Madison and her family can’t catch a break on Fear the Walking Dead. In the season 3 finale, titled “Things Bad Begun”/”Sleigh Ride,” yet another group threatens the dam, where Madison has taken up shelter with Daniel and Strand. But what role does Strand play in the impending attack? And what is Alicia’s connection to the new threat?

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Warning at the Dam

After his mother leaves, Nick starts working for El Matarife, harvesting walker heads so he can take the brain stems out to sell to the proctors. El Matarife says the proctors need them to stay energized, as they are gearing up for something big. Troy sees the proctors gearing up and gains information from them. He then grabs Nick and says that the proctors are planning to attack the dam and that Madison is in trouble.

Nick and Troy get to the dam and warn them about what’s coming. There’s a difference of opinion on what to do. Eventually, Daniel agrees that they should use some explosives to keep the proctors out. Troy says he will help set them up, but Daniel doesn’t trust him. Madison vouches for him, and the pair starts to set up the explosives, though Strand urges Madison and Nick to leave.

An Interrogation and a Betrayal

While Madison and Troy are setting up the explosives, Strand finds Nick and once again urges him to leave. Nick asks him what’s going on. Strand confesses that he made a deal with Proctor John to let the proctors take over the dam. He explains that the proctors are going to take over the land between there and the Gulf Coast, and he’s supposed to facilitate the takeover by “unlocking the door” of the dam. In exchange, when the group moves on, he will hold the dam in their name. Part of the deal is to let Madison, Nick and Alicia live. Nick is appalled, but Strand says the proctors were coming either way. He says now that Daniel knows they are coming, the deal could be off.

Despite Strand telling Nick to keep quiet about the deal and just leave, Nick goes to find Madison in her room. Daniel is there instead, and he interrogates Nick to find out who led the horde of walkers to the ranch. He believes it’s Troy, but Nick manages to convince him that Jake was the leader of the walkers. Eventually, Daniel lets Nick go.

Nick heads down to get Madison to leave. She and Troy are having an awkward exchange as Troy talks about the past few weeks at the ranch and asks if they are “good.” When Nick arrives, Troy tells Madison that he led the horde of walkers to the ranch. It doesn’t take long for Madison to kill Troy before she and Nick try to get out of harm’s way.

An Infiltration

Lola and Daniel realize the water is running the wrong way, allowing the entrance to be unprotected. Strand walks in on them to make sure they don’t ruin his plans. He threatens to kill Daniel but can’t. Instead, they struggle over the gun and Daniel gets shot in the face. Strand allows Daniel and Lola to run off, though.

While everything is going on at the dam, Alicia and her new friend Diana head to the trading post. Before they get there, someone crashes into their truck and attacks them. Alicia manages to scare the group off but not before Diana breaks her leg. Alicia gets her medical attention at the trading post, where the man, Eddie, treating her asks Alicia to assist him on a surgery he has to perform.

Eddie brings Alicia to meet Proctor John, who has a growth on his spine that Eddie needs to remove. He wants Alicia there to distract him from the pain and the surgery. She does a good job, and he wants her to go with him on their mission to take over the dam.

Back at the dam, the proctors have infiltrated, and Nick and Madison haven’t gotten out yet. Strand goes to find them and puts them in a safe place until he can figure out a plan to get them out safely. Along the way, Strand tells one of the proctors that Lola and Daniel are dead, even though they are not.

As they arrive at the dam, Proctor John can see that things are not going according to plan. He yells at Strand, who is waiting on the dock for him. As he goes in to assess the situation, Alicia manages to ask Strand where her mother and Nick are. He assures her they are safe.

Later, John asks Alicia how she knows Strand. He reveals to Alicia that the original deal was to protect Madison; however, that deal is now off the table. Alicia makes a new deal to stay with him on his journey if Madison’s life is spared.

