AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 16: “Sleigh Ride”
Directed by Andrew Bernstein
Written by Dave Erickson & Mark Richard
* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 3 finisher, “Things Bad Begun” – click here
* Season 4 reviews coming next year
Proctor John (Ray McKinnon) and his crew, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) included are heading into the dam. Carnage lies in front of them, bloody corpses in the water and the like. The Proctors have the upper hand, particularly as more of the men show up. They meet Strand (Colman Domingo) at the docks; Alicia’s pretty surprised, though they save any pleasantries and once alone, they plan in hushed tones. “Mea culpa,” Victor pleads after Proctor John finds out a dozen of his men are dead.
Stuck alone together in that room, Madison (Kim Dickens) and Nick (Frank Dillane) confront their relationship, all the ugliness. He asks if she ever wished he’d died, back in his junkie days. Now, her son isn’t sure of his mother, after what she did to Troy, so callously. However, he doesn’t think about all she’s done for him. All that Troy did, either. I understand where he’s coming from, yet he forgets so much.
There’s also Daniel (Rubén Blades) bleeding from his shot face, Lola (Lisandra Tena) helping him out of loyalty. She has to leave him at the bottom of a manhole, by himself, trapped below ground.
Elsewhere, Alicia changes Proctor John’s dressings while he talks about Buddhism, how he hates liars. Y’know: small talk. After which he asks how she knows Strand, the guy isn’t stupid. She tells him the truth about getting out of LA with his help, about her mother. He reveals she was there at the dam, that Strand made a deal for her safety, too. But the “larger negotiation” that was a part of has fallen to bits. If only Alicia might be capable of making her own deal. What’s required? Go to Houston with the Proctors, and mom is free.
Strand gets back to Nick and Madison, they’re not happy with him. He’s trying, I guess. He also tells them about Alicia, casually warning about Proctor John: “He likes his toys.” What our man Victor has up his sleeve is trying to sneak the Clarks out, right in plain sight with uniforms. Madison can see her tenuous friend’s stressed, so he explains the situation with Daniel.
As Victor walks his friends out, Lola comes in firing after discovering Efrain dead, a bullet in the head. She gets one of her own from Proctor John. Now, the gang’s found out, the plans have completely deteriorated. The Proctors do a bit of shit kicking with Strand’s face. At the same time, Madison angles to try getting them out of there. Doesn’t work. The boss says he’ll kill her kids while she watches. Everybody goes.
Out on the dam, the family says goodbye to one another, fearing they’re about to be murdered. This is when Victor reveals the explosives wiring the place. “Take his tongue already,” Proctor John orders. But Strand doesn’t have the detonator, Nick does. He’s ready to blow the place to the moon.
Back to another Madison Clark daydream, in that nice house in the wasteland. All her friends are there, from Daniel to Jeremiah (Dayton Callie) to Jake (Sam Underwood) and Walker (Michael Greyeyes). Strand shows up with gifts. A happy holiday for everybody! Hugs and smiles and dinner ready for eating. Well, if you’re into eating Jeremiah’s chopped off head, I suppose? Yum! The nice dinner becomes a bloodbath, a nightmarish holiday, Christmas in hell. And once more, Madison’s left alone amongst the graves of everyone she knows.
What will Nick do? He’s ensuring safety for mom and Alicia. He’ll stay behind to make sure they get away. He explains this is his “suicide note.” A sacrifice for the greater good of his family. Nothing else to do. The two women and Strand head for a boat, to escape. Leaving Nick to the Proctors.
“War was waiting to be realised by us, and here we are.”
Daniel’s gotten himself back on two feet. He’s got the skills still, as well. Disarming one man, killing three. He’s headed up top. Nick watches while his family and Strand speed off, waiting for the right time to detonate. Right as Crazy Dog (Justin Rain) pops a shot into one guy’s head from the distance with a sniper rifle, he and Walker keeping an eye on things like the loyal men we’ve come to know. Crazy Dog continues firing, just as Daniel walks in firing alongside him.
But Nick blows the dam anyway. The concrete rumbles, cracking, and the falling walls threaten to suck his family into the rapids, over a waterfall through the river. Crazy Dog and Walker assume the worst, moving on north. Nick awaits the end.
Madison dreams more. She’s at Jeremiah’s grave. He hauls her in under the dirt. She’s actually floating in the water by the dam, being pulled by the rushing waters. As she imagines bursting out of the grave, Travis (Cliff Curtis) is there to haul her up. She slips back under, still in the water.
She finally opens her eyes, swimming to the surface. She makes it to land, seeing people coming to the shore, filling their buckets and containers with water after so long. In a way, Nick did what Efrain wanted, to get the water to the people. At what cost?
We’ll have to wait and see.
An intense finale. I mean, wow… I didn’t expect some of this to go down, not like it did. Very excited for Season 4. Not sure exactly where things will head, after all we’ve seen in these last few action-packed, plot-filled episodes. So much potential, the series is already wonderful. It can get even better.