The Fear The Walking Dead Season 3 Finale took everything and everyone we knew and turned it all upside-down.
This week AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead spent two-hours tearing our world apart in their season 3 finale, featuring the episodes 3×15 “Things Bad Begun” and 3×16 “Sleigh Ride”. Let’s start at the top with “Things Bad Begun”. Troy (Daniel Sharman) learned that the dam would be attacked by the Proctors, who runs the trading post. He grabs Nick (Frank Dillane) and the two of them head out to the dam to warn everyone. At the dam, Madison (Kim Dickens) is lamenting to Strand (Colman Domingo) all that she lost; she’s driven her children away, the possibility of normalcy, stability, and safety at the ranch is gone, as is the hope for happy Christmases surrounded by her extended family. It’s around then the boys arrive with their warning. Everyone is torn over what to do with the dam and after some debate, Daniel (Ruben Blades) and Lola (Lisandra Tena) decide to defend it or go down with it. While setting up defenses by rigging the dam with C4, Troy and Nick reveal to Madison that Troy led the horde to the ranch and she instantly bashes him in the head with a hammer, killing him.
Back out in the wild, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Diana (Edwina Findley) are on their way to the trading post when they’re attacked by men trying to steal their stuff. They fight them off but Diana is badly hurt in the scuffle, so Alicia brings her to the doctor at the post. Here she gets roped into assisting a surgery about to happen on none other than Proctor John (Ray McKinnon), leader of the trading post, himself. Surgery goes well, and Alicia is further pulled into the fold when Proctor John declares her his “angel of mercy” and brings her along to the dam to survey their takeover… which is not going according to plan. Strand had made a deal with him to facilitate their invasion, but when the boys warned Daniel it all got messed up. What was meant to be painless is now filled with fighting and bloodshed. Strand confronts Daniel and Lola, and accidentally shoots Daniel in the face – but he’s still alive. They flee. Elsewhere in the dam Efrain (Jesse Borrego), Lola’s #2 in command, is shot while trying to defend it and dies.
Alicia arrives at the dam with Proctor John, greeted by Strand who informs her discreetly that her family is alive and safe for now. John knows they know each other, and after Alicia confirms this he agrees to spare Madison if Alicia goes with him to Houston, and she agrees. Lola finds Efrain’s body, motivating her to grab a gun and confront the Proctors – which gets her shot as well. John disregards the deal and says all the Clarks have to die, including Alicia. As they make their goodbyes, Nick swipes the detonator that Strand had had and makes a play. He negotiates that Strand, Alicia, and Madison will escape via zodiac and once they’re clear he’ll blow up the dam so Proctor John can’t have it. The dynamite goes off. Daniel appears, back from the dead (or so we thought) to aid in the takedown of Proctor’s men and it seems like him and Nick are doomed. The dam blew too soon, and the zodiac gets pulled into the flood waters tossing Madison, Strand, and Alicia overboard. The finale ends with only Madison coming out of the water alive. We don’t know if anyone else made it.
Throughout 3×16’s “Sleigh Ride” we are taken back and forth to a weird dream turned nightmare, showing us how Madison wanted things to be at Christmas with her family at the ranch and how badly it had all turned out to be. In her dream, Alicia is dead and Nick leaves her disgusted. She’s increasingly surrounded by more and more graves. When she finally has Christmas dinner prepared for the table of characters from Season 3 (the Otto’s, Daniel, Strand, Walker, etc) the turkey is revealed to be Otto’s head. Blood floods the table, guests leave. It all crumbles, showing us how everything was destroyed. The graves multiply. In the end of this nightmare, Madison is dragged into Otto’s grave, only to be pulled out by her dead husband Travis (Cliff Curtis) who loses his grip and she’s pulled back underground. Is this Madison’s mental state collapsing or her humanity confronting her? Is it her life flashing before her eyes? We’re still unsure.
This finale genuinely had our jaws on the floor at times. There’s so much to unpack, so let’s go through it all with our wonderful roundtable – one last time! Meet the crew:
Jeffrey (@TWalkingDWorld): TWD/FearTWD enthusiast and A&E Editor of the Niner Times
Cameron (@_TWDCam): Self-employed IT consultant, convention goer, comic enthusiast, huge FTWD/TWD fan
Lauren (@Iaurencox): Senior Editor at HollywoodLife.com, social media addict and Walking Dead enthusiast.
Sonya (@sonyairyna): TV junkie, writer, TWDFamily, contributor to Undead Walking
Max (@FTWD_Memes): I’m a Paramedic, FearTWD addict and the other half of FearSource
Ivy (@IvyDC_): Deputy manager, HUGE FearTWD fan, and co-owner of FearSource
Mallory (@girl754): Admin of @outcastfiends, mod of fan communities, TWD fan since the first episode.
