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TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead (Season 3, Episode 2)

Season 3, Episode 2: The New Frontier

PLOT: A hero falls while the Clarks are introduced to the mysterious leader of a militia.

REVIEW: Fear the Walking Dead has shocked me, and I'm not sure how I feel about this shock. I don't know if it's good or bad. Do I commend the show for doing something totally unexpected, or do I lament that they have dropped (literally) a really cool cast member?

The season three premiere had just featured the character Travis (Cliff Curtis) being a heroic, zombie-killing badass... and then, within the first four minutes of the season's second episode, they kill him off. Out of nowhere. In a completely random moment. It's so shocking that I immediately began wondering if there was someway they could bring Travis back from what happened. Was he really going to die from his wounds? Could he have survived the fall that followed? But once the episode had ended, I saw an interview with showrunner Dave Erickson in which he confirmed that Travis is gone. The writing was on the wall, but I missed it. I don't pay much attention to announcements regarding James Cameron's epic AVATAR sequel endeavor, so I didn't give any thought to last month's report that Curtis had been cast in a major role in those four movies. Yeah, Curtis is going to be busy for a while. Too busy to kill any more zombies. It's a shame to see Travis go just when he had reached his peak.

Fear's companion series The Walking Dead sometimes draws criticism for only following one character (or grouping of characters) per episode, and that's something that The New Frontier can definitely not be criticized for. This episode is split between three groups in three different locations, and I was intrigued by what was going on with all three.

We have Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) dealing with the loss of her father figure Travis and getting to know mysterious militia member Jake Otto (Sam Underwood), who doesn't seem to be a cold-blooded murderer like some of the militia members we met in the previous episode. It's his brother Troy (Daniel Sharman) who's the dangerous one. Of course, Jake could just be luring Alicia and the viewer into developing a false sense of security.

Then there's Alicia's mother Madison (Kim Dickens) and brother Nick (Frank Dillane), who arrive at the compound of the man who has assembled this militia, mostly filling it out with his own family members. I would not be joining up with this bunch, and would be reacting to the situation just like Nick does - by reiterating that these people are killers and wanting to get the hell out of there.

The leader of the militia is Jeremiah Otto, played by veteran character actor Dayton Callie. You may not realize it, but we've seen this guy before. He crossed paths with a different character back in season two. That's a character we haven't seen since, so I'm wondering what exactly he did with that person. I don't know what Jeremiah's game is. He seems nice, but I wouldn't trust him as far as Travis could have thrown him.

Finally, we look in on what's going on with our old buddy Strand (Colman Domingo) at the Rosarito Beach Hotel, a location I thought the show should have stayed at for a while anyway. This was the least interesting part of the episode for me, but I still like the concept of zombie apocalypse survivors living in a high-rise hotel, and would rather watch episodes set there than on a ranch that serves as a militia base. This show tends to switch settings quite frequently, though, so I'm not expecting to spend too much time at the Otto place.

After the action of the premiere, episode two was a comedown. Action and zombie hordes were replaced by character moments as we got acquainted with the Ottos. It's important to start getting an idea of who these people are, or who they present themselves as being, so I'm not too upset that this episode slowed the pace down a bit. This one was establishing things, now we'll need to keep watching to see what the pay-off is.

And to find out where Ofelia is.

The death of Travis aside, there wasn't anything big about The New Frontier. It was just a serviceable stepping stone episode. 

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: There were much less of them here than there were in the previous episode, but the scene where Jake comes across a feasting zombie in the dark countryside was a nice moment.

GORY GLORY: Nothing too awe-inspiring, but there was some blood, including a painful surgical procedure.

FAVORITE SCENE: Well... the death of Travis. You got me, Fear the Walking Dead. Nice job.

FINAL VERDICT: 

Extra Tidbit: What did you think of The New Frontier?

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