It’s no secret that FEAR THE WALKING DEAD is largely seen as the lesser of the two zombie shows on AMC, and that is not really any surprise. They were tasked with quite a tall order: make a zombie show that was its own thing and didn’t share any ground with its parent series The Walking Dead. It must be very hard to come up with original characters, storylines, and settings in a genre that is just so beaten to death at this point. With the fourth episode of its third season, Fear the Walking Dead finale felt like it was telling a tale no other show could tell, and one that was worth watching all the way through. This was my favorite episode of Fear the Walking Dead ever.
It should be noted that I am and have been a fan of Daniel Salazar (played by the tremendous Ruben Blades) from the beginning. He was off the bat one of the only interesting characters on the show, and his reintroduction adds a much needed element to the series. We last saw Daniel in the mid-season finale of Season 2, and up until last week most of us had believed he had burned to death there (not me because I know everything). This episode, entitled “100”, tells the tale of what happened to Daniel in the time since we last saw him, and it is quite an interesting one.
Daniel has been wandering on his own, badly injured, mostly from an infected burn on his leg. He’s also dying of thirst. The access to and control of water as a resource is becoming a huge theme this season. Daniel stumbles into Tijuana and is almost killed by some roaming zombies, but is saved by a man named Efrain. Efrain wanders the city killing zombies by hammering nails into their heads, but not before reciting a short prayer for them first. Efrain also is supplying water he takes from an outdoor mall fountain for the survivors around the city. He is happy to share some with Daniel, and takes him to a woman named Lola who gruesomely scrapes off the infected flesh on Daniel’s leg. He is saved.
Daniel confesses to his new friend Efrain that he is not a good man, and asks him for forgiveness. He tells him about the ninety-six people he killed as a torturer in El Salvador, and also tells him about his daughter Ofelia and how he fears he burned her alive. However, Efrain is not a priest and notes that there is nobody left in this world who can judge Daniel. After passing out, Daniel leaves Efrain’s domicile in the rain, presumably to begin on his quest to search for Ofelia again, but he is quickly attacked by zombies. One of them is one of the biggest zombies we’ve seen (seriously, he looks like Zombie The Mountain from Game of Thrones) and just as Daniel surrenders himself to a terrible fate, the super-zombie is struck by lightning and killed. How lucky is this guy?!
But Daniel passes out and washes away with the rain, where a couple men are cleaning out a storm drain. These are workers of the new “president” Dante who we met last week. Dante controls the Gonzalez Dam and thus all the region’s water supply and apparently he doesn’t take too kindly to strangers. The men bring him to the person in charge of treating the water, and it is revealed it’s Lola the woman who saved Daniel. She agrees to get him set up as a janitor so that he has a place to stay, work, and live. Daniel doesn’t seem happy about it but it appears to be the only way he would make it out of this alive.
One day while eating lunch, he gets on the bad side of Dante’s head of security. When he causes a scene, attacking the man, Dante takes note, then deduces that Daniel is a valuable man. He’s been trained by the C.I.A. to fight communists in El Salvador and so is uniquely situated to help Dante with a personal problem. Somebody is stealing water from him. He doesn’t know how or where, but if one could get away with it, somebody else can. Dante has to draw a hard line. Daniel agrees to help him hunt down the perpetrators in exchange for a Jeep. He clearly still has Ofelia on his mind.
That’s when Daniel witnesses Strand trying to come in to talk to Dante. He watches as Strand is captured and subsequently imprisoned. When he goes to visit him he asks if Ofelia is alive. Strand tells him that she is; that he, Madison, and Ofelia holed up in a hotel down the coast. It’s about a day’s drive. Strand implores Daniel to let him out saying “Ofelia is waiting for you.” This gives it away. Strand doesn’t know if Ofelia is alive and he will say anything to manipulate Daniel into letting him go free. We don’t know where Ofelia is but we do know she is alive somewhere. That’s why it is so sad when Daniel tells Strand that Ofelia is dead, and so is he.
Daniel is taken as part of a group to hunt down the people in Tijuana stealing the water. When he realizes they are looking for some sort of faucet or pipes that are supplying the water, Daniel knows it is Efrain they are looking for. Eventually Efrain is captured and Daniel is faced with having to torture the man who saved his life. And what’s more is he has to do it in front of Lola. Daniel seems willing to go as far as he has to with Dante watching. If he gives anything away, they all will be killed. He proceeds to beat Efrain and is about to hit him with a hammer when Lola stops him. She gives away that she was also part of the water heist. You know where this leads…
Straight up to the top of the dam, where we saw Dante cruelly pushing people over the ledge. One of the workers that found Daniel in the water drain and didn’t report it goes first. Next, Dante tells Daniel to push Lola over the ledge. For a second you’re not sure whether he will do it. But then he punches the head of security, grabs his gun, shoots him in the head, and soon has the gun raised to Dante himself. Dante pleads for his life, but Daniel puts a bullet right in his head, saving Lola, Efrain, and Strand!
So now it appears Daniel is in charge of the dam, or at least can dictate who will be. My guess is he will hand it off to Lola and Efrain and he and Strand will leave to go find Ofelia. I would watch a show just about Daniel and Strand traveling together in the zombie apocalypse. I’m almost annoyed that I know next week we’ll have to go back to Madison and her bratty children. Oh, well.
Season 3, Episode 4 (S03E04)
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sunday at 9PM on AMC
Paul Gulyas | Contributor