Fear TWD’s Rubén Blades Explains Daniel Salazar’s Return (Exclusive)

[Warning: This story contains spoilers for Fear the Walking Dead’s “Odessa” episode.] “Being old doesn’t mean to be useless.” So says Daniel Salazar (Rub?n Blades), who returned in Sunday’s Fear the Walking Dead with a newfound purpose to live: as the Commander of a parent army. Since the death of his only daughter Ofelia in season 3, Daniel’s natural paternal instincts made him a father figure for Luciana (Danay Garc?a) and Charlie (Alexa Nisenson). But in the seven years since we last saw them, they were split up by PADRE, who has been separating parents from their offspring and training the children to fight walkers (or “carrion”) protecting a shipyard filled with containers that could rebuild the world.

After reuniting with Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) — a former Collector that abducted kids for PADRE — Daniel explains how he came to lead the group of parents searching for their kidnapped children. Seven years earlier, PADRE discovered the group who fled Texas on rafts, bringing them aboard a ship for assessment and processing according to “skills and usefulness.” Some went to the mainland, others went to the island… and the rest disappeared.

“PADRE thought that I was too old to be of any use, so they dumped me in the swamp,” says Daniel, sipping on yerba mate tea to combat his PTSD-induced memory loss. “He was right about one thing: I was old. But he wrong about everything else, because being old doesn’t mean to be useless. I can take care of myself.”

After breaking his promise to be there for Charlie so she wouldn’t die alone like Ofelia — the last he saw her, Charlie was succumbing to untreatable radiation poisoning — Daniel found himself without purpose. And then he found the parents: parents like Adrian (Jonathan Medina), who lost their children to PADRE.

“It motivated me, gave me a reason to stick around. So I organized and trained them, turned them into an army. Strong, getting stronger, because there’s more of them out there,” the Salvadoran Civil War veteran says of the anti-PADRE resistance. “I lost my family, Madison. But I’m gonna fight with everything I got to help these folks get back to theirs.”

Before Fear‘s final season ends, the Daniel actor “would like to see Salazar, at the end, accepts the possibility of change,” Blades told ComicBook. “That he can imagine it is possible to actually find meaning, to sustain the meaning [of] being in charge of the army of the parents looking for their children to give him the sense of purpose.”

“That is the most difficult thing — to find a sense of purpose in the midst of chaos,” Blades said. “And so that’s what I hope at the end happens, that Salazar finds his peace — at least some peace — and continue to have a purpose to live in the midst of chaos.”

“Odessa” had not one but two reunions, marking the first time that Blades and Dickens appeared together since season 3. In these final episodes, Blades teased, “It’s going to be very rewarding to see everyone back. You’re going to see everyone back. And I think that in itself is going to be the most comforting aspect of it.”

New episodes of Fear the Walking Dead premiere Thursdays on AMC+ and Sundays on AMC. Stay tuned to ComicBook/TWD and follow @CameronBonomolo and @NewsOfTheDead on Twitter for more TWD Universe coverage.