"Eye of the Beholder" was written by Dave Erickson and directed by Adam Bernstein. "The New Frontier" was written by Mark Richard and directed by Stefan Schwartz
Major spoilers ahead for "Eye of the Beholder/The New Frontier" because hey ... it's a TV Recap.
The Short Version: In this two-hour premiere, the season opens with the family being captured by militia men, with a young psychopath named Troy in charge. It seems Troy and his men are capturing people, weighing them and then killing them to see how long it takes for them to turn into walkers. Troy's brother, Jake, arrives to save the family, and they are reunited. But when walkers overrun the compound, the family is separated again, with Nick and Madison on a truck and Travis, Alicia and the injured Luciana on a helicopter headed toward the Militia ranch.
In the second episode, one of the vehicles is attacked, leaving a member of the family's life hanging in the balance. Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Strand claims to be a doctor to stop the hotel from being overrun.
"Eye of the Beholder" - The Good: Kicking ass, a major death, and a new group
In Fear The Walking Dead's Season 3 premiere we got two episodes to drag us back into the series, which has been interesting, but not as exciting and compelling as the parent show. In the two episodes the family is captured, reunited and then ripped apart again. But most importantly, there's a major death that will change everything for them.
In "Eye of the Beholder," we see Madison, Travis and Alicia being taken by militia men to a compound, where the ladies are separated from Travis. The young man in charge is Troy, who is more than a little crazy and seems interested in Madison and Alicia because they are Americans. However, Travis, who probably isn't quite white enough for Troy, ends up with other captives, who are being weighed and killed to test how long it takes them to become walkers. Travis sees Nick there with an injured Luciana, and they, along with another prisoner, start to plot their escape.
Meanwhile, Madison and Alicia are being held in an office with Troy bringing them tea. He wants them to come with him to his home base, the Broke Jaw Ranch, which he promises is safe. When Madison can't get a straight answer out of Troy about whether Travis is alive, the ladies realize they need to escape too.
Among the captives, Nick is chosen to be killed next, but Travis takes his place and attacks the guards with the help of Nick and the other prisoners. They escape, except for Travis, who gets recaptured and thrown in a walker pit. Travis, who's been one of the weaker characters, embraces his inner hero and risks his life for Nick and Alicia and kicks butt in the walker pit.
Meanwhile, the ladies jump Troy, with badass Madison shoving a spoon into one of his eyes and demanding to be taken to Travis. Alicia runs off and tries to find a vehicle. Instead she finds Nick and Luciana in some sort of underground section of the compound, being attacked by walkers. She helps them escape.
While Travis is fighting for his life in the walker pit, Madison holds Troy hostage with a spoon in his eye until she's surrounded and talked down by Troy's not-so-crazy brother Jake, who promises he'll help Madison get her family back. The family is reunited just as walkers overrun the compound, and Nick and Madison end up in a truck separated from Travis, Alicia and Luciana, who escape in a helicopter. Both vehicles head off to the ranch.
"Eye of the Beholder" - The Bad: Yep, scoop that psycho's eye out and stupid death #1
Obviously, the episode's title has more than a little to do with Madison's spoon attack on Troy. While I loved Madison's attack, the Troy character is a lesser Governor so far. Why did Troy order his men to kill Nick's group of women and children, and why did they obey? Do none of them care about crossing big boss Jeremiah, who might not have approved?
While there may be some big secret that Jeremiah and his survivalists have, Troy's actions don't make a lot of sense. There needs to be some reasoning other than "Let's just kill a lot of people." So if Troy doesn't make sense soon, hopefully Madison will scoop out his other eye.
As far as the family's escaping, there were a couple of issues. Both escapes happened through surprise attacks by Madison and Travis. You just would have thought the bad guys would have watched TV at some point and expected the good guys to attempt an escape.
As for Madison and Alicia's office prison, they spent hours trying to find a weapon and couldn't. They could have punched a hole in the wall, broken a window or whacked Troy over the head with a book.
And then there's stupid death #1. One of the bad guys is leaving a building so they can take off and go to the ranch. But then he hears something in the walls. Rather than just keep walking -- after all it's not like he's going to hang around -- he investigates and takes a grate off the wall. Dozens of rats pour out of the hole, followed by walkers. While the bad guy obviously deserved it and it was fun to watch his head bend like a pretzel as he got pulled through the wall by walkers, it was so extremely stupid.
"The New Frontier" - The Good: Goodbye Travis, Jeremiah's world, and Fear's Rick
In the second episode, the helicopter is shot at from the ground and Travis is hit in the neck and stomach. Dying, and knowing what he'll turn, Travis opens the helicopter door and takes off his seat belt. As he starts to fall back out of the helicopter, Alicia grabs him, but then lets him fall.
This is the first major death Fear the Walking Dead has had, and Travis' death does what deaths in The Walking Dead universe do best: cause lots of drama for the remaining characters. While initially in the first season it seems like Travis might end up being the "Rick" of this series, it fairly quickly was established that the main character who would keep people alive was Madison. She's the one who's willing to do whatever it takes to save her family.
