Fear The Walking Dead S03E15-16 “Things Bad Begun” and S03E16 “Sleigh Ride” REVIEW

Fear The Walking Dead S03E15-16 “Things Bad Begun” and S03E16 “Sleigh Ride” REVIEW

0 comments 📅16 October 2017, 23:01

Airing in the UK on AMC, exclusive to BT, Mondays at 2am and 9pm 
Writer: Jami O’Brien (“Things Bad Begun”) & Dave Erickson &  Mark Richard (“Sleigh Ride”)
Director: Andrew Bernstein

Essential Plot Points:

  • Nick is out shopping. And by shopping we mean beheading Walkers. He brings the heads back to his drug dealer who strips them down and finds the gland that synthesizes epenephrine. His dealer pays for every one he can find because the Procters are gearing up for something big…
  • At the Procters’ staging ground, Troy introduces himself. He asks around and discovers that the Procters are planning on attacking the dam…
  • At the dam, Strand and Madison are talking about the potential the dam represents. Madison is feeling bleak in the wake of the ‘loss’ of her kids. Strand offers her a little ‘liquid imagination’.
  • Alicia and her new friend are discussing whether Alicia should sell her hair (Opinion is divided. her friend’s in favor, Alicia isn’t), when their keep is T-boned. The two women beat the hell out of their attackers but are in serious trouble until Alicia gets to her rifle. She scares the would-be carjackers off but her friend’s leg is broken and a herd is inbound…
  • Walker returns Ofelia’s crucifix to Daniel and apologizes for not being there when Ofelia died.
  • Back at the dam, Victor and Madison are getting real. She admits she’s murdered people, he admits he hasn’t. She tells him his day will come and he tells her he thinks she’s right.
  • Daniel arrives and tells them Nick is at the dam.
  • Nick and Troy brief the dam on the imminent assault. Strand is all in favour of a siege and Daniel is with him. The others are adamant the dam should be blown to deny the Procters the water if needed. They make the call to rig the dam.
  • Madison confronts Nick about using and he claims he’s clean. She brushes him off.
  • Walker and Crazy Dog have got word of some of their people nearby and head out to meet them. They thank Madison, say their goodbyes and promise to scout the road for them.
  • Back at the bazaar, Alicia has dragged her friend to safety. Her leg is broken and in order to be set she needs to be put under. The doctor asks her to scrub in and, smiling, she agrees.
  • Victor finds Nick and tries to persuades him to take Madison and run. Nick calls Victor on his nonsense and he tells him the truth; Victor has made a deal with the Procters. And now it’s falling apart.
  • Daniel asks Nick what happened to Ofelia. Nick tells him a version of the truth. Daniel doesn’t buy a single solitary part of it and locks them into the room.
  • Madison and Troy are setting the explosives. Troy, haltingly, admits Nick is his only friend. Troy, haltingly, apologizes for everything.
  • Elsewhere, Daniel has figured everything out, he just needs Nick to say it out loud.
  • Surgery done, Alicia is introduced to Procter John. He’s an articulate, wheelchair-bound Negan. Calm, driven and determined absolutely to set up a trade route for drugs all the way from Houston to California.
  • The one problem isthe tumor on his spine. The one Alicia is going to successfully remove or be killed when she fails to. No pressure then…
  • Daniel has zeroed in on Nick, Jake or Troy as the culprit. Nick tries to pass the blame off on the world’s nicest, most dead Otto. Daniel believes nothing. Until Nick confesses to the murder of Jake’s father. It all clicks, and Daniel lets Nick go.

  • At the surgery, Procter John is conscious. Alicia makes him focus, asking questions about his family history as her new friend Eddie the doctor digs the tumor out. Alicia holds John’s hand and walks him through it.
  • Nick tracks down Madison and Nick, warns them about Strand and tells them they can’t let Daniel see Troy. Madison puts it together. Troy confesses. Troy tries to defend himself and explains he would do every single again.
  • Madison kills him.
  • The surgery works. Procter John can walk. Eddie tries to persuade him to take it easy but he doesn’t care. Alicia is his ‘angel of mercy’.
  • At the dam, Victor confronts Lola and Daniel. He holds them at gunpoint, admitting everything. Daniel tells him he isn’t a killer. He asks for the gun and then jumps Strand. The two men wrestle and Strand shoots Daniel in the face, point blank.
  • Daniel. Gets. Back. Up. His cheek is a bloody nightmare but he’s alive.
  • The Procters make it to the dam and kill the few people able to resist effortlessly. They find Strand and complain about the resistance they do find. He tells them Daniel and Lola are dead.
  • Strand finds Madison and Nick and hides them in a locked room under the dam. Strand asks Mdison for the detonator and pleads with them that he’ll try and ensure no harm comes to them. Then he locks them in.
  • Aaaaaand then we’re in a house bedecked with Christmas decorations. Madison is making Christmas dinner and looks out of the window to see a truck drive up.
  • She leaves the house and sees gravestones for the Ottos, finds Nick and Luciana (and a baby) at one grave in particular.
  • The grave is Alicia’s.

