One of the most polarizing TV shows is over, but were the meandering plots over the last five years worth it in the end?
For many fans, Fear the Walking Dead Season 3 was the end of the show because everything that came after was under new leadership that didn’t respect the storylines that came before.
I’ll give credit where credit’s due: The creatives wanted to go out by providing viewers whiplash, much like they’ve done over the last five seasons.
I’ve been wrestling with whether they brought these legendary characters back, only to destroy their legacies by giving them the worst storylines imaginable.
There’s been this half-baked feud between Madison and Troy that harkened back to Fear the Walking Dead Season 3, but in the end, the handling of their conflict has felt like awful fan fiction.
Troy has been focused on getting revenge on Madison in the past, but his motivations have been murky.
Tracy: Mom. She pulled loose. We need to tighten the ropes.
Troy: Oh, she’s fine. She’s not gonna hurt us. You know, when we get to PADRE, she’s gonna be the one to make Madison pay for everything she’s done. What’s wrong?
Tracy: Why does Mom have to kill Madison?
Troy: Well, you know why. She’s Alicia’s mother. She put the thinking in her head that got people killed. We can’t let what happened to Mom happen to anyone else.
Tracy: I know all that.
Troy: So, what’s wrong?
Troy: Your necklace?
Tracy: Victor said it belonged to Alicia. She… She killed Mom. Why would you want me to wear her necklace?
Troy: Do you know how many St. Christopher’s medallions there are?
Tracy: But Victor said…
Troy: Well, Victor’s mistaken. She gave it to me when she died. And she made me promise that I would give it to you to keep you safe. Which is what I’ve been doing ever since.
Every time we’ve gotten close to finding out who the true Troy is, something has happened to pull him away from that path.
There was genuine growth for both Madison and Troy when Crane returned as a last-minute villain.
If you watch Fear the Walking Dead online, you know Madison, June, and everyone else should have killed Crane instead of letting him run free.
In this universe, the villains you let away always return, sometimes stronger.
Victor: There was a time you’d have thanked me for such a thing.
Madison: Enough people have died because of me. I can’t put the rest of you at risk.
Victor: The rest is not that many, Madison.
Madison: What are you talking about?
Victor: It’s just me and our newly found friends of Alicia here. The rest retreated to the island to escape the herd. All of you should do the same.
Then again, he’d have probably returned from beyond the grave because, look at Troy. Madison bashed his brains in and let a dam explode on top of him, but somehow, he arrived with a kid and an army, determined for vengeance.
Troy has been portrayed as this one-dimensional pain in the butt throughout these final episodes, so hearing that he saved Madison and himself from a quick-sand-related death came out of the left field.
He’s been so driven by his quest for vengeance that he never stopped to think about whether there could be a period of resolve between him and Madison.
Madison did some terrible things to him, but he was no oil painting, either.
Victor: I can’t let you do this alone.
Madison: I’m in a tank loaded with ammo and guns. I don’t need anybody else.
Victor: Madison, please. It’s like I told you before, Victor… Unlike you, I don’t have anyone left to disappoint. I need to do this so you don’t have to. Then you can build PADRE into what Alicia would have wanted.
Victor: This won’t end well, Madison. You think it’ll just be this one thing. But then you’ll realize you can’t stop. I learned it the hard way. At the Tower. There was just always one more thing that I needed to do to keep it safe, and before I knew it, I was the thing people needed to be protected from. Please, Madison. There’s another way.
They’re both far more similar than they’d like to admit. They play predominantly in the grey area, making decisions that will win them haters and lovers.
Troy had seriously turned a corner when he saved Madison’s life, and it’s a real shame that we won’t get to witness that because Madison repaid him by killing him when he least expected it.
Had Troy been around for the entirety of Fear the Walking Dead Season 8, it would have been far easier to digest this ludicrous scene.
The sad part is that Troy’s death could have had such a significant impact, but because of the scattered nature of the storylines, he’s been on the periphery, even though he’s supposed to be this villain.
