Fear the Walking Dead: The Unveiling & Children of Wrath Review
AMC‘s Fear the Walking Dead, season 3, episodes 7 & 8, ‘The Unveiling’ & ‘Children of Wrath,’ the two-part mid-season finale to season 3, added some last minute garnish, before multi-course servings of commune-on-commune violence got to the meat. Jeremiah (Dayton Callie) & Walker (Michael Greyeyes) finally came to the head of their respective tables, even as last minute acts of impulse grabbed some of the attention back.
That has been Jake’s (Sam Underwood) role, up to this point; but once Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) got involved, the Clark curse officially kicked in, and the Ottos were in for a rough ride. Sure enough, Jake was way out of his depth, bringing a legal brief to a king-of-the-hill fight; but he did get his parlay. If opening negotiations prompted you to look away, however, then you might’ve missed a surprisingly subtle cast re-introduction.
Turns out not a lot had happened, since we last saw Ofelia (Mercedes Mason); but what did happen added some kink to what would otherwise have been a straightforward hostage trade.
Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, everyone’s favorite ex-Heroin Hippie finally got a haircut. Not only that, but Nick (Frank Dillane) decided to put his own spin on the Madison (Kim Dickens) parasite plan. His host of choice: Troy’s (Daniel Sharman) militia.
Unfortunately, Nick’s move played right into Maddy’s power play, once word of Alicia’s role got back to her. Madison has learned quite a few things, since the series began; but I suppose it would’ve been unreasonable to expect her knee-jerk reactionism – regarding her brood’s well-being – to have simply gone away.
The ending twist to ‘The Unveiling’ just shouldn’t have happened. I find it hard to believe that no one thought Trojan Horse, at the time; but Maddy not even thinking of the implications, where Trojans bearing dinner trays is concerned, was particularly careless. As for why it was done, ‘Children of Wrath’ filled in some of the previously alluded to details.
Ofelia’s history with Jeremiah wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been (consider Troy’s outpost selection process); but it was bad enough. Bad enough to explain why Maddy’s cynical assessment of her loyalty no longer applied; and why Maddy pulled no punches, once this was made fatally clear.
Ofelia wasn’t the only lost lady to make a sudden comeback, for the mid-season finale. I kind of found Abigail to be a sight for sore eyes; but nowhere near as much as a stranded Strand (Colman Domingo) must have. Pure plot moment, to be sure, but it was still a moment. An even better moment was his making radio contact, with someone having the best view of a wasting World. A momentary bridge, between to stranded vessels, complete with a bittersweet game of name that Literary Master quote. Miserably, miserably great scene.
This wasn’t an invitation to get back to the show’s second season seafaring dynamic, however, but more of an official page turn. At least Strand got some closure out of it; but it left me wondering who else had been returned to the show for the sake of closure.
The second Madison incursion seemed just as unlikely as the Trojan Horse gambit. Maybe Walker’s camp had reason not to expect trouble; but a lot of this back-and-forth was left dependent on security lapses. Well, the back-and-forth ended there, mercifully enough, when Walker decided to demonstrate that he wasn’t as sentimental as Maddy had hoped. Between the reason for this hope, and Nick’s sober brain continuing to constructively connect dots (there hasn’t been a Nick-up for a while, now, come to think of it) as its source, all pretense of just cause sort of went out the window.
I suppose it helps that when your prospects make you food for the crows, you eat crow.
Oddly enough, this might’ve been Maddy’s best case for “You can’t handle the truth” defensive speechifying. More bothersome than the fact that the cornered-bear-with-cubs role suits her, is the notion that being untethered from Travis’ moral orbit facilitated it. At the same time, I think both Alicia & Nick have earned the right to switch roles, for the moment – with Alicia taking the moral outrage approach, upon learning about Maddy & Nick’s pragmatic handling of Troy’s last tick.
In her defense, Maddy told them the third person story of where the Maddy Monster began. It served everything she had done, up to that point; but made for an awkward transition to peace advocate (now that her kids were squared away). No, Maddy going up river, to see a guy named Kurtz, seemed the more logical way to go, after that story. Nick’s latest father figure turned out to be a little reminiscent of his grandfather, where Madison was concerned; and she had a history of making peace at the expense of such men.
She has also grown, some, since. So has Nick.
The resolution to the Ranch stand-off was made a whole lot neater, thanks to the late transition to a deeply personal conflict, from what was originally staged as a matter of principled grievance. Yes, there is still much more ground to dispute over (feudal sons now orphans in common, the particulars to the stay of siege, Ofelia’s new role, and what Walker may want next); but this was the most satisfying mid-season finale, to what has been the best season of FTWD. I should point out that there was something of a backhand, to that compliment, since this was the only season of FTWD that was all-the-way good, to begin with; but the compliment stands.
Being just the mid-season finale, however, means that the Ranch arc has only been the set-up, thus far. There’s a whole other half to go, and it remains to be seen if this season has the legs to go the distance; but as of this point, I’m actually looking forward to finding out.
Don’t make me regret getting my hopes up, guys. You wouldn’t like me when my hopes get dashed.
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