Tuesday, October 17, 2017

TV Show Review: Fear the Walking Dead (Season 3)

AMC has decided, as with other shows, to split up the season into 8-episode halves and I decided to skip the midseason review for a full review of the third season. The biggest shock of the returns of this zombie show was the sudden death of a major character. In the two-episode premiere, the Clark family finally comes back together but it is only because they are captured by a militia. Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) and her daughter Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) are held in an office while her son Nick (Frank Dillane) and her husband Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) are tied up in preparation for execution in a basement shower room. The militia is led by Troy Otto (Daniel Sharman) and his brother Jake (Sam Underwood) and it's pretty clear that they discriminate on who is allowed into the survivalist camp and who is used to experiment as zombies. The soldiers including Willy (Noel Fisher) collect data as the dead change into zombies.

Madison has none of jabbing a spoon into Troy's eye to escape while Nick tries to escape with Luciana Galvez (Danay Garcia) through a walker-infested sewer. They are forced to evacuated the camp as zombies invade but it is too late for Travis who dies from a wound and falls from the helicopter. The rest of the group travels to the survivalist camp led by Jeremiah Otto (Dayton Callie), Troy and Jake's father. Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) remained at the hotel pretending to be a doctor but he's exposed and forced to leave. Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades) searches for purpose in the wasteland and is helped by a religious man until he is captured by Dante Esquival (Jason Manuel Olazabal). Dante is in charge of a dam that controls most of the water in the area and he punishes anyone suspected of stealing the precious fluid. Daniel's history comes into play as he earns the trust of Dante.

Jeremiah Otto's camp is at war with Qaletqa Walker (Michael Greyeyes) whose grudge against the survivalist goes back long before the undead walked. Walker works with Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason) and she poisons members of the ranch. Madison navigates into a leadership position and undermines Otto in the conflict. Alicia forms a relationship with Jake while Troy violently lashes out at anyone who tries to leave the camp. All out war almost break out but Madison assassinates Otto to keep the peace. The second half of the season shifts to a soccer stadium that has become a marketplace as Daniel takes control of the dam and Madison leads the survivalist ranch. Troy leads a parade of undead towards the ranch that Alicia must fight off. Nick works with Jake to try to lead the zombies away but Jake is bitten and dies. Madison makes a deal to save Victor and argues with Daniel over water. Madison tries to reunite Daniel with his daughter Ofelia but she dies before they can be together. 

Alicia is traumatized from having to survive in a basement nearly suffocating as people turned into walkers. She sets out on her own and meets Diana (Edwina Findley) who agrees to work with her to survive. Their partnership doesn't last for long as a group of attackers smashes a truck into their vehicle. Alicia meets a man with a tumor and uses her medical experience to help with the post-apocalypse surgery. Nick and Troy travel with Madison to the stadium and begin to work with a bartender to collect brain stems of zombies. They head to the dam where Madison kills Troy and Daniel interrogates Nick. Madison's transformation into a stone cold killer seems to be a central theme of the show. The soldiers assaulting the dam turn out to be the same people holding Alicia captive. Proctor John (Ray McKinnon) is an interesting new villain. Alicia encounters Strand who is pretending to cooperate with Proctor. A final standoff sees a detonator in Nick's hand as the Proctor motorcycle gang has Madison and Alicia as hostages. Nick negotiates for their release and receives help from Walker. He blows the dam but manages to escape. The finale ends with Madison climbing out of the rushing water after an intense dream of a happier place. 

I'm not totally sure why I continue to watch this show other than I like zombies. Some of the characters like Colman Domingo's Victor Strand, Kim Dicken's Madison, Frank Dillane's Nick, and Rubén Blades's Daniel are fun to watch at times but the characters don't stand out as much as in the original series. The story lagged quite a bit in the middle episodes of each half season as the show does not have the benefit of Robert Kirkman's source material. the shocking death of a main character just did not pack the same punch as the original show's brutal demises. I honestly didn't play too close attention to the plot as many of the episodes were boring or forgettable and the zombie action was often on the periphery of the main story. I'll stick with it for another season because I'm curious how it will tie into the original series as promised.

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