Fear the Walking Dead returns to the intimate plots that characterized the first half of the season in this week’s show, after a remarkable first half of the season and two more impressive episodes in a row that included significant deaths.
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.
An explosion, similar to the one in Tank Town, occurs shortly after, attracting the attention of many walkers. While no one knows who is to blame for the blast, paranoia is widespread. It’s so high that, even as walkers try to break the walls, Daniel refuses to let anyone get their guns back. Daniel soon learns, however, that all of the guns in his shed have also vanished. From inside the group, someone is attempting to disrupt it.
Daniel is so eager to find the mystery individual responsible for the blast that he lets a few zombies loose in the neighborhood to see who could take out a gun to defend himself. Victor Strand, who was keeping a gun in reserve, turns out to be the individual in question. Daniel, on the other hand, thinks Victor is to blame for the explosion and the theft of all the guns. He imprisons Strand and threatens to shoot Victor in the face, as Victor had previously shot him in the face.
Daniel rattles off a series of symptoms he’s been experiencing after Strand shot him in the face in the most dramatic scene of the show. Even as walkers begin to break through the community’s walls, he threatens to inflict these symptoms on Strand.
Finally, Daniel puts a gun to Victor’s head — who refuses to confess — but just as Daniel is about to pull the trigger, Morgan arrives with the humvee and wipes out the zombie threat, 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’s unclear if Strand has a hidden agenda or whether he really cares for Daniel after hearing about the pain he’s in after being shot in the face by Strand. Strand, as always, is a mystery. Strand has always taken his own hand, so it’s hard to say whether he’s lying or telling the truth.
To be frank, based on the facts, it seems reasonably clear that Daniel was the one who stole the guns. However, some people still believe Daniel was set up, at least in part. Although Daniel may have seized the arms, the initial explosion is eerily similar to the one in Tank Town. Is this a combination of Daniel going insane and the Spray-Can Crazies? Is it true that there are moles on the inside, as well?
Some believe Charlie and Grace are working for the Spray-Can Crazies, and that Daniel was lying to them about where they could hide. Although this seems unlikely, the Fear writers have been thinking two steps ahead this season (the Dakota reveal, for example, was excellent and totally unexpected), so I wouldn’t rule out the introduction of a couple of moles, and Grace and Charlie are definitely the least suspicious people in Morgan’s entire group. Isn’t it possible that this makes them the most likely?