1. What was the most shocking moment of the finale to you and why?
Jeffrey (@TWalkingDWorld): The most shocking moment of the finale to me was when Strand shot Daniel. After Strand mentioned that he had never killed anyone, I got this weird feeling that he would be forced to kill someone before the episode ended. When the struggle over the gun happened, I was terrified that Lola would accidentally be shot. I could never have predicted that Daniel would end up with a bullet wound on his face, something that will probably be like Carl’s gunshot wound on “The Walking Dead” if Daniel ends up surviving.
Cameron (@_TWDCam): The most shocking part of this finale.. wow. There were quite a few moments but I’m going to go for the bullet that Daniel took in the face. In the moment I couldn’t believe that they were going to kill him off and to see him survive and get back up I had the same reaction as Strand did “oh my god” and then a huge sigh of relief.
Lauren (@Iaurencox): The most shocking moment was Madison killing Troy. Yes, his death was imminent, but for it to be Madison? And in such a brutal, emotionally charged way? Wow. Peace out, Troy.
Sonya (@sonyairyna): There were certainly a lot of shockers in the finale! But for me, the most shocking was when Daniel was ready to torture Nick during his “interrogation”. Whether he actually would have gone through with it or not I am not sure. But the fact that I couldn’t tell if he would have done it or not shocked me. Daniel is truly a man with nothing to lose at this point. I love that Daniel is such a dark horse of a character. When Ruben Blades flips that switch and quiet, mild-mannered, affable Daniel Salazar becomes Daniel the Interrogator it’s thrilling to watch.
Max (@FTWD_Memes): Nick blowing the dam even though he thought that he would die on it. He’s been pretty selfish this season, I didn’t think he would actually try to put his family first for once.
Ivy (@IvyDC_): Moment? How about moments! 1) I can’t believe Strand shot Daniel in the face, I’m still afraid he might die. 2) Troy’s dead! I hate Troy after Jake and Ofelia’s death but I was in complete shock when Madison killed him. I thought Daniel would do it. 3) Lola’s death… God, I really loved Lola, I’m so sad! 4) Nick blowing the dam, sacrificing himself for his family was WOW! I didn’t expect this from him at all. 5) The very end! Who else is alive, except Madison?! What a mind blowing cliffhanger!
Mallory (@girl754): I probably shouldn’t feel shocked, but I was quite shocked at the way Madison almost thoughtlessly killed Troy. Shortly beforehand, she vouched for him when she knew he was trouble. Madison does what’s best for Madison and her kids in any given moment. Even though Strand is a con man, he’s a more strategic thinker than she is. Props to Daniel Sharman for playing Troy so brilliantly.
2. What did you make of Madison’s trippy Christmas feast dreams set at the ranch?
Jeffrey: I thought that the Christmas sequences were beautifully shot and it was great to see some of the deceased characters return, such as Jake, Jeremiah, Coop and of course, Travis. I think these scenes are meant to represent Madison’s vision of a world that will never exist; her actions and the actions of her family have prevented this scenario from happening, as seen in the dark turns that her visions take. This perfect life is tainted because of what has happened over the course of the series. I believe Madison saw these sequences play out as she was underwater; she flashed in and out of consciousness, struggling to stay alive. Travis trying to pull her out of the grave was meant to represent him pulling her to the afterlife, but she just wasn’t ready to die yet.
Cameron: Those trippy Christmas scenes were a good type of weird, really enjoyed seeing those sequences play out. I heard the bubbling of water when Nick was standing over Alicia’s grave so did expect someone to go underwater during the episode. I think the music choice, in particular, was perfect, seeing them all sit down together was weird in the fact that a few of them never even met whilst alive- which I thought was a pretty cool thing to see. Then the reveal of Otto’s face as the turkey lid was lifted and all the blood pouring through the table. Then when Strand gets up and leaves… brilliant imagery.
Lauren: Madison’s Christmas dreams made me feel like I dropped acid. What a bizarre experience. But for the record, I would totally watch that alt-universe holiday special.
Sonya: I think that’s the first real sign we’ve seen that Madison actually does have some human emotions. The weight of the things she’s done and the things she’s lost does weigh on her, but we haven’t seen that before. The juxtaposition of the domesticity she wants so much and the reality of what she’s done was really interesting.
Max: Madison’s personal version of hell for what she’s done. I loved that dream sequence. I think it shows she feels some guilt over what she’s done and feels she lost her children because of her actions.
