Fear the Walking Dead 616 – The Beginning
Warning: This review contains spoilers!
Season 6 of Fear the Walking Dead comes to an end in The Beginning. The journey towards the season finale has been an interesting one that was interrupted by Covid 19 and featured a change in story telling with a focus on anthologies. The results, particularly in the second half, have been good with some strong episodes and wonderful performances from the cast. Surprisingly, Luciana didn’t get to have her own episode and hopefully that will be corrected if this format is continued next season. Shocking character deaths and unexpected twists kept viewers off balance right up until the end. In The Beginning the pretzels are on fire with twists coming from all directions in an episode that pays homage to this season’s anthology roots albeit in quantum sized doses and with varying degrees of success.
The Beginning plays out like a long goodbye and bucket lists abound with the threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over everyone’s heads. The episode’s narrative structure returns to a familiar format with small segments devoted to individuals and groups of characters. Things kick off with Rachel, Isaac’s widow. She is trying to make her way to safety and gets injured while fixing a blown tire. Realizing that there is no way to save herself she sacrifices everything for her baby. Before she dies, she ties herself to her dog in the hope that somehow it will lead them to someone who can help her daughter.
Next up is Luciana’s crew. They have Riley and are looking for a bunker to shelter from the blast. Daniel hears a set of coordinates coming over the airwaves but he’s unsure of who the familiar voice belongs to. Racing against time the crew heads toward the bunker but encounter a problem with the SWAT vehicle’s brakes. Sarah jumps into action to start repairs as a horde of walkers close in on them. Daniel, doubting himself in recent weeks relies on his instincts and blows away Rollie who it turns out was working with Riley. Daniel finds some redemption by saving everyone and they continue in search of the location’s co-ordinates.
Dwight and Sherry seek shelter on horseback and find themselves holed up a nearby house. The time alone allows for some reflection until they’re confronted by the homeowners. Apparently, the couple and their daughter have been kicked out of their cellar by some of Teddy’s followers and have no place to hide from the missiles. Dwight and Sherry decide to help them out and realize that their good deed is something they should have done a long time ago. It’s also interesting to note that not everyone in Teddy’s doomsday cult has the same level of commitment as he does now that the missiles are raining down.
Regret can be contagious, and Dakota has contracted her share fair of it. She’s in the dumps for saving Morgan and even though he didn’t stop the missile launch he’s able to warn people of the impending doom. Dakota and Teddy are two peas in a sociopathic pod. While it can be argued that Teddy is manipulating Dakota past events suggest she’s his mini-me. John Dorie Sr. arrives to interrupt some creepy Teddy led PDA shattering an illusion that throws Dakota off guard. With June by his side, the Dories forgive Dakota and give her an offramp to begin anew. Dakota’s been looking for a place she belongs that will accept her for who she really is. Teddy’s “You complete me” shtick is effective but even Dakota starts to see the cracks when John reveals that Teddy has plans to wait out the nuclear blast in a secret bunker. Not sure who to believe Dakota begins to question herself and the fact she might have been wearing a mask all along, to cope with the hard knocks life has given her becomes a possibility.
The question of identity hits Strand as well. Chameleon-like since Fear’s first season, the only constant with Victor is that he looks after himself first. Over the years Madison and Alicia have tempered that stance but leopards don’t change their spots. Assuming Morgan’s identity while having one last bourbon with a stranger, Strand’s pride so overrides his sense of failure that even in these final moments he can’t admit the truth.
Grace, well versed in the effects of radiation, contemplates the inevitable. Unwilling to accept a future she doesn’t want she makes an appeal to Morgan. Heartfelt words are exchanged, and the result is a suicide pact between the two. Before they can go through with it, a baby’s cry can be heard. Thinking it may be Athena somehow calling out to them quickly melts away when reality sets in. The baby wailing over the intercom is Rachel’s being carried by her walkerized mother and led by the dog to the USS Pennsylvania.
The last ten minutes of The Beginning tries to wrap up the episode’s threads starting with a CRM helicopter picking up Daniel, Wes, Luciana, Charlie and Sarah. Daniel’s coordinates were correct and any doubts about him are erased when Al’s voice comes over the walkie. They are lifted to safety and the action shifts to the Dories and their standoff with Dakota. There’s no redemption for her nor is there for Strand. In perhaps his greatest moment in the series, he bares his soul and positions himself as a potential villain in whatever future awaits. The Beginning ends on a cliffhanger with Morgan, Grace and the baby’s fate in doubt when a second warhead detonates in the distance behind them.
There are so many questions leading into Season 7 and with The Walking Dead coming to an end next season the potential for crossovers abounds. Al is chilling in the CRM, Texas is the new Chernobyl and if a time jump is employed the timelines for both shows can connect. That could quickly bring viewers up to speed with what Alicia, Strand and the others have been up to since the end became the beginning.