In this week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead, the series follows a phenomenal first half of the season and two more spectacular episodes in a row that featured major deaths with a return to the sort of intimate storylines that characterized the front half.
The focus in “Handle with Care” (named after the Travelling Wilbury’s song) is on Daniel, who opens the episode in a jail cell explaining to an unknown figure the events of the day. He begins by repeating the names of several random objects, which sounds not unlike the dementia test that Donald Trump bragged about passing. That wasn’t unintentional, but we’ll get to that.
The day begins with Daniel meeting Victor and Sherry (and a couple of their friends), who have come to Morgan’s new community because Morgan wants to put aside their differences and work together to eliminate whatever threat the spray-painters — likely led by The King of Crazies — pose to them. Victor, Sherry, and the others are invited in, but only on the condition that they relinquish their weapons, which are locked up in a shed by Daniel.
Soon thereafter, however, an explosion not unlike the one at Tank Town goes off, drawing the attention of several walkers. No one knows who is responsible for the explosion, but the level of paranoia is high. It is so high, in fact, that Daniel refuses to let anyone have their weapons back, even as walkers threatened to breach the walls. Soon thereafter, however, Daniel discovers that all the weapons locked up in his shed are gone, as well. Someone is trying to sabotage the community from the inside.
Fear goes Agatha Christie, and Daniel is so determined to smoke out the mystery person responsible for the explosion that he allows a few zombies into the community to see who will pull out a gun to protect himself. That person turns out to be Victor Strand, who was secretly holding a gun in reserve. Daniel, however, believes that makes Victor responsible for the explosion and for stealing all the weapons. He locks Strand up and tries to get a confession out of him by threatening to shoot Victor in the face, as Victor had once shot him in the face. In the episode’s most intense sequence, Daniel rattles off the list of symptoms he suffers from since having been shot in the face by Strand. He threatens to inflict these very symptoms onto Strand, even as walkers begin to break through the walls of the community.
Finally, Daniel holds a gun to the face of Victor — who still won’t confess — but before Daniel can pull the trigger, Morgan returns with the humvee and wipes out the zombie threat, mere milliseconds before Daniel shoots Victor.
Soon thereafter, we discover the culprit behind the explosion and the missing weapons. It’s Daniel. The person Daniel was talking to at the beginning of the episode is June, who is administering a dementia test. When he was under the supervision of Ginny during the first half of the season, Daniel had pretended to lose his memory to protect himself. As it turns out, however, it might not have been entirely an act. Daniel does seem to be losing his mind, but as June discovers, it’s not neurological. It’s psychological.
Daniel is having a nervous breakdown, not unlike the one he had when he killed a slew of people in the Salvadoran jungle as a young man, and not unlike the one he had when he burned down Griselda’s vinyard. Daniel’s mind is buckling under the stress, and he’s endangering those he loves again.
Recognizing the danger that he poses to Morgan’s community, Daniel decides to leave. However, Victor — with whom Daniel has always had a complicated relationship — steps in and agrees to take Daniel back to Lawton and keep watch over him and protect him. Daniel doesn’t understand why Victor — who also returned Daniel’s cat, Skidmark, to him at the beginning of the episode — would do such a thing, but he ultimately agrees to go with Victor.
It is unclear if Strand had an ulterior motive, or if he really does feel bad for Daniel after having heard the pain he suffers from because of being shot in the face by Strand. Strand, as always, remains an enigma. It’s impossible to tell if he’s lying or being truthful because the only side Strand has ever taken is his own.
To be honest, it seems fairly obvious based on the evidence that Daniel was responsible for stealing the weapons. However, there are still some who think that Daniel was set up, at least partially. Daniel may have confiscated the weapons, but the initial explosion is still reminiscent of the explosion in Tank Town. Could this be a mix of Daniel losing his mind and the Spray-Can Crazies? Moreover, is it possible that there are moles on the inside?
Some are speculating that Charlie and Grace are working for the Spray-Can Crazies, and were gaslighting Daniel about where he told them to hide. While this seems improbable, the writers during this season of Fear have been thinking two steps ahead (the Dakota reveal, for instance, was outstanding and completely unexpected), so I wouldn’t put it past them to introduce a couple of moles, and the least suspicious people in Morgan’s entire community are probably Grace and Charlie. Maybe that makes them the most likely?
In any respect, we’ll get to meet that new group next week. I’m not sure what’s going on, but they look like post-apocalyptic pot growers!