When last we saw Daniel Salazar on Fear the Walking Dead, he was being shot in the face and then could be found teetering on the edge of an exploded dam. That was way back in season 3. When new showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg took over in season 4, they mentioned that Salazar (played by Rubén Blades) was still out there somewhere, yet the character never appeared over the course of the season.
Well, it turns out Chambliss and Goldberg are not, in fact, big fat liars. As the season 5 trailer revealed, Daniel Salazar is indeed back in season 5, and his first scene will have him facing off against the man who shot him in Strand (Colman Domingo). We spoke to the showrunners to get the scoop on Daniel’s return as well as some other new faces we’ll meet when the show returns June 2 on AMC.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So we see that Daniel Salazar is back. Why did you not have him in season 4, and why bring him back now?
ANDREW CHAMBLISS: It’s a character that we’re very excited to have rejoin the show, and I think the thing that excites us most about it is where we last left him — this kind of goes to why we haven’t seen him in all of season 4 — because we last left him moments after Strand shot him in the face and left him for dead at the dam. We saw him stagger away at the end, but we don’t know what’s happened to him, where he’s been.
He’s a character who we’ve seen a very nurturing paternal side from, but he’s also a character that we’ve seen a very dark side from, who has a very traumatic past that goes all the way back to his childhood. The thing that is most interesting to us is to explore what side of Daniel Salazar will win out in something as traumatic as what happened at the dam and what he was dealing with emotionally with the loss of his daughter.
I have to assume his reunion with Strand will be less than friendly.
CHAMBLISS: The other thing that is very interesting to us is what’s going to happen when he finds some of these characters who he knew during season 3. Obviously, the most explicit relationship is the one with Victor Strand. Strand has come a long way since he shot Daniel in the face. Strand has been seeking his own redemption, and I think the thing that will happen when Daniel Salazar enters the story is it’s going to make both men question who they are, whether they can overcome their past, and really test whether Strand has become a new man.
And you finally get to work with Rubén Blades.
CHAMBLISS: We’re very excited to be working with Rubén. He has such kind of energy and life to him. He brings so much to the show, both on screen and behind screen. That was something in addition to bringing the character back, it’s just fun to be able to work with Rubén.
What can you tell us about some of the new faces we’ll meet this season, including Karen David?
IAN GOLDBERG: We have Salazar and we have Dwight coming over from The Walking Dead, but on top of that we are going to be taking our characters to a new place. They’re going to find themselves in this mysterious environment which they’ve gone to in order to help people, but they’re going to realize there’s a lot of obstacles to doing that, and the people they encounter will have different reasons why they are difficult to help. Karen David plays a character named Grace, who we’re going to find is wrestling with some things she did in her past as well. There’s going to be an interesting dynamic at play with both Morgan and Alicia and how their stories coalesce with Grace’s.
And she won’t be the only one in this new place, will she?
GOLDBERG: There’s also a group of kids that our characters will come across in the premiere played by some great young actors: Bailey Gavulic, Ethan Seuss, and Cooper Dodson, brother of Major Dodson of Walking Dead fame. We like to keep it in the family. We’ll see that those kids have their own difficulties and are also wrestling with some things that have happened to them. We also have Matt Frewer joining the show, a fantastic actor. We don’t want to say too much about the character he’s playing, but we’re excited about it.