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Fear the Walking Dead 3.07 & 3.08 Review – ‘The Unveiling’/’Children of Wrath’

July 10, 2017 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
Fear The Walking Dead - The Unveiling
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Fear the Walking Dead 3.07 & 3.08 Review – ‘The Unveiling’/’Children of Wrath’  

It’s mid-season finale time! Tensions are high between Broke Jaw Ranch and the Black Hat Reservation, bodies count are rising, Nick finally gets a haircut, dark pasts are coming to light, and Strand is talking to a cosmonaut! Let’s dive in.

The plot: Jake and Alicia get to the Reservation to try and broker a peace, and lo and behold, Ofelia is here! There’s an exchange of hostages while they work on coming to an agreement, so Alicia stays while Ofelia goes back with Jake. However, Madison freaks the hell out and convinces Troy to raid Walker’s camp and steal her back, which naturally means people die and there will be no peace. This results in Jake nearly being scalped, followed by Ofelia playing up being a victim in order to poison the ranch militia with anthrax, followed by stealing the relics of the tribe, followed by Walker striking a deal with Madison for Jeremiah’s head, literally. After confessing that she killed her own drunk, abusive father to her kids, Nick decides to take this one and kills Jeremiah himself, but Madison makes it look like a suicide. And with that, an uneasy peace seems to be established. Elsewhere in the world, Strand finds the Abigail run aground in the shallows, climbs aboard to kill some walkers and enjoy a final glass of champagne while talking to a Russian cosmonaut over the radio about famous last words and learning that the whole world has been affected by the undead apocalypse (meaning endless spin-offs are totally possible!). He torches the boat and heads back to land.

The storylines tonight are all tangled up in one another, with the exception of Strand, but there are a consistent recurring themes about the sins of the fathers, the things we carry, and the lies we tell ourselves and others. Walker is fixated on getting his people’s land back from Otto, citing a long history of the white man stealing from the natives, but Alicia almost immediately pegs him as a hypocrite playing the role of the ‘noble Native American.’ And while those reasons aren’t untrue, his real motivation is that he knows Jeremiah and his buddies murdered his uncle and his father and got away with it. Jeremiah, of course, has been covering this up and it seems that his sons have no idea–or at least, that they think the allegations are untrue–but when Nick literally digs up the past in the form of Walker’s father’s skull, it changes everything. Nick knows now that they are siding with the wrong people in this conflict, as does Alicia when she finds out. And it’s this which leads to the two best scenes in these episodes.

First, the Clark family meeting where Nick tells them about the murder of Walker’s relatives. When Madison continues to insist that the ranch is their best bet for safety, it strikes an argument with Alicia that has been brewing for quite some time. While the mother and daughter haven’t butted heads that much, there has been some chafing for freedom and identity on Alicia’s end, on top of the long-running emotional distance that exists between them. Now, at last, Alicia can’t take it anymore and she unloads on her mother for that distance, for that coldness, and even blaming her father’s depression on her. This prompts Madison to finally tell them just how far she really is willing to go to protect her loved ones, and she tells the stunning and dark story of her childhood: how her father was beloved by the town, but in secret, a horribly abusive drunk. Until one morning when Madison woke up, got ready for school, then took up her father’s gun and shot and killed him while he slept it off. It’s always been clear that Madison had darkness in her past, that she had been through something that had hardened her–and now at last we know how deep and dark it goes. For a long time, I assumed it had been her first husband, but when he was revealed to have had his struggles but have been a good man, I wasn’t sure what it would be. We were given a few hints recently about her father’s drinking, but learning that she killed the man when she wasn’t out of high school…wow. It’s no surprise that she doesn’t regret it, that she would do it again to protect her mother or her kids. So it’s no shock that when she then says she’s going to go convince Jeremiah to make peace that the unspoken subtext is ‘Or I’ll kill him.’

As much as she ultimately strikes the deal that resolves the war, it has to be said that Madison’s actions in the first half of the finale are frankly idiotic. She loses it entirely when Alicia is left with Walker, and everything else she does in the first episode makes the situation so much worse. Her freak out costs dozens of lives between their infiltration and the poisoning. To be honest, the extremity of that decision felt a little more plot-driven than anything: they needed the fight to escalate, and this was a way to do it. It seems like Madison should’ve been able to keep her cool a little more, but then again, she can be kind of an idiot when her kids are MIA; for example, lighting up the hotel last season on the random whim that maybe Nick would see it, wherever he was.

