NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “Fear the Walking Dead”, including multiple major character deaths, are present in this review

 

 

The second half of this week’s season finale of Fear the Walking Dead fortunately continued to impress, after an especially standout first half that saw the news of Chris being murdered by his new buddies, and the colony being compromised not only with the coming of the cartel, but also of Alejandro’s bite threatening to tear apart the faith that first built it. Both of these storylines set things up for an equally standout resolution for the season as a whole in, “North”, and for the most part, that standout resolution is what we got, allowing Fear the Walking Dead to secure a much-needed win for its season finale, after the show has taken so much time to consistently find its footing.

In the bloody aftermath of Travis beating Brandon and Derek to death, and critically injuring Oscar in his fit of rage, the hotel predictably wants Travis gone as quickly as possible. It was clever to have Madison’s own declaration a few episodes ago, a seeming promise for a perfect apocalypse-proof utopia, end up coming back to haunt not only Madison, but the rest of her core group as well. Madison is faced with a very difficult decision, since she can’t abandon Travis, yet also can’t defy the very rule she made for the hotel. The only reasonable solution is to leave the hotel, and take her established allies with her.

It can’t be that easy though, since Oscar ends up dying on the crude operating table that Andres is forced to set up for him, leading to Andres confronting Travis in the same fit of rage. Andres seems to want to exact revenge on Travis, holding a gun to his head, and deciding that simple expulsion from the hotel is getting off easy. The tense situation was a great moment of suspense as well, one that was broken up in a very shocking way, as Alicia grabs a knife and stabs Andres, seemingly fatally, a man she tried to help with the operation on his brother not moments ago before being kicked out of the room, thus affirming that Alicia will always be loyal to her family above all others. Strand grabs the gun in the chaos and helps Madison, Alicia and Travis escape in a car, though as he foreshadowed after the Travis debate, Strand opts to stay behind at the hotel, forcing the other three to leave without him. This is a bummer, since Strand is one of the best characters on Fear the Walking Dead at this point, so hopefully we haven’t seen the last of him. At the very least, the heartbreak behind having to leave Strand should resonate with fans, many of whom no doubt really enjoy his character.

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Nick’s storyline also keeps moving forward on a fairly satisfying note, with Alejandro attempting to keep the spirit of his village strong, despite very rapidly being overcome by the symptoms of his bite. Nick tries to help Alejandro endure the symptoms with some drugs (might as well, right?), and finally convinces Alejandro to allow Nick to lead the colony elsewhere, away from harm, with Luciana at his side. When the gangsters finally do arrive, a dying Alejandro moves the bus out of the way, and allows the empty colony to be overrun by Walkers, in a fitting and devious final trap! As cool as this was though, it did sort of feel like the whole gangster threat, which has been built up over several episodes, was resolved disappointingly easily. Even in this very episode, the cartel has been hyped up as the likely center of a big, climactic escape, and possible fight to an extent, only to have one easy move that anyone could have done conveniently get rid of every last one of the bastards. Really? It was that simple the whole time?

Regardless, Madison, Alicia and Travis reach the old cartel hideout, find the evidence that points them to the colony (conveniently left on the dead family that ran away from a few episodes ago), and come across the soon-expiring Alejandro. Alejandro gives Madison the final clue to Nick’s whereabouts, before he dies, and the three survivors finish the job so that he doesn’t re-animate. I guess this was a fairly decent way to put Madison and co. back on the trail of Nick, even if they certainly got very lucky. There is a sense of the season trying to hastily wrap up the separation between Nick and his family so that it can reunite them early on in Season Three next year, but fortunately, that’s a pretty minor quibble overall. Even if this arc could have just as easily ended with Madison, Travis and Alicia simply speeding away from the hotel to parts unknown, I suppose that the way things end with them for this season is fairly satisfying nonetheless.

Nick stepping up to that leadership role with Luciana was equally satisfying as well, even if the way that his arc ends also feels rather abrupt and out-of-nowhere. Nick and Luciana follow the trail North, to the mysterious complex that Nick spies earlier in the episode, no doubt the key location for next year’s third season, only to have everyone attacked by a bunch of soldiers, leading to the rest of the colony scattering. We have no idea what happens to the rest of the townsfolk either, since Luciana ends up shot in the shoulder, Reynaldo is killed in the brief bit of gunfire, and both Nick and Luciana are forced to the ground by the soldiers, and that’s where the episode, and the season, ends. Wait, that’s it? What happened to the rest of the colony? Moreover, why the hell were these soldiers opening fire on a bunch of blatantly unarmed and defenseless civilians to begin with? Even if these are bad guys, and it sure looks like they are, surely it’s a waste of ammo, considering the circumstances. Regardless though, this ending was kind of annoying and unsatisfying, even if it’s still better than the insulting cliffhanger that the main Walking Dead series ended its previous season on.

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“North” still did a lot more right than it did wrong, even if, “Wrath” ultimately amounted to being the superior episode. Still, this second half to the Season Two finale was a strong way to cap off the season, and seems to fully cement Fear the Walking Dead as seeing a much needed bump in quality and entertainment value, as it moves into its third season in 2017. It would have been nice if the episode didn’t just abruptly stop right as Nick meets a new obstacle, and considering that Ofelia didn’t show up at all in this episode, that further begs the question of why the show bothered to bring her up at all in the previous episode, rather than just wait until Season Three to catch up with her. At least we can finally get the sense that the ongoing storyline in Fear the Walking Dead is more reliably headed to greater things though, and I look forward to seeing where the show’s tightened, superior new direction will take it in Season Three.

Fear the Walking Dead 2.15: "North" Review
Some arcs are concluded a bit abruptly, but Fear the Walking Dead manages to close out the season on a strong note in the second half of its Season Two finale.
THE GOOD STUFF
  • Madison and Alicia staying loyal to Travis, and losing Strand
  • Nick successfully rising as a colony leader, alongside Luciana
  • Alejandro's devious final trap for the cartel
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
  • The entire cartel goes down far too easily
  • Abrupt, annoying ending to Nick's arc
83%Overall Score
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