Fear the Walking Dead: The Good Man

Fear the Walking Dead

It’s almost time to say goodbye to Fear The Walking Dead‘s first season. Just forty-five more minutes, and we’re out until sometime in 2016!  After a promising start and sagging middle, the finale, “The Good Man,” delivered on the creep factor in a way I wish it had managed much earlier. There are still some glaring issues — more on that later — but overall it was a mostly enjoyable way to spend six Sunday nights. I’ll be back for more. You?

The finale opens on an aerial shot of Los Angeles like we’ve rarely seen it before: dark, abandoned, flooded with moonlight. There’s something deeply creepy about seeing the US Bank tower not lit up. Where are the gods of capitalism now? I’m surprised there aren’t more fires ravaging the city, but considering how many zombified people are trapped in the arena, maybe it’s not that surprising. There are lots of arenas in Los Angeles, right? With presumably lots of people, er, zombies locked inside? Which is not at all a completely terrifying thought I wish I could unthink.

After a terrifying shot of the arena doors bulging outwards as the zombies inside smell human flesh (can they smell us through the TV??), we head back to the Idiot House one last time. I hope it’s one last time. Madison and Travis are packing up the kitchen, throwing cans and water bottles into cardboard boxes. They tell Chris and Alicia, who have just arrived home from their smashup party, that they’re going back to the original plan: driving east. But before they bug completely out of town, they’re going to pick up Liza and Nick. This plan is air-tight!

Rubén Blades returns and confirms that Shawn Hatosy was telling the truth, and even better: they can use the arena against the soldiers. No one sits on him until he stops talking nonsense, because I don’t know why. They should! Even if it takes forever! I further vote that we go back to the time before he had lines, because all of his lines are the worst. Travis snots at Madison about her complicity in the torture scheme. No one unties Shawn Hatosy.

Upstairs, Rubén Blades tells Ofelia that they’re leaving, and he needs her help to find Griselda. Ofelia asks about Shawn Hatosy. She’s angry not just about the way he’s treated the guy she was using for antibiotics, but also about Rubén Blades’ revelation that he is the exact opposite of the man she believed he was. All this time, Ofelia thought her father was a victim, not an instigator. Rubén Blades asks whether she would rather that he were a victim. I shout YES for her so she doesn’t have to. Father-daughter convos can be tricky at the best of times, so she probably appreciates the interference.

In The Facility, the doctor radios someone to tell them that they can be airlifted out and gets confirmation that transport is coming to take them to Edwards Air Force Base. She doesn’t immediately suspect it’s all lies, so let’s pretend along with her that it will actually happen. After a brief argument with Liza, the doctor agrees to take Chris and Travis as well.

But Travis is busy! He’s trying to take Shawn Hatosy prisoner for their sure-to-be-successful raid caravan, but the angels of his better nature prevail and he lets the soldier go instead. THANK YOU, TRAVIS. As the caravan drives through the neighborhood, they pass a lot of doomed families sitting around lantern-lit tables. Madison casts sad looks at them. At the edge of the neighborhood, the gates are unmanned. As seen last week, the soldiers have fled. Rubén Blades opens a gate to let their convoy through. No one closes it behind them, which means that all those doomed families are even more doomed. Siri, why does God allow suffering?

Some of the remaining soldiers at The Facility are arguing about whether there is any such thing as a chain of command anymore. They spot Rubén Blades, who nonchalantly walks up to their guard tower with a HUGE NUMBER OF ZOMBIES RIGHT BEHIND HIM. I mean, the camera pans up, and up, and up, and up over the crowd as the creepy music swells. It’s like the pan over the Civil War-wounded in Gone With The Wind, except instead of a sea of extras pretending to be dying of dysentery and gangrene, it’s sea of extras setting my entire body on edge. SIRI. WHY.

As the soldiers open fire, Rubén Blades casually jogs back to his group in a nearby parking garage, where they all discover that Travis released their soldier navigator. Which is fine; everyone agrees. No need to fight about it. The Facility is probably a straightforward location with no twists or turns or hidden passages or locked doors. As the group heads out of the parking garage, Travis tells Chris, who is staying behind with Alicia, to drive away if they don’t come back. Neither Alicia or Chris seem like they’re about to do any such thing.

