Fans and critics of Fear the Walking Dead are all agreed – the third season of the post-apocalyptic drama has taken the show to a new level of jaw-dropping, infected butt-kicking, brilliance.

The new cast, some returning favourites and some heartbreaking deaprtures have made the show’s latest episodes more intriguing, emotional and darker than ever before.

[Read more: Secrets from the set of Fear the Walking Dead]

Here are five ways Fear the Walking Dead’s third season has turned the show upside down:

1. The death of Travis…

Travis death in Fear the Walking Dead season 3

We all know in theory that anyone can die at any time in the Walking Dead universe. However, there are some characters, who we presume are in it for the long haul. Travis Manawa was one of those characters.

The moral compass for the show and the heart, soul and protector of the Clark family, his exit via a doomed helicopter ride ripped up the rule book for the show’s third season.

He went out in a blaze of glory – defeating a pit of walkers with his bare hands and reuniting Nick and Madison – but we still shed a tear every time we think about that final look to Alicia.

[Read more: Fear the Walking Dead cast and creators react to the death of Travis]

2. Meet the Ottos

Meet the Ottos in Fear the Walking Dead

Dayton Callies, Daniel Sharman and Sam Underwood were three fantastic additions to the cast, but we could never have predicted how fantastic their family unit – The Ottos – would be.

Jeremiah Otto Snr (Callies), the recovering alcoholic prepper and his two very different sons, the wayward and disturbed Troy (Sharman) and poetic and protective Jake (Sam), have become immediate fan favourites.

There are many layers to the Otto clan, which have slowly been unpicked across the season, and we’re still not entirely sure whether they’re the good guys or the bad guys on Broke Jaw Ranch.

The dynamic between the Ottos and the Clarks has been the beating heart of season three and in particular Madison and Troy’s creepy mother/son relationship had been addictively sinister viewing.

[Read more: Meet the Otto - Exclusive Dan Sharman interview]

3. The show gets political

Fear the Walking Dead season 3

Not only have the Ottos transformed the Clark family dynamic, the trio have also contributed to the show’s most overtly political series to date.

The Otto clan’s war with Walker and the Native Americans, Daniel Salazar and his street gang’s battle with the tyrannical Dante, the divide between the literary Jake and the brutality of Troy – there have been layers upon layers of political commentary in the first half of season 3, which are bedding down the foundations for even more intriguing storylines to come.

4. Daniel Salazar’s return

Daniel Salazar back in Fear the Walking Dead

The exit of Ruben Blades from the show halfway through the second season had always felt a little premature. He departed the show, presumed dead in the flames of Celia’s home, but his brooding and troubled character felt like it was only just starting to simmer.

Thankfully, the show’s writers and Ruben agreed, bringing back Salazar in an episode that most fans and critics agree is the show’s greatest ever – 100.

Daniel is back and he’s on a mission for personal redemption and reconciliation with his daughter Ofelia.

[Read more: Ruben Blades - Fear the Walking Dead interview]

5. It’s darker than ever

Kim Dickens in Fear the Walking Dead

Whether it’s the poor horse in episode 6 Red Dirt, Walker’s horrifying ‘crow method’ or Troy’s ‘scientific experiments’ at the army base, this season has taken Fear the Walking Dead to a darker and more cruel place.

As the full extent of the apocalypse kicks in, even the show’s most soulful and optimistic characters – Alicia, Madison – have been crumbling and hurtling towards the darkness.

In a strange turn of events, it actually feels as though Nick is suddenly the heart and anchor for the Clarks and that he is going to need to be the one to hold the family together while Alicia and Madison battle their demons.

Big Entertainment, Tiny Prices - Learn more about BT TV >

Fear the Walking Dead airs Mondays at 9pm on AMC – the drama channel exclusive to BT customers.

Watch AMC on BT TV channel 332/381 HD and Sky Guide channel 192 for BT Sport Pack customers.

Catch up on the series so far on the BT Player.