"Sleigh Ride" is the sixteenth and final episode of the third season of AMC's Fear The Walking Dead. It is the thirty-seventh episode of the series overall. It premiered on October 15, 2017. It was written by Dave Erickson & Mark Richard and directed by Andrew Bernstein.
In a fantasy, Madison cooks a Christmas turkey in Jeremiah’s house. She sees a truck approaching the house.
Madison steps outside and joins Nick and Luciana in a cemetery. Luciana holds a baby in her arms. Madison sees Alicia’s name on a grave. She tries to follow Nick and Luciana, but they ignore her and drive off.
In reality, Proctor John rides a Zodiac toward the dam with Alicia and his men. They see bodies floating in the water. Strand greets them at the dock and exchanges quick glances with Alicia. John scolds Strand for the unanticipated resistance from dam guards.
Strand quietly assures Alicia that Madison and Nick are alive and in hiding. He vows to help them escape if she agrees to work with him.
In the locked room, Nick criticizes Madison for killing Troy. He accuses her of secretly wishing he had died during the darker days of his addiction. Madison swears that she never wanted her son dead. Someone knocks on the door as gunfire erupts outside.
Lola applies pressure to Daniel’s gunshot wound and marvels that he’s still alive. She leaves him in an underground room while she goes to find Efrain.
Alicia changes John’s surgery dressing. John asks how she knows Strand. Alicia admits that Strand helped her family escape L.A. and that Strand and her mother are friends. She asks John to spare Madison. He agrees on the condition that Alicia comes to Houston with him and his crew. She agrees.
Strand checks in on Madison and Nick. Madison holds him at gunpoint but releases him when he reveals that Alicia is at the dam with John. He instructs Madison and Nick to change into worker uniforms so that he can sneak them out. He admits that he shot Daniel but didn’t kill him. Without other options, Madison and Nick reluctantly acquiesce to his plan.
Lola finds Efrain dead in her office and cries. She sees Strand in a security camera feed and strides out of the office with a gun.
Strand walks Madison and Nick across a bridge on top of the dam. John’s men kill Lola’s guards and throw them over the bridge. Strand tells John’s men that their boss asked him to kill Madison and Nick personally.
The escape is short-lived as Lola attacks the group and guns down several of John’s men. John shoots her dead and discovers Strand trying to smuggle Madison and Nick.
Daniel wakes up in the underground room.
Alicia reunites with Madison. One of John’s men recognizes Nick from the trading post and recalls that he was with another man. John decides to kill Nick, who he deems untrustworthy, and must therefore also kill Madison and Alicia, knowing they'll seek revenge for Nick's murder.
Madison, Nick and Alicia walk across the dam bridge together. Nick hugs Strand goodbye then gets in position for his execution. Strand tells John that the dam is rigged with explosives and reaches into his pocket to pull out the detonator, but comes up empty. Nick reveals that he took the detonator while hugging Strand.
In the Christmas fantasy, Madison serves turkey to Daniel, Jeremiah, Troy, Jake, Coop and Walker, who are all dressed up. Strand arrives with a stack of presents. Madison removes the lid off the turkey platter and sees Jeremiah's head. Walker chops off Jake’s arm. Blood covers the table. Strand leaves the party. Madison follows Strand outside and finds a cemetery.
Back at the dam, Nick threatens to detonate the explosives unless John allows Madison, Alicia and Strand to escape. Alicia urges Nick to come with them, but John points out that Nick cannot leave the detonator’s range. Nick calls the negotiations his “suicide note.” John agrees to his conditions.
Strand, Madison and Alicia run from the dam.
Daniel, still alive, attacks three of John’s men and procures a gun.
Strand, Madison and Alicia reach the Zodiac and launch into the water. Meanwhile, John tries to convince Nick to join him. Nick refuses.
The Zodiac motor dies. John realizes that Nick cannot detonate the explosives until his family is out of range of the explosion. His men close in on Nick.
Daniel finds Lola’s body on the bridge. He puts Ofelia’s rosary in Lola’s hand and strides forward.
Strand, Madison and Alicia fix the motor and power ahead.
As the Proctors close in on Nick, a shot rings out. Walker and Crazy Dog snipe at John’s men from a distance, killing Proctor Nine first.
