Fear the Walking Dead Season 8 E03 Review: Paved with Good Intentions
AMC's Fear the Walking Dead S08E03 "Odessa" was a brutal lesson in how the road to Hell usually begins with the best of intentions.
Two chapters into its eighth & final season run, AMC's Fear the Walking Dead has been impressing us in any number of ways, from establishing PADRE as a twisted big bad not quite like the ones we've been used to in the past to giving Kim Dickens a chance to quickly re-establish Madison as the inspiring-yet-flawed hero we've been wanting to see make a return. But could the long-running spinoff series make it three-for-three with S08E03 "Odessa" (directed by Ron Underwood and written by showrunners Andrew Chambliss & Ian Goldberg, who are hitting home runs right when Fear TWD needed them the most)? Heading into the episode, we already knew that Mo (Zoey Merchant), Dove (Jayla Walton), and Shrike (Maya Eshet) will be in the spotlight, as well as a reunion between Madison and June (Jenna Elfman) – and let's not forget the return of Daniel (Rubén Blades). But we weren't expecting to learn so much about PADRE and see the dangers elevate so greatly as what went down in "Odessa," another winning effort from Chambliss & Goldberg – with Eshet owning this chapter in two timeline-takes on one of the show's most fascinating characters, Shrike.
Fear the Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 3 "Odessa" Real-Time Thoughts
Okay, on a quick side note? I like that Chambliss, Goldberg & AMC are going the streaming route when it comes to the length of the episodes. I don't care if an episode is 55 minutes long or 32 minutes long – just as long as it tells a full & complete story over the course of it. Heading into this weekend's episode, we've been treated to two episodes that didn't feel padded or cut short.
I refuse to acknowledge our survivors by their PADRE names. Nope… not gonna do it.
Wow… that's a rough way for Madison to be reminded of Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey). Yup, they have been checking Madison's blood for a hereditary connection (along with the radiation) for why Alicia was able to survive. And assuming the "boy" is Finch (Gavin Warren), June shares that he's showing some improvement. Hmmm… not sure how I'm feeling about them possibly undercutting one of the biggest emotional moments in the TWD universe by having radiation/genetics be a "deus ex machine."
FLASHBACK: So we're getting "Shrike's" backstory, with her father being General Krennick, as we see some of the early days of what would become PADRE. And it's heartbreaking because we see that Krennick was a good man trying to rebuild the world. Once again, the TWD universe does an amazing job of giving us a reason to at least connect with the big bads – even if we don't agree with them. And this small but impactful scene did tons to add layers to Shrike's character.
Another important thing that I'm appreciating this season. We have action sequences that make sense and are necessarily brutal given the situations but end when they need to. That makes the segues into the serious & quieter yet still tense moments (like when Dove needs to decide who to side with moving forward) much more seamless. There are no unnecessary "shocks to the system" in play – making the real shocks more meaningful, too.
FLASHBACK: So "Shrike" and Ben stow away to see if their father is going to be okay – and you know that the moment Shrike gets locked away that the ending is going to be a brutally tragic one.
"Give them back their weapons. It looks like we all have nine lives" might be the closest thing to a hug & kiss that Daniel could offer after being reunited with June and Madison.
Okay – worth a quick mention? How easily Blades & Dickens got their chemistry back in that long walk where Daniel and Madison combine catching up on the past with assessing what a mess things are now. I like the reference to Daniel's drink being something that helps with his mind – but that reference to Charlie (Alexa Nisenson) and Luciana (Danay Garcia)? Uh-oh…
Merchant is amazing this season as Mo, demonstrating a strength, will & determination that would have us believe that she's been on the series for years – which is going to make having to say goodbye royally suck even more.
FLASHBACK: Yeah, "Shrike's" about to learn that things aren't going to end well for her family…
Okay… so Finch seems to be doing okay as he's being interrogated/indoctrinated by PADRE. Okay… still not sure if I want to scream, "WHAT THE F**K?!?" yet or not.
FLASHBACK: Saving his children, General Krennick gets bitten – telling his kids to continue the work that he was attempting to do. So now we see how PADRE came to be, a twisted & brutal nightmare version of what was once a noble dream.
Combining flashbacks with Madison's sledgehammer, we learn that Ben's been the voice behind PADRE – as the brother & sister duo have been running PADRE in their father's name.
TWIST: Dove is actually "Odessa" – the daughter of Ava (Lyndon Smith), the mother that Madison & Morgan (Lennie James) attempted to help at the end of the previous season. Wow. Ouch.
"I don't think you would've recognized them": June's response to Madison when Madison asked her how Nick & Alicia were after they thought their mother died at the stadium – a seriously subtle yet heartbreaking moment.
Once again, it's Daniel and the resistance to the rescue – with both sides walking away to lick their wounds, knowing that a final stand-off was still to come – just not on that day. I respect how the episode ended in a sensible way that exposed who PADRE was without taking away from the overall threat that Shrike & Ben still pose. And as much as it sucked to see, it made perfect sense why everyone would doubt Madison moving forward – except Daniel, who can respect her position.
And what a note to end AMC's Fear the Walking Dead on! After effectively building up PADRE over two episodes, Chambliss & Goldberg exposed who PADRE actually was – and it didn't lessen the intensity of any of it at all. But that last moment, when we get a better perspective on both the shipyard and the scope of what's being protected there, the true scope of what's at stake became crystal clear.