Just like his beloved cat, Daniel Salazar seems to have nine lives on Fear the Walking Dead — thanks to his intelligence and his intelligence career. So fans and other FTWD characters wondered what happened to Daniel in Season 6’s “Welcome to the Club” when it seemed like Rubén Blades’ character had lost his memory.
What happened to Daniel in ‘Fear the Walking Dead’?
Turns out, Daniel played a long con in Fear the Walking Dead. In “Welcome to the Club,” he feigns memory loss when his old friends Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) see him for the first time in weeks and find him cutting hair for Pioneers leader Virginia (Colby Minifie).
Virginia tells Alicia and Victor that things got “ugly” after Daniel insisted on finding his cat, Skidmark. “Memory’s like a card catalog, but the cards are all mixed up,” she says. “He was just hellbent on getting that darn cat of his. Things got ugly because he wouldn’t stand down when it didn’t go his way. Everybody’s gotta contribute. So just be grateful he still knows how to give a decent haircut, or he’d be cadaver chum right now.”
Later in the episode, though, Daniel drops the facade after coming face to face with Morgan Jones (Lennie James). “Good to see you, Morgan.” Seems like Daniel has been using his old CIA skills to fake memory loss, presumably to work as a double agent inside Virginia’s stronghold in the town of Lawton.
Actor Lennie James, who directed the episode, discussed that plot twist during this year’s virtual ATX Festival, per Comic Book. “That scene to me was so much more about Daniel than it was about Morgan,” he said. “For me, it was so much more about the reveal that Daniel hasn’t lost his memory and that he’s been exercising the skills that Salazar acquired from the job that he used to do.”
“And I think it also puts a real kind of onus on how well he’s been doing that job because it comes after the beautiful scene that he has with Charlie where she’s almost begging for the last time to go, ’Do you remember me?’ And it’s all on Ruben’s face," Lennie continued.
"The scene came out really, really well, and it’s all reliant on Ruben’s face that you don’t see it. You don’t think he’s play-acting, you don’t think he’s using subterfuge in that moment — [you think] that he is a man who has lost himself.”
Lennie also compared the moment to a famous plot twist from the movies: “He plays it straight, and it’s almost like a Keyser Söze moment in [The] Usual Suspects,” he said, “where he suddenly starts walking straight and says, ‘You need a haircut, Morgan. It’s good to see you.’”
Who plays Daniel in ‘Fear the Walking Dead’?
Panamanian actor and musician Rubén Blades stars as Daniel Salazar on Fear the Walking Dead. As an actor, Rubén is known for his roles in the films The Milagro Beanfield War, Predator 2, and Safe House. He also earned Emmy nominations for his performances in The Josephine Baker Story, Crazy from the Heart, and The Maldonado Miracle.
As a salsa musician, Rubén has nine Grammys, five Latin Grammys, and dozens of studio albums to his name. He also ran for the Panamanian presidency in 1994 and served as the country’s minister of tourism a decade later.