In the series finale of Fear the Walking Dead we are finally treated to the kind of episode we have been waiting for all along. All of the key elements of a brilliant Walking Dead episode were there, including: hordes of walkers, loads of combat, the constant fear that danger lurks behind every door, near death experiences and quality character development. ‘The Good Man’ is probably Fear the Walking Dead at its best and leaves us excited for what is to come in series two.
The only thing that holds ‘The Good Man’ back from receiving a five star rating is purely the fact that the closing moments felt highly underwhelming in comparison to the drama of the rest of the episode. After they had escaped the government facility, the episode could have very easily ended right there: the story arc felt resolved, the characters were headed to a new location where the show could have picked up from next series, and there was enough of a cliff-hanger with the uncertain fate of Ophelia hanging in the balance. The whole ordeal at Strand’s beach-house, despite allowing for a little more elaboration about his character and giving time for Liza’s bite to be revealed, felt oddly anticlimactic after such an intense episode and didn’t create the ‘return-to-some-normality-after-the-chaos’ eerie climax that they were perhaps going for. The only exciting part of the closing scenes was Liza’s death, but that wasn’t without its flaws.
It was almost guaranteed that there would be a character death in the finale, due to the fact that we had only seen one in the series so far and it was a glaringly predictable one at that. Surprisingly, the death that we did receive this week was, much like the closing parts of the episode, highly anticlimactic. After an episode so filled to the brim with zombie encounters, the finale’s big death could very easily have been so much more dramatic and intense. When Liza reveals to Madison at the close of the episode that she had been bitten during the escape, it was hard to actually feel anything. The delivery of the lines and just the general tone of the episode’s climax meant that this moment didn’t come out of left field and shock you like it was most likely supposed to, but instead came across as something tacked onto to the end of the episode as to fill a death quota. It was a somewhat emotional scene, no doubt, but just felt a little flat for me.
This can easily be forgiven though, due to the fact that the near-death scenes in ‘The Good Man’ more than make up for the lacking intensity of Liza’s death. For example, when Strand and Nick are trapped in the corridor, increasingly being cornered by a horde of walkers, there was a genuine feeling of despair and fear for these characters lives. The exchange between Nick and Madison through the door’s window is perhaps the most emotionally charged moment in the entire series and produced a sheer amount of pathos for the two characters.
The same can be said for when Ophelia is seemingly killed by Andy. Daniel would have most certainly preferred to lose his own life than to even have risked his daughter’s, so by shooting her instead Andy is able to do harm to the one thing Salazar cares for the most. This evoked a phenomenal response from Travis and Cliff Curtis perfectly captured the sheer rage of a man pushed too far in this scene. It would have been nice if they had made it a bit clearer that Ophelia hadn’t actually died before leaving the facility, but that only added to the tension on the journey to Strand’s beach-house.
All in all, this was probably the best episode of Fear the Walking Dead to date and it has hopefully set a precedent for the kind of things that the fans want to see in series two. If this had been an ordinary episode instead of a series finale it would have very easily been awarded a five star rating, but there’s still a little room for improvement in the future for a more consistently exciting final episode. No matter what, ‘The Good Man’ leaves us excited for what is to come next series and has truly solidified the show’s chances of becoming a long-running, successful programme like its predecessor, The Walking Dead.