AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 4: “100”
Directed by Alex Garcia Lopez
Written by Alan Page
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, TEOTWAWKI”” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame” – click here
We see the journey of Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades), after escaping from the massive fire where he and the group were staying awhile back. So glad to see him back. Although not without struggle and pain. He didn’t simply escape the fire, he barely made it out. His hands and neck and legs burned. Walking through the streets, he winds up stalked by one of the dead. He barely makes it away from it when a dog draws the thing away.
One thing I fail to mention each episode is how much I love the low-key, subdued opening. I also dig the original series’ opening sequence, the music. But something about this series is more unsettling, very creepy, an ominous sound leading us into every episode.
Daniel comes across a man named Efrain (Jesse Borrego), he seems like a bit of a religious man. He kills the dead like an old school vampire hunter, only putting his version of the stake – a long nail – through the zombies’ heads. Either way, it’s another human to help Daniel, at least for now. He aids the old man in getting someplace safe; our friend isn’t well, and definitely parched. They get a bit of water from a nearby fountain, it looks like it only comes on at certain times a day. Each Tuesday, 5 PM. Ah, the water wars we saw last episode, a situation into which Strand (Colman Domingo) has put himself. Looks like Daniel may wind up there, too.
Daniel: “What are you?”
Efrain: “Me? I‘m the fifth Beatle. You?”
Efrain is a wild dude. He bottles water when he can, then heads out on a bicycle cart with a speaker shouting AGUA in the streets to alert the thirsty people. At the same time men patrol the streets in vehicles with guns, not wanting a black market on water to crop up.
Our water dealer takes Daniel to a woman named Lola Guerrero (Lisandra Tena). She assess his leg, that it’s starting to rot. Either scrape away the pants burned into the wound, or it’s possible he’ll lose it. Poor old lad, he’s got to take the pain in order not to draw out the dead too much. He and Lola sing a song together in Spanish, as she goes about scraping out the wound. Lucky for him it works, and he’s only relegated to a crutch for awhile until it heals.
“Something is rotting in you far worse than your leg”
When Efrain and Daniel bond, the former learns more about the latter. Mainly the fact Daniel has killed “ninety–six” people, that he feels he isn’t a good man and has to pay a debt, to redeem himself for his sins. He tells Efrain about leaving El Salvador, coming to Los Angeles to become a barber. He also cuts his new friend’s hair; an intimate and powerful gesture in its own right.
Now the old guy’s biggest worry is for his daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason), wondering where she is, how she is, if she’s safe, or what is the case. Even after nearly burning alive he’s still hard on himself. Because he believes he possibly burned his own daughter to death in that fire. He seeks forgiveness, but Efrain isn’t the one to give it to him.
I only hope Daniel doesn’t push himself too far. He’s determined to find redemption. So he prays. And out from the sky comes a lightning bolt, crashing into the head of a walker that nearly chomps down on him. A sign, if there ever were one. Still, Daniel ends up washing away in flood waters with the zombie. He winds up at the Gonzalez Dam, and by a stroke of luck he’s located by Lola. Dante Esquivel (Jason Manuel Olazabal) runs the operation, “distributing water” in his own fashion. A man named J.C. (Ricardo Chacon) confronts Lola when she brings the old guy around, though they cover, saying he was desperate for work. They put him out around the drainage area, hauling bodies. Where he’s able to get a good look at the dam’s entrance, where Strand soon winds up.
Daniel starts to see what daily life is like there, a far cry from where he once was and yet troubling. Everyone stands for Dante as he walks into the lunch hall, except for our man. It’s like a cult, ruled by authoritarian hand. This guy J.C. has got it in for Daniel, too. A fight breaks out when he tries acting like an asshole a bit too much. This gets the boss’ attention. Turns out, Dante knows a bit about Daniel, at least what he can gather from knowing the old man lived in El Salvador, the capital in fact.
He’s got a lip tattoo which reads SN, prompting the boss to speak the words “Sombra Negra“; in reference to the Black Shadow, a death squad in Salvador that targeted criminals and gang-bangers for execution in a form of government-backed vigilante justice. Now we see more of why Officer Salazar feels how he does about himself, why he’s in a sort of moral prison in his mind. He’s done some seriously bad fucking shit.
With this revelation, Daniel’s ingratiated himself into the inner circle of the dam. Dante wants him on their team. Although our guy is mostly just concerned with finding a way to search for his daughter. So he’s out on patrols with the boss’ boys, they’re looking for sneaky people stealing water where they shouldn’t be. Daniel watches the clock, worried Efrain will show himself at 5 PM. Afterwards he leads them right to his new friend. What a cold move. He tries telling Lola that it was to protect her, that they’d find out sooner than later. Same kind of bullshit he used to convince himself while working on a Salvadoran death squad years earlier.
Lola: “This place is perfect for you. You are a thug. Go get your prize, thug.”
Finally, Daniel watches Strand stroll past the gates. Taken to see the boss. And later when Victor is placed in a cell, Daniel goes to see him with water. A meeting after so long apart. He hears that Ofelia made it out, she’s alive. This gives him hope, for the first time in forever. However, the old guy won’t believe him, believing this is all lies. Oh, christ. He’s going off the deep end. This is not good, at all.
Not to mention Daniel’s called int to torture information out of Efrain. This is ugly. Maybe some of the ugliest stuff we’ve seen so far on Fear the Walking Dead. As if he didn’t have any farther down to fall, after the death squad reveal. He’s being pulled back into that old, hideous life he fled in Salvador. If he even does make it back to Ofelia, he’ll never be the same person. And redemption can’t ever really come.
For Efrain’s sake, Lola throws herself on him. Before Daniel can kill him. Just a tragic situation altogether. You know where they’re being taken, too. Out to the damn, to face a fall. Strand, Lola, Efrain, and more are faced with execution for their crimes against Dante. Instead of tossing them all over, Daniel turns on Dante, pulling a gun and putting a bullet in his head. Saving the remainder of the people from a nasty fate. This is a start to redeeming what he’s done. He offers Lola a gun, a chance to do him in; he begs forgiveness. And it’s that she gives him.
WOW, this is a stunner of an episode! One of my absolute favourites. Because Daniel Salazar was always interesting to me, this only upped the stakes. His backstory, his history is vile, and with the fall of society, the fall of civilised men comes another moment where he must face the ugliness of his past.
“Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame” is next week. Haven’t been this excited for a new episode in awhile.