AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 1: “Eye of the Beholder”
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Dave Erickson
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, “North” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The New Frontier” – click here
Madison Clark (Kim Dickens), her daughter Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey),Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis), they’re in the clutches of military men. Leading them pasts fields of corpses, of all kinds. Into a gated military base. My guess is these are less the honourable-types, more the sort we saw in the depths of depravity during 28 Days Later. Or maybe I’m wrong. Only time will tell. The place is massive, relatively untouched by any of the world’s latest troubles. Except that sinister things are most certainly going on.
The men split the remaining Clark-Manawa family up. Madison and Alicia are off together, as Travis gets processed alone. We see people with their heads shaved, numbers written on their bald skulls, others like Travis with a number put on their hand. He’s throw in with a group of others, stowed in the darkness.
Who does he see across from him?
Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) and his new friend, Luciana Galvez (Danay Garcia). Whoa! They share a silent, affirming look. But what the fuck is NEXT? A spooky, subdued opener for Season 3. Let’s get it on.
Travis scoots over next to them. He tells Nick that his mom and sister are there, too. And, without words, that Chris is gone. They do a little catching up, though nothing overly cheery, seeing as how they’re in one hell of a nasty spot. At least together they’re able to start thinking, to start figuring out a way forward.
Meanwhile, Alicia and Madison are in an office, waiting it out. They look around to get a feel of the place. Unlike Travis, they’re treated much better. They get a bit of tea, pleasantries, yadda yadda. The women are smarter than that, they approach the man who brings it with caution. He’s named Troy Otto (Daniel Sharman), he wants to know why they came across the border, what they’re doing, so on. Supposedly they’ll be let go, given supplies. All a formality. Yet I don’t believe any of it, not for a second.
In one of the large shower areas, Troy and his men monitor the death and “resurrection” of a walker. They’re doing their sick tests, getting a thrill off it. Then Troy goes over to see Travis. Of course, he assumes him as Mexican, but Travis explains his Maori heritage. There’s a weird, jealous energy coming off the military man. He is DANGEROUS, I knew this immediately. By the minute it becomes more clear.
Alicia thinks they’re gonna get killed, Madison isn’t so sure. They don’t stop looking for an angle, though. Doesn’t hurt the daughter’s got a nice butterfly knife on her, that’ll help them. Mom also makes clear she wants to protect her daughter, at any cost. No matter how much she has to kill, she’ll keep that pledge. I feel as if we’re on the precipice of a primal, much more lethal Madison. Hope I’m right.
A guy named Steven (Ross McCall) says that if Travis can get them out of the room, he’ll help free them from the compound. At the same time, Travis and all the others are forced to watch a man be chosen, then killed in front of them. Another experiment, to reanimate and study. This is a dark, dark place they’ve wound up. Travis bides his time, hard as it is, waiting until the right moment to try escaping.
Up in the office, Madison wakes to Troy watching he and Alicia sleep, scribbling in his notebook. Fucking creep. She worries for Travis, and clearly there’s some racist shit going down o the base. Downstairs, the soldiers – led by one especially excited man (Noel Fisher) – keep doing eerie things with the zombies. Travis pushes them, calling them out for their cruelty. Baiting them. He questions their integrity, their humanity, as the men take offence. Then they want to kill another person – Nick. Instead, Travis offers himself up.
Then, they fight! Travis, Nick, Steven, they each take their chance and throw a few fists. One of the soldiers is taken by a zombie.
Travis: “Murder for science, huh?”
While things take a turn, Madison starts seeing more of the creepy Troy and his intent. Why’s he so fixated on Madison? Either way, Nick, Luciana, and Steven flee. But the latter is killed, and tossed into a sewer where the other two run, left to hunt them down when he turns. Travis gives himself up to save the others and give them time. He’s then faced with Troy, boasting about taking his family. I see things getting quite disturbing on this end. Simultaneously, Nick and Luciana struggle through the sewer; her wound isn’t doing well. They keep going, no matter what.
Madison attacks Troy when he returns. He almost gets one up on her, before she puts a spoon into the bottom of his eye socket. She sends Alicia to find Travis, or else he loses an eye. Likely more.
When Nick thinks he’s found a way out of the sewer, he and Luciana only come across a massive horde of walkers. And now they’re able to get inside, too.
Out in the back of the base, Travis is led to a pit of walkers. He’s thrown in by the military men. Like a gladiator pit. So the Maori man gets his reluctant chance to be a fucking warrior. He uses concrete slabs, pieces of rebar, smashing others’ heads into the stone walls of the pit itself. Anything he can to survive.
Troy tells Madison her husband is a “dead man.” Then comes Troy’s brother, Jake (Sam Underwood). Pleading for his brother and his eye. She’s surrounded, though Jake says he’ll find her family. He believes his brother likely deserved his injury. So far, he seems trustworthy. He doesn’t immediately strike as psychopathic.
Finally, Alicia and Nick are reunited when she finds him struggling with a zombie in the sewer. She drops the butterfly knife inside so Luciana can kill it and save him. Only Alicia ends up in the grip of another soldier. At least Travis has survived the pit, reunited with his wife. Luckily, Jake reunites the family; all of them. Together after so much time. Better yet, they’re allowed to leave the base.
The Otto family have a ranch where it’s much safer, apparently. Their father’s prepared well for the end (he’s Jeremiah Otto; played at the end of Season 2 by Dayton Callie). Mostly, the Clark-Manawa clan want to get the fuck out of there, away from those madmen. Just nice for Season 3 to start out on an equally brutal and emotionally rewarding note – Travis sort of got out a few demons fighting all those walkers, in such terrifying fashion, and now their family’s been pieced back together. Although they face another ugly trip ahead of them outside the base.
Troy and Jake are definitely not the same; the latter is smarter and more humane, the former past budding into heinousness and already a full-blown maniac. There’s nastier stuff to come from this family, you can bet your ass.
Downstairs, the tough soldier leading those experiments hears noises in a wall. He looks for a source, taking a vent from the wall. Only for a ton of rats to fall out, followed by a zombie who has a fierce lunch on his face, his throat, then pulls him bloodily through the wall to feast even further. CHRIST! ONE OF THE BEST EFFECTS ON THIS SERIES YET. Not just that, the base itself is clearly not safe. Not anymore. Anywhere there’s humans, there comes infection. Sooner or later.
Now the place is overrun. The undead are everywhere.
Travis, Madison, Nick, and Alicia get ready to bolt, as walkers turn up around every corner after moving up from the sewers. Mom and her son nearly get trapped, as Jake and Travis start gunning down the undead. Worse, Nick and Madison have to get in a truck with Troy, separated from Travis, Luciana, and Alicia in the helicopter with Jake. Divided between two brothers. Apart again.
What a whopper to open Season 3! I don’t care, I love this series. Have from its beginning. Excited for “The New Frontier” next.