Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis and written by Ian Goldberg & Andrew Chambliss, the season finale of AMC's Fear the Walking Dead is an entirely different beast in much the same way the sixth season has been unlike any other in the TWD universe. This isn't about our heroes rallying the forces for an epic strike against the "big bad," or licking their wounds from a battle in the previous episode but looking towards the future. No, not this time. In a sense, "big bads" Teddy (John Glover), Riley (Nick Stahl), Dakota (Zoe Colletti), and those "The End is the Beginning" folks have already won. One missile. Multiple warheads. That's all they needed.
So for Morgan (Lennie James), Strand (Colman Domingo), June (Jenna Elfman), Dwight (Austin Amelio), and the others, there is no victory to celebrate, and no future to look forward to. There is only the here-and-now, and how they choose to approach their final moments… looking to survive, settling old scores, or making peace with the inevitable. With that in mind, we're throwing on the "MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!" sign and throwing up a spoiler buffer image as we take a deep dive into season finale "The Beginning" and what it could be the beginning of heading into the series' seventh season.
First off, major props to director Satrazemis and writers Goldberg & Chambliss for the structure of the episodes, naming each respective storylines chapter in ways that kept viewers guessing to their meaning (we particularly like the "Enjoy the View, Asshole" one with Dwight and Christine Evangelista's Sherry). As if taking the concept of anthology storytelling and showing how it can effectively tell smaller, more intimate stories while still proving important to an overarching narrative wasn't impressive enough, Goldberg and Chambliss pulled an Inception on us with an anthology episode within an anthology season- and sticking the landing on both the finale and the season.
Now if you're followed any of my past reviews of the previous seasons of Fear TWD, TWD, or TWD: World Beyond, then you know that there are two things required for an effective finale. First, does the episode offer enough resolution to the season and in a manner that is respectful to the viewer and their season-long experiences? That goes without saying, as characters say true-to-form while still evolving in ways that offer some interesting prospects for the future. As for the threat, there was no undercutting of it- no deus ex machina. As Grace (Karen David) reminds us, even after the blast there will be issues with radiation to deal with- something that may not come into play until much later in the season for some of our folks. Second, does the episode offer viewers enough threads to get the dumpster fires of random speculation raging? "The Beginning" does and then some, living up to its name in so many ways- here's a look at the five storylines in play to see what we're left with.
Sarah (Mo Collins), Daniel (Rubén Blades), Luciana (Danay Garcia), Charlie (Alexa Nisenson), Jacob (Peter Jacobson) & Wes (Colby Hollman): This was one big collective redemption, reaffirmation for all involved- especially for Daniel, who ended up saving the day (twice) and getting his (and the others') faith back in his own mind. Then we had Sarah making a much-needed fix even as she stresses over her brother, Charlie having Daniel's back (love the father/daughter dynamic there), Wes leaving a right-proper message for Riley and the others to let them know this is far from the end, and more. But the biggest takeaway? Al (Maggie Grace) getting CRM to swoop in for the rescue- good news in the short term but what about long-term? Are they just going to be dropped off at a safe, distant location and that's it? Or are they CRM facility-bound? And did the TWD universe just get a little smaller?
Dwight (Austin Amelio) & Sherry (Christine Evangelista): I have done a complete 180 on this duo, and this was the episode that locked it in for me. It's one thing to decide to move on from the past and look to the future with a fresh start- which we were big fans of. But watching Dwight and Sherry tap back into those "Saviors" days to take back the storm cellar for the family they stumbled upon felt very old-school- with even Sherry wondering where "that" came from after she and Dwight took matters into their own hands. Their commitment to using their skills and aspects of their pasts to take down big bads and save good, decent people felt like a natural evolution- and one that we're particularly interested in seeing more of next season.
June (Jenna Elfman), John Dorie, Sr. (Keith Carradine), Teddy (John Glover) & Dakota (Zoe Colletti): This was less about the future than about closure- for both John Dorie's memory, Dakota's raging sociopathy, and Teddy's crazed hypocrisy. For June and JD Sr., forgiving Dakota and urging her to use the moment to start anew and forge a new future was the last card they had to play to save her and do right by John's memory. But if there's one thing you have to say about Dakota, it's that she stayed true to her wanting to be who she truly is- no matter what the consequences. Even if that means nuclear fire (in a way that kinda reminded us of Rorschach's death at the end of Watchmen). Which is why it's only fitting that Teddy died by her hand and before the bombs dropped. For her, seeing the one person who she thought understood her actually turn out to be a hypocrite to his own cause was too much for her. But what was worse? Dakota realizing that Teddy was just treating her as they both discussed treating others in the past: as a disposable means to a more-than-justified-to-them end.
Strand (Colman Domingo) & Howard (Omid Abtahi): Okay, let me start off by saying that as much as I bragged about Domingo's turn as Strand last week? This episode is the one for the Emmys FYC reel. If you thought Strand was just being Strand last week, then check out that speech he gives to his new friend/follower Howard where he embraces anything and everything Victor Strand. He's no longer apologizing for who he is or the things he's done- having seemingly survived the blast (interesting how much he wanted to be a "better man" before the blast), this Strand sees his new lease on life as an endorsement of all the lousy things he's done over the course of six seasons. What we're left with is a Strand with no restraint, seeing the future as something for him to grab with both hands and make it his own- especially with someone like Howard by his side. And that's what scares us for the seventh season because we could see Strand becoming a big bad- and Morgan and Strand are due for a serious one-on-one.
Morgan (Lennie James) & Grace (Karen David): This may have been the biggest emotional rollercoaster storyline of the five. First, we're heartbroken because there's a very good chance they're going to die. Then we're thrilled because the two finally declared their love for each other. Then we're heartbroken because we know that it probably came too late. Then we're thrilled (after being heartbroken) that Rachel's (Brigitte Kali Canales) baby made their way to Morgan and Grace. Then we're heartbroken because now they're all going to die together, then we're thrilled because they apparently survived the blast. And then we're left with a big, fat question mark as the couple stare at each other while other explosions go off. What does that mean? We don't know- but we think you better understand why our nervous systems were all over the place during these moments. After the long journey that he's been on over the course of two series, it would be fascinating to see Morgan leading from a "family man" perspective moving forward- and we know we're not the only ones wanting to see Morgan and Grace have a few more sweet, loving, quiet moments together. Not too many- but a few.
So that's a wrap for the sixth season of AMC's Fear the Walking Dead! Let us know in the comments section below what you thought about the season, the season finale, and what you'd like to see when the seventh season kicks off later this year.
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