  • As the dialogue is drowned out by industrial noises, Nick and Luciana leave her be. Madison tries to talk to them but they drive away without a word.
  • Alicia is part of the boat assault on the dam. Strand meeds them on the dock. Procter John is NOT pleased. Strand takes Alicia to one side and begs her to trust him and that they can work together.
  • Nick and Madison tear at each other over Nick’s drug use, Madison’s murder of Troy and whether it was even a little justified.
  • Daniel is alive, and hidden by Lola.
  • Alicia is changing Procter John’s bandages. He figures out Strand and Alicia know one another and gets the truth out of her. Alicia asks if Procter John will kill her mother. Alicia bargains with him. Procter John says he will, if she agrees to sail to ‘what’s left of Houston’ with him. She agrees.
  • Strand returns, tells them Alicia is at the dam and gives them uniforms so he can walk them clear. He begs them to follow him and admits he shot Daniel.
  • Upstairs, Lola finds poor Efrain’s body, killed in the attack.
  • Strand walks Madison and Nick off the dam in guard uniforms. They watch in horror as the Procters execute the others and throw them over the side of the dam.
  • And that’s when Lola walks down the dam, screaming with rage, shooting everyone she can find.
  • Procter John puts her down. And wants some answers.
  • Alicia, Madison and Nick are reunited as Procter John interrogates them. John explains he can’t trust any of them, so he has to kill all of them. And Madison will be last.
  • The Clarks and Strand are walked out onto the dam to die. Nick hugs Strand, wishing him ‘safe travels’ and whispers something to him. Nick walks off, smiling….
  • And slowly Strand smiles too. And then, he starts talking. He explains about the C4, reaches for the detonator and…Nick is holding it.
  • Madison flashes back to dinner again. Everyone is there, including Coop, Walker, Daniel and all the Ottos. The door bell rings and she opens it…
  • Strand, loaded down with presents. She speaks, but, again, there’s just industrial noise and the sound of water running….
  • Madison serves the roast and its Jeremiah Otto’s head. The table floods with blood and Madison goes outside to see a plane flying overhead and…
  • they’re back on the dam.
  • Procter John tells Nick he’s in control. Nick tells John to give Madison and Alicia a zodiac and leave the dam. He explains that this is his suicide note.
  • John agrees and Madison, Alicia and Strand are released.
  • John asks Nick if the detonator is real as Madison, Strand and Alicia run for a boat.
  • Neaby, Daniel staggers into the dam, pretending to be on death’s door. He Liam Neeson’s three Procters without breaking a sweat.
  • Alicia, Nick and Strand make it to the boat as John gives Nick almost the exact same speech Jeremiah did.
  • The boat dies.
  • The Procters see it. They tell Nick his family have no help of living if he blows the dam too soon.
  • Daniel arrives on top of the dam and finds Lola’s body. Someone has pinned a sign saying THE WATER QUEEN to it. Daniel leaves Ofelia’s crucifix with her as down on the lake, Madison, Alicia and Strand frnatically try and get the boat started.
  • Up top, the Procters make their move and…one of their heads comes apart.
  • On the ridge, Walker and Crazy Dog dork out about sniping techniques in a manner that’s as terrifying as it is sweet.
  • John orders Nick dead. Crazy Dog and Walker have a little fun.
  • Daniel appears.
  • Nick smiles.
  • Nick blows the dam.

  • The boat doesn’t make it.
  • Nick watches, stricken as Daniel reaches him.
  • Madison flashes back to the graveyard. She kneels by Jeremiah’s grave and is draged into it.
  • In the real world, Madison is drowning.
  • In her dream, Travis pulls her to safety but can’t make it the whole way.
  • Madison makes it to shore. She’s alone.


