Madman. Soldier. Thug. Survivor. Who is Daniel Salazar and where does he belong in this new world? These are the questions that Fear the Walking Dead brings into the light in the fourth episode of the season.
It has been almost a year since we last saw Daniel Salazar feature on FTWD, and ‘100’ is the show’s attempt to catch us up on his adventures. This is the first ‘solo journey’ type episode of this season and it works incredibly well.
The episode starts off with a burnt, beaten and battered Salazar, walking through the infested streets of Tijuana. He is saved by a man named Efrain (Jesse Borrego) who takes him to a group of scavengers for healing. After being healed by a woman named Lola (Lisandra Tena), who also happens to work under Dante’s new regime, he is taken in by Efrain.
This episode excels at making the quieter moments work, especially when talking about Salazar’s violent past. In one such moment with Efrain, Salazar admits to killing 96 people and not knowing if he had burnt his own daughter, Ofelia, to death. He is truly a broken man and Ruben Blades performance is once more phenomenal, bringing the character to life.
It is good to see that the show has decided to shrug off the temporary madness that befell Salazar partway through season two, instead having him admit to his slight insanity and now putting him back on a new path.
It is the second half of the episode that truly shines though. Once Dante has figured out about Salazar’s past as part of the Sombra Negre, he employs him into his service as one of his personal bodyguards. This quickly ties back into last episode in which he encountered Strand.
Once more it is good to see Strand’s con-man act failing him. It seems important to note that even when being visited by someone he used to call friend, he resorts to half-truths and lies to get himself out of a situation. But this time Salazar didn’t believe any of what he said and basically signed his death warrant. This part of the episode felt a little rushed, as though the creators needed to speed things along, as it feels warranted that Strand and Salazar should have a longer conversation about what happened to everyone.
However, it is the kidnapping and subsequent torture of Efrain that I think stood out in this episode. With his past roots, Daniel made a choice between effectively killing his saviour or leaving the scavengers without a water source other than Dante’s. You could see that his plan was taking a toll on him, as he prepared himself to kill Efrain himself.
The final moments of the episode were when we truly saw Salazar take on his death squad past. He promptly ended the guard’s life before firmly shooting Dante in the face. The scene was a nice moment of Salazar seeming to finally accept that he must accept the darkness within him to survive in this world. Though it seems to be a task too heavy for him, as he offered his gun to Lola in a request for her to end his suffering.
Fear the Walking Dead made a wise decision in not killing Salazar this episode, however his continual giving up does seem like it could drag him down at some point. Hopefully now that he has found peace with Lola and learnt that Ofelia could possibly be alive, this tendency won’t keep recurring.
With some cool (albeit unbelievable) moments, such as a walker being killed by lightning strike, this episode offered plenty for the viewer to get invested in. It was a nice touch to have the episode almost entirely in Spanish and the episode provided a strong return for Daniel Salazar.