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Fear the Walking Dead 3.01 & 3.02 Review – ‘Eye of the Beholder’/’The New Frontier’

June 5, 2017 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
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Fear the Walking Dead 3.01 & 3.02 Review – ‘Eye of the Beholder’/’The New Frontier’  

Welcome back to Fear the Walking Dead! It’s been a while, so if you need a refresher on where we left off, here’s my review for the Season 2 finale.

And now, let’s dig into this momentous two-part season premiere! The plot: We thankfully skip a lot of travel time and jump to Madison, Alicia, and Travis being dragged by men in military fatigues (but who are not actually military) to a compound where, lo and behold, Nick and Luciana are being held. While Madison and Alicia are held in an office, the men and Luciana are with the rest of her people, who are being killed and timed so this group can learn more about how fast a person turns undead. Negotiations ensue from the ladies to a young man named Troy who is in charge here, while Travis, Nick, and a man named Steven plot to escape through tunnels that Steven knows of. Eventually, the men escape their captors, but Travis is re-captured and tossed into an Infected-filled fighting pit, and Steven is killed and set on Nick and Luci’s trail. The ladies take Troy hostage, including Madison viciously holding a spoon in his eye socket for a prolonged amount of time! While Nick finds a herd at the end of the tunnel, Travis goes HAM on some Infected, Madison is talked down by Troy’s more sane brother Jake. Eventually, the Clarks are reunited at last and given a truck and supplies, giving a hard no to the Otto Brothers invitation to their father’s ranch. But when that herd invades the compound, they are given no choice–Travis, Alicia, and Luciana hop into a chopper with Jake, while Madison and Nick go with Troy in a truck. In part two, Madison and Nick get to the ranch first and try to decide on a plan while they wait. But everything takes a tragic turn when unexpected gunfire at the chopper kills Travis, who lets himself fall to his death rather than risk anyone on board. Jake’s friend Charlene is also killed on the way, and finally he and Alicia carry Luciana to the ranch. After a brief standoff over the injured woman’s fate, the Clark clan and Luci are all allowed to stay, and Madison is determined that they will be safest here at the Broke Jaw Ranch — even if they have to take it over. Meanwhile, Strand briefly pretends to be a doctor, delivers a baby, and then gets kicked out of the hotel in a sleek Jag.

Phew! Well, let’s start with the biggest development: Travis Manawa is dead. I did not see this coming! There was a sense of relief and finality in him following the Clark family reunion, though–you could see the tension leaving him as Madison hugged her two children to her. After losing his ex-wife, then his son, reuniting his girlfriend’s family does feel like the last task he had left to do. Not to say that I don’t think they could’ve done more with him, but I don’t feel this ending is unsatisfying. I think it was also a chance for Travis to go out while he was still his own person. Travis has been the moral compass from day one, and at the end of last season–which is just a few days ago on the show–he not only lost his son but brutally killed the two men responsible for that. Something in him broke, without doubt, and we got another look at the anger boiling in him when he was in that Infected pit. That darkness would’ve continued to grow in him, maybe consuming him, maybe making him unrecognizable compared to the man he was in the pilot. So, rest in peace, Travis. You did good, and you died still a good man.

The rest of the Clarks have a lot to deal with, but it feels like Alicia and Madison especially have a lot to try and come to terms with. Alicia is seeing and dealing with death in some very big ways: what she did in the hotel still weighs on her and it’s clear that she hasn’t figured out how to get her head around this yet. But before she can, she’s in another situation where she might have to do it again–despite Madison trying to spare her that–and then she’s forced to bear witness to Travis’s tragic death and tell her family what happened to him. While Alicia has recently come into her own, and even sought that independence out, what she’s becoming is scaring her now that it’s been taken this far. She hides a knife in her boot when they’re captured without even thinking about it, and while this is very resourceful and key to their escape, it’s a readiness that she’s no longer comfortable with. She regresses a little: she relies on her mother to call the shots in their escape, and later on, when she and Nick hug towards the end of the second episode, she takes comfort from her big brother, and breaks down in the first unguarded moment that she’s had in quite some time.

Alicia isn’t alone in this regression, either. When Nick is with his mother again, he also becomes more petulant than he’s been in a while. He’s stressed and worried about Luciana, Alicia, and Travis, yes, but he’s not just complaining, he’s whining in a few scenes. This hits a peak when he tells her they shouldn’t stay long because “I don’t know what I’ll do.” It’s almost a warning, and it sounds exactly like something I can picture Nick the Troubled Teen throwing at his mother frequently. And Madison is now becoming hyper-focused on her children’s safety, because it’s down to just them now. We’ve never really seen her unattached to Travis, even when they were separated, so this should be interesting. Especially considering that she’s borrowing more and more from the Rick Grimes playbook of “Nice place, we’re gonna take it over now.”

We got some interesting new characters here and an interesting new location tonight, too. The Otto Brothers, and their dad, made a very strong entry into the story. Troy was immediately sketchy, of course, though still in command despite that he was…I won’t say not all there, but definitely off-kilter. Then again, his ‘soldiers’ seemed to be like-minded individuals. I do wonder if he ever had actual military training? That was unclear; they weren’t stationed at that compound/base, but nonetheless they seemed to know what they were doing to an extent. Jake, his older half-brother, seems like the most trustworthy of the two right away, but I’ve seen enough TV for this to make me suspicious. The same goes for their father, Russell, who so far is tough but fair and looking out for his own. He and Jake do have an awareness of who and what Troy is, and they temper him as much as they can, but as Alicia points out, she learned that such allowances for bad behavior weren’t actually doing her brother any favors back in the day. But we’ve also just how far the Clarks will go for each other, so we shouldn’t expect the Ottos to be any different. In a way, Troy is the kind of person Chris may have become had he lived longer. Which makes me imagine what that meeting might’ve been like, or what it might’ve been like for Troy and Travis to interact more.

The Broke Jaw Ranch promises to be interesting. What kind of other people live here? Were they all fellow doomsday preppers? Are there hidden dark secrets here? I’m going to assume that last one is a ‘yes,’ and I look forward to seeing more of the place and its people and learning said secrets.

I’ll touch briefly on Strand’s storyline, which felt like it existed largely to give him a reason to not be with the rest of the cast. It was a nice reminder of his cleverness, however, when he came up with that lie about being a doctor and also managed to deliver on it–figuratively and literally! His scene with Ilene was a decent exchange to let us know where his head is at, and of course, him driving out in that Jag felt like classic Strand.

Other thoughts:
– They seriously upped the gore and action in these two episodes! That spoon in the eye scene in particular had me shuddering every time they showed it. Let us never doubt how hardcore Madison is. Ever.
– Luciana wasn’t much of a character in this one, but I’m glad she’s alive (so far), and that at least one person who’s new the Clark family is still along with them here.
– Who was that unknown shooter who took down the chopper? The same lone gunman who pinned down Ofelia? And speaking of, where is Ofelia?

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
The start of Season 3 is very strong, showing a significant increase in action, and making some big change-ups in the cast and setting. The episodes had a lot to do and they did it well, giving us not just a fast-paced story but some compelling character moments in there as well. It was also a solid if unexpected swan song for Travis, and it will be interesting to see what happens without the moral compass of the group. There's a lot left to explore this season, but I quite enjoy this set of episodes to start it off.