Warning: this story contains spoilers for Sunday's "Ofelia" episode of Fear the Walking Dead. "A mind, it's a very fragile thing. Very easy to break," says Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades). "Very hard to put back together." It's harder still when the mind has trouble remembering what's real and what isn't, like what happened to Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason). Before Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) could reunite Daniel and Ofelia in Fear's Season 3, Ofelia succumbed to an infectious walker's bite before being put down by her father in "El Matadero." After Daniel strategically faked amnesia in Season 6, June Dorie (Jenna Elfman) diagnosed the CIA-trained Sombra Negra soldier with PTSD-induced memory loss and dissociative thinking.
In Season 7, Luciana (Danay Garcia) works with Daniel to sharpen his mind as Morgan Jones (Lennie James) goes to war with Daniel's old enemy Victor Strand (Colman Domingo). Because Daniel "knows how Victor thinks better than any of us," they're going to need Daniel to take Strand's Tower.
His memory jogged by a flashcard with the picture of a boat, Daniel believes Ofelia is alive aboard The Abigail: the yacht their group of survivors used to escape California at the onset of the outbreak (and burned by Strand back in Season 3). Convinced that Arno (Spenser Granese) has his daughter prisoner in a boat graveyard teeming with walkers, Daniel endangers Luciana and Wes (Colby Hollman) on his mission to rescue Ofelia from the Stalkers.
Determined to find Ofelia and fix his relationship with his daughter, Daniel hones his mind when he thinks he's saving Ofelia from Stalkers Arno and Sage (Jacob Kyle Young). Daniel and Luciana have grown to be familia, so he trusts her when she says they need "someone who knows what Victor is thinking before he does" to fight Strand and take the Tower.
"Ofelia. When I was trying to get her, suddenly, everything became clear," Daniel explains of his very particular set of skills that kicked in to save the taken Ofelia. "My daughter gave me focus."
Luciana lies to Daniel, telling him Strand has Ofelia in his Tower. "If knowing Ofelia's alive gives you clarity," she tells him, "then you can lead all these people and take the Tower from Strand."
"I want to believe this, but my mind is not clear. You must be certain, Luciana," a shaken Daniel responds. "Because if you're wrong, if this is not true — if this is another lie — it could break me for good." When Luciana again tells him it's true, Daniel decides, "Then we'll get in the Tower. And Ofelia, you, and me, we'll be together. Always."
Daniel's Memory Loss Explained
"Daniel is still very much suffering from the memory loss that he's been experiencing due to the post-traumatic stress of everything that's gone on with him in the apocalypse. And one of the things that often happens is that the past can, in many ways, seem more real than the present," showrunner Andrew Chambliss said on AMC+'s Fear the Walking Dead: Episode Insider. "And it felt like there being a small trigger like seeing something that put him in the mind space of when he was with his daughter, something like the memory card with the boat on it. So that really is kind of the present state of mind he's living in, even though it doesn't really logically make sense with the reality around him. But that kind of inner drive to fix that thing he didn't get to do before his daughter died is something that drives him out into this very inhospitable world."
Because Daniel's condition is psychological and not neurological, Chambliss explained, "One of the things that we see happen with Daniel in this episode is that many of these skills that he gained very early in his life, his skills as a soldier, his skills in spycraft, there's kind of a muscle memory there. It's the past that's much more easily accessible, so those are the things that are kind of at his fingertips, those reflexes that just kick in. It's almost like his super powers are activated, but they're activated in such a way that he is using them for a mission that can't be completed, and it kind of puts him this very dangerous place."
Luciana and Wes "go back and forth between being both very impressed by what Daniel is capable of, but at the same time very worried about it," Chambliss said, as the unpredictable Daniel "keeps getting them into deeper and deeper trouble, and it does feel like he is going to get all of them killed."
With Daniel's mind honed by his search for Ofelia, it's "really setting the question for Luciana, which is, how could you channel this into an effective way of combating Arno and his people and then help Daniel become an effective ally in taking down Strand?"