Remember how we were sure the Ranch was going to be a big part of the show for seasons? And then the dam would be?

Yeah. We’re not doing that anymore.

Aside from putting the lie to our geographical predictions though, this is the perfect ending to a damn near perfect season. It brings every plot thread together, big and small, resolves some and sets up others for further down the line. It’s assured, confident, definitive writing of the exact sort this show has so often lacked and it’s great to see.

The standouts here are surely Kim Dickens, Frank Dillane and Daniel Sharman. Sharman’s final speech as Troy is the closing of the circuit that begun the first time we saw him and offhandedly tragic. Troy has learned nothing. He’d do every single thing again. So, of course, Madison kills him. And of course, that leads Nick to the terrible realizations he’s been hiding from himself about his mother, Troy and himself.

Simply put, Troy was dangerous and Nick is too. The clash he has with his mother over whether she’d ever kill him is a masterpiece of uncomfortable writing and acting and it leads Nick, indirectly, to a good place. He knows he’s dangerous. He knows his mother sees that. He chooses to take himself out of the equation for the greater good. It’s difficult, brave stuff and Dillane hits every single beat. This is the Nick the show has always struggled to bring to life and here he is, perhaps not for the final time, but certainly for his finest hour so far.

But the star of the episodes is Kim Dickens. Madison got SO close to something real and then, when it all falls apart she gets a look at who she really is. Madison isn’t a monster, but she walks with them. And her season long parade of compromise, determination and brutality leaves her nowhere but alone, soaking wet and half drowned. We especially loved the flashback sequences because they illuminated so starkly the two Madisons and how close they are. The compassionate family leader and the woman adrift in a field of gravestones of her own making. All of which leads to what would be the perfect ending for the show and for Madison. Freed from her children, them freed from her, able to start a new life on her own terms.

But we know nothing is ever that simple.

Once again, this will be a different show next year. But for the first time that sea change feels like like clearing the board and trying again and more like evolution. Fear The Walking Dead didn’t just find it’s feet this season it learned how to run. And we can’t wait to see where it runs next in season 4

The Good:

  • Nick’s shopping cart of heads is a gorgeously horrid image.
  • Strand describing wounding Daniel as ‘the worst thing that ever happened to him’ is going to be oh so accurate next year…
  • The dream sequences are fantastic. Really nasty and weird.
  • Walker and Crazy Dog to the rescue!
  • The tiny little Travis cameo was perfect.
  • If that plane Madison saw is real that’s a MASSIVE sign that someone with serious resources is still active. It’s a cute nod to 28 Days Later too.
  • Likewise the Luciana one. Please can we have her back next year?
  • ‘You got two options in life, Victor. You can be lonely or irritated.’
  • ‘Do you think Ofelia would want that?’#
  • ‘No, she wouldn’t. But she’s dead.’
  • ‘I never wished you dead. What sort of mother would that make me?’
    ‘I don’t know. Honest maybe?’
  • ‘It’s the world we live in.’
    ‘Yo always lived in that world now it’s okay for you to be who you really are.’
  • ‘…says it’s armed…’
  • ‘Nick! Don’t touch the other button.’
    ‘What? the one that says detonate?’
  • ‘I’m not negotiating, John. This is my suicide note.’

The Bad:

  • Honestly, we’ve got nothing. These episodes were the perfect combination of character, action and horror that’s made this season so great.
  • Aside from poor Efrain. He deserved better.

And the Random:

  • Andrew Bernstein directed both parts of the season finale. He’s also directed for Chance. The Get Down, Code Black, ER and many others.
  • Jami O’Brien, writer of “Things Bad Begun” also wrote “Children of ‘Wrath” this year. Jami has also written for Hell on Wheels, Flesh and Bone. The Deep End and others.
  • Dave Erickson & Mark Richard writers of “Sleigh Ride” are producers on the show. Erickson is in fact the show runner and is stepping away after this episode. Richard has written for shows including Tyrant, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior and Huff. Erickson has written for Defying Gravity, Canterbury’s Law, Fear The Walking Dead and Marco Polo among others.
  • Ray McKinnon, who plays Procter John has previously appeared in Footloose, Sons of Anarchy, Mud and many others.
Review by Alasdair Stuart

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