Taking a week off from the shocking deaths, “Handle With Care” is instead a character-focused installment that keeps a greater threat a mere suggestion for now.
This recap of Fear the Walking Dead season 6, episode 10, “Handle With Care”, contains spoilers.
Back in its third season, when Fear the Walking Dead was better than it had any right to be, Daniel Salazar was a badass on a grandmaster level. When the show was at its worst, it dragged poor Daniel down with it, reducing him to a lonely eccentric who lived in a warehouse with a cat called Skidmark. “Handle With Care” doesn’t exactly allow Daniel to own as he used to, but at the very least it shows him some attention, using the paranoia of an enigmatic new threat to explore his current psyche.
The episode begins an indeterminate amount of time after last week’s, with the dam community getting on just fine as Daniel explains straight to the camera that he felt hopeful when the day began. And why not? Everything was going swimmingly, and while relationships were still frosty between those in the dam and those such as Strand and Sherry who remain outside of it, lines of communication had at least been opened. And then everything changed.
As the camera pulls away from Daniel in time for the credits, we see he’s behind bars, but not who his interlocutor is. As he continues to narrate, we begin to get a sense of the essential elements in Fear the Walking Dead season 6, episode 10. Everyone in the dam has to surrender their weapons upon entry, and they’re safely locked away in a shed that only Daniel and Morgan have the keys to. Grace is undergoing either Braxton Hicks contractions or is entering actual labor, which forces Morgan and Rabbi Jacob Kessner out on an errand to retrieve a fetal monitor. In the absence of Morgan, Daniel is in charge; he has the responsibility not just of keeping everyone safe, but of getting everyone together and trying to figure out this new threat that has a penchant for graffiti and was last seen sabotaging Tank Town. As becomes apparent quickly, nobody knows who to trust, and the idea that someone inside the dam is a mole begins to develop legs.
Out of nowhere, though, the meeting is interrupted by an explosion. It might have been a simple accident. But Luciana, recognizing the MO from Tank Town, doesn’t want to be complacent. When the noise begins to draw walkers, and Daniel heads to the weapons shed to discover it empty, it becomes obvious quickly that this was a deliberate act of sabotage designed to leave the dam’s residents at the mercy of the dead.
Daniel sends Charlie and Grace away for their own protection and then makes a risky move in allowing some walkers inside to see if the weapon thief gives himself away. And he does, as far as Daniel is concerned — Strand has a gun. But did he sneak it inside, as he claims, or does he know where everyone’s weapons are located? Daniel locks him up and interrogates him to find out.
Strand is adamant. But so, too, is everyone else, and Daniel’s finger-pointing isn’t appreciated. At a loss, he returns to Strand and threatens to shoot him in the face, using details of his own injury for effect. Just as he’s about to pull the trigger, though, gunfire erupts outside — Morgan has returned in the MRAP and mowed down the walkers that were queuing outside. He wants to know what happened here, and you can hardly blame him, really.
Of course, nobody seems to know, let alone Daniel. His interiority begins to come to the fore; in a conversation with Strand, he discusses why he cares so much about this place and surmises that perhaps this is redemption for him, a way to build a life that is real for once, not the facsimile he built in Los Angeles for him and Ophelia. Daniel’s past as a cartel assassin was never far behind him. Now, he believes he has progressed beyond that person, though glimpses of him were there as his finger tightened on the trigger while interrogating Strand earlier. In amongst constant questions of who can trust who, Daniel begins to wonder if he can trust himself.
“Handle With Care” continues to ask this question. First, Grace and Charlie aren’t to be found at the shack where Daniel insists he told them to hide, but when they return, they show evidence that he really sent them to the dangerous caverns — an event he can’t remember. When the weapons are eventually found, they’re in Daniel’s shed. He can’t remember putting them there, either. Is he losing it?
At this point Fear the Walking Dead season 6, episode 10 reveals that Daniel has been talking to June, who is evaluating him, running tests — drawing a clock face, remembering certain words, etc. — to highlight any neurological issues. By all accounts, he doesn’t have any. But he might have plenty of psychological ones, given all he has been through.
Right on time, Dakota remembers the last place Virginia sent her rangers scouting for the mysterious graffiti group, so that’s where the search will begin, presumably next week. In the meantime, Daniel decides to leave for everyone’s safety. It’s a touching departure, and I’m still not convinced that someone hasn’t set him up here, but at least Strand, willing to let bygones be bygones, invites him to stay in Lawton. I hope there’s more of his story to come.