Fear the Walking Dead completed the first half of its third season Sunday night. It was a highly flawed (Colman Domingo's Victor Strand is on a different show these days) but fitfully interesting (that Spanish-language episode) half-season that started with the death of a major character (Travis Manawa, played by Cliff Curtis) and ended with a tighter focus than ever on Madison Clark (Kim Dickens), the show's whatever-it-takes antihero who now may be the leader of the survivalist remnants of the Broke Jaw Ranch.
Speaking of which, we have questions about Madison's leadership, as well as four more left unanswered by the midseason finale.
1. So they just get to keep the ranch now?
The antagonist of the second half of Part 1 was Qaletaqa Walker (Michael Greyeyes), the leader of a Native American tribe whose reservation is near Jeremiah Otto's (Dayton Callie) Broke Jaw Ranch. Walker believed that Otto had stolen the land from his people, and much of the action this half-season was about Walker's attempts to reclaim the ranch from the Ottos. Otto murdered Walker's father and uncle, and much of Walker's antagonism was driven by a thirst for revenge. So when Nick (Frank Dillane) popped a cap in Otto's dome and Madison delivered his head in a bag, Alfredo Garcia-style, Walker was basically like, "Thanks bro, we're good now." The war is over, and Broke Jaw's survivors get to stay on the ranch.
This doesn't seem right, since Walker was on a single-minded quest to take back what he felt belonged to his tribe. It seems like he's admitting defeat. Otto is dead, but there are still white people living on his tribe's land. Being pacified by the severed head of the man he hates feels like a cop-out. Perhaps cutting his losses and accepting the death of his main enemy is a better option than continuing a war, and he knows he'll be able to have reasonable relations with Madison and Jake (Sam Underwood). But the whole thing feels unsatisfactory, and Walker could probably win if he decides to restart the fight.
2. Who's the new enemy?
With Otto dead and Walker pacified, Fear needs a new antagonist to emerge. The most likely contender is Troy Otto (Daniel Sharman), Jeremiah's violent, unstable younger son. Troy lost his temper and massacred the Trimbol family, and there's no reason to think he won't lose his mind when disrespected again. Plus, he has tense relations with all three Clarks and his brother Jake. There's probably going to be a power struggle between Sam and Troy that will also split the Clarks, with Madison backing/manipulating Troy and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) backing Jake (Nick could go either way; he's always a wild card). The audience won't be on Troy's side, because Troy is a savage. There's a bit of Governor (David Morrissey) in him, not least his eye injury.
However, we still haven't met Emma Caulfield, who was cast back in February for a mystery role. We still don't know who the Buffy alum is playing, but there's an opening for a bad guy in the back half of Season 3 that someone's gonna have to fill. [CORRECTION: Caulfield appeared briefly in the episode "TEOTWAWKI" as Jeremiah Otto's wife in an old recruitment video. We regret the error.]
3. What are they gonna do with Strand?
Strand has been stranded in his own story, almost entirely disconnected from the rest of the show for most of Season 3. He had that brief interlude where he linked up with Salazar (Rubén Blades) to travel back to the hotel, but then Salazar left him to die when he realized Strand had lied and Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) was gone. He didn't become a Mexican water baron like he intended, but after escaping the hotel he made it back to his boat The Abigail, where he seemed ready to die until a WTF radio conversation with a Russian cosmonaut gave him an idea that started with setting the boat on fire. We don't know what he's up to, but he's always up to something.
The thing about Strand now, though, is that the show has no reason to follow him anymore. He's still a good character, but he's completely disconnected. He's all alone in a separate location with no family, and family is the animating force of Fear the Walking Dead. The show is either going to have to find a way to get him back with the Clarks — the only family that matters — or kill him off.
4. Where is Salazar?
The previously long-lost survivor has gone missing again after leaving Strand behind at the hotel. Well, semi-missing. He's out there somewhere, we just haven't seen him in awhile, and we don't know exactly what he's doing. Presumably he's still looking for Ofelia. Perhaps he's heading to Santa Fe, where she was going before she linked up with Walker. But he might be heading back to the dam, since he seems to care about the people there, and if he's given up on Ofelia, which he may have, those are his people now.
5. When does it come back?
The second half of the season doesn't yet have a premiere date. The midseason finale came exactly one week before the premiere of Game of Thrones, an enormous show that Fear can't really compete with attention-wise. It wouldn't be a surprise if it returns Sept. 3, one week after Game of Thrones wraps its seven-episode season. But we'll find out soon enough.