Well, that was a refreshing season premiere.
On Fear the Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 1, the Clark family needed to come together in order to escape the militia that arrested them at the end of the Season 2 finale.
I went into the premiere cautiously optimistic. Fear the Walking Dead Season 2 had a good deal of lows but very few highs. However, the highs demonstrated how compelling this series can be when it definitively decides on what type of show it wants to be.
Based on these first two episodes of the season, the writers appear to be righting the ship.
Thankfully there was no time jump in the opening minutes, and we jumped right back into where we left off in Fear the Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 15, with the group getting arrested at the border.
We already knew these guys were trouble when they started opening fire on Nick, Luciana and the people from the colonia. What made it interesting though, was that this wasn't your typical group of baddies, but rather a group of survivors with a few bad eggs thrown into the bunch.
One of those "bad eggs" of course, was one of the leaders, Troy. Troy sent Travis down into a dank storage room with other prisoners, while Madison and Alicia were in a cozy office.
First off, I knew immediately that Troy wasn't quite right. Not only did he not look or act the part of a leader, but his constant fidgeting and body language made the whole situation uncomfortable.
Luckily, Madison picked up on it right away, and you could tell she has already grown from her past experiences by not being so trusting of a new group. Especially when her husband has been taken somewhere else entirely to be "processed."
Troy: I'm not a bad person.
Madison: No one said you were.
Troy: Some have.
What appeared to be a sort of refugee camp to Madison and Alicia, ended up being more of a concentration camp for Travis, Nick and Luciana.
I was pleasantly surprised that the opening minutes of the episode had Travis finding Nick. I didn't expect that to get resolved so quickly, at least so early on.
Although I found it a bit convenient that Travis and Nick just happened to be thrown into the same room with each other, I'm willing to forgive that for the sake of story progression.
At least Travis made a new friend when fellow prisoner Steven said he had an idea on how to escape.
After the plan was set into motion and they made it outside, it was not surprising at all the Travis stayed behind in order to give Nick and Luciana a chance at escaping. It was a selfless act that we have seen time and time again from Travis.
Troy [referring to Travis]: Do you love his live more than yours?
Madison getting the upper hand on Troy with the spoon to the eye was awesome. I'm already loving this new "no nonsense" Madison, she didn't annoy me once in this episode which is an achievement of its own.
Eventually, we learned that Troy and his douchey comrades are just a few bad eggs in an otherwise non-threatening militia. At first, I found it a bit unbelievable that not one of those trained individuals could have gotten off a head shot on Madison who merely had a spoon in Troy's eye.
Troy's non-douchey brother, Jake, seems to be a legit leader of this group or at least more competent.
The reunion between Madison, Alicia and Nick was truly emotional. Even though Nick made the decision back on Fear the Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 7 to leave on his own accord, it was a tender moment seeing the family back together once again.
Travis getting thrown into the infected gladiator pit was the highlight of the hour. Travis can legitimately hold his own against the undead and has become a ruthless badass when required. It reminded me of Rick's junkyard pit fight on The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 10, only this was a much more enjoyable scene.
So, you can imagine my frustration and disappointment leading off the second hour of the premiere in Fear the Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 2, with Travis getting shot in the throat by a stray bullet in the helicopter, jumping to his death so he would not turn on the other occupants.
It was a genuine WTF moment. The entire family literally reunited only moments earlier before being chased off of the compound by the infected, and then that happened.
I hope Travis survived somehow, I really do. However, if the death does in fact stick, I applaud such a bold move, which is something I heavily criticized Fear the Walking Dead Season 2 for lacking.
At the same time, Travis was one of the few likable characters on this show, who I might add, also happened to be the incredible cinderblock zombie slayer.
During the second hour, we were also introduced to Troy and Jake's father, Russell Otto. He is the proprietor of the ranch as well as the guy who actually is the real leader of this group.
Otto is obviously a man set in his ways but also willing to help those in need, as long as they adhere to the rules. He sort of mirrors Hershel from The Walking Dead. It will only be a matter of time before the Clark family pushes these rules to their limits.
We also checked back in on Strand during Fear the Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 2, who was still trying to earn his keep at the Rosarito. Strand playing doctor was humorous, especially when they needed him to help deliver a baby from a pregnant refugee.
However, Strand's days were numbered, and he was eventually asked to leave the hotel by Elana. They wouldn't even allow him to take a vehicle. That was a bit harsh, don't you think?
There was another touching moment when Eileen, the mother of the bride from Fear the Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 11, gave Strand the wedding gift that she intended to give her son in law at the wedding.
The gift, conveniently enough, ended up being the keys to the car that allowed Strand to ride off into the theoretical sunset.
It was a nice moment and a suitable apology for stabbing Strand on Fear the Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 12.
Strand: Thank you Eileen.
Eileen: No, thank you. You freed my little girl.
Once Strand opened that stuck terrace door, it didn't take long to figure out Eileen would leap at that opportunity take her own life (pun intended). Losing her family left her with despair and hopelessness, and it was just too much to bear.
I thought perhaps Strand's words about "hope" would have deterred her, but her mind was made up a long time ago.
Strand also mentioned that he had a place in mind on where to go after he left the hotel, and I'm curious as to where that could be. Might he be considering trying to locate the Abigail? Could this season have us set sail once again on the open sea?
After a promising first season and a lackluster Season 2, the direction of the series needed to be re-evaluated.
Thankfully, based on the season premiere, FtWD appears to be course correcting.
Just as The Walking Dead Season 2 followed up a disjointed season with an incredible third season, I'm hopeful that same magic can be replicated here.
Is it too early to begin predicting a far and improved Season 3? Of course, but it's also easy to say this season is off to a promising start.
Other tidbits from the premiere.
- Where is Ofelia? I thought the soldier that caught her was part of the same group that picked up the Clark family. Could she still be at the base or was it a different group entirely?
- Troy's men executing prisoners and making wagers on how quickly they turned was brutal and inhumane, to say the least.
- The scene of the soldier getting pulled through the wall by infected was nicely done and had a nice George Romero aesthetic to it.
- Who shot up the helicopter? Could it be the group that took Ofelia?
What did you think of the 2-hour season premiere of Fear the Walking Dead Season 3? How do you feel about the new direction the series is headed? Do you think Travis is really dead?
Where do you think Ofelia is? Do you have any ideas on where Strand could be heading? Who opened fire on the helicopter? Sound off below and let me know what your thoughts.
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Steven Ford is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.