Fear the Walking Dead continued its smart decision to, at least in these early going, not make the walkers much of a threat to our main characters. Sure, there’s the looming danger of that pesky zombie apocalypse plaguing civilization, but at least in the immediate moments of “Cobalt,” Travis, Madison, Daniel, and the rest aren’t struggling with fending for their lives from a few sets of decaying teeth.
No, the real danger is what’s to come — the unknown. Griselda, Nick, Doug, and Liza weren’t the only ones taken from the community. The military is cherry picking citizens to transplant to this mysterious facility outside the neighborhood’s gated limits, but those who remain are left without an explanation or sense of hope. They’re going about their lives as best they can, but living at the behest of a few soldiers serving as their only tether to the outside world is a lifestyle that can only be sustained for so long.
The lack of communication is certainly getting to Ofelia. She wants to see her mother, as she yells at the guards for some assistance. They almost decide to handle her with force until her military boyfriend Andrew steps in to calm her down without shots being fired.
Unfortunately, his attempted good deed lands him in a torturous situation. Madison stumbles upon Daniel and Ofelia with Andrew tied up to a chair. They want to ply him for information, and at first Madison scoffs at the idea. Travis has gone off to talk with Moyers, believing that they’re close enough to earn Travis some perks above the rest of the community, and Madison seems to think that will work. Daniel is not so hopeful. He’d rather they find out what they can from Andrew, then use him in a trade for their taken family members.
Daniel proves he also isn’t naive. He knows a trade will likely not work and he also knows there’s more to the story than Andrew is letting on. Getting it out of Andrew might just be a messy affair, so he asks Madison to keep Ofelia away from the house while he does what needs to be done.
And apparently what needs to be done is torture, as Daniel’s shaving kit doubles as a handy to-go bag of weapons of torment. Andrew offers some intel about the military setting up camp at a nearby college, but that’s not good enough for Daniel, who will not be observing Ofelia’s wishes to keep Andrew unharmed. He tears into Andrew’s arm, literally bleeding him for information on the military’s plans. Daniel is cutting layer by layer down through the skin, more nerve endings being exposed to the pain at every level.
Daniel decides to tell Andrew a story about when he was a little boy. He was faced with a powerful decision in a situation not unlike this one: Did he want to be the man tied up in the chair or the man with the blade? They’re not so different after all — both want something, and both of their lives will be irrevocably changed by the situation. He’s made his choice, clearly, and so he looks to see how Andrew reacts as the man in the chair when Daniel repeatedly asks about something called “cobalt.”
(ASIDE: In a great scene with Madison later in the episode, Daniel breaks down about having to do what he did after Ofelia discovered him. He recounts how he told Ofelia, when she was only 9 years old, about all the horrible details of their having to leave home for America. The only thing he didn’t mention was which man he was. While the writing here is a bit odd — Madison wasn’t around for Daniel’s story of the two men, so unless he told her it as well, what he’s saying would make no sense. But paired with his scenes with Andrew, Rubén Blades has quickly risen to be the MVP of the series so far. He’s mixed the pain of a father and husband protecting his family with the drive of a dangerous man fighting for survival with such ease that shifting the focus of the series more on him these past two episodes has only helped. END OF ASIDE.)
NEXT: Cobalt is coming.