In the first hour of Fear the Walking Dead's Season 3 finale on Sunday night, the AMC series might have made its biggest mistake.
Major spoilers for the Season 3 finale of Fear the Walking Dead follow.
In the first hour of Fear the Walking Dead's two-hour Season 3 finale, the show killed off one of its newly introduced characters who had quickly become one of the most divisive of the series. Upon learning Troy Otto was responsible for the herd of infected which crashed down on Broke Jaw Ranch, Madison bashed him in the head with a hammer. Troy rolled down a hill... dead.
While Fear the Walking Dead has proven to be deadlier than ever in its third season, this particular death might have been a bad move for the series unlike the others.
The death of Travis at the top of the season was more than shocking. It turned out to be one of the best moves, finally allowing the spotlight to shine undivided on Kim Dickens' Madison Clark as the leader of the series. There was more room for fan-favorite cast members such as Alycia Debnam-Carey and Colman Domingo to shine. Mercedes Mason was given a bolstered and highly-praised storyline alongside Michael Greyeyes' Qaletaca but would be killed off in the penultimate week of Season 3.
Deaths like Mason's Ofelia are similar to what made The Walking Dead become such a phenomenon early on. No one was safe. The earliest pair of seasons took Shane and Dale to name a couple of fan-favorite characters but each death served as character-building lessons for survivors. In fact, Shane's death truly affected every single character and remains one of the most unforgettable moments of the series.
Troy's death, in fact, is somewhat a mirror of Shane's death on the parent series: the main protagonist eliminated an unpredictable, fan-favorite, and dangerous threat.
However, in this case, fans of Fear the Walking Dead are not buying into Dicken's Madison character the way audiences rooted for family man Rick Grimes. Complaints in comment sections and across Twitter often cite the Madison character as the show's weak point for reasons ranging from Dickens' performances to the poor choices from the character and, in some cases, they have been valid points.
There is no question the writing for Madison Clark improved in Season 3, however, along with Dickens' performances. The character put the people skills promised in the weaker early seasons of Fear to work when conquering both Broke Jaw Ranch and Daniel Salazar's dam. She formed an interesting, intriguing, and potentially twisted romantic relationship with Troy Otto.
Then, Madison (the character Fear the Walking Dead most needs fans to get behind) killed a character most fans were either loving or loving to hate. What better way to prevent fans from supporting the lead character than having her kill a Daniel Sharman's fan-favorite character and turning both the Nick and Alicia Clark characters against her on a regular basis?
It's a move which might have been completely necessary in the world of Fear the Walking Dead but unlikely to be one many fans will rally behind as they did when Rick was forced to kill Shane Walsh.
"I think going into the mid-season premiere, she's had an opportunity to kill Troy, and I think she's suffering the burden of having handed the torch to Nick, and having watched her son become a killer," Fear showrunner Dave Erickson said. "And because of that, I think she has a moment of weakness, a moment of charity, and she lets Troy go. And when she comes to realize in the penultimate that her actions, her inability to pull the trigger on him, has led to not just destruction of the Ranch, but it's also compromised their place at the dam. And I think that's her moment of return, where she comes back to that violence and that darkness. And it's a thing that Nick ultimately rejects."
There are two ways it all can play out...
The first is fans of Fear the Walking Dead admit the fact that the series got them connected to a character enough to be infuriated by his death. In this case, the show might see a Game of Thrones effect similar to the Red Wedding. Sometimes, beloved or rising characters dying forces fans to stick around to see what happens to those who survive them.
Or, fans of Fear the Walking Dead will continue with their lack of support for Madison Clark and be turned off to the fact that she is killing characters they're becoming invested.
It will be interesting to see the fan reaction, seeing as some hate the often racist, immoral Troy Otto while others were enjoying watching the wild character trot through the apocalypse. Let's just hope the new showrunners keep Alycia Debnam-Carey on board as her character is both the most compelling and popular heading into Season 4.
The Walking Dead's sibling series Fear the Walking Dead will return for its fourth season in 2018. The Walking Dead will return for its eighth season on October 22, 2017. The Season Eight premiere will mark 100 episodes overall for the popular AMC series. For complete coverage and insider info all season long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.