Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 5, 2018)
A prequel of sorts for the highly successful Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead returns for Year Three. This “Complete Third Season” set contains all 16 episodes of Fear. The plot synopses come from the series’ official website.
Eye of the Beholder: “The Clark family find themselves in a dire predicament. They must work together to discover a path to safety.”
Although Season Two took a while to get into gear, “Eye” launches S3 with a pretty solid bang. It immediately puts our main family in peril and throws out enough violent action to make it a good launch to the year.
The New Frontier: “Following a harrowing journey, the Clark family arrive at their new home. Strand (Colman Domingo) faces resistance as he attempts to hold power over his domain.”
The heightened action of “Eye” continues with “Frontier”, as its opening portrays the apparent death of a major character. I say “apparent” because with a series like this, you never know – and I’ll not feel surprised if the aforementioned character returns someday. Whatever happens in the future, “Frontier” offers a taut show.
TEOTWAKWI: “Still finding their place, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Nick (Frank Dillane) fall in with new crowds while Madison (Kim Dickens) discovers Otto's (Dayton Callie) past mimics that of her own.”
After a couple of fairly action-oriented shows, “TEOTWAKWI” puts an emphasis on character development. While this means it lacks the visceral impact of its predecessors, it still manages to move along events in a satisfactory manner.
100: “A mysterious character searches for purpose and soon becomes tied to the struggle over a key resource in the apocalypse.”
The last episode concluded with the return of a long-gone character, and “100” focuses on his saga. It does so in splendid fashion and becomes easily the best episode of S3 – and one of the strongest segments of Fear period.
Burning In Water, Drowning In Flame: “A new threat reveals itself to Madison and Troy (Daniel Sharman) as they search for answers. Alicia must reconcile with her past decisions.”
After the grand drama of “100”, “Flame” can’t hope to compete, and it doesn’t. Nonetheless, it does fine in its own right, as the episode thickens relevant plot components.
Red Dirt: “News of incoming danger spreads throughout the community as Madison struggles to keep everyone together. Nick grapples with a hard truth.”
Like “Flame”, “Dirt” exists mainly to advance various narrative moments. Like "Flame”, it accomplishes these goals, though it feels a bit stagnant. Hopefully subsequent shows will get into more of a groove.
The Unveiling: “A new arrival sows a divide within the ranch. Meanwhile, Alicia forms a new relationship in the hopes of maintaining peace.”
If nothing else, “Unveiling” gets praise because Travis finally cuts his hair – I tired of his mangy mane a lot time ago. That’s the highlight of this lackluster episode, as its “cowboys and Indians” vibe doesn’t do a lot for me – not until its fairly intriguing ending, at least.
Children of Wrath: “Madison must negotiate the terms of an agreement in the midst of ranch-wide turmoil. Nick and Alicia challenge their mother's motives.”
Just as “100” gave us backstory for one member of the Salazar clan, “Wrath” does the same for another – but only briefly, as most of the show concentrates on the Clark family as usual. Unlike the last few episodes, though, “Wrath” branches out beyond Madison and her kids, a factor that brings S3 much needed life.
Minotaur: “In the aftermath of the Clark family's actions, new leadership assumes control of the Ranch. Daniel assists Lola in the distribution of water.”
Man, I can’t wait until the series leaves the stupid ranch! These elements play up character drama, a facet that could work – but just doesn’t, as I don’t much care about the interactions among the different factions. Here’s hoping S3 changes location and approach soon.
The Diviner: “With the Ranch dangerously low on resources, Madison and Walker leave in search of a solution. Nick and Alicia struggle to keep the peace.”
I can live with S3’s ham-fisted racial politics if the shows offer reasonable excitement. Unfortunately, “Diviner” continues a sluggish trend of episodes that gets a minor boost from a visit to a bazaar but otherwise remains mediocre.
La Serpiente: “Following the rekindling of an old friendship, a mission is launched to replenish the Ranch's water supply by seeking the help of another community.”
When did Fear stop being a show about zombies and turn into a series about disputes over water? Some action adds life to “Serpiente” but the overall dullness over the aquatic theme makes it less than engaging as a whole.
Brother’s Keeper: “As Nick and Jake (Sam Underwood) set out to handle a delicate situation, the Ranch prepares for a threat greater than any they've faced before.”
Much of “Keeper” sticks with the usual tired melodrama at the ranch. However, the arrival of a massive zombie onslaught enlivens the proceedings and gives the episode more kick than usual. Let’s hope the remaining one-fourth of S3 continues along this upward trend.
This Land Is Your Land: “Alicia is thrust into a position of leadership where she's forced to make life-changing decisions.”
While I felt optimistic the momentum of “Keeper” would continue here, that only partly becomes true. We do get some major developments, but we also find ourselves stuck with a lot of the usual melodrama. “Land” ends up as a spotty show due to the lack of balance.
El Matadero: “Alicia encounters a potential ally. Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) fights for survival. Nick uses his skill set for profit.”
Though it focuses largely on character elements, “Matadero” works better than its predecessors, perhaps because it finally leaves the stupid ranch in its rear view. We get a good mix of intriguing developments in this mostly involving program.
Things Bad Begun: “Strand's motives are made clear when Nick discovers a new threat descending on the dam. Madison faces a horrifying revelation.”
With little time left in S3, “Bad” manages to heat up the drama to a reasonable degree. I can’t claim it gets me excited for the season finale – not after that long dry stretch of episodes – but at least it pushes matters in the right direction.
Sleigh Ride: “Strand's loyalty is tested when the dam clashes with an adversary. The Clark family is pushed to new extremes as Madison reckons with her past.”
After a trying season, “Ride” ends matters with more frustration. While the episode comes with some big action, it wastes too much time on an ineffective fantasy sequence and draws to a maddeningly vague close.
Of course, I don’t expect S3 to wrap with a tidy bow – not with S4 on the way – but I anticipated a more formal “season finale” than this. “Ride” finishes S3 on a semi-sour note.