Madison has always been a difficult person to read because she’s thinking multiple steps ahead, and in her defense, she believed he killed her daughter, so there was no chance she would be interested in working with him.
Daniel: Madison! What did you do?
Madison: I’m done with second chances. Troy was right. That’s what got Alicia killed. That’s why I had to do this. If I didn’t, I’d be putting you all at risk. This is how we survive. This is how PADRE survives.
Troy: You have to fight f-for Tracy like you fought for Nick and Alicia.
Madison: Why would I do anything you say?
Troy: ‘Cause she’s not my daughter.
Madison: No. You said your wife was pregnant when Alicia helped you.
Troy: She was. But she died before the baby could be born.
Madison: No! If Serena’s not Tracy’s mother, who is?
Troy: Alicia. I-I took her child to make up for what I lost.
Would Troy and Madison have been able to co-exist in the same environment? It’s doubtful, but it would have been far more watchable than we got.
Saying goodbye to someone we barely reconnected with didn’t land well, but at least Troy was on hand to throw in the little nugget about Tracy being Alicia’s daughter.
Ever since Tracy was shown in pre-season material with Alicia’s necklace, it was almost like AMC, and the creatives were dangling it like a carrot in front of us.
Alicia: I’m not here to hurt anyone.
Tracy: Keep your hands up and move slowly towards the tent.
Alicia: You can put the gun down. I’m just here to bury my… Mom?
Truthfully, it raised more questions than answers, but I’m happy it was a ploy from Troy to prevent Madison from killing Tracy in the end because this family connection made zero sense.
It felt like all the emotional weight was put on Antonella Rose during these final episodes as Tracy’s storyline came into focus.
In the end, though, these revelations about Alicia gave Madison this urge to find her daughter’s corpse and save what was left of PADRE so that there was a future for people like Tracy.
Even though the writing has been painfully bad, the series has always had better visuals than its parent series, and that was on full display as Madison led the horde into PADRE to blow it up and save many of the people she barely knew.
Madison: I just can’t believe it’s real.
Alicia: It is. I promise you, it is. You okay?
Madison: I will be. What is that?
Alicia: That is a very old friend I came across searching a warehouse for supplies. Trying to return him to his rightful owner.
Madison: How did you find us?
Alicia: A story. About a woman who sacrificed herself here. And the person who told me said her name was Madison. And it didn’t make any sense, and I didn’t know how you could possibly be alive… but I had to be sure. I saw the fort over there. How are you still here?
Madison: Your daughter. She came back. She saved me.
Alicia: What are you talking about?
Madison: Tracy. She’s the child that Troy took from you.
Alicia: I never had a kid.
Tracy: You’re not my mom?
Alicia: No, I’m… I’m not, but I knew your mom when you were a baby. Her name was Serena. She was a pretty amazing woman. I don’t understand why Troy would lie about something like that.
Tracy: He knew how hard you fought for your own kids. He wanted to give you a reason to fight for me.
Madison: You said you heard a story about me. From who?
Alicia: I’ve been picking up radio chatter on the road. I think their route runs by here.
Madison: You know I would’ve come looking for you if I knew you were alive.
Alicia: I would’ve come looking for you, too. I never would’ve stopped. After Troy attacked me, after I got back on my feet, I went to find the people I’d been staying with. And I saw something on the road, these women that dressed like me, they used weapons I was using, they were doing the things that I was doing. They were helping people.
Madison: We met some of them.
Alicia: Yeah. It’s like the story of what I’d done was doing more good than I could on my own. And so I went somewhere else. I… started using a different name so Troy couldn’t find me. If I hadn’t have done that, maybe we would’ve found each other.
Madison: You made the right choice. You gave all those people something to believe in.
The parallels to Fear the Walking Dead Season 4 didn’t go unnoticed, and it’s hard not to feel like Madison should have perished this time because this woman keeps cheating death.
My ideal ending would find Madison awakening from a coma, a la Rick Grimes, only this time it would have been after the events of the Stadium, and everything after has been a dream.
