Whereas last week’s exemplary episode of Fear the Walking Dead, “Cobalt,” mixed a variety of moral quandaries, alluring moments of behavior, and tightly executed thrills, the series finale of the spin-off, “The Good Man,” felt far more straightforward, a less daring, if inarguably exhilarating tying up of loose ends from this abbreviated maiden season. The episode allowed for very few scenes that elucidated the desires or the interior lives of the central group of characters, nor, for that matter, were there many scenes that further rounded out the world of Robert Kirkman and Dave Erickson‘s series. Instead, “The Good Man” spent its runtime fleetly mapping out some rather obvious character goals and cementing a number of perspectives to set-up what will happen in Season 2.
In doing this, the series seemingly reverted to the predictable drama patterns and familial interplay the denoted the first two episodes of the season, as our group, led by Madison and Travis, breached the military compound in order to save their loved ones. Everything from the rupturing doors of the stadium filled with biters to Travis’s decision to save Andrew (Shawn Hatosy) played out in foreseeable, plot-driven ways, neatly tidying up a story that, ironically, is based on a world of total horrific chaos. Indeed, this was the first episode since “So Close, Yet So Far” where that sense of bedlam wasn’t palpably reflected in the moods and actions of the central characters.
To be fair, there were certainly a handful of sequences that offered thrills and devastation that kept the swiftly paced episode engaging. Strand (Colman Domingo) and Nick’s escape from their holding pen proved to be a riveting bit of tensity, and the image of the piles of ash outside of the compound proved quite effective and disturbing. That being said, Strand and Nick’s escape ultimately felt more about finding an exciting, taut way of reuniting him with Madison and introducing Strand into the main group. The entire episode functioned like a perfectly maintained mechanism of storytelling, including Liza’s tragic end, meant solely to drum up excitement for what’s to come, which, to be fair, the reveal of what “Abigail” is did quite well.
Still, nothing about “The Good Man” was quite as immediately troubling as its first image of Los Angeles enveloped in darkness, with only patches of hungry fire lighting up the landscape. It reminded me of the image of the biter’s brain that Noah Emmerich‘s character showed the survivors in The Walking Dead, with the base being the only part lit up in a dead brain. Not unlike the zombies that are incrementally taking over the world of Fear the Walking Dead, the season finale felt as if it were motivated only by the show’s most basic narrative inclinations, charting the central characters’ rush to outpace the devouring hordes and their cursed attempt to find a nonexistent safe haven.
★★★ Good — Proceed with cautious optimism