Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades) and his only friend, cat Skidmark, go on a zombie slaying-slash-shopping spree in the opening minutes of Fear the Walking Dead 504, “Skidmark.”
Daniel’s cat partner is used as bait to distract walkers when claiming prizes for his well-stocked collection, which includes a working plane. Daniel denied its use to old “friend,” the newly altruistic Victor Strand (Colman Domingo), who tried and failed to convince Daniel to loan out the plane in search of Strand’s missing ally Althea (Maggie Grace) in 502.
“Gracias for the car,” Daniel says when removing keys from a bullet-riddled walker. His traps explain the many goods hoarded by Daniel, who is a “changed man” since his latest near-death experience at the Gonzalez Dam in Season 3.
“Salazar has had an incredible journey from where we left him at the end of Season 3 to where we will find him in Season 5,” co-showrunner Ian Goldberg said when teasing the all-new Daniel Salazar.
“Over the course of Season 5 you’re going to find out where he is now, what he’s been through, and you’re going to see how it’s changed him. And we’re going to see that the Salazar that we meet this season, while of course there’s history between the characters, he’s a changed man. Can’t say how he’s changed, but you’ll see that there’s been some real change there.”
When describing the returned Daniel, Domingo used an apt comparison, saying he’s “like a cat with nine lives, he’s like the Terminator.”
And in the time since losing cherished daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason), Daniel still has traumas left to confront that will decide if his trajectory skews towards the dark or towards the light.
“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,” co-showrunner Andrew Chambliss later told EW.0comments
“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.”
New episodes of Fear the Walking Dead premiere Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.