This Fear the Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
Fear the Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 10
If there’s been one, consistent failing of Fear the Walking Dead’s sixth season, it’s that the show’s original cast of characters have been sidelined in favor of newer arrivals like Morgan, John, Al, June, et al. While these new characters have featured in some of the show’s best episodes to date, that doesn’t mean Fear stalwarts like Alicia, Strand, and Daniel have no good stories left to tell. Indeed, what works so well about this week’s “Handle with Care” is that it puts everyone’s favorite barber front and center as he tries to uncover a possible traitor within the community’s walls. Amidst the growing distrust and paranoia, “Handle with Care” reminds us that old wounds often run very, very deep. And as we know, Daniel carries scars both seen and unseen. Throw him together with his frenemy Victor Strand, and Fear ably delivers a story with enough dread to spare.
Maybe it’s just me, but after watching six seasons of Fear, seeing this episode’s opening shots of Morgan’s agrarian utopia immediately sent up all kinds of red flags. Because as any fan of The Walking Dead universe knows, peace always comes at a price. Morgan (Lennie James) knows this, too, which is why he’s brought together Lawton and the Outcasts for a peaceful summit to find a way to take on the Enders together. Both groups need to follow Morgan’s house rules though—namely locking up their weapons before entering the settlement. By Morgan’s logic, without ready access to firearms, there’s less temptation to use them.
Leading an existence devoid of bloodshed is an admirable goal. With so much lingering resentment among the groups, though, Morgan has his work cut out for him. We know he’s up for the task, of course, which is why it’s crucial for Fear to remove him quickly from the equation. That he needs to retrieve a fetal monitor for Grace (Karen David) is immaterial (though it’s a little odd that such things are readily accessible in a zombie apocalypse). Because once Morgan leaves Daniel in charge, everything absolutely goes to hell.
But wait, you might ask. Doesn’t this episode open with Daniel in jail? It does! This circular narrative is an interesting choice, given that Daniel himself turns out to be such an unreliable narrator. Over the course of the hour, Rubén Blades takes us on Daniel’s unlikely (but very believable) journey from righteous accuser to the accused. And what a journey it is, thanks to Blades’ emotional performance. Colman Domingo easily stands toe to toe with him, making Strand’s anger and frustration just as believable.
While both characters have come a long way together (and yes, apart), their shared history is one filled with repeated lies and betrayal. After all, Strand did try to kill Daniel back in season 3’s finale. And Daniel has carried the burden of that painful memory—and even more painful recovery—for years. The way Daniel calmly enumerates the ways his jaw never fully healed is chilling. We expect him to pull the trigger, to finally succumb to the vengeance clouding his heart; indeed, he very nearly does.
Things take an unexpected turn when Daniel comes under intense scrutiny for insisting he told Grace and Charlie to hide in a remote fishing shack. Their testimony and Daniel’s own markings on the map suggest otherwise, though. To compound everyone’s confusion, it turns out that it was actually Daniel himself who stole the weapons from lockup and hid them in his own locked storage shed. Considering his feigned memory loss earlier in the season, it’s difficult to know when Daniel is telling the truth and when he’s acting. Morgan is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he wants to be sure.
Which brings us to June (Jenna Elfman), who hasn’t been back inside the settlement since killing Virginia. “Handle with Care” finds June stepping into the role of Daniel’s therapist. She’s not just healing bodies, she’s healing minds. But Daniel believes he deserves to be behind bars; after all, he was a monster in his former life. It’s a small comfort that June believes his confusion and remorse are legitimate. Still, even if Daniel moved the weapons, is he also responsible for the explosion? After all, he did let those walkers into the settlement. What else is he capable of doing?
Daniel realizes he has become a danger, not just to his friends, but also to the future success of the settlement itself. Blades delivers a brilliant performance in this scene as well. Once a ruthless survivor, Daniel is now broken and vulnerable. Maybe this is why Strand invites Daniel to stay at Lawton. Or, maybe Strand believes the old maxim about keeping friends close and enemies closer.
Whatever the case may be, I’m glad Fear is giving these original characters their due. As much as I love the newer arrivals, like Morgan, it’s good to acknowledge the characters (and their many defining imperfections) that got us here in the first place.