Well, here’s the good news: I learned two important lessons through this week’s mid-season finale of Fear The Walking Dead. No. 1, always keep a comfy pair of shoes close by during the zombpocalypse. And, no. 2, I should probably be a bit more specific when I throw ambiguous wishes about character deaths out into the universe.
Before I explain, suffice it to say this article will contain spoilers about Season 2’s episode 7 of Fear the Walking Dead titled “Shiva.” You’ve been warned.
Now, back to putting a proverbial foot in my mouth. I made it abundantly clear after last week’s episode that I thought a main character’s death would provide necessary growth for this show that — in my humble opinion — is still failing to truly capture viewers’ loyalty.
Looking back, perhaps I should have been a bit more specific about who I wanted to see get killed off. In my defense, I did mention Madison and Travis as viable options.
Who I most certainly did not cite as an expendable is Daniel. I think he is one of the most interesting and complex characters on the show. While I’ve had trouble embracing most of FTWD‘s un-merry band of misfits, such hasn’t been the case for Daniel. He may not be a good guy, per se, but he is a great character with a depth that few others on Fear have (with the exception of Strand).
Tonight only made that all the more evident, as we got to see Daniel truly vulnerable for the first time. The episode starts with flashbacks of a young Daniel, and who doesn’t love a little backstory?
As Daniel devolves into a frenzied state of madness, he slices a guard with a makeshift weapon, which leads to him being tied to a chair in a holding room. At that point, he comes face to face with a ghost from his past: his dead wife, Griselda.
There, Griselda chips away at Daniel’s fractured psyche by forcing him to recall his first victim — a man in a river Daniel was forced to shoot when he was just a boy. Griselda, pretty damn enlightened even in death, reminds him he was actually the first victim.
This revelation gives Daniel the strength of spirit needed to do what Griselda says is necessary. We don’t yet know exactly what that thing is, but we see that it starts with headbutting Jorge (and wasting a tasty looking bowl of pasole, for shame).
He breaks free from his restraints, and then heads to the wine cellar where Celia has been keeping her walkers. Only Daniel doesn’t see walkers — he sees his victims, with his wife standing among them. As she opens her arms to welcome him into the fold, he pours gasoline everywhere and sets the place ablaze.
From the looks of it, Daniel catches fire, too. Naturally, viewers immediately began freaking out about apparently losing this fan favorite.
— Black Girl Geeks (@BlackGirlGeeks) May 23, 2016
— Amira_Dee YNWA♡ (@AmiraDee) May 11, 2016
Why didn't we see Celia in there? And Daniel best not be dead. I need to know his backstory. #FearTWD
— I Resist 'cause I'm Pissed 🌊 (@TieDye_Squirrel) May 23, 2016
But, c’mon, I can’t believe this is how Daniel’s story end! There are plenty of reasons to believe FTWD is just pulling a Glenn with Daniel and he’ll re-emerge sometime in the latter half of the season.
For starters, Rubén Blades who plays Daniel, appeared on The Talking Dead tonight. Not only was he on the show talking about Daniel’s journey, but he noticeably did not appear in the In Memoriam segment. Now, this logic is a bit flimsy, as FTWD cast members often appear on the show, even having been killed off. Still, it’s something.
Then there is also the Rick connection. Like his TWD predecessor, Daniel hallucinated his dead wife. Shortly after Rick did the same in his story arc, it kind of catapulted his badassery to the next level.
Lastly, it’s just a matter of common sense, right? Daniel is undoubtedly one of the most popular characters on the show — a show that, despite already being renewed for a third season, has largely been panned by viewers and critics alike.
Can they really afford to lose one of the only characters that keeps people coming back? I think not.