Indeed, Fear The Walking Dead did, in fact, bring back my favorite character. Salazar, as played by Ruben Blades.
What I find so compelling is that Salazar, while a wildly ruthless killer, operates according to an extremely predictable moral code. He kills to protect those he loves, or to enable him to do so. And he warns people of the consequences of their actions and when they ignore him and those actions put him at odds with them, he has the moral absolution of knowing he warned them and then he does what needs doing.
Contrast with Strand, who is equally as ruthless but operates exclusively out of self-interest. Strand deceives because he loves Strand, Salazar kills because he loves others.
Of course, we now get more backstory on Salazar…he’s killed almost a hundred people, he’s feeling haunted and ashamed by his actions, and without those he loves…either driven from him by his actions or by zombies…he’s without a cause. He’s much like Abraham from The Walking Dead – without a mission, he has no idea who he is.
And his matter of fact approach is a welcome change. The head bad guy is about to kill his friends and Salazar kills the bad guys and holds the boss at gun point. In any other series, there’d be dialog as the boss would try to deal with Salazar or get into one of those “you’re no better than me” sort of moral arguments. Salazar regards him for a moment, kills him, and moves on to other things. He hates what he does, but he knows it needs to be done. He really is quite a pragmatist.
Blades does a wonderful job of portraying a simple, immigrant barber who wants nothing more that to love and be with his family…and then bringing the vulpine dispassionate killer to the surface….and then showing the hurt and shame he feels when he does torture or kill people. Thats the kinds of depth and character development that will make me watch this show.
This is, from a character development standpoint, easily my favorite episode..it shows the deconstruction and reconstruction of a man who wants only the simplest thing – to be with those he loves and to protect them. Who can’t get behind that?