Spoiler warning for the Season 6 finale of Fear the Walking Dead, "The Beginning." Backroom dealer. Grifter. Shark. Survivor. Villain? Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) has been a self-serving conman and a post-apocalyptic do-gooder at times influenced by Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) and Morgan Jones (Lennie James), but it was settlements leader Virginia (Colby Minifie) who gave Strand a taste of power. He had to commit shocking dirty deeds to get there — like sacrificing Sanjay (Satya Nikhil Polisetti) as human bait — and sending away Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey) to avoid dragging her down with him. As he told his dear friend earlier this season, "I need to forget who I am. But you don't."
Alicia and Strand remain separated at season's end, but they're positioned to meet again in Season 7 — this time on opposing sides. Both are survivors of the submarine-launched warhead fired by cult leader Teddy (John Glover), who locked Alicia away in a bunker so she could "rebuild the world" he sought to destroy.
It's because of people like Strand that the world needs to end, so says Teddy's true believer Dakota (Zoe Colletti) aboard the USS Pennsylvania in the penultimate episode of the season. It's inside the zombie-filled submarine where Strand betrays Morgan when he throws him to a horde of walkers, leaving the selfless leader to die so Strand could be the hero and stop Teddy from launching the missile.
But in the season finale, "The Beginning," the warheads on the missile detonate moments after Strand takes shelter in a makeshift museum operated by historian Howard (Omid Abtahi).
Strand tells Howard the coming destruction came down to two men: "They had to give their lives to save everyone, but when push came to shove, one of them couldn't do it. He wanted to survive, to take the glory for himself. And in the end, consigned everyone to the very destruction he was hoping to circumvent."
Even facing the end, Strand can't help but lie: he introduces himself to the stranger as Morgan Jones. It's only after the warhead detonates, rattling the museum building but leaving Strand and Howard unharmed, that he confesses his instincts ensured his survival. "I'm alive. After everything I did, I'm still here."
"I'm not the man I told you I was. I'm the other one. I'm not Morgan Jones. I'm Victor Strand," he says, shameless. "I'm a man who has thrown men to the wolves when necessary. Who has not been afraid to cut the cord if I had to. I'm a backroom dealer, a grifter, a shark. Hell, I've cheated at chess when a back was turned. Again, and again, and again, without fail."
Before he can finish, Howard asks, "Why?"
"Survival," Strand hisses. "I've done it all my life. And despite the critics, I'm still here. I come from nothing, my friend, and I know how to survive. I've had to build and rebuild myself from the ground up over, and over, and over again! Like a civilization. We have a great future behind us. We can take that future and rebuild. With art, and books, and music, and good bourbon. It feels like the dawning of a new day to me."
Domingo revealed on Talking Dead that Strand in Season 7 "is going to double down on being Victor Strand" — and that's a Strand who is unconcerned whether Alicia finds out he nearly killed Morgan. "It speaks to how destructive Victor Strand has become, and that maybe this world has finally turned him into a worse person than she thought he could be," Debnam-Carey said on Talking Dead.
Strand steps out with a new look next season — he'll have "a bit more finesse and polish because that's going to be the ultimate version of Victor," Domingo teased — but this ultimate version could be the ultimate villain for Morgan and Alicia.
"This new version of Strand that we're seeing, that he's on a precipice of at the end of Season 6, is someone who is going to double down with his own ideology," Domingo said. "There was a reason why he sent Alicia away from him. He said, 'I want to remember the best parts of me.' I just don't know, to be honest, as we go into Season 7, will he want to see that part, knowing that he's got to be this other person? I think that's going to be a conflict because as we know, they're close as can be, they're like family."
"But I think that he possibly needs to suppress certain things in his heart and in his mind in order to be this other, fully-realized version of Victor Strand," Domingo added. "I think that's going to be a part of the complication going into Season 7 with this new version."