TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead (Season 3, Episode 16)

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Season 3, Episode 16: Sleigh Ride

PLOT: The Clark family tries to survive the raid of Gonzalez Dam while Madison dreams of Christmas.

REVIEW: A shocking event occurred in the previous episode of Fear the Walking Dead, Things Bad Begun. While Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades) and the traitorous Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) struggled over a gun, the gun went off and shot Daniel in the face. Strand describes that event as the "worst moment of his life" in this episode. It probably wasn't a highlight of Daniel's, either. But if that shot had killed Daniel, it would have been the worst moment in Fear the Walking Dead history, no question. Daniel is a very important part of this show. It may focus more heavily on the Clark family, but Daniel is the best character the show has, and Fear the Walking Dead needs him moving forward. I know my interest in the show would drop substantially if he were to be removed from it.

Thankfully, Daniel is a badass for the ages, and a shot that appears to have gone into his chin and exited through his cheek proves to be a minor inconvenience for him that doesn't keep him out of the action in this episode, in which Proctor John (Ray McKinnon) and his followers conduct a deadly raid at Gonzalez Dam.

While I was glad to see Daniel continuing his fight, there were some disappointments regarding the fates of other characters, namely Lola Guerrero (Lisandra Tena) and Efraín Morales (Jesse Borrego), Daniel's companions at the dam. I liked those characters and wanted more from them, but unfortunately it's not to be. Just like this show doesn't like to stay in one location for too long, it also doesn't like to keep supporting characters around for too long. Efraín was such a good character when he was introduced back in 100, but the show never did much with him after that, and now 100 will always be his peak. It's a shame.

Sleigh Ride contains a good deal of action, with lots of shots being fired and a bunch of people dying. That action is broken up with a strange nightmare sequence focusing on Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) having a very twisted Christmas dinner. This was an unexpected element; when I sat down to watch this season three finale I did not think I was going to be watching an episode called Sleigh Ride and featuring Christmas decorations. I really could have done without the whole Christmas dream thing, but it added a touch of weirdness to the episode overall.

Season finales should usually have a big climax, and this one has a climax so spectacular that the budget was barely enough to pull off the required special effects. It begins with shootouts on the dam, Lola and Daniel whittling down the number of Proctor John's followers, soon aided in that endeavor by Qaletaqa Walker (Michael Greyeyes) and his sniper buddy "Crazy Dog" (Justin Rain), and it ends with Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) detonating the C4 the dam has been wired with. CGI crumbling and flooding ensues, and it was a bit odd in some shots but convincing enough.

As season three reaches its end, the fates of some characters are left up in the air. Daniel and Nick probably get away from the dam, Walker and "Crazy Dog" are heading north, we know Madison is okay. But where are Strand and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey)? We'll have to wait until season four rolls around next year to find out.

When Fear the Walking Dead returns to AMC, it will have new showrunners. Dave Erickson, the showrunner up to this point, is stepping down to focus on developing other projects. It will be interesting to see what the show will be like under new leadership. I have had a lot of issues with these first three seasons, so I'm open to seeing how others will handle the story and characters. However, I do have to say that Erickson is going out on top – season three was by far the strongest season Fear the Walking Dead has had to date. Friends of mine were majorly put off by the episodes they saw of seasons one and two, and I couldn't really defend the show when they would bash it. This season, though, I've had to tell them, "Fear the Walking Dead has actually been pretty good lately."

Hopefully it will be staying this good, and getting even better, with season four.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: There were no members of the "walking dead" to speak of in this episode, just arms rising from a grave in a nightmare sequence.

GORY GLORY: That nightmare sequence also provided the standout gore, with a severed head taking the place of Christmas dinner and the head's owner leaking blood all over the table.

FAVORITE SCENE: "Crazy Dog" sniping Proctor John's men, followed by Nick setting off the C4 and destroying Gonzalez Dam.


Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.