Have you been feeling like Fear the Walking Dead’s first season played out more slowly than you anticipated? “The Good Man” heard you. Were you disappointed by the lack of walkers in the last few episodes? “The Good Man” heard you. And were you disappointed while couch quarterbacking Travis through the zombie apocalypse as he seemed to just let things happen around him? “The Good Man” definitely heard you.
Yes, the finale to Fear the Walking Dead’s first season felt almost engineered to respond to the problems many viewers have had about the show. And if you were a fan of the show’s pace or its walker-free outings (which, in many respects, I was), “The Good Man” offered an exciting change of pace that leaves the characters we know going into season 2 in practically a different emotional and physical world from where they began.
So let’s start with the title, “The Good Man.” (You could make a case for several characters being referred to and what place, if any, a good man has in this apocalypse. I’ll be focusing on Travis, as a few of the finale’s biggest, key moments seem centered around his development.) All season, Travis has been trying to do what he thought was good or right, believing things would get better, even if that meant not taking the actions viewers, who have much more experience with this zombie apocalypse, would want. It’s created an inherent frustration to the character, even after his most self-aware moment with Doug in “Not Fade Away,” when he told the fellow father to promise his family their predicament would improve because that was his job as a father.
“The Good Man” sees Travis again trying to do what he believes to be right, but he pays the price for one intended act of nobility and is forced to reckon with that decision. Before touching on that climactic and brutal moment, let’s back up to Travis and his family at the start of “Man.”
The entire family is packing up to leave now that they know the soldiers’ intentions. They’ll follow the original plan and head east, but first, they’re going to make a pit stop and pick up Liza, Nick, and Griselda (who they still believe is alive at this time). But they have an extra number among their ranks — Andy the soldier, currently tied and bound in the basement — who Daniel plans to kill now and be done with him before they leave.
But Andy makes a deal: He’s the only one who can help them navigate the military compound they’re heading to, and he’ll do exactly that for them if they keep him alive. Daniel agrees, but Andy knows it’s a temporary solution to a persistent problem, as he explains to Travis. Daniel is going to kill him. It’s an inevitability so long as he remains in their group, so he strikes another deal: If Travis lets him go, he’ll tell the desperate father everything he needs to know about making it through the compound and finding their family members.
Travis wants to be a good man. He wants as little death in this deadly world as possible, particularly if it’s a death he can prevent. So he lets Andy go, though the rest of the group only discovers his absence once they’ve reached the compound. And by then, all hell has broken loose. Daniel the Walker Whisperer leads an arena full of walkers to the military base startling the few guards on patrol at the gates. The guards begin unleashing a storm of bullets on the walkers, but it’s like hitting a T. rex made up of dozens of mini T. rexes with a rock. There are hundreds of walkers approaching the base, and it’s only a matter of time before they break through.
But they prove a more-than-sufficient distraction for the guards while Travis and co. make their plan in the nearby parking area. (If you doubted how far Daniel was willing to go to save his loved ones even after he tortured the soldier in love with his daughter, let his willingness to kill an entire base with the undead put those doubts to rest.) Chris and Alicia will stay behind with the car, and though Daniel is furious about Andy being let go, there’s little he can do about it now. So they proceed with the plan and break into the facility.
The easiest part of the plan goes awry, however, when Chris and Alicia’s “wait and see” mission is scrapped with the arrival of a few soldiers. Everyone is fleeing the base, and a group of soldiers are looking for an escape vehicle. They break into the car and demand the keys from the two teens. Chris refuses at first, and one of the soldiers makes creepy advances on Alicia after she hands over the keys. It’s enough to send the stepbrother (who may or may not have a crush on his stepsister) into an indignant rage, throwing down with the soldiers until one of them drops him with a punch to the face. They commandeer the vehicle and leave the two to fend for themselves.