“Date With Death”
Three episodes of Fear The Walking Dead to get to, including the second season finale! YowZah! Let’s get the lead out …
Have you ever been witness to a favored television series where you’re plugging along, happy as a pig in mud, smack dab in the middle of viewing an episode you haven’t yet seen and, suddenly something hits you up along side the head announcing: “Damn … this might be the best episode of the series thus far!” Well? Have you?
Because that’s exactly what happened to me during “Date With Death” when I finally got ’round to viewing it this week. 40 minutes in? BOOM! It was like a lightning bolt went off inside my mind. I realized right then and there I was witnessing one outstanding episode. And I haven’t enjoyed a “Travis-centric” story so much since the beginning of the series.
The realization Travis had lost Chris with his son’s assassination of Elias Suarez did nothing but compound, compound, compound in the hours and days after that act took place. And the final betrayal – the show Chris put on in bringing his father food while pulling the wool over his eyes, ambushing him and letting his “friends” murder James outright, despite the fact there nothing wrong with him other than healing from his leg wound – hit Travis right in the heart, right where it could do the most damage. Try as he did, there was absolutely nothing the man could do to redeem his son. Lord knows he tried.
That had to hurt. Deeply. And it did.
So much so I kept on the edge of my seat during the remainder of the episode, waiting for Travis to end his own life, unceremoniously and without hesitation, to free himself of the obvious regret and failure he’d come to endure. He’d failed his son time again. What other course was left to him?
Madison’s “sign” was the only thing that drove him onward, of course not knowing it was she who was the light to some kind of redemption for him.
Chris is gone. There’s nothing more to live for … is there? His confession to Madison of the past days’ events – done primarily with episodic flashbacks (and to terrific effect) – was painful, deflating and difficult for him. Add to the fact his disclosures to her did nothing to absolve his demons. So … what’s left? What, really, does he have to live for? Even Madison’s attempts to draw him past his stories appeared futile.
Thus my leanings toward Travis ending it all. There’s still some spark in him, though. Maybe it was Maddie’s simple declaration Chris is still out there somewhere that keeps that spark, that hope, alive.
A year ago I wrote about The Education of Travis Manawa, the turning point in the series for the character at that point. Since then, his role in the grand scheme of things hasn’t been exactly stellar or important. (In fact, Madison has been doing better socially and personally on her own than she has ever been with Travis in the picture. Disheartening when you think about it … but true.) His do-goodery tendencies and proclivities have dragged things sideways (often backward) for him, if in any direction at all. And while they still appear to be doing so (while providing more minuses than pluses) “Date With Death” was yet another turning point in the character to terrifically showcase the deep struggle the man is shouldering.
Pardon the pun but … “killer” episode.
I said this about Travis the last episode: “Maybe it was Maddie’s simple declaration Chris is still out there somewhere that keeps that spark, that hope, alive.”
And, if that was the case, the appearance of Brandon and Derek at the Hotel (Baja) California took that spark and set it from smoldering to flaming with the revelation they killed Chris. (And what a horrific atrocity that was. Shocking to watch.)
Look: We knew Chris had to die at some point. The kid went bad. He’d been bad for some time, fueled by the separation of his parents years ago. And it got worse with the death of his mother, precipitated by his father. There was little doubt the kid wouldn’t turn to the dark side let alone be redeemed at some point. And especially after betraying his father outright in the last episode, “Date With Death.”
If anything, there’s closure where Travis is concerned. Or something resembling it. Perhaps in such obvious tragedy there will be some kind of relief; maybe Travis will come to grips recent events were meant to be and he can go one with a semi-clear conscience, the ass-whupping and revenge he took out on Brandon and Derek notwithstanding. There’s got to be some kind of redemption with all these events coming full circle … right? TBD …
In a nice little twist, the following quote by Luciana during her discussion with Alejandro – “… when someone is dead to me, I let them go” – translated perfectly to the hurting Travis applied to both Brandon and Derek. Did you notice that story to story? Good thing I did that for you, then … isn’t it?
