Fear the Walking Dead: The ongoing evolution of Daniel Salazar

Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar - Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC
Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar - Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC /

Daniel Salazar is the chameleon of the zombie apocalypse. His evolution on Fear the Walking Dead reflects all that he’s been through long before the ZA started.

The Daniel Salazar that returned to Fear the Walking Dead in season 5 was a lot different than the man who ended up on the dam in season 3, or the mild mannered barber from season 1. Salazar has found a new reason to keep going after losing his entire family and several friends, and in season 6 fans will see the continuation of Salazar’s evolution.

When it comes to people like Daniel Salazar, never mistake their kindness for weakness. As we saw in the season 5 finale, Salazar doesn’t forget his roots. He might be trying to help people now, but he’s not about to let Virginia take away his freedom.

Some fans worried that Salazar was weak in season 5, but after all this time since the events at the dam, which took place on the heels of being mere seconds too late to say goodbye to Ofelia, he’s once again trying to reinvent himself. He had a cat and a new mission in life. He was happy.

And then Virginia and the Pioneers showed up.

Salazar knew there would be trouble with Virginia’s people in “End of the Line” so he took the MRAV’s starter, and his reminder to Victor to not lose sight of who he is was very fitting given Strand’s tendency to criss-cross the morality line. Salazar might not act like the soldier he used to be, but that part of his personality is never far behind. He knows better than to rest on his laurels in this new world.

Now that he has been separated from Charlie and Skidmark, in season 6 Salazar will have reason to return to the Salazar we saw back in season 1 and season 2. That’s probably a really good thing because the group has been divided and they will need to resort to every method possible to get out from under Virginia’s rule. And it helps that Salazar isn’t concerned about taking life when the situation calls for it.

(These people took Skidmark, after all! They bloody deserve it!)

It’s important to remember that the season 3 episode “100” (the episode that is known for being filmed almost entirely in Spanish) is a key episode in Daniel’s evolution because that’s when he reveals that at that point he had killed 96 people as a soldier in El Salvador and he was on the way to notching his 100th death. In his case, that’s 96 living, breathing human beings that he killed before the apocalypse started.

As a result of that experience, Salazar has demons. Lots of demons. He became a barber and raised a family in Los Angeles to put his past behind him, but when his family was threatened his past came back with a vengeance. He lost his sense of self after losing Griselda, and he was devastated by Ofelia’s death. The only way to move forward was for him to embrace something other than the darkness that was threatening to consume him.

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Salazar was enjoying his new life trying to help people in season 5, but things changed when Virginia showed up. One thing is for certain: Daniel Salazar isn’t going to let Virginia get away with any of this. It’s a safe bet that if anyone can get the group out of this mess, it’s Salazar.

Fear the Walking Dead returns for season 6 in 2020.