In the detention center, Rico Suave does his carpal stretches and fixes his tie, while Nick tests the fence like a velociraptor waiting for a juicy cow. Rico tells Nick he’d “gentrify the shit” out of Nick’s neighborhood, which is the kind of line I would find repugnant in reality but it’s charming coming from Rico Suave. You can gentrify my neighborhood any time, man. They hear the shooting, and alarms go off. Rico says it’s time to go, but he can’t find his key. It’s okay, though, because Nick is a master pickpocket and pulls the key from his own jacket instead.

Liza and the doctor look out from a roof and realize The Facility has been compromised by the infected. Even better, their evac chopper wasn’t a lie! But now it’s hovering over the compound, so it knows they’re compromised and won’t land. Great going, Rubén Blades!

Speaking of Rubén Blades, the group is breaking in through yet another gate. Ofelia asks how they’re supposed to get out if the soldiers are overrun. Rubén Blades basically gives her a shruggie and I pause the show so I can walk away and scream into a pillow. Never go in without an exit plan, people!

The doctor tries to convince the chopper to land, but it doesn’t work. She tells her staff to go downstairs to some imaginary transports, and Liza to run. The patients she’ll take care of herself.

In the parking garage, Alicia and Chris get out of the truck and argue with each other. I have no idea what happened after that because I was blacked out from worry about these stupid children. Stay. In. THE CAR.

Rico and Nick book it out of the detention center, but with style. They refuse to help anyone else escape. I rescind 5000 style points for Rico’s callous disregard for human life. We also learn that Rico has a name! It’s Strand (I’m sticking with Rico, though, sorry).

Three soldiers corner Chris and Alicia in the parking garage. They want the keys, which Alicia finally gives to them. After knocking out Chris when he tries to defend her, the soldiers turn to Alicia and terrify me into thinking a producer from Game of Thrones has wandered onto the set. Then, the show cuts to a grotesque zombies-eating-KFC commercial without satisfying me that it was a false alarm!

Travis and Company have made it inside The Facility. Liza, meanwhile, is running out of it, into the courtyard where there actually are transports for the staff! I’m sorry I doubted you, doctor! There’s also a tiny chain-link fence separating them from about seven million zombies, give or take. Oh, wait, never mind. The fence isn’t separating anything. Everyone is doomed! Everything is the worst! Liza watches a newly-bitten soldier run face-first into a helicopter’s rear rotor. Everything is the worstest, except the situation is about to deteriorate still further as the fence comes down completely and zombies overrun the courtyard and Liza finally runs back inside.

Rico and Nick are casually strolling down hallways until they reach the lobby, where a couple of soldiers are dead on the floor. Oh, wait! Only one of them is dead. The other is Melvin, who is still wearing Rico’s watch while a zombie gnaws on his legs. He begs Rico to kill him, but Rico is a stone cold zombie apocalypse vet and leaves him there, after getting keys and a sidearm off the actually dead guy. Who might be the one named Melvin. It’s hard to read name tags under that much blood, okay?

Travis and Company find the detention center and free the detainees, one of whom tells them that Rico and Nick went out the back.

Rico and Nick didn’t go far enough out the back, though, and now they’re being pursued by zombies down a hallway with flickering fluorescent lights, like the best/worst haunted house anyone has ever put on with their local Jaycees. They come up against a locked door that they can’t get open. On the other side, Travis and Company run up, also unable to open the door. But, after Nick selflessly urges Madison to leave him, Liza runs up and keys the door open with her security badge. Bless you, Liza.

The reunited group plus Rico finds a kitchen, and zombies. Always more zombies. After a brief but intense fight, during which I’m completely convinced both Madison and Liza are dead at least twice, they all manage to get away. They jam the doors behind them so the remaining undead can’t follow. They reach a locker room of relative safety and Rubén Blades asks Liza where Griselda is. Her look of sadness — and possibly shame — is answer enough.

The next room in this chamber of horrors is the infirmary, where the doctor has just finished bolting everyone’s head in. Madison loads up on medical supplies while Travis tries to convince the doctor to help them get out. He says she can come with them, an offer Liza reiterates, but the doctor has other plans.

Rico learns that the plan is to drive east. If he were a laughing kind of guy, he would probably bust a gut right there. Instead, he tells Madison that a better plan is to go west. Young man, haven’t you been told?

