Fear the Walking Dead: 100

Lola: "Am I clear?"
Daniel: "Like water."

Daniel Salazar lives a life of high drama. Everything about his story has been larger than life, like a parable or a cautionary tale.

The mystery of what happened at the Baja house is now resolved. Daniel had started hearing voices and seeing the ghost of his wife because he'd had a mental break, but his brief flirtation with insanity ended when he "woke up" in the middle of the fire he had set, not knowing what was happening or what he'd done. Even worse, he believed that one of the burned bodies around him was his daughter Ofelia, turning her into yet another of Daniel's victims.

And there he was, limping and staggering around town, horribly thirsty from his burns, when his life was saved by a dog, which reminded me of the dogs whose lives were being sacrificed at the Baja house. And then he was rescued by adorable new character Efrain, who took him to a deserted strip mall where a weekly miracle occurred: the water the people desperately needed, pouring out of a dry fountain.


Wearing something that resembled a prayer shawl on his head, Efrain then took Daniel on a wild ride through town on a cargo bike to Lola, the woman who was risking her life diverting water to the people through that very fountain (although we didn't know it was Lola at the time). In a scene so obviously karmic I could hardly stand it, Lola debrided the burned tissue from Daniel's leg with a straight razor, the same instrument Daniel himself used to torture the soldier in "Cobalt." And let me add a great big shudder to that last bit.

There was a ton of religious imagery in this episode. Efrain was blessing walkers before taking them out with a mallet and nails, and he said at one point that he should have been a carpenter. Daniel asked Efrain if he was a priest and later, in Efrain's secret digs, asked him for forgiveness and then paid his debt in the only way he could: by cutting Efrain's hair. Efrain had been homeless, I think, and hadn't had his hair cut in a long time. That was really sweet.

The scene at the river deliberately evoked the defining moment in Daniel's childhood when the bodies of the men who were taken away had turned up unexpectedly. Ready for death to take him in the form of that huge walker, Daniel knelt in the rain and prayed... and then the walker was hit by lightning. I could not stop laughing. Do you think maybe that was a sign that God has a plan for Daniel? Either that, or God has a twisted sense of humor. Maybe both.

The second half of the episode rejoined the story already in progress about Dante the water baron and his local circle of Hell at the Gonzalez Dam. Initially "hired" as a janitor but ascending to head of security in a hot minute because Dante was practically panting in admiration for his horrendous past, Daniel seemed to be letting events take him wherever they would — right up until the moment when he was ordered to torture his new friend Efrain in order to uncover Lola's secret water distribution.

While Daniel did unrelentingly evil things in his past, it seems pretty clear to me that Daniel is not evil — or at least he isn't evil any more. When presented with the choice of being Dante's powerful lieutenant or saving the lives of Efrain and Lola (and also, by the way, our friend Victor Strand), we knew what Daniel would do. Early in the episode, Efrain had asked Daniel how many men he had killed, and Daniel confessed to 96. Later, when Dante asked him the same thing, Daniel said he had lost count, but that was a lie. Daniel remembers every person he has killed, and he regrets it. Although maybe he doesn't regret taking out Dante and his minions, the ones that took his death count to 100. I thought that final scene where Daniel knelt before Lola and begged her for absolution was quite powerful.

Finally, did Strand luck out, or what? And how stupid was it for such a clever man to lie to Daniel about where Ofelia was? Yes, it made sense; Strand knew that if he'd told Daniel the truth, Daniel wouldn't have had any incentive whatsoever to rescue Strand from that cell. Maybe it's better to be lucky than good.

Bits:

-- The title of this episode is "100." Although it was about the number of people Daniel killed, it would have been fun if it were also a sideways tribute to Alycia Debnam-Carey's previous series. Except that she wasn't even in this episode.

-- The cast changed again. Ruben Blades and Lisandra Tena (Lola) have been added.

-- Nearly the entire episode was in Spanish. That made sense.

-- In the opening scene, we got a Daniel alone-on-a-highway character journey shot, much like Rick's at the start of The Walking Dead, and Nick's at the beginning of Fear's second season.

-- I absolutely loved Dante's minion sticking his finger into Daniel's Spam. What a fabulous metaphor for what Dante was about to do to Daniel's life.

-- Gold acting stars for Ruben Blades. The dramatic extremes of this episode wouldn't have worked with a lesser actor.

Quotes:

Efrain: "I've got good news and bad news. The good news is, there's nobody left in this world to judge you. The bad news..." (dozes off)

Dante: "This may be the apocalypse, but it's not communism."
Like the lightning strike, that made me laugh out loud.

While it's not an episode I plan to rewatch, I think this one might deserve four out of four plates of Spam,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves science fiction but hates horror, and is confused about why she loves The Walking Dead so much.

2 comments:

Henrik Bennetter said...

My kind of episode!

I noticed somehting about dogs in this episode.

He was saved by a dog, then later called "a dog off the street" by Dante, the moment before he shot him.

Nice one, eh?

paladinteacher said...

Wonderful review! You noticed more of the religious imagery that I did. I agree with all of your "bits".

"Daniel knelt in the rain and prayed... and then the walker was hit by lightning. I could not stop laughing. Do you think maybe that was a sign that God has a plan for Daniel?" It definitely seems that Daniel has a purpose, considering how many times he has escaped death. I don't think that he sees things that way, though.
I did eyeroll very hard at the walker being hit by lightning.

"Efrain: "I've got good news and bad news. The good news is, there's nobody left in this world to judge you. The bad news..." (dozes off)"
Could the bad news be that 'there is no one here to forgive you'?