Spoilers through Season 4 of ‘The Walking Dead’ follow.
Sunday night’s episode ofÂ Fear The Walking DeadÂ was shocking and tragic, and I’m not at all sure I’m happy about it.
While I still think the show is incredible compared toÂ The Walking Dead,Â and that ‘Good Out Here’ was by and large an excellent episode, I’m very concerned that the big character death will make the show worse, not better. LikeÂ The Walking Dead’sÂ decision to kill Glenn,Â Fear The Walking Dead’sÂ decision to kill Nick is only going to make the rest of the show suffer.
Character deaths can be a good thing. Sometimes a character reaches the end of their story. Sometimes they sacrifice themselves. Sometimes it’s just bad luck but it works.
Nick’s death was handled pretty well. It was quick, sudden, unbelievably tragic. But it came long before Nick’s story had reached any kind of satisfying conclusion. He died mid-arc, without a chance to fully explore his character. Perhaps just as tragically, he never had a chance to develop a meaningful relationship with Morgan, something this episode was hinting at pretty strongly. That’s a real shame, as Frank Dillane and Lennie Jones had an obvious rapport and real chemistry as actors.
I’m going to go into more detail on all of this in a separate post, but right now I’m just shaking my head in disappointment. While the death of Travis in the very beginning of Season 3 was surprising in a similar way—what kind of show kills off a main protagonist at the outset of a season?—this time around the death makes less sense and, in some ways at least, merely repeats the same trick (though Nick will be around in the near-past timeline still, weirdly.)
So what to make of the rest of the episode? It’s almost hard to talk about given how huge and series-changing the death at the end was. Let’s see…
Althea proved that she’s a badass, taking Nick hostage momentarily, causing the SWAT van to drive off the road and into a ditch. The tables are suddenly turned and Morgan, Althea and John take Luciana, Strand, Nick and Alicia hostage.
They let them go soon enough—all but Nick, that is. Morgan stays with him while the others go to find a truck to tow the van out with. Althea makes it clear that she’s not out for revenge, but she does want their stories. She’s pretty determined to document the apocalypse. I dig it.
We get some good moments throughout. John asks Luciana if she loved Nick when she left him the first time and seems reassured when she says yes. He’s thinking about his own missing love, Laura, and takes solace in the notion that a woman can leave and still love a man.
The best moments were with Nick and Morgan. Morgan lets Nick go almost immediately and Nick watches Althea’s interview with him on her video camera while Morgan practices with his staff on the road. Later, when Nick sees the blue El Camino drive by, Morgan chases after him and rescues him from walkers. He even tries to stop him from killing the Vulture who, we discover, is Charlie’s adoptive father/protector/mentor.
We don’t learn entirely why Nick hates this person so much. There must be more to that story. But we do know that he almost killed him before. Morgan tells Nick that killing him won’t work out for him the way he thinks. Truer words were never spoken. Charlie’s bullet was revenge, plain and simple. If Nick hadn’t killed the Vulture, he’d still be alive.
We also get some flashbacks with Nick and Madison leaving the diamond to go out scavenging. The Vultures seem content to let them go. They don’t intervene except to go scavenge better, getting to the supplies just moments before Nick and Madison arrive. All these flashbacks made me think we were about to learn that Madison was dead.
I guess that’s not the case. OrÂ mightÂ not be the case. Madison could still be dead. The way Nick was looking at those blue bonnets made me think she was dead, and it’s certainly still a possibility. He’s angry over something, after all. Or, rather, heÂ wasÂ angry over something.
Now he’s dead.
I will give the writers and showrunners credit for surprising us. I will give them credit for not toying with us the wayÂ The Walking DeadÂ always does. No drawn out “death episode” like we got with Carl. No silly cliffhanger. Nick straight up dies on camera. One minute he’s breathing, the next minute he’s bleeding out, gurgling blood as Alicia wails above him and Luciana stares in shock.
Morgan shakes his head.Â I lose people, then I lose myself.Â He had just given Nick his book,Â The Art Of Peace.Â He had just told Nick they could talk about anything. He had just finally opened up to somebody. And now all of that is gone. As a viewer, this makes me really sad. It was done well. Shocking but not senseless. Nick killed and was killed for it. We didn’t see it coming.
It still sucks.
In any case,Â let me knowÂ onÂ TwitterÂ orÂ FacebookÂ what you thought of this rather shocking episode. Was it Nick’s time to go or will he be sorely missed? Or can both these things be true? Whatever the case, do you agree that this show is unflinching when it comes to surprising us in ways that aren’t actually deeply manipulative and crappy. (Ahem,Â TWD.)