Ivy: Madison was talking about Christmas with Strand at the beginning of the episode and I think this was a vision of what she wants, but she can’t have because she doesn’t deserve it, because of all the things she’s done. Also, she saw her biggest fear: Alicia dead and Nick was despising her.. I think she feels guilty because her children see her as a heartless killer.
Mallory: I thought it was an interesting way to illustrate what’s going for Madison psychologically at this point. She’s longing for the family she’s losing and starting to contemplate all the death and destruction she’s caused. It’s been pointed out to her in this and previous episodes as well as this one. Alicia said to her, “Your way doesn’t work. It won’t ever work.” when she decided to go off alone. In this episode, Nick was very clear about telling her that he could easily see her “putting him down” and thought she was hoping he would die when he was a junkie.
3. Is this the last we’ve seen of Proctor John’s crew? Not all of them were at the dam!
Jeffrey: I definitely think we will see more of Proctor John and his crew in Season 4. He really established himself as a viable villain, along with his outposts; this leads me to believe that we may see a Negan and the Saviors scenario play out next season, where the characters try to break free of the oppressive group that tyrannically rules over a large area. There were a few mentions of Houston, so I think the surviving characters may end up there and possibly come into conflict with Proctor’s group; maybe this will be where “Fear” crosses over with “TWD”!
Cameron: The Proctor gang appear to have been set up or at least have the potential to be a main villainous threat in the next season. At the moment due to the showrunners changing, of course, Gimple joining the two new guys (Andrew Chambliss, Ian Goldber) the show could go in a few directions. Ultimately, I would be surprised if we didn’t see the biker group again in some capacity.
Lauren: Proctor John will absolutely be back. He foreshadowed that himself when he said they would find Madison and her family “later” after the Gonzalez Dam was blown up. He’s a pretty spectacular villain and the most interesting one we’ve had so far, so I look forward to seeing his reign of terror in season four.
Sonya: Definitely not the last we’ve seen of The Proctors. They were pretty obvious about dropping hints about Texas so my guess is that some of The Proctors are already headed that way. Usually, in the season finale they set up the “big bad” for the next season, and I think for season 4 it’s going to be The Proctors.
Max: I don’t think Proctor John or his crew are done. He’s going to continue being a thorn in Madison’s side. The Proctor is probably a vengeful guy and won’t be very happy the dam was taken away from him.
Ivy: No! They are the new villain in S4! S3 finale was just the beginning, I think.
Mallory: I hope not. I thought all of them were a really great addition to the storyline. It reminded me of Negan and his crew in TWD. They’re going to be furious and seeing that unleashed would make for some very action-packed scenes.
4. Pick one character from the two-hour finale and tell us why they were your favorite in these episodes.
Jeffrey: Daniel was the standout character of the two-episode finale in my eyes. We’ve always known he was a badass, but this episode shows just how skilled of a fighter he is; how many characters do you know that can be shot in the face and still take down multiple hostiles? I love that they kept the interrogator/torturer aspect of his character, calling back to his time as a soldier in El Salvador, as well as his storyline in Season 1. A lot of characters shut down after losing a loved one, but Daniel isn’t the type of person to do that. He truly believes that he is immortal and his mission in life now is to find justice for Ofelia.
Cameron: Pick one character? This is tough. *thinks for a good 5 minutes* Okay, I’m going to go with Nick. Just ahead of Alicia and Daniel of whom both had very solid and engaging performances. So Nick, played brilliantly by Frank Dillane who was exceptional in this finale. The reason why I picked him was that of his step-up moment with the detonator, putting Madison, Alicia, and Strand to priority and risking his life to get them safe. Is he dead? We shall have to wait to find out, of course, but even if he survives which I hope, this was probably the character’s biggest moment since the first season for me at least.
Lauren: Nick was my favorite. Maybe that’s a cliche answer, but he really stepped it up this season and especially in the finale. He put his family first at the beginning of the season and even after his hiccups he remained consistent with that until the bitter end? I really hope he’s not dead.
Sonya: Alicia. And I choose her because I think she has an amazing ability to process a situation and adapt. She must get that from Madison, but unlike Madison, she doesn’t get so rigidly focused on the outcome that she doesn’t see the situation for what it is. Madison’s instinct is to kill every time and to kill indiscriminately to get the outcome she wants. Alicia tries to avoid killing but she will if she has to.
Max: Daniel Salazar hands down. Daniel was suspicious of Troy since he arrived. He knew right away that Nick was lying about what happened at the ranch and was able to get the truth out of Nick pretty quick. He probably could’ve defended the dam by himself if he had the promised weapons and if Strand hadn’t shot him in the face.
