There’s a moment in the sixth season finale of Fear the Walking Dead after a nuclear bomb explodes in the distance when Colman Domingo’s character, Victor Strand, is standing in the window of a rumbling building. Assuming he’s about to be decimated, Victor awaits his demise for a few seconds before realizing he’s cheated death. For the umpteenth time in Fear the Walking, Victor Strand has somehow dodged the grim reaper, but no one is less surprised than Strand himself.
Victor lets out a hearty laugh, worthy of a supervillain. “Why are you laughing?” a man Strand only just met standing next to him says.
“Because I’m alive,” Strand says. “After everything I did, I’m still here … I am Victor Strand. I’m a man who has thrown men to the wolves when necessary. Who has not been afraid to cut the cord when 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.”
Asked why he is the way he is, Victor confesses, “Survival. I’ve done it all my life, and despite the critics, I’m still here.”
It’s not a particularly necessary monologue given the situation, and all due respect, it’s not a particularly well-written monologue, either, although that line line — “despite the critics, I’m still here,” may as well refer to Colman and the very show itself. Colman Domingo sells the absolute hell out of it. In fact, for six years — though good seasons and very bad seasons — Colman Domingo has made the most of his every moment. He is not the heart of Fear the Walking Dead (that’s Lennie James’ Morgan Jones), and he’s not the most physical actor on the series (that title likely belongs to Alycia Debnam-Carey’s Alicia), and he doesn’t have the extensive resume of, say, Rubén Blades, but Victor Strand is always the most compelling character on Fear the Walking Dead, which has everything to do with Colman Domingo.
Victor Strand is probably the kind of character that Jon Bernthal’s Shane would have become had he survived the third season of The Walking Dead. He’s opportunistic, cutthroat, and loyal only to the extent that it benefits him. On The Walking Dead, Victor Strand would have ditched his Alexandrian family and joined Negan’s Saviors at the first opportunity, and then he would have slashed Negan’s throat as soon as Negan had fallen out of favor and Alexandria would have immediately welcomed him back. That’s the kind of character Victor Strand is. He’s charming and cunning, but most of all, he is convincing. Victor Strand has been on the right side of things and on the wrong side of things, but we never stop rooting for him.
That’s all because of the ferociously good Domingo Colman. He’s at least one of the three best actors in the entire The Walking Dead universe and with the exception of Steven Yeun and Danai Gurira, he’s probably the best positioned to break out of the franchise and find mainstream success. Hell, he already has. Like Gurira, he’s already huge in the theater world (he has 25 years of stage experience, including an Obie award and a Tony nomination), and in the last few years, he’s played impactful roles in the zeitgeistian HBO series Euphoria and awards season pics, including If Beale Street Could Talk and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. He’ll soon also appear in Nia DaCosta’s Candyman. You can bet he will be remembered.
More recently, AMC wisely kept Domingo in the network fold by greenlighting West Philly, Baby, a TV series based on Domingo’s play Dot, which Domingo will adapt, direct, and produce himself as part of his first-look deal with AMC Studios. He’s such an extraordinary increasingly in-demand actor that I can’t help but think that Fear will eventually lose him. In fact, I’m not sure why he’s stuck around this long, except that he has more loyalty than his character. Then again, based on his Insta, Colman is clearly the heart-and-soul of the series behind the scenes, a guy who keeps things fun even during months’ long shoots in the heat of Texas.
I wouldn’t say that Fear the Walking Dead is Colman Domingo’s show, but I also can’t imagine it without him. He’s a guy who literally threw the series’ lead, Morgan Jones, to the zombies, and we’re still pulling for him. When he’s on the screen, I cannot take my eyes off of him. So, whatever AMC is paying the guy, they need to double it.