Despite the title of the episode, The 100 veteran Alycia Debnam-Carey does not factor in to “100” at all. (That would have been a fun Easter egg.) Instead, it’s all about Daniel Salazar: what happened him after the fire at Celia’s estate, where he went, how he came to be at the dam with Dante, and what happens next.
Past seasons of Fear and its counterpart, The Walking Dead, have hit speed bumps in the form of frequent filler episodes that drag out the story with seemingly no purpose or direction. However, an entire episode dedicated primarily to Daniel doesn’t detract so much; he’s one of the more interesting characters we’ve encountered in this world, and he plays with the concept of people having to atone, post-apocalypse, for sins committed in the old world. Few are more tormented than Daniel, who’s still haunted by each life he took. (He counts 96 so far.)
As Daniel explains to his savior on the road, Efrain — a roaming priest in everything but title — he doesn’t know precisely how he survived the fire at Celia’s. Daniel only knows that he fought and fought until he passed out, and he came to later, only to find everything and everyone else dead. So he began walking, driven by his need to find Ofelia, not knowing whether or not his act took her life as well.
Efrain finds Daniel hiding from walkers underneath a car with his leg badly burned. Crying out for water, Daniel is taken to a “miracle” fountain; though dry, it spouts water every Tuesday at 5 p.m., and Efrain flocks to it as if to receive communion. With it, he speeds through what remains of the community to deliver them water, dodges militia from the nearby Gonzalez Dam (where Dante resides), and uses what remains of the supply to cleanse walkers of their sins before killing them.
Efrain takes his wounded friend to a woman named Lola, who uses a razor to slice off the burnt, infected skin from Daniel’s leg and bandages him together with a crutch. In the days that follow, Daniel works with Efrain to scavenge for supplies and offers his savior a professional haircut as thanks. Though Efrain doesn’t consider himself a priest, Daniel confesses his sins and asks forgiveness, fearing it’s time to pay his debts.
When Efrain falls asleep, Daniel has a religious experience that puts him in contact with Dante: Daniel goes outside and, in prayer to God, kneels at the feet of a walker too big for him to take down. A bolt of lightning streaks from the storming sky above and scorches the dead. The event leaves Daniel unconscious, and he’s swept down a watery current, where he’s found by two maintenance workers at the dam.
They hide him, fearing Dante will think they’re all in cahoots to steal his water, and take Daniel to Lola, who’s working in water treatment. She provides him a cover as one of the new janitors clearing out the dead so the water supply remains untainted. However, he soon attracts the eye of Dante, who recognizes his reflexes and the tattoo on the inside of his bottom lip as markers of the Sombra Negra, referring to Daniel’s killer instincts in the civil war. Dante offers him a place at the dam worthy of his status, should he help weed out whoever is siphoning water from his supply.
Daniel now becomes one of the men searching for Efrain in a white truck, which forces him to make a scarring choice. They come across the fountain seconds away from 5 o’clock. To protect the people’s water supply, Daniel exposes Efrain. He later faces Lola, the real water thief, who’s furious over this apparent betrayal. Daniel tries to warn her that she too will be caught and killed (Efrain’s perceived fate) if she doesn’t stop, but she can’t stand by and watch people die from something as preventable as dehydration.
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The episode loops back to Victor’s arrival at the dam and Daniel’s surprise appearance at his jail cell. Victor calls Daniel “angel of death” and tries to secure his own release by lying that Ofelia is alive and waiting for her father at the hotel. Daniel sees through the falsehood and leaves Victor to his fate as he’s called away to join Dante.
Now he’s faced with Efrain, who’s beaten and tied to a chair, and asked to bludgeon him for information about his accomplice. Lola stands by and watches as Daniel whispers that if Efrain says nothing, he’ll die by Daniel’s hand. But if he says something, both he and Lola will die. So the righteous man remains silent as Daniel lands his blows. Before he can strike him dead with the back of a hammer, Lola throws herself in front of Efrain, unable to witness any further brutality.
Keeping with the religious imagery and allusions of the hour, Dante says there’s light, and light arrives: When hoods are removed from the heads of Lola, Victor, and their allies, they find themselves staring into the sun atop the dam, about to be flung off the side into a walker pit. Dante needs to send a message that all who think of stealing from him will meet a similarly painful fate. Daniel brings Dante the first man, one of the two who first found him washed up, and he’s fed to the pit. But when Dante orders him to bring Lola, Daniel whips out a concealed gun and kills Dante and his men.
He then kneels before Lola, bows his head, and asks forgiveness for his sins. Bathed in light and on the verge of tears, she extends her hand.
I’m hoping this war over water isn’t something that fades from the picture as quickly as it was introduced. One of the more interesting aspects of Fear is its place within the grander timeline: watching how people and the government respond to the outbreak in the months just after it happens. How natural resources are treated — in this case, cornered and made into a currency more coveted than any narcotic — is something that hasn’t really been addressed in this format. But properly done, it could become further criticism on corporatization.
It’s also worth noting that the vast majority of this episode plays out in Spanish, with English subtitles. (Showrunner Dave Erickson shares his thoughts on that decision, as well as the rest of the episode, with EW here.) Erickson has promised in the past that the plan for season 3 predated Trump’s rise, but I can’t help but think back to Forbes‘ interview with Jared Kushner, in which it was reported that the Trump campaign targeted Walking Dead viewers with television ads. Fear the Walking Dead was already bolstered by diversity, but this hour is one of the show’s most inclusive yet, and its nuanced portrayal of Mexicans and immigrants feels especially timely.