In other news, Nick is being his usual resourceful self in taking initiative and venturing out to confront Marco at the shopping center to attempt to make peace. Too little too late there, though. There’s a contingent of baddies on the way who have joined up with Marco’s gang. And that means there’s little hope for the Colonia. So, capable fellow that Nick is, he spills the beans about Alejandro and “forces” him to come clean to Luciana so at least they can get out of Dodge before the shit hits the fan. Because it’s comin’ … and it’s comin’ quickly …
Ofelia? We got a glimpse of her fate. When she swiped Victor’s truck and departed from the hotel, we saw she was at a literal crossroad between Mexicali and the United States … remember? Well, she made it into the good old USA. Without much to show for it but expansive desert terrain with nothing but sun and scrub to contend with. Along comes someone, though, who we’ll no doubt familiarize ourselves with come the final airing of the season.
Now? Comes a bit of frantic storytelling with the events of the Colonia soon to be under siege, the fate of Ofelia (and her reunion with her father Daniel?) and whatever the season finally holds in surprise for us. A big one: What happens to Travis regarding the decree Madison herself laid down earlier, that there will be consequences if trouble rears its head?
In many ways, the season finale of Fear The Walking Dead was satisfying.
But it was disappointing just the same.
I was looking for clues and evidence and hoped against hope we’d be reunited with Daniel at some point during the episode. Ofelia’s venture out had to culminate in some kind of meaning, I thought. What better way then to reunite with her father once more? But it was not to be. There was no hint of him in the opening credits, no scenes of the winery where we last saw him, no telltale indication he was wandering or safe or hopelessly lost. Nothing.
Disappointing as that was, in the end I was still all right with it. And, yes … I still believe he’s alive and well out there somewhere.
But there were more satisfying moments in this ender than disappointing ones. Like the transition from the previous episode with Travis at the end of his beat down of Brandon and Derek right on into the slow pan of him lost in a fast-receding adrenaline rush, only to find out find out what sort of trouble he’s in because of his actions. He’s banished, whisked away while a decision is made what to do with him. That decision, his ouster from the hotel, comes pretty quickly.
You can’t deny it’s without good reason, no doubt of its validity. Travis didn’t know about it, but he understood it without argument when the hammer came down. Ironic that it came straight down from Madison’s edict. I enjoyed the irony of that.
Something interestingly satisfying about the episode was something that caught me a bit off guard; I needed to think about it a bit before putting all the pieces together. But they did fall into place once I got the ball of my thoughts rolling: Did you notice how nicey-nice a lot of the characters were in the episode?
- Elena was nice and accommodating to Madison when the latter asked the former if her family could stay just one more night in light of Travis’ killing rage …
- Marco was nice about warning Nick to abandon the Colonia, offering to hold back a bit, giving the residents there a chance to flee instead of be slaughtered …
- Alejandro, in the end, was won over by Nick to offer his words as the greater good in sacrifice to his beloved friends and neighbors of the Colonia, knowing full well he would meet his end …
- Victor turned the other cheek and assisted Maddie, Travis and Alicia in their escape from the hotel in total contradiction of what he’d said earlier that he wasn’t going to die for them …
- Even the border bounty hunter (or whoever he is) who shot at Ofelia after she crossed into the United States spared her life.
Nice little tie-ins all, if I have my say in the matter. And I just did.
Even the ending was a satisfying surprise I didn’t see coming: Nick and the Colonia on the move head to the U.S. border only to be assaulted by a group of armed, relentless somebodies. Ex-military carrying out some dead-order to hold the border? Vigilantes set on not letting anyone from Mexico cross? Trump lovers holding that wall from illegals? Who knows?
Yeah … way more satisfying moments overshadowing the disappointing ones. Not even the fact everyone is scattered (or dead) makes it any less pleasing. I rather like that fact.
This isn’t to say this season finale wasn’t the be all, end all of finales. Far from it. I’ve seen many better ones … and many worse ones, too. But it wasn’t too shabby a conclusion to the sophomore year of the show, complete with some minor cliff hangers and plenty of things to ponder until it starts anew next year.
Now … here’s the real kicker, something I’ve intimated, hinted at and outright stated aloud in past posts: Fear The Walking Dead is holding its own against its parent show that spawned it, The Walking Dead. In fact, I’ll go as far to say right now it’s a better show than TWD was at this same juncture … and even seasons beyond.
How’s that for satisfying?
Tell us what you thought of the second season of Fear the Walking Dead in the comments below.