Editor’s note: This recap contains spoilers for Fear The Walking Dead, so if you haven’t watched it yet, then either accept your fate or prepare to weep hot, bitter tears.
A man, a plan, a megayacht. The finale of Fear The Walking Dead‘s first season ended with a bang…and a boom…and a man having his face shorn off by a helicopter…and a metric ton of zombie mayhem. In “The Good Man”, our heroes finally prepared to leave their suburban prison and rescue their family members who were being held at the military hospital. Yet before Travis, Madison, Daniel, Ofelia and the kids can pack up the car and get the hell out of town, there’s the small matter of the soldier they have tied up in the basement. Corporal Andy may have lost several layers of skin, but he hasn’t lost his wits. The strapped-up soldier is about to get a bullet from Daniel’s pistol when Travis intervenes, prompting Reynolds to offer to navigate for them once they’re inside the compound. Surely he would have no reason to betray them, though, right?
Speaking of betrayal, Ofelia is not happy with her father and how he treated her new boyfriend. “You lied to me my whole life,” Ofelia tells her father accusingly. “I protected you my whole life,” Daniel replies with a cold matter-of-factness. It’s a difficult scene to watch between the father and daughter, and it’s only going to get worse once they realize what has happened to Griselda at the military hospital. When they’re finally ready to leave, though, Travis has a moment with Andy where the soldier appeals to the former teacher’s sense of mercy. Predictably, Travis continues to be the wishy-washy moralizing scold and lets the soldier go. Everyone else just seems to be adapting to the cold, harsh realities of the zombie apocalypse a lot faster than Travis. Funny how social mores and opinions on torture rapidly change once the dead start walking and the government kindaps your family. Still, letting Andy go is a decision that will absolutely come back to haunt Travis. Or maybe it’ll pay off. But probably not — that soldier seemed vengeful as all hell.
Meanwhile at the military hospital, they are in full-on evacuation mode. When Liza presses Exner to wait for her family members before leaving the facility, the doctor only has harsh words. “Blood or bond?” she shoots back at Liza. “What is family now? Be brutal.” Temporarily stunned by the doctor’s ruthless pragmatism, Liza negotiates for Chris and Travis to travel with them. Outside the facility, Daniel, ever the badass, calmly walks into the military hospital with a flashlight. When the soldiers on the parapet point their gun at him, he slyly tells them, “You should save your ammunition.” Moments later, a veritable herd of walkers shamble towards the base and all hell breaks loose. The Walking Dead has always done scenes of total fucking chaos well, and the Fear The Walking Dead finale lived up to the franchise’s gory pedigree. For everyone who has been complaining that the show needs more zombies, well, this scene was for you.
Once again proving themselves to be Parents of the Year contenders, Travis and Madison leave Alicia and Chris alone in a parking garage as they go off to save Nick. Maybe it’s because I just watched Scream again, but it’s like no one knows the golden rule: never split up. The notable exception to that rule is when you’re being held against your will in a government black site prison, which is exactly what’s happening to Nick and his suavely suited cell mate, who we learn is named Strand. With the key that Strand squirreled away, the pair manages to escape their holding cell, and begin looking for a way out. What they find, though, turns out to be a hallway full of zombies, as well as the corrupt soldier who Strand traded his diamond cufflinks in exchange for Nick’s life. Unfortunately for the soldier, he is being eaten alive by a walker. Fortunately for Strand, he is able to retrieve his cufflinks, as well as the soldier’s sidearm. Ah, capitalism — the great equalizer.
Soon, Nick and Strand find themselves trapped between a rock and a hard place: the door is locked and the hallway is rapidly filling with flesh-eating monsters. Side note: the flickering lights in the hallway as death creeps ever closer is one of the scariest shots of the series to date. Travis, Daniel, Ofelia, and Madison arrive, but they aren’t able to open the door. It looks like the end for two of our heroes even before we really got to know them. Thankfully, this was yet another fake-out, and Liza showed up with her key card in the nick of time. Unfortunately, Liza had to administer 150 cc’s of cold, hard truth to Ofelia and Daniel, who grill her about Ofelia’s whereabouts and her condition. “I want to see my mother,” Ofelia pleads to the nurse. With a frog in her throat, Liza is forced to begrudgingly tell the father and daughter that “there’s nothing left to see.” Brutal words, but she’s right — there’s nothing that can be done for Griselda now.
When our beleaguered heroes walk through the triage ward, Exner sits alone, having personally euthanized all the remaining patients with the cattle gun. It’s a bleak scene to be certain, but it’s a better fate than playing the cannibalistic version of Don’t Wake Daddy. Though Exner elects to remain behind, she gives the group a safe way out of the hospital. Madison’s plan to head eastward into the desert is shot down by Strand, who insists that they travel west to his house by the coast. “I prepared for this,” he tells Madison with a knowing smirk. However, before the group can escape in their motor vehicles (one of which was stolen by a group of soldiers who seemed like the Seal Team 6 of sexual assault), a familiar face appears: Andy — battered, bloodied, and holding a gun. Although Ofelia tries to reason with Andy, who has the gun pointed at Daniel, he panics and shoots her in the shoulder, an act that sends Travis into a rage. Every man has his breaking point, and Andy found Travis’s. He launched into full-on Rick Grimes-style freak out mode and beat the soldier to a bloody pulp.
From there, the episode began to wind to a close, with the survivors driving to Strand’s supremely swanky seaside estate. (Because of course he has a beachfront mansion.) The discussion of which route to take through Los Angeles was particularly enjoyable in the same way as SNL‘s “The Californians”, albeit with a morbid twist. It was also fitting that the episode brought our heroes back to the LA River, since that’s where they first encountered the infected way back in episode one. Once they arrive at Strand’s mansion, everyone takes a much-needed moment to catch their breath. Nick has a moment with Madison where he tells her that it feels like he’s been living in this apocalypse for a while through the haze of his addiction, and that it seems like the rest of the world is only now catching up to him. Nick also shares a moment with Strand, who is packing up his suitcase for what seems like a lengthy trip. “I must stay in constant motion,” Strand tells his young, drug-addled ward. To make matters worse, no one is allowed to stay in Strand’s beautiful beachside mansion. Rather, Strand has something else up his well-tailored sleeve: a freakin’ yacht, named Abigail. It looks like someone has been watching Arrested Development…
The love triangle between Madison, Travis, and Liza was brought to an uncomfortable close down on the graffiti-covered, rocky shores of the Pacific. Lifting up her scrubs, Liza reveals to Madison that she has been bitten, asking her ex-husband’s new squeeze to put her out of her misery — something that Madison asked of her a few episodes prior. However, Travis comes upon his two lady-loves and after a heart-wrenching argument, does the deed himself. The episode ends with Chris grieving over his mother’s body, and Travis and Madison weeping and embracing on the beach as the ocean waves lap at their feet. The juxtaposition of Los Angeles’ idyllic seashore and the bleak reality of what just transpired makes for a nice duality. As the camera pans away and out over the ocean, we get the sense that nothing will ever be the same. And considering we know what the world looks like five years after the outbreak, nothing ever will.
What did you think of the first season of Fear The Walking Dead? What would you like to see happen in season two? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Dan Casey is the senior editor of Nerdist and the author of 100 Things Avengers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. You can follow him on Twitter (@Osteoferocious).