Ivy: I’m gonna say Madison here (for the first time). I admit I wanted Daniel to kill Troy, but I’m also glad Madison did it. She was covering his actions during the whole season and Ofelia’s death clearly affected her. She avenged Ofelia and all those children who lost their lives because of him, and also because he ruined the opportunity for her and her family to have a home.
Mallory: I really liked Proctor John. He’s a very multi-dimensional character and I found him fascinating. He’s also very unpredictable as he flipped very quickly on Alicia. I loved that he can be evil, but not completely evil. His actions may be swift, but he seems to be a quick thinker who reasons out his actions. Ray McKinnon did a stellar job portraying him too.
5. The Fear The Walking Dead Season 3 finale had a high body count. Which death(s) moved or surprised you the most? We lost Efrain, Lola, Troy, the dam, the unit of the Clark family, Daniel’s happiness, etc.!
Jeffrey: All three of the major deaths surprised me, because of the already high body count of the season. I wasn’t completely shocked that Troy died, but I was more shocked that Madison killed him and that she did it in such a nonchalant manner. The death that shocked me the most was Lola because I actually starting to think she would survive past the fall of the Dam and go on to be a major player in Season 4. I think she went out in such a badass way, snapping from her pacifist persona to a ruthless killer, eager to enact revenge on those that wished to destroy what she had built. I had Efrain pegged to die as soon as we met him, but I wish they gave him a more emotional exit.
Cameron: None of the deaths particularly moved me this week, not as much as Ofelia in episode 14, anyway. I think the reaction of Lola to discovering Efrain body was a touching moment then her death. Troy’s death was a little surprising although I was expecting it. I think the way his death came about did have an element of surprise and felt quite realistic in the fact that there wasn’t a huge build up prior.
Lauren: Again I have to say, Troy. I really thought he would make it to season four and have some big emotional break where he actually redeems himself for being so terrible and then dies this tragic, heartbreaking death no one saw coming. But nope, he went out the POS he was from day one.
Sonya: Troy’s death surprised me and it also disappointed me. Troy was such a great character and I loved his relationship with Nick. I really was looking forward to seeing how the bond between those two developed. At first, I was surprised that Madison killed him but after I had some time to process it I wasn’t actually surprised because it’s very typical of Madison to get rid of someone that she has no use for anymore.
Max: Lola dying was probably the worst character death for me. She was actually a force for good who only wanted to keep everyone safe and keep the water flowing. Then she died because of others greed. We also found out what it would take to make her take up arms, losing Efrain and the dam. Daniel who just lost his daughter has now lost another person who was important to him.
Ivy: Lola!! I loved her character so much! She wanted people to be safe and have enough water so they could live. Efrain’s death hit her really hard and she went on a suicide mission to avenge him. I’m gonna miss her, she was truly an exceptional character, but her death proves once more time that good people don’t last long in the apocalypse.
Mallory: I was most moved by Lola’s death. She was always trying to do the best for everyone and was so good-hearted. There aren’t many who are so well intentioned in an apocalypse. I was expecting the dam to go. The Clark family may be physically separated now, but they’ve been apart emotionally for a while. It’s more of a continuation than a loss.
6. We know very little right now, but what are you most looking forward to in season 4? Or, what do you hope happens?
Jeffrey: Going into Season 4, I have very few predictions due to the open-ended cliffhanger. I think we will definitely lose a main character at the start of next season…and if I had to guess, I would say Nick, unfortunately. They might want to start next season off with a bang, much like they did with this season. I also think Season 4 will have a big theme of exploration as the surviving characters search for a new home; maybe they’ll head to Houston or maybe they’ll go to Colorado in search of that colony that was mentioned earlier this season.
Cameron: Season 4 I hope continues in the same vein of form that this third season has ended with. With Gimple joining the crew I have really high hopes then Fear can go up another level. Providing it remains consistent with the majority of season 3 whilst ironing out some weird writing (most notably in Madison character) we can look forward to another really good season. I hope that they all survive. I want to see Alicia continuing her rise, I want to see more of Nick in this role of stepping up. And much more Daniel, I feel as though we haven’t seen enough this season. I suspect if they do reunite than Daniel and Strand will have a good arc.
Lauren: A reunion! I want to know where everyone is. Where did they go? Everyone’s separated now — like Daniel from the entire side of his face. How’s that going to work?!
Sonya: Now that they have confirmed that there will be a crossover between FearTWD and TWD in season 4 I’m really looking forward to seeing how they do that. Since Texas was mentioned several times I’m guessing there will be some interaction between The Proctors, the Clarks and either Abe or Rosita from TWD. I’m also looking forward just to seeing what will happen next. Fear TWD is really unpredictable right now and I like that. It’s really exciting.