In their safe room, Nick keeps asking Madison questions about when she’s going to stop killing and if she wants him dead too. Their conversation is interrupted by Strand, who has uniforms for them to wear so they can walk out inconspicuously. He tells them that Alicia is there and that he couldn’t kill Daniel. As they walk over the dam bridge, Lola comes out and opens fire on everyone, which leads John to kill her.

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The Clarks Get Separated — Again

John gathers everyone together to find out what is going on. He allows Alicia to reunite with her mother. One of the proctors remembers Nick from the trading post, so they ask where Troy is. Nick reveals that Madison killed Troy. All of this is too much information for John, so he decides he wants to kill all of the Clarks and Strand, and everyone heads back out on the dam bridge.

John allows everyone to say goodbye one last time, and Nick gives Strand a long hug goodbye. Strand then reveals that he has one more play against John — the explosives lining the dam walls. However, Nick took the detonator from Strand, so now he holds the power. He demands that Madison, Alicia and Strand get on a boat and leave. John says they can go after them, but Nick says he’s not negotiating, as this is his suicide note. The three leave, and John starts to question if the detonator is even real. Then he tries to convince Nick to work together at the dam. Nick isn’t having any of it, as he watches to make sure his family is far enough away from the bridge.

As Nick goes to set off the explosives, shots are fired from far away. It turns out Taqa and Crazy Dog stuck close by to make sure things went okay at the dam. They buy some time, but Nick is determined to set off the explosives. This time, as he tries to set them off, Daniel arrives and starts shooting everyone on the bridge. But Nick sets off the explosives anyway.

Everyone scatters to safety, and Daniel grabs Nick before the bridge can collapse. At least, it looks that way. Meanwhile, Taqa and Crazy Dog watch as the boat that Madison, Alicia and Strand are in starts getting pulled back into the floodwaters, but there’s not much they can do. Eventually, Madison manages to make it to the surface and to land, but we have no idea where she is, as everyone around her are strangers and gathering water along the banks.

A Clark Christmas Nightmare

In the first part of the season 3 finale, “Things Bad Begun,” Madison mentions to Strand that she thought she could have a life at the ranch with her family, perhaps have Christmas dinner again in the future. In the second half of the finale, “Sleigh Ride,” we get a glimpse of what that dinner could look like — or, rather, the nightmare it could become. At first, we see Madison preparing dinner as Nick arrives with Luciana and their child. Madison heads outside to greet them, as they pay respects to Alicia’s gravesite. They drive off without staying, upsetting Alicia.

Later, Alicia dreams again of the same Christmas dinner, except this time the table is filled with people she’s met along the way — some dead, some still alive, including Taqa and Strand, as well as Jake, Troy and Jeremiah. When she presents dinner, though, Jeremiah’s head is on the plate, and then things get bloody and weird. Strand leaves the table, and Madison runs outside after him. However, she’s surrounded by a bunch of tombstones.

Finally, as Madison is underwater after the dam explosion, she envisions herself at the Christmas ranch again, as she pays her respects to Jeremiah at his gravesite. Hands come from the ground and pull her under. However, she’s pulled back up by Travis.

Madison is clearly struggling with all of the lives she’s taken since running from Los Angeles with her family. And perhaps the Christmas scene is also foreshadowing how she won’t ever be together with her family anymore, as they always manage to get separated. And now with her washing up in a completely new city, we have no idea where Alicia, Strand or Nick ended up — or if they are even alive. I imagine everyone is still alive, as Nick and Alicia are very good on their own. In fact, I think they are better off without Madison trying to rein them in all the time. And Strand and Daniel are probably alive too because they’re also survivalists and manage to always get themselves out of sticky situations. Hell, Daniel survived the massive fire he set himself.

What did you think of the two-part season 3 finale of Fear the Walking Dead? Are you surprised that the Clarks are separated again? Do you think the separation is better for everyone? Where do you want to see the Clarks end up? And what did you think of the crazy Clark Christmas? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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(Image courtesy of AMC)


Contributing Writer, BuddyTV