Well, when Nick survived the zombie hallway—and even got in a sacrificial “go,” usually the precursor to a noble death—I thought we were going to be out of the woods for main-character deaths on Fear The Walking Dead’s tiny little first season. But it wasn’t to be, and the two characters we all probably could’ve watched die without too many tears—Nick and Chris—remain. (I kid, I kid. Mostly. Oh, and Grizelda does not count as a main character.)

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But it wasn’t to be for dear Liza, dear Liza. After doing the lord’s work in the infirmary—and learning important facts about the infection to pass on before her death—she ended up with a sneaky little bite. (Okay, it was a huge bite. How did she not notice that bite? Adrenaline?) Elizabeth Rodriguez deserves a lot of credit for her big finale, too. Imagine the horror of her situation. Weaker souls would have panicked and tried to live as long as possible, endangering those around them. Liza understood her situation, her potential danger to others, and just the general ickiness of turning into a walker, and she wanted to go out with some dignity. Better to have her kid see her with a gunshot wound to the forehead than slobbering and trying to eat him, I guess. She learned a lot about the awful new world at the military facility, and she didn’t want any part of it.

Somebody else who seemed to learn a lot this week: pacifist turned double-murderer Travis, who’s grown up a lot during the still-blooming zombie apocalypse. When Andy somehow tracked them down—why the fuck did you bother tracking them down, Andy?—and then shot Ofelia—why the fuck would you shoot Ofelia, Andy?—Travis went into full-on berserker mode, beating a man to death (presumably) with his bare hands. And then, when it came to the mercy killing of Liza, he could do that, too. Maybe he’s going to make it after all!

As for the main action of this episode—well, we got a lot more walker-fighting, which can’t hurt the chances for bigger audiences next season, assuming people watch this one. (The show was pretty huge out of the box, but has lost 30 percent of its audience since the premiere.) It was a nice payoff to a season that started off a bit too focused on its family drama.

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I called it last week—along with a lot of other people—that Daniel would weaponize those locked-up walkers, and it was pretty funny (and thoroughly unbelievable) how he walked them right up to the gates of the compound without being noticed. And all the military-versus-walkers stuff was a bit silly and overblown; if there were only 2,000 baddies out there, you’d think that 100 or so guys with fully loaded machine guns (and the knowledge that head shots were imperative) would’ve been a bit smarter and more tactical in taking them down. They’re not very fast!

But alas, that wouldn’t have left us time for the great escape and reunion of our Fear compatriots. We needed the confusion and the bloodshed (and that pretty decent kitchen fight) to make it out. And our heroes acquitted themselves well, with each willing to smash walkers with gusto. This doesn’t apply to Chris, of course, whose big moment in this episode was getting smacked around by military guys after feebly attempting to defend Alicia’s honor… and then feebly explaining, “The soldiers! They took the SUV! I’m sorry!”

This episode had some excellent solemn moments, though, in addition to Liza’s death: Ofelia and Daniel standing amidst the charred remains was devastating, as was Dr. Exner’s total submission to the inevitable at the end. She pawed the cattle gun, too, as if making final plans for herself. It would make sense, in a situation like this one, to give up and kill yourself—and Fear didn’t shy away from that sense at all.

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And then there’s the mysterious and slightly ridiculous Strand, who takes FTWD from its semi-grounded state into a bit of fantasy land. (Not making a case against doing that, it’s just a little curious for a “family drama.”) The group makes their way to his glorious coastal home, where he proceeds to pack up some fancy suits—totally no sensible for running, Strand—in a bag and points Nick toward the future: Abigail, a ship. Has no one thought of this before? Just sail around, stopping every month or so to scavenge until this whole thing blows over? Sure, it’s got its downsides, but it sure seems worth trying. There’s potential there.

Overall, I liked the first season of Fear The Walking Dead. It had its pacing and character problems, but it set out to do what it promised, and I look forward to more stories about the edge of the world’s end. Still, I can’t leave you without making fun of Nick’s big speech—the one that somebody clearly couldn’t resist writing but that the show would’ve been a lot better without. “I never knew where I was going. It’s like I’ve been living this for a long time, and now everyone is catching up with me.” Yes, Nick, being a heroin addict is exactly like being a recently resurrected zombie with an insatiable desire for human flesh. Yeesh, there should’ve been a “brain on drugs” commercial right after he said it.

Stray observations

  • “What is family now? Be brutal.”
  • When they left town, Travis didn’t even think about telling the other families that they’d been abandoned, which surprised me a bit. But he did a lot of surprising things in “The Good Man.”
  • If Strand’s philosophy is “helping them could hurt us,” why is he helping the whole group?
  • Did everybody get the KFC zombie commercial?
  • The zombie soldier hitting the tail of the helicopter was a nice touch.
  • “Keep the watch”
  • How many swipes does a faulty keycard take to work? Exactly enough so that the walkers are right there.
  • Why had Strand been in detention in the first place? Did he get himself locked up to stay safe?
  • “The only way to survive a mad world is to embrace the madness.”
  • Thanks for reading along! Oh, and since you’ve read this far: I saw next Sunday’s Walking Dead season premiere, and it’s a corker.

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