Outside, Ofelia and Travis look in bewilderment at a smoking pile of ash and bones and doll heads. When Ofelia realizes what it is she’s seeing, she breaks down. Rubén Blades, who seems all too familiar with this kind of charnel pile, tries to console her.

In the garage, Chris and Alicia come out of hiding. The truck is gone, but Alicia assures her mother she’s fine, nothing happened, she’s okay. I immediately do not believe her, because she is a beautiful young woman left temporarily at the mercy of strangers on a gritty television show. Above all else I hope I am wrong about the conclusion to which I’ve leapt.

And the bad feeling just won’t quit! Shawn Hatosy materializes out of nowhere, aiming a gun at Rubén Blades. Ofelia tries to reason with him, but Shawn Hatosy realizes that shooting Rubén Blades won’t do what he wants to do. Killing Rubén Blades would only be a little bit of pain. Shooting Ofelia instead … So he does! Before she even hits the ground, Travis is on him, punching and punching and punching and punching. When Madison finally gets through to him to stop, Shawn Hatosy’s face is about as bloody and mangled as his tortured arm. Travis slumps over the hood of his truck, hands shaking, knuckles split open and covered in both his and Shawn Hatosy’s blood.

The caravan drives through sunny Los Angeles, passing the odd infected zombie shambling down the road. Rico directs Madison to avoid downtown, and take the river west to the ocean instead. The drive under clogged bridges, past huge fires, empty freeways, snarling zombies trapped in the wreckage of their single engine planes. At the ocean, Rico invites them into his fortified, generator-powered super deluxe home. This has to be a dream sequence, because nothing in California is as green as the grass outside of this idyllic sanctuary.

Out on the patio, Nick channels me on vacation and stares at the waves with an expression of quiet delight. Madison apologizes to him for not putting up more of a fight. He doesn’t accept her apology, because it’s a stupid apology to make, and instead echoes something he said back in the hospital a hundred years ago. He’s spent so much time in a crumbling world; it’s bizarre for him now to realize that everyone else is in it with him.

After a commercial break that came on so abruptly I screamed (it’s been a long six weeks, folks), we learn that Ofelia isn’t in mortal danger. Liza hugs Chris and nearly bursts into tears when she tells him she loves him. She walks away immediately, followed by Madison.

In a bedroom, Rico packs a bag. He’s not much for lounging, this guy. He tells Nick no one can stay at the house.

Travis sees Madison walking down toward the sea, following Liza.

Nick asks where the previously mentioned Abigail is. Rico leads him to a pair of high-powered binoculars and reveals that Abigail isn’t a person. Abigail is the fancy luxury yacht moored off shore. Or maybe Abigail is a person on the yacht. It’s not clear, but we have to go.

Liza finally makes it down to the beach, followed by Madison, to whom she reveals that she was bitten during one of the fights at the facility. Madison tries to figure out a way they can save her, but Liza pulls the gun instead. She asks Madison to pull the trigger but Madison refuses. Until Liza hints that the only other person to ask is Travis. Madison takes the gun, as Travis runs up. They have to run through the whole argument again. Liza finally breaks down as she tries to convince Travis that this is what has to be done, so that their son doesn’t have to see it. He agrees, and takes the gun from Madison.

At the house, Chris and Alicia are enjoying popsicles when a shot rings out. They run to the beach as Nick, Rico, Rubén Blades, and Ofelia react with little surprise. The Antlers’ “Kettering,” one of the most gutting songs of heartbreak this side of the Hamilton cast recording, rises in the background as Chris, Madison, and Travis reel with grief in the surf.

Well, that was a nice cheery ending. Thanks for spending the first season with me!

  • With any luck, the producers and writers will take the reactions to the first season to heart and course correct a little faster here than they did with The Walking Dead. After killer (pun!) first and last episodes, it’s obvious they can be effective with these characters. Now that we’re deep into the apocalypse, though, what is there to differentiate it from the mothership?
  • I can’t describe how exciting it is that one named black man made it out of the first season alive and unscathed. After those first two episodes, that was a shock and a half. Now if he can get some development and maybe a plot or two without immediately kicking it …
  • The only thing left to say is: BRING BACK TOBIAS!

Photo Courtesy of AMC

About Lisa Shininger

Lisa Shininger spends way too much time thinking about fictional characters but, somehow, it's never enough. She co-hosts Bossy Britches, and yells about pop culture at lisashininger.com and on Twitter @ohseafarer.