John accuses Nick of bluffing and orders his men to kill Nick. Walker and Crazy Dog shoot more of his men. Daniel reaches the group and starts shooting. Nick flips the switch and detonates the explosives. The dam breaks apart as John and his men flee.
Walker and Crazy Dog watch Madison, Alicia and Strand struggle to escape the current created by the imploding dam. Unable to do anything to save their friends, they decide to continue north as planned.
Water bursts through the dam.
Daniel reaches Nick. They teeter on the dam bridge as water fills the valley.
In the Christmas fantasy, Madison walks through the cemetery and stops at Jeremiah’s grave. A hand shoots out and pulls her into the grave.
Madison plunges into the water.
In the fantasy, Travis pulls Madison out of the grave, but she slips back in.
Madison sinks underwater then opens her eyes. She kicks to the surface and sees bodies all around her. She swims to the river bed and sees people flocking to the shore, filling containers with water released from the dam.
- Matt Lasky as Cooper
- Brian Duffy as Proctor Nineteen
- Travis Johns as Proctor Nine
- Candy Esmeralda Raya Madera as Little Girl
- Anthony Nanakornpanom as Proctor Eleven
- Unknown as Young Nicholas Clark (Photograph)
- Unknown as Young Alicia Clark (Photograph)
- Jesse Borrego as Efraín Morales (Corpse)
- Chris McLaughlin as Dam Worker
- Lola Guerrero
- Proctor Eleven
- Proctor Nine
- Proctor Nineteen
- Everardo (Off-Screen)
- Many unnamed Gonzalez Dam workers
- Many unnamed Proctors
- Last appearance of Proctor Nineteen. (Alive)
- Last appearance of Proctor Eleven.
- Last appearance of Proctor Nine.
- Last appearance of Proctor John. (Unknown)
- Last appearance of Qaletaqa Walker. (Unknown)
- Last appearance of Lee. (Unknown)
- Last appearance of Lola Guerrero.
- With Lola's death, none of the main characters which were introduced this season are alive.
- Last appearance of Travis Manawa. (Dream)
- Last appearance of Jeremiah Otto. (Dream)
- Last appearance of Jake Otto. (Dream)
- Last appearance of Cooper. (Dream)
- Last appearance of Troy Otto. (Dream/Corpse)
- Last appearance of Efraín Morales. (Corpse)
- Last appearance of Madison Clark. (Alive)
- Last appearance of the Gonzalez Dam.
- This episode was aired alongside "Things Bad Begun".
- This episode along with "Things Bad Begun" takes place on the same day as "TS-19" of the main show.
- Cliff Curtis, Sam Underwood and Dayton Callie are re-added in the opening credits for the last time as they only appear in Madison's dream.
- Jake's real name is revealed to be Jeremiah Otto Jr., as shown on his grave in Madison's dream sequence.
- The title of the episode refers to the song that plays in Madison's Christmas fantasy - Sleigh Ride, sung by Johnny Matis.
- This is the second episode to have the title be a title of a song that plays in the episode. The first being "This Land Is Your Land".
- The other 2 songs used in this episode are also Christmas songs: "The Christmas Spell" (Peggy Lee) and "Long Way Around the Sea" (Low).
- The picture where Madison and Travis hold an umbrella and stand by the sea, which could be seen on the wall in Madison's dream, is actually a behind-the-scene photo of Season 1 finale - "The Good Man".
- Efraín isn't credited in this episode despite appearing as a corpse and being credited in every prior appearance.
- Luciana returns in this episode after being absent in 10 consecutive episodes, although her appearance in this episode is in Madison's dream.
- This is the last appearance of Madison Clark in the present, as she only appears in flashbacks in Season 4.
- When Luciana is holding her baby in the dream sequence, the baby snarls like a walker at Madison and it snarls again while they are in the car about to drive off. This is made to make the viewer think that Madison has brought destruction on everyone she has come into contact with.
- The scene where Madison was floating in the water is actually filmed in a big water tank.
- The word "fuck" is said in this episode.
- An interview with the Showrunner, Dave Erickson, revealed that AMC had updated their policy for both TV Series via an email sent out. It is unknown when this policy took or was in effect, but it allows the series to use "fuck" in its script at least twice before it is censored. The first instance of this was in the episode "Brother's Keeper" when it is said by Nick.
- Despite being given a gun by Daniel before leaving, Lola is once again seen picking a gun from a dead body before finding Efrain's corpse.