didn’t make sense this week was Alicia’s decision to stay as hostage because she had to know her mother wouldn’t accept that. But, with this half-season ending, Madison still didn’t get her revenge on those who killed Travis and Troy didn’t get what he deserved either.
Instead, Madison had to accept an alliance, which was rather uneasy, but had to be done if she wanted the weapons and land. For now, she is focused on doing anything she can for survival, which means she cannot lash out at the guy who brought down the helicopter. She had to make do with decapitating Jeremiah’s corpse and then carry around a sack with his head in it like a bloody bronze medal. Maybe she will start the healing process with his cleansing kill. As far as Strand’s part of the mid-season finale is concerned, it was sort of fun, even if not fully formed.
Throughout the half-season, the theme had been that he couldn’t go back to his old ways or go escape from his past life. When he returned to the yacht, this concept was hammered in rather heavily. But, the chat he had with the fading Cosmonaut, the starman who confirmed that the entire planet was kaput and completely blacked out, and also went quote for quote with him. Sure, we would have liked some more screen time for Daniel before the break, but the show did need to focus so it was understandable. Eventually, they delivered a suspenseful and tense punch that saw the return of Ofelia and also solved the issue at the ranch in a good manner.