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TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead (Season 3, Episode 4)

06.18.2017by: Cody Hamman

Season 3, Episode 4: 100

PLOT: Having survived the season two mid-season finale, Daniel Salazar seeks water and forgiveness.

REVIEW: There is no question, there is no close competition. 100 was, without a doubt, my favorite episode of Fear the Walking Dead that has aired to date.

None of the issues I usually have with this show were present in this episode. I didn't feel frustrated or annoyed by the characters. There was no sense that things were moving too slowly, no sense of wasted time, nor was there a feeling that promising storylines were being rushed through or tossed aside. 100 did everything just right - and it helped that most of the regular characters were absent this week. There were no pesky Clarks or Manawas (well, there won't be Manawas anymore anyway). Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) shows up toward the end, but our lead was a person we haven't seen since the season two mid-season finale, which aired on AMC more than a year ago. It's a character who has been presumed dead, although the showrunner spoiled the fact that he would be returning as soon as that mid-season finale had ended. He also happens to be the best character this show has to offer. 100 was highly anticipated, and it didn't disappoint. This episode marked the triumphant return of Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades), our man with 96 confirmed kills. 

We haven't seen Daniel since he appeared to go up in flames while torching a structure full of zombies, but he escaped that scenario, and this episode follows Daniel's struggle to continue surviving in Mexico after being separated from the other characters. It catches us up on where he's been while the last 11 episodes played out, and I found Daniel's story - which was told almost entirely in Spanish, a bold choice - to be utterly captivating.

Daniel has always been troubled by his violent past, and his decision to burn up those zombies is another act of violence he has come to regret, as he doesn't know if his daughter Ofelia was able to escape the blaze. (She did, although we haven't seen her yet in season 3.) He seeks forgiveness... and water.

The first person to provide Daniel with some precious agua is a fascinating new addition to the show, Jesse Borrego as Efrain Morales. This character quickly won his way into my heart, not just with his personality, but also with his chosen manner of dispatching zombies - blessing them and then hammering a spike into their heads. When writing about Fear the Walking Dead or The Walking Dead episodes, I'll often point out how much I like it when I spot some kind of nod to George A. Romero's zombie classics. Efrain's hammer and nails style reminded me of previous zombie stories, but not Romero's. In his novel RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (which is nothing like the movie), Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD co-writer John A. Russo had religious people hammering spikes into the heads of dead folks, so 100 did make me think of that. But even more than that, it made me think of a lesser known favorite, THE STINK OF FLESH. That 2005 film features a character who prefers to kill zombies by hammering spikes into their heads, and as soon as I saw Fear the Walking Dead emulating THE STINK OF FLESH, a big smile spread across my face. I really hope that STINK nod was intentional. That would make me very happy.

Through Efrain, Daniel meets some other helpful people, but ends up going off on his own... Only to find himself at a location where he'll cross paths with them again.

At the center of Daniel's journey in this episode is an idea that had never occurred to me, but should have been one of the first things to ever cross my mind when contemplating a zombie apocalypse. It was very clever of Fear the Walking Dead to explore this idea - the idea of how important being able to get clean drinking water would be in the post-apocalypse, and the fact that some unscrupulous types could take control of water supplies and use the water to rule over the other people in the area. Here Daniel ends up working at Gonzalez Dam, which has been taken over by Dante Esquivel (Jason Manuel Olazabal), an unfriendly acquaintance of Strand's.

Esquivel has taken complete control of the dam. He decides how much water flows while people beg for drinks at the gates. If someone steals water, he has them hunted down and killed. By controlling this dam, Esquivel may have made himself the most powerful man in Mexico; certainly the most powerful man in this part of Mexico. I thought this was a brilliant concept, and had never seen water presented an issue in this way in any other zombie movie or show.

Into this brilliant set-up strides Daniel. Badass. Conflicted. Dangerous. Willing to go to extreme lengths to keep allies safe, even if that means beating an ally to death for the good of the others. Daniel is an awesome character. Fear the Walking Dead benefits greatly from his presence, and it's really good to have him back.

By focusing on a long lost character and keeping the regulars out of the action, 100 felt like a standalone story, and it was the best story Fear the Walking Dead has ever told.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: Approached by a zombie while lightning flashes in the sky, Daniel drops to his knees and offers himself up as a tasty meal. Then he's saved by a higher power when a bolt of lightning strikes the flesh-eater in the head.

GORY GLORY: There was some good splatter in this episode, but no other display of gore was as cringe-inducing as the shot of Daniel's leg wound being scraped clean.

FAVORITE SCENE: Daniel provides several options to choose from. The moment in which he stabs one of Dante's goons in the hand for messing with his Spam is a contender, but I have to go with a quieter moment - Daniel confessing his deadly sins to Efrain and asking him for forgiveness. Which Efrain cannot give.

FINAL VERDICT

Extra Tidbit: What did you think of 100?

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10:24PM on 06/22/2017

WTF

There were two posts about this episode... Where did they go? The World Wonders.
There were two posts about this episode... Where did they go? The World Wonders.
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