Fear the Walking Dead had its mid-season finale last week, and if you haven’t heard the news, then stop reading.
Here be spoilers.
I’m a huge fan of The Walking Dead spin-off. I like the first season of escaping the unknown chaos in San Diego, onto the sea, and into Mexico. I like the characters. Madison Clark, played by the great Kim Dickens, had to keep her family together. Joining the likes of Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades, sorely missed this season) and the great Colman Domingo as Victor Strand, one of the best characters in the Walking Dead Universe.
Through three seasons they fought off walkers and humans alike, and as new as their story was, you could see some of the same tiresome plot devices that its original predecessor has been struggling with in the past few seasons. The “All Out War” with Negan and the Saviors turned out to be all out boring for some reason. Too many, “we can do this!” speeches.
So Fear took a chance for Season 4. It was daring, and it was different. And it worked.
This past season was a huge mystery enriched by new characters and presentation. Almost all new characters. Brought aboard this year is Morgan, who left Rick and Company back on the east coast and headed west. I’m glad he was able to find himself, because his “I lose people, I lose myself” schtick was getting old. New characters played by Jenna Elfman, Lost‘s Maggie Grace and gunslinger John Dorie (“like the fish, but with an ie”), played exceptionally by Garret Dillahunt. All great additions.
And then the presentation: each episode jumped between the past and the present. The colorful, bright past and the grey, dreary toned present kept it easy to follow.
But some characters were only seen in the past. They’re not mentioned in the present. Are they dead? How?
And then boom, Nick gets killed in the present. But we still watch his storyline in the past, knowing all the time he’s not going to make it. And then the kicker came in the finale. Madison, the strong matriarch who held the original group together, dies when she moves a group of walkers away from her children. We don’t see her bitten, or devoured. She goes out stoically. In slow-mo and swelling music.
I’m still not sure how I feel about this, even after a week. I loved her character. I loved her storyline. I get they had to make creative changes to keep the show interesting, and they accomplished that wonderfully this season. But to kill off Madison? Why? It has me thinking that because of all the new talent they brought on, all television veterans with television veteran paychecks is that it was a budgetary issue. I don’t know. I look forward to the second half of the season later in the year, because there are still enough characters to care about. I want to know how they’ll move on. I’ll want to know what new obstacle they’ll face next. I’ll miss Madison, but I am also glad the showrunners decided to take such a risky chance. I only hope those who dismissed it earlier, will give it a second chance.