Fear The Walking Dead: Season Three Review
Spin-off shows are no longer a novelty item in the golden age of TV. If a show hits big and has a solid fanbase you know full well the bean counters behind closed doors are going to want to milk the cash cow for all its worth. Some shows work; Frasier was a massively successful off shoot from Cheers while Parks and Recreation struck big as a spin off from the US version The Office. On the flip side of the coin, some spin-offs truly crash and burn; take for example Joey the spin-off of the hugely successful Friends. It limped to a mid season cancellation halfway through season two and was gone for good without any sense of outcry.
The Walking Dead being the ratings smash that it was (is?) was ripe for a spin off show of its own. Enter Fear The Walking Dead, premiering in 2015, and angled as a show that would provide answers to questions viewers had been waiting for, for a long time. How did this happen, where did it begin and why was this happening? What's interesting at this point is how far the show has moved on from those questions and how more questions are in need of answering.
The main tagline and overarching theme of Season Three is 'Fear What You Become'. This can be taken quite literally and our characters can fear death and being turned into a walker or, alternatively, fear what you may become in a human sense due to the apocalyptic surroundings. The narrative that follows delves deeper into the latter rather, than the former across the season.
Travis, Madison and Alicia at the season open are taken to a military compound where they conveniently meet up with a captured Nick and Luciana. After much shenanigans and fighting they escape. Alongside its sister show, Fear The Walking Dead treats the walker threat as an afterthought and less like the major danger. The danger here is human, always human; we see that humans cannot be trusted, have their own mindset and end games. The walkers are one note, simply wanting to feed and are an annoyance.
After they escape and are loaded into a helicopter the first shock of the season happens and its one that will shake the family to the core. While they are travelling to their next destination, the helicopter is shot at and Travis is killed. Falling to his death unceremoniously out the open door so he doesn't change in the helicopter and cause even more pain. For anyone that follows pop culture news, we could see this coming as the actor who plays Travis, Cliff Curtis, has recently been cast in the upcoming Avatar sequels. Regardless, its still a shock, and a major one to see. The next part of the season is based around the fight to find who shot at the helicopter in the first place.
After the traditional mid-season break, the show takes a turn in a surprisingly socio - political direction with the inclusion of a Native American ranch and the argument over land ownership. The Ranch is the latest 'location' that the show bases itself at for the majority of the remaining episodes. It's interesting how the show runners come up with the latest location to stay at and base the narrative around. The ranch is increasingly better than the boat from Season One but less so than the prison from The Walking Dead.
After the death of Travis, the main focal point of the family falls squarely on the shoulders of Madison played by Kim Dickens. In a political and media led landscape of increased femininity and female led movies and TV shows, may it long continue; its a bonus to see this continue the trend here. The role of Madison has stayed alongside Travis for most of the prevailing episodes and Kim Dickens relishes the increased screen time and character development here. The revelation that her character killed her father to protect her mother long before the zombies showed up, shows this is a person not to messed with.
An interesting, multi-level season, compounded with a strong feminine character leading the way, the recent news that we will finally get a crossover between the two shows is an interesting one. My bet is a Mad Dog and Walker cross over. At the season conclusion, the show goes big without going home. Stuck atop a dam rigged with explosives, Nick clicks the detonator and the family survive to live another day but are once again separated. With me screaming at the TV, it's good to see the writers show the dam blowing up and not holding it over till the next season. The floodgates are truly open and where we go from here, we can only wait and see.