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‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Actor on His Character’s Shocking Return (SPOILERS)

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched Season 3, episode 4 of “Fear the Walking Dead” titled “100.”

“The Walking Dead” franchise is no stranger to the character death fake-out. There was the entire half of Season 2 that was devoted to looking for Sophia only to have it revealed that she had been dead and locked in Hershel’s barn the whole time. And who could forget the infamous Glenn-under-the-dumpster scene in Season 6? Well, the series’ spinoff show “Fear the Walking Dead” just pulled off its first major death fake-out of its own.

It would have appeared that during Season 2’s midseason finale, Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades) burned to death in a cellar. However, last week’s episode — “TEOTWAWKI” — revealed that he’s still very much alive. Variety spoke with Blades about Salazar’s return, and what the events of tonight’s episode mean for him going forward.

Salazar lives! When did you find out you hadn’t actually died?

I knew the return of Salazar was something that was possible because of the way the last episode with Salazar — in that burning cellar — was staged. When I finally got the word I was very happy.

Even with that possibility, you were still surprised when you heard you were coming back?

Absolutely. I was hoping for it and I was glad it happened.

Salazar has always been a character who was very composed and in control — even during the apocalypse. In tonight’s episode he’s much more broken and defeated. How was playing him in that mindset compared to how you’d been playing him in the first two seasons?

This is Salazar’s second apocalypse. His first apocalypse in San Salvador he felt the same way. He’s been in situations where he has lost control, and his escaping San Salvador was a time when he was not in control of his surroundings and he had to escape them to survive. Knowing that helped me put this Salazar, in this second apocalypse, in the same mindset he was in in the first one.

Based on this episode and all the ones before it, do you think Salazar has a tendency to do the wrong thing for the right reason?

I don’t think there are any wrong things in the apocalypse. That’s one of the things I find so interesting about this series. Salazar does what he needs to do in a situation of urgency, and to attain the goals he has, and to protect his loved ones, and survive.

How is his time at the dam and working for Dante in this episode going to affect him going forward this season?

I think that he was toying with the idea of staying in a place where he could actually end up becoming, not just indispensable, but also secure so that finding Ofelia would be more of a possibility. If he became important enough he could have a whole group of people he could use to fan out and search for Ofelia as opposed to doing it on his own. He was thinking of those things, but he hasn’t lost site of his main goal, which is finding Ofelia and bringing her to safety.

Now instead of being able to cast that wide net he just has Strand — and historically the two have never really hit it off. How does he handle with basically just having Strand for help?

He knows what Strand is, he’s seen this character many times. He recognizes the con man that Strand is. Earlier in the episode — when Strand says Ofelia is waiting for him — Salazar realizes he’s being lied to. He knows he’s being lied to at that point, but it doesn’t mean Ofelia is dead. He knows Strand knows more about what happened to Ofelia.

“Fear the Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

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