It would have been a great way to play with expectations and reintroduce characters we’ve lost and for the show to undo some of the irreparable damage done to the characters we know and love.
These last five seasons have definitely been a fever dream, and I did pinch myself when Alicia showed up, alive and well, after battling radiation poisoning, an attempt from her life from Troy, and everything in between.
I was resigned to Alycia Debnam-Carey not returning as Alicia because it seemed out of the realm of possibility, but it was pretty darn satisfying seeing the mother-and-daughter reunion.
Madison thought Alicia was dead and vice-versa, so knowing that they’ll be back out in this undead world together gives me the hope that they’ll land somewhere safe they can call home.
The decision to send them (and Tracy!) to Los Angeles was stupid, mainly because we witnessed its destruction several years ago in the series.
What do they hope to find in a place long cut off from society? It would have been far better for Alicia to have been in contact with Morgan, who told her about the Commonwealth.
It’s a real shocker that Morgan wasn’t used even as a plot device in the series finale because it was his show for so long.
It’s hard to tell what will become of Alicia, Madison, and Tracy, but I hope that if they return, it’s on one of the newer spinoffs because those shows have been creatively stronger.
Strand’s conclusion of having a husband and son and hitting the road after seeing Alicia and Madison reuniting didn’t land as well as I expected.
Dove: What direction you headed?
June: Uh, there’s a cabin in Texas I want to visit. Someone there I… haven’t seen in a while.
Dove: You want company?
June: It’s far.
Dove: It’s okay. Gives you time to teach me.
June: Teach you what?
Dove: Medicine. What you did for me when I got shot… I want to learn how to do the same for other people.
June: We’re going to the right place, then.
Dove: Um, why’s that?
June: The cabin belonged to my husband. It’s where I met him. It’s where he taught me to shoot… to survive… To live again. If he can do that for me there, maybe I can do the same for you… Odessa.
Strand has been one of the wildest characters in franchise history because you never know what he will do next, but it would have been interesting to see him reunite with everyone.
Madison’s decision to allow everyone to think she died so that they would continue to be better people was something, but I don’t see it lasting for very long.
Alicia bringing back Skidmark was hilarious because that kitty has survived zombies, radiation, and everything else. They should have called it plot armor.
The best part is that Daniel got some semblance of happiness after so many years of struggling to exist on the road.
Dwight and Sherry returning to the Sanctuary to turn it into a sanctuary for people on the road was a mind-numbing development, but hey, turning the place of their trauma into a place of healing might be therapeutic.
If this happened on Fear the Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 9, it would have been far more satisfying because this random epiphany from Dwight came out of the left field.
The only good part is that Dwight and Sherry are together after everything they’ve endured.
June’s ending was the worst, unfortunately. Jenna Elfman has had some great material to work with, but she was mostly sidelined throughout the final season.
June going on the road with Dove to return to her old home could have been far more interesting if these people had aspirations of parting earlier in the season.
At the end of the finale, much of it felt like a rush job to bring closure to a show that very clearly got canceled at the last minute.
Dwight: I was thinking of The Sanctuary.
Dwight: We… We could take everybody there.
Sherry: D… Why would you want to go back there?
Dwight: Bec… Because we know it, it’s defensible. The streets are still intact. Sherry: Oh, my. I lost you to that place before, D. I can’t lose you again.
Dwight: Hey. You’re not gonna lose me again. We are family. I mean, maybe… maybe we can take that place and… and… and make it worthy of its name.
Sherry: I don’t know.
Dwight: It’ll make Finch proud.
Sherry: Okay. Okay, let’s try.
It’s a surprise the show didn’t tie in more closely with any other shows in the franchise because I always thought many would cross paths with people in the spinoffs.
Unfortunately, it seems like AMC wants to close the door on this show because it’s been running on fumes for years.
What are your thoughts on the series finale?
Were you satisfied after years of meandering storytelling?
Hit the comments.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on X.