Nick, on the other hand, steps up a lot in this finale. He grew keen to the fact that something else was going on with Jeremiah, and was the one to realize how the old man had given himself away in the adobe during his drunken ramblings. We’ve often heard how Nick has a lot of his father in him, but tonight we saw that he does have some of his mother in him after all. After Madison’s very revelatory talk with Jeremiah, where it becomes abundantly clear that this old man may have some wise-sounding advice to dole out in his unassuming but rigid cowboy manner, but when it comes down to it, he doesn’t care about anyone more than himself and his pride. He even insults his own sons and doesn’t even consider that taking his own life could save them. Not that taking your own life isn’t a big deal, of course, but you would figure that would be the one thing that may give him pause. Nope! And Nick has clearly already realized this, as well as the fact that his mother is about to kill this man if he won’t do it himself. I’m not sure if Nick had figured out that that’s what Madison was trying to do specifically, but I’m sure he wouldn’t be shocked to learn that Jeremiah wouldn’t consider it for a second. Nick’s decision to come in and take a life, however, is a big change for him, this is the first life he’s taken with intention. It’ll be interesting to see how that affects him going forward.

We also found Ofelia again tonight! A part of Walker’s tribe now, Ofelia was pretty hardcore about who’s side she was on even after learning the Clarks were at the ranch. I was nervous about what it was that had happened between her and Jeremiah, and while at first his abandonment of her seemed a bit mild, as we watched just how close she came to dying all because of this old man’s racism, it wasn’t so hard to see why she was so angry and resentful. I suspected that she was up to something as soon as she showed up after the attack on the tribe to get Alicia back, but surprised at it’s severity, so it’s a relief that she was unaware she was poisoning them fatally. I am curious to see how her relationship with the Clarks re-develops in the second half of the season. Glad to have her back, though! And I hope we see more of her father in the second half of the season, too.

The Otto brothers were mostly their usual selves–Troy revealed in violence and was easily manipulated by Madison, Jake was determined to do the right thing. But I do feel Jake showed what he was made of more than usual tonight. Not only with firing back at Madison for her mistakes and her repeated attempts to insert herself, but also for his persistence. The guy nearly got scalped and killed, but he rallied right away because he knew the people on the ranch needed him to. That’s pretty damn impressive!

We also learned a lot more about Walker. The man has an anger and hate that can run deep, but also has hints of compassion and reason. Though we’ve seen more of him, I don’t feel we yet know him enough to have a solid sense of him. And I wonder if he’s going to be satisfied with just Jeremiah’s death and his head–something tells me, not so much.

Finally, Strand had a little side story tonight! He somehow escaped the Infected-infested hotel and also managed to get some supplies and head out to the coast, where, lo and behold, his beloved boat awaited him! Poor Abigail has seen better days, however. I’m not sure what Strand’s plan was when he first went aboard, as living there wasn’t an option with its condition. His conversation with the cosmonaut was…I’m not quite sure what to think of this, really. The conversation itself was enjoyable and interesting, I particularly liked the exchange of famous last words. But something about it felt a little too cute and convenient. And a little too much like someone on the writing staff just saw the movie Gravity. But the most notable things are that we now know the entire world has been affected by the undead apocalypse, and that Strand says bon voyage to his luxury boat by dousing her in liquor and sending her up in flames as he dons his mirrored shades and heads back up the coast. He’s letting go of his past more and more. Where will his path lead him next?

All-in-all, this was a pretty good mid-season finale! Lots of action, lots of interesting secrets and reveals, especially Madison’s confession, and some good development of the characters as the story moved forward. All the things I look for in a good episode! As mentioned, Madison’s idiot ball making things get pretty damn bad between the two groups was annoying, especially since she really never apologized for it–but then again, she isn’t even apologizing for or expressing a single regret about killing her own father, so I guess who the heck are the rest of these clowns to her? Still, that was a really bad decision, Mads. And now we move into a new era for the Broke Jaw Ranch. Will it be more peaceful? Will the Otto brothers clash now that their father is gone? Will the Natives and the Ranchers get along? Can the Children of Wrath escape the shadow of their forefathers? We’ll find out when Fear the Walking Dead returns!

Other Thoughts:
– I was surprised to learn that Nick is only 19, of note; I had been assuming early 20’s, and that there was more of an age difference between he and Alicia.
– Nick, that haircut was so very needed.
– Quotes!
— “You’re two hundred years to late for peace, Jake. But just in time for lunch.” Walker, how long were you waiting to say this one?
— “Smart horse.” “Smarter than me.”
— “Them that don’t listen have to be brought to heel someday.”
— “I’m going Alamo, Madison.”
— “You here to kill me, Madison?”
— “Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.”
— Madison’s entire telling of her story
– And that’s a wrap on Season 3A of Fear the Walking Dead! Thank you all for reading and commenting as always, and I’ll see you all back here when 3B starts up, or when The Walking Dead returns, whichever comes first.

8
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
An all-around good mid-season finale of what has been the best season so far of FTWD! The escalation of the war and the various attempts from different people to resolve made for some good tension and uncertainty about how it would conclude, and while some of the actions taken were annoying (Madison's demand they rescue Alicia leading to further death and violence), they weren't entirely out of character either. The big reveal about Madison's tragic and hardcore past was well done, and I'm glad to finally know what dark secret it is she's been harboring this whole time; similarly, the reveal that this wasn't entirely about tribal land rights after all but revenge for murders done in generations past made the conflict much more interesting. The war between these two groups has concluded, but there's still a lot of tension left to explore when FTWD comes back for 3B.
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