While Madison and Nick end up at the ranch, a survivalist's compound led by Troy's father, Jeremiah Otto, Troy leaves mother and son outside the gates and tells his father his side of things. Jeremiah, a practical man who knows his son might not always be telling the truth, lets Madison and Nick into the ranch and gives them lodging.
Meanwhile, at the hotel, Strand stops outsiders at the gate from overrunning them by telling them he's a doctor and that they'll all be treated and get a room. He fakes being a doctor, but then he has to deliver a baby, something that terrifies him and gives him hope.
Elsewhere, the helicopter is damaged and doesn't make it to the ranch. Jake, Charlene the pilot, Alicia and the injured Luciana will have to walk the rest of the way. However, while waiting for morning Charlene is killed by walkers as Alicia saves Jake's life. They carry the injured Luciana to the ranch the next day, where Troy is ready to kill her, thinking she's going to die anyway and become a walker. Nick stops him and demands that they help Luciana. Jeremiah agrees to help "if she has a pulse."
At the hotel, the hotel people tell Strand that he has to leave, because his doctor lie will eventually be discovered. But before he goes he takes some food to the woman who stabbed him. She thanks him for taking care of her walker daughter and apologizes for stabbing him. Then she gives him keys to a car and jumps out of the window. Strand finds the very cool car, which is "my style and my color."
Back at the ranch, Madison learns the terrible truth from Alicia that Travis is dead, and she is devastated. During a chat with Jeremiah, who comes off as a Hershel-esque leader of his people, he asks her if she's a danger to herself or anyone else. Madison honestly replies, "Well, I'd say it's too soon to tell, wouldn't you?"
While Madison may be having trouble dealing with the loss of Travis, her kids are alive, and they are all together. She tells them that they're going to stay and make the ranch their home. And if they have to, they'll take it over. Yep, you've got to love Madison.
"The New Frontier" - The Bad: Annoying Troy, hotel hell, and stupid death #2
Episode Two brings more Troy annoyance. While I'm loving Jeremiah, and actor Dayton Callie is a treasure, Troy is another story. Everyone stands around while Troy gets ready to blow Luciana's brains out without anyone checking to see what kind of shape she's actually in. Nick, of course, isn't having any of that and pulls a gun on Troy, threatening to shoot him in the head if they don't take care of Luciana. It's pretty obvious that Nick and Troy will come to blows at some point, but it would be nice if Troy actually had a reason for doing what he's doing.
As for the Strand story at the hotel, the hotel people were never very distinctive or interesting. Goodbye, hotel people. It's doubtful they'll live very long, so it's a good thing Strand is getting out.
And then there's stupid death #2. When the helicopter is shot down, Jake, Charlene the pilot, Alicia and the seriously injured Luciana are stuck camping overnight. So of course they build a fire to insure walkers will be drawn to them. Jake and Charlene also decide that they need to trade off on guard duty, so Charlene takes the first shift and promptly heads off into the dark for some unknown reason. Almost instantly she's in trouble, which puts Jake in trouble, and Alicia has to save him. Note to Fear the Walking Dead characters ... don't go off in the dark for no reason other than to be eaten by walkers. It's just a stupid way to die.
The big new question has to do with the Militia people and whether they have any ulterior motives. There sure don't seem to be a lot of non-white people hanging around the Broke Jaw Ranch, so it will be really interesting to see if Strand pops up at some point. Regardless, it doesn't bode well for the militia crew, considering Madison and family have been bad news for pretty much any group they've run into.
The other big question is who shot at the helicopter? There have been hints that the Militia group will end up going up against another group. Could they be the shooters?
The one character who hasn't gotten much screen time over the last few episodes is Ofelia. When last we saw her, she ran into Jeremiah before we knew it was Jeremiah. So where is she? And in other Ofelia news, we do know that her dad, Salazar, will be returning to the series at some point, too.
And then there's Madison. When Jeremiah goes to talk with Madison at the end of the second episode, she's throwing up. Could she be pregnant? While she might be sick because she just learned Travis died, it's almost an unwritten rule that when a woman of childbearing age throws up on a TV show, that means she's pregnant.
Finally, on the Strand front, he tells the lady who stabbed him that he has in mind a place to go. Where does Strand want to go? Probably not the Broke Jaw Ranch. At least not on purpose.
Lines of the Night:
"I never said I'm sorry, but I am. I'm so sorry. But I'm here. Your family's here." - Madison to Travis
"Listen, we are not breaking bread today with the people who tried to kill us yesterday." - Nick
"You should be thanking me for saving you. De nada, asshole." - Strand
"This is the safest place to live in a world gone mad. Most people would be damn grateful for being here. I had an idea you might be too. Was I wrong?" - Jeremiah
"Last night they brought in this girl in labor. I delivered a baby. It was truly terrifying. Yeah, holding that baby I felt if this child lives, it'd be a new generation, a new generation that might give us a reason to hope." - Strand
Best Line of the Night:
"You asked me if I had a plan, Nick ... It was the right question. We're going to stay here. We're going to make it our home. Even if we have to take it over ... It's our fate. We suffered to get here. Travis died getting here. We have to accept it to be stronger." - Madison
Next week's episode, "TEOTWAWKI," is written by Ryan Scott. It means "The End Of The World As We Know It," and you can find out all about it in Jeremiah's video series right here: