Fear the Walking Dead comes out of the gate swinging in its Season 3 debut. The two-episode premiere, Eye of the Beholder and The New Frontier, had a shocking fatality that puts the entire series on completely different footing. It is either a stroke of genius from the showrunners, or a huge mistake that will backfire. The previous two seasons of the show had been utterly lacking. The behavior of the characters, the cast itself, and various storylines in Mexico weren't interesting. Starting on a new path may be exactly what is needed to inject some fire in this franchise. Major spoilers below.

Eye of the Beholder opens with Travis (Cliff Curtis), Madison (Kim Dickens), and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) captured at the Mexican border by some kind of militia group. Travis is separated from the women by his armed captors and taken to a basement in the facility. He is stunned to find Nick (Frank Dillane) and the injured Luciana (Danay Garcia) among the captives. The militia men are recording his weight, height, and ethnicity. They take a prisoner from the room, take him to a shower stall, and then kill him. Travis listens as the men bet on how long it takes for the executed man to become a walker.

Madison and Alicia are placed in an office. They are met by Troy (Daniel Sherman), a creepy guy in camouflage who swears they will be safe. Madison asks what happened to Travis. Troy, always writing in his journal, says her life is more important than his. He assures her he will give them supplies and freedom. When he leaves, Alicia gives her mother a switchblade she had hidden in her boot.

Travis and Nick are discussing how to escape. Another man swears he can lead them to safety using the tunnels under the base. Troy enters the room. He calmly informs them that their women are safe. He then orders the men and Luciana into the next room for the grisly experiment. They shoot another innocent man as Travis and company wait their turn.

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Madison wakes up with Troy watching her and Alicia sleep. His freaky demeanor has her on edge, even though he promises her safety again. Gunshots ring out across the base. Startled, Troy leaves them to find out what happened. Travis and Nick have escaped the soldiers. Travis tricked them into taking him next, and then rushed them as the previous man turns. He bites the guard allowing the others to escape. They race upstairs unto the base commons.

Travis tells Nick to take Luciana and escape. He will find Madison and Alicia. Nick and Luciana make it to the tunnels, but the poor bastard that accompanied them is killed. Troy slits his throat then pushes the body into the tunnels. His men find Travis. Troy takes him to a pit full of walkers, then throws him in. He heads back to the office.

Troy is attacked by Madison as soon as he opens the door. She takes a spoon and shoves it into his eye socket. Alicia runs away as Madison is surrounded by new soldiers. Jake (Sam Underwood), Troy's older brother, announces himself as the group leader. He promises to save her family if Madison releases Troy. He had no idea what his brother was doing. She relents with no choice. Jake is not a psychopath like his brother. He forces Troy to take them to the pit. Travis has killed all of the walkers. Meanwhile, Alicia hears a commotion below in the sewers. She sees her brother fighting a walker. He has accidentally opened a breach to the outside.

Travis, Madison, Alicia, and Nick are reunited for the first time since halfway through season two. Their embrace is brief. The walkers burst through the sewers and enter the base. There is chaos as everyone tries to escape. Travis grabs Luciana with Alicia. They follow Jake to his helicopter. Madison and Nick are caught behind fighting walkers. They are forced to jump into Troy's truck. The convoy races out of the base as the helicopter follows them from above.

Episode two, The New Frontier, is where the bombshell drops. The helicopter is en route to the settlement of Jake and Troy's father. They are near when the helicopter is attacked by gunfire. Travis is hit in the neck. As he gushes blood, Travis opens the door of the chopper. Alicia begs him to stop, but he opens up his shirt. He has a festering wound on his stomach. He did not escape unscathed from the fight with the walkers. He doesn't want to turn inside the chopper. Alicia watches as Travis plunges, presumably to his death.

Meanwhile in Mexico, we are taken back to the hotel on the beach. Crowds gather at the gate, they are begging for medical help, a woman is pregnant. Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) lies to the group to calm them down. He claims to be a doctor, and to the surprise of the others, opens the gate to the crowd. They barge in, desperate for help.

The convoy arrives at Broke Jaw ranch. Troy is told his brother's helicopter did not arrive. He rheads off to speak to his father, leaving Madison and Nick outside the fence. Madison tells Nick to be calm. She has stolen a gun from the truck glove box. They will heed their time until Travis, Alicia, and Luciana arrives.

The helicopter has crashed in a ravine. Luciana out cold, Jake tells his pilot to be on guard. As he tends the fire with Alicia, he hears a warning whistle. He gives Alicia a gun and heads out into the darkness. He is attacked by walkers. They have killed the pilot. Alicia comes to his rescue at the last second. They pickup Luciana and start walking towards the ranch.

At the hotel, Strand's lie forces him to deliver a baby. He pulls it off, to everyone's surprise, but he is given an ultimatum. The people will discover his charade soon. He must leave immediately. Strand is forced to bring a meal to Ilene (Brenda Stowe), the woman that stabbed him in season two when he killed her walker daughter. Strand tells her about the baby, that there is hope for the future. She replies there is no future. She gives Strand a small box, her wedding present to her daughter. Ilene then jumps off the balcony.

Jeremiah Otto (Dayton Callie) introduces himself to Madison. He is the father of Troy and Jake, leader of the settlement. He takes them to a small cabin. Nick wants to search for the helicopter. He feels guilty leading them all to this point. Madison says they will do whatever it takes, but the family must be reunited. At the guard post, Alicia and Troy are seen carrying Luciana on the road.

Madison and Nick race to the gate to meet them. Madison is despondent when Alicia tells her that Travis is dead. Troy sees that Luciana is unresponsive. He draws his pistol to kill her. Nick asks to do the deed, but then turns the gun on Troy. Jeremiah stands before him. The moment is tense as Madison begs Nick to give up the gun. He will, only if they let Luciana in. Jeremiah says if she has a pulse, they will try to save her. Luciana is taken to the infirmary as Troy snickers. At the hotel in Mexico, Strand walks into the garage with his gear. He presses a remote key, the wedding gift from Ilene. It leads to a brand new, black Jaguar.

The episode wraps up with Madison having a breakdown near a tree. Jeremiah approaches her with a book. He wants to know if she will be a threat. She says it's too soon to know. He tells her she can keep the gun she stole, but she must sign for it in the ledger. Madison complies. She returns to the cabin with her children. They are in shock. Madison says they will stay here. Travis died getting them to the ranch. It must be their fate. They will learn what they can about these people. Then take action to take over if needed.

The death of Travis was truly unexpected. Cliff Curtis was the backbone of the show. He was the best character by far. The Clark family (Madison, Alicia, and Nick) are painfully boring, but are now the focus. It looks like the producers are taking the show along the same route as season two of The Walking Dead. It is cheaper to film on one primary location, hence another stab at a ranch setting.

I just pray they keep it unpredictable, but at least give the remaining characters a modicum of common sense. Every decision these people make have been totally foolish and unrealistic to this point. I am not convinced Travis is really dead, but how can you bring a character back that was seriously wounded, bitten, and fell hundreds of feet from a helicopter? The Clarks have not won us over like the Grimes. They are going to have to be great for season three to be watchable, and if not, that may spell bad news for Fear the Walking Dead Season 4, which is already renewed. Tune in next week as Fear the Walking Dead continues on AMC.

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Julian Roman at TVweb
Julian Roman