Max: I’m hoping Alicia stays separated from Madison for a while and reunites with Diana to make the badass infected fighting duo we deserve.
Ivy: So, I hope Daniel survives this terrible wound on his face. I hope Alicia and Strand play as a team next season, that would be really great to see. I also hope we see Luciana again…
Mallory: Most of all, I hope the rumors are true and Michael Cudlitz is the crossover character! I’m very impressed with the show having so many strong female characters and would love to see that continue. I’d like to see more of the Proctors. Additionally, I think it would be interesting to keep the Clarks apart and see what they do as individuals.
7. Madison Clark is the only known survivor going into season 4. Is she a hero, or a villain?
Jeffrey: I think Madison is slowly evolving into a villain-esque character, but I don’t think she is fully there yet. When we first met her, Madison had the facade of a friendly guidance counselor, but as things progressed, we learned that her life isn’t perfect; Nick’s addiction and the killing of her father both weigh heavily on her. Season 3 saw her become more ruthless and hardened as she learned the rules of survival; she will align with other killers such as Taqa and Troy, so long as it benefits her in the long run. As we get deeper into the series, I think we will see her become even darker and more of a villain; the same goes for the other characters, playing into the title of the series. If “The Walking Dead” are humans, are we meant to “Fear” Madison and this group of survivors?
Cameron: Madison Clark, hero or villain? Im going to end my thoughts on this rather simply – Neither.
Lauren: Can I say neither? Madison isn’t a hero and she’s definitely not a villain, but she’s somewhere in between. I think she’s going to try and pick one and stick to it after all of this Dam business though.
Sonya: Is anyone in that world a hero? Is it even possible to be a hero in that world? One thing we know from TWD is that in that world no one’s hands are clean. Everyone does things that could be viewed as morally questionable through the lens of civilization because they’re living in a different world with different rules. I think Madison could go either way. I think she’s going to have some internal struggles next season as she tries to figure out what her role will be. And I think no matter which path she chooses it’s going to be interesting.
Max: I wouldn’t consider Madison Clark as a hero, she’s done a lot of questionable things throughout the series. I’m secretly hoping that at the end we find out this was a villain’s origin story all along. Not a TWD villain, but a villain all the same.
Ivy: Neither. She just has a good luck. She did some really terrible things during the season and she’s definitely not a hero, but everything she did was in the name of family so she’s not a villain either… She’s just a crazy mom!
Mallory: I’ve always seen Madison as a villain. Going into Season 4, I see great possibilities for her to change into a hero. She is finally thinking through the ramifications of her actions. After being pulled into the grave, Travis tried to pull her out and let her go which I interpreted as being akin to a near-death experience. It’s as if Travis was saying to her, “It’s not your time yet. You have more to do”. With the little girl at the end, she had a look of hope and light in her eyes which we haven’t seen much or at all.
Final Verdict: The Fear The Walking Dead Season 3 Finale swept us off our feet, took our breath away, and left us with countless questions. If this is how the show means to carry on, we can’t wait for Season 4.
We said goodbye to so many friends this season, and had so many shocking twists and turns as it came down to the final two episodes. Who would have thought we would lose Travis and Ofelia, or the new friends we just met this season like Jake, Troy, Lola, or Efrain? We knew Troy likely wouldn’t make it out of season 3 alive, and we’re a little sad about that. While many people say the good people don’t last in the apocalypse, in Fear The Walking Dead the bad ones don’t last too long either. Anytime a character gets dark, we lost them – like Chris, Travis and now Troy. It would have been interesting to see how he navigated the world alongside Nick, but he had to go. And frankly, we’re a little salty Daniel didn’t get to do the honors to get justice for Ofelia. Madison’s murder of Troy felt surprising but underwhelming. We wanted to see Daniel go dark like he almost did while interrogating Nick, but alas. Maybe next season.
When all’s said and done, we have gone on quite a ride this season in Fear The Walking Dead. Doubly so for the season 3 finale! We learned that the show is not afraid to take risks, kill off main characters with abandon, and quite literally blow up everything we once knew. For a season that at times felt like it was dragging on, in the beginning, it sure picked up steam towards the end and charged frantically off the rails. No one knows where we’re going next with season 4, except that it will likely involve Madison Clark – who we know is alive – and a crossover with The Walking Dead, likely happening in Texas (unless all the Houston talk was a red herring). One thing we know for sure: if Fear The Walking Dead can keep up this level of nail-biting excellence going forward, then it is bound to become must-watch television in 2018.