Warning: General spoilers ahead
Whenever there’s a conflict in a television series, most of the time it’s pretty clear who the good guys and who the bad guys are. Case in point, Negan from The Walking Dead. While the backstory of the brutal leader of the Saviors hasn’t been revealed (yet), we know Rick Grimes is a good man because we’ve followed his story since the very first episode. So, even if you don’t necessarily agree with Rick’s slaughtering dozens of Negan’s men with only limited information, I think most of us agree that Negan and the Saviors are the villains going into the next season with “All Out War.” However, with the pending war between the folks at Broke Jaw Ranch and the Qaletaqa Walker nation, it’s not as cut and dry. We know Madison (Kim Dickens) and the Clark’s are good people, but from what we’ve seen of the Otto’s, we can’t be sure. On the other hand, Walker (Michael Greyeyes) made a terrible first impression on Madison (and on the viewers!) by causing Travis’ death and with that horrific crow brain-munching scene in “Burning In Water, Drowning In Flame.” The writers certainly set up Walker and the Indians at Black Hat Reservation as the potential villains, but the fact is we really don’t have enough information to make that determination. Who is Qaletaqa Walker? How does he treat other people besides the Otto’s? And, why does he hate the Otto’s, particularly Jeremiah (Dayton Callie), as well as the other founding fathers, Russ Brown, Vernon Trimbol, and Phil McCarthy, so much?
All of these questions are answered in tomorrow’s mid-season finale. In a way, the episodes are very much like a character study of Jeremiah Otto in comparison to Qaletaqa Walker. Now, some of you when you read “character study” may immediately think “boring,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth here. The onion is slowly peeled back from each of these 2 men but it’s done in such a brilliant way with a perfect balance of action sequences, battles and yes, plenty of walkers that you won’t even notice it’s very much a character development finale. The first example we get is when Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) volunteers to stay behind at Black Hat while Jake returns to the the ranch to deliver a potential peace agreement, taking Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) — who had been found by Walker in the desert — with him. How Walker treats Alicia compared to Jeremiah’s treatment of Ofelia is quite telling. Jeremiah locks up Ofelia and then, threatens her so that she won’t tell anyone about what happened in the desert. In contrast, Walker tries to befriend Alicia, even though technically, she is the enemy. He doesn’t lock her up like a prisoner, gives her a tour of the reservation, and when he shows her their new “air force,” which includes the Otto helicopter they shot down, he is truly apologetic to hear that Alicia lost a family member because of what he did.
However, the most compelling example comes in the 2nd hour of the finale when we get a series of wonderful flashbacks that depict what happened to Ofelia in the desert at the end of season 2. We know that Ofelia encountered Jeremiah, but what we don’t know is how horribly Jeremiah treated her. Ofelia begs him to give her a ride because she’s out of water, but he says he can’t because he has to get back to the ranch and “her kind” wouldn’t fit in very well there. In other words, “the brown kind.” Ofelia spits on Jeremiah, but he only laughs while driving off, leaving her to die. We don’t know how much time passed, but Ofelia finally collapses and is about to die of thirst when an Indian shows up on horseback. That Indian is Walker. He takes her back to Black Hat, bathes her, and gives her food and a bed to sleep in. Walker basically saves her life after Jeremiah pretty much throws her out with the trash. Needless to say, Ofelia will stand by Walker and the Nation, even if it means being at odds with Madison, Alicia and Nick.
By the end of the 2nd episode, I think most viewers will see who the real bad guys are here, and this is exemplified by Alicia saying in the below Promo “We’re on the wrong side.” It is also when we finally learn the origin of the feud between the ranch’s founding fathers and Qaletaqa Walker. I’m not going to spoil that for you, but I will leave you with one hint: “The blood is in the earth. It’s in the earth.” This is what Jeremiah said to Nick in the adobe house during his drunken rampage and right after he fired off 3 shots into the floor. At the time, I found what Jeremiah said to be odd, and as it turns out, Nick did too. So, acting on a hunch, Nick is able to unearth the truth (literally), and that’s when the curtain is pulled back and the show’s true villain is finally revealed.
“The Unveiling” and “Children Of Wrath” are two superbly-written episodes and are perfect examples of why Fear The Walking Dead has now in my opinion surpassed the mothership in terms of writing, characters, storytelling — everything. And, what makes this mid-season finale even better is that is leaves the back half of the season wide open. Virtually anything could happen, which hopefully will lay the groundwork for plenty of discussion and speculation for the dreaded 5-6 month hiatus.
The season 3 mid-season finale of Fear The Walking Dead airs tomorrow at 9/8c on AMC.
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com