NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Fear the Walking Dead”, including a major character death, are present in this review
Tonight’s previous midseason finale episode of Fear the Walking Dead led up to an exciting and tense payoff to the brewing Otto/Walker animosity, even if the show did strangely pump the brakes in the second midseason finale episode. “Children of Wrath” made the unexpected decision to go back to a slower-paced focus on character and drama, despite war finally erupting between Broke Jaw and Walker’s people, though it seems like Ofelia’s poisoning mission was a mere one-off strike, since the Otto family is given plenty of time to care for their sick, and ponder their next move… Even though that doesn’t make much tactical sense. Why bother poisoning the militia, lethally in many cases, if you’re not going to move on the land?
Nonetheless, “Children of Wrath” still managed to be a pretty strong episode of Fear the Walking Dead overall, beginning with an interesting opener that showed Ofelia wandering in the desert after separating from the Clark family. Apparently, Ofelia encountered Jeremiah Otto while she was stuck in the desert, who gave her some water, but refused to bring her back to Broke Jaw because he has no use for, “Brown people.” Shortly after, Walker saves Ofelia from imminent death and nurses her back to health, effectively explaining why Ofelia is so quick to pledge loyalty to Walker, and why she certainly has no love for the Otto family, nor their people.
Beyond that however, Ofelia sat out almost this entire episode, beyond another quick exchange with Walker later, which was a bit surprising, but didn’t seem to hurt the rest of the story. Instead, we got to check in with Strand in a separate subplot, picking up after he separates from Daniel. By sheer chance, Strand re-discovers the Abigail marooned in the shallows, and upon boarding her again, he sees that the thieves who first took her have since died and become Walkers. After taking them all out, Strand has a heartfelt conversation with a Russian astronaut over the still-functioning radio, before setting his old yacht on fire and moving on. Sure, this didn’t really serve the main plot of the show very much, but it made for a nice little breather for Strand, who once again has to find new direction after recent events with Daniel.
Back at Broke Jaw meanwhile, Madison pays a visit to Walker, and learns that the soldiers and Nick were poisoned with anthrax. The aforementioned exchange between Ofelia and Walker comes from Ofelia not wanting to be made into a killer, and saying that she wasn’t aware that she was poisoning the soldiers with anthrax, but it’s not like the poisoning bothers Nick very much. Nick recovers almost immediately from suffering anthrax poisoning during the zombie apocalypse, in fact! Yeah, it seems pretty obvious that the writers realized that they wrote themselves into a corner with Nick being poisoned, since they obviously can’t kill him off at this point. Instead, the show treats Nick’s anthrax poisoning as a mere inconvenience, and little else, which is pretty unrealistic.
Still, further fleshing out the conflict between the Otto family and Walker’s people was generally done very well, especially when Nick digs into Jeremiah’s secret floor spot, and finds a skull in it. The skull belongs to Walker’s father, who was killed by Jeremiah, along with several other Indigenous folks, after they tormented Jeremiah and the other land owners. Madison tries to return the skull, along with several relics to Walker, but he refuses, despite letting Madison live more than once, due to having too much respect for her to kill her. Naturally, this starts to have the Clark family slowly wondering if they’re on the right side, since Jeremiah Otto clearly had many more dark secrets than he let on.
Even in an episode that was strangely light on excitement though, the ending portions nonetheless saw some excellent payoffs, as Madison recounts the story of how she shot her own drunk, abusive father to Nick and Alicia, helping to explain why she’s become such a cold, fierce authority figure at the ranch. This then leads into Madison bringing a gun to Jeremiah’s place and suggesting he commit suicide, since it’s the only way to save the ranch. Jeremiah predictably balks at the suggestion, but it doesn’t really matter, since Nick walks in almost immediately afterward, and shoots Jeremiah square in the face without hesitation! This was another great shock for the conclusion of Season Three’s front half, as Jake and Troy see that their father has been killed, with no known consequences yet, beyond Walker now seemingly being allowed to claim the land, as Madison presents him with Jeremiah’s head in the closing seconds of the episode. Madison’s made a big decision, and we’ll have to see if it ends up being truly best for everyone back at Broke Jaw when Fear the Walking Dead resumes towards the end of Summer.
“Children of Wrath”, similar to tonight’s previous midseason finale episode of Fear the Walking Dead, had a slow burn buildup that led to a satisfying and shocking payoff, even if it seems like the show suddenly shifted gears with the current state of affairs between Broke Jaw and Walker’s people. Despite it looking like Walker was finally going to attack the ranch, that didn’t end up happening, with this episode instead leading to the Clark family finally just seeing through the execution of Jeremiah, in hopes that a regime change at Broke Jaw can bring about peace. Rounding off the episode were some pretty strong dramatic moments for Strand, as he completely cuts ties with his past, and finds the resolve to forge a new path in the post-apocalyptic world. Once again, Fear the Walking Dead ends a season’s half with a big character shift, but if this universe’s prior history is any indication, Walker and his people overseeing Broke Jaw’s land certainly isn’t going to fix all of that society’s problems.
This week's second midseason finale episode of Fear the Walking Dead had the Clark family finally changing the guard at Broke Jaw Ranch, while Strand finds renewed resolve to press on alone.
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THE GOOD STUFF
Madison rising up as the leader Broke Jaw truly needs
Nick's unflinching murder of Jeremiah
Strand's emotional moments on the Abigail
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
Nick somehow barely being bothered by anthrax poisoning
Walker not attacking a severely weakened Broke Jaw is a stretch