Exclusive: Fear the Walking Dead's Rubén Blades on Daniel's Mental State and What it Means

Rubén BladesOn tonight’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead on AMC, when Strand (Colman Domingo), Sherry (Christine Evangelista) and the rest of the other group came to visit Morgan (Lennie James)’s new safe haven, Morgan left Daniel, played by Rubén Blades, in charge of keeping the peace between the visitors and Dakota (Zoe Colletti). However, things did not go to plan when dynamite went off and walkers got in. To make matters worse, all the weapons, including those confiscated from the visitors when they arrived, disappeared.

On Friday, Blades, who also recently released the album Salswing! with Robert Delgado and Orchestra, talked to SciFi Vision in an exclusive post-mortem interview about the events of episode, what they mean to Daniel moving forward, if fans can trust what’s happening, and more.

Salswing! is now available on on digital platforms.

***Note there are spoilers for 6.10, “Handle with Care,” in the following interview. Please watch the episode before you read it.***

Rubén BladesSCIFI VISION:   Morgan asked Daniel to keep the peace, but even when he was lucid he admitted to letting the walkers in just to see who took the weapons, even though he said the dynamite could have been an accident. Do you think that was a good idea; is he dangerous?

In prior episodes, in order to rescue his wife from the place that she had been detained, he actually led the walkers in. Actually, it was the first time in The Walking Dead universe that a herd appeared led by someone, and that's what he did; he led them into that marine compound. That was reckless, but I think that what he did at [this] point is he felt that there was an urgency to find those guns, to find out who the person was who took the guns. The urgency overruled any other consideration, which is what he did before when he directed that first herd in the [first] season up to the compound.

So, it was reckless; he can do reckless things. I'm sure also that at this point, he's not necessarily making the best choices, obviously.

Right. So, if Morgan hadn't come back, do you think he would have shot Strand?


I was going to say, obviously, they made it look like it, but it's hard to tell.

I think he would have shot him, and I think that weighs tremendously on him later on, because it's important to make the point Daniel doesn't kill for just the sake of killing. He kills whomever he feels needs to be killed for the reasons that he feels are justifiable. He's not like a serial killer or a guy who kills and then counts the scalps. He just kills whomever he needs to kill. So, at that point he would have killed. Yes, I do think so. He’s a tough customer, Strand.

Yeah, definitely. Do you think though all the things he said about his pain, was all of that true, or was some of that just to make him feel guilty?

No, it was true. I think it was true. The thing with him is he's a master, you know, he hides behind so many other things. He can actually control the way that he presents himself, which is one of the things, just as you don't know how much it pains him to talk at times, or you don't realize that, by the same token, he's so upset that now his mind is deserting him, or that he can't really control that part of him that serves him so well, which is the intelligence aspects of it. He comes in and out of reality, and it's very hard, because people don't even know if he's lying or not.

The other thing is, he agreed to go with Strand at the end, but obviously, that's more for the protection of his friends, rather than himself, but I was just going to ask, I mean, do you think they can get along? Or do you think they're gonna butt heads when he gets there? 

I don't think they [would] get along. I think they only get along whenever their goals are the same. They will make an alliance with each other, because they're not fools, and they've done that always. When the purpose justifies the need to pretend [to trust each other], they'll go ahead with it, because the end justifies that distrust to be put aside.

But also, he's very intrigued. Daniel is very intrigued. Remember that it goes from his breaking down saying, you know, “I almost did this; I almost did that,” to “Why don't you come with us?” It's like, “Excuse me? With you? I'm gonna go with you somewhere?” And he says, “Why would I go there?” It's not just a rhetorical question; it’s, “What do you really want?”

So, also, at the same time that he feels he's helping those behind, and he’s not going to put him them in danger and burn the place down like he did once before, [he’s] “What does he want?” There's something that he wants. So, I'm interested in finding out. Remember that he just comes in and out; when he's not lost, he's clear. He’s still the intelligence operative. “Why do you want me there? There's something that you want from me. Why is that?” I’m curious to know, “What are you now that you’ve become the new Virginia kind of?” 

Yeah, let’s hope not quite.

So, do you think it was one specific thing that made him finally believe and realize it was in his head, or do you think it was kind of just a combination of everything that was going on? 

That was the worst moment for him, I felt, when the guns were discovered. It's almost like if you’re taking in a shower, and somebody rips the curtain, and you turn around, and there's the whole population of Bolivia watching you. It's like, “What happened?” He has no explanation for that, because he has no memory of it. So, that was the moment when he realized, “I'm back when I was, where I was, when Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) and Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola) died. Why is this happening to me now?”

Rubén BladesI think the thing is that sometimes - you know that saying that boxers are sometimes knocked [out], but they're standing? I think that Griselda and Ofelia’s double punch sort of always stayed there, and now that he, for the first time, sort of felt like he was losing the edge, believing something could be done for Grace (Karen David) and for the baby and for Morgan, he sees it sort of like epitomizing what he expected one day to have. I think that by doing that, he sort of woke up those feelings of failure that he has, because he couldn't protect either of them. It just made his mind go pfft.

Okay, well, I guess, then, maybe this is a moot point, but watching the show, and it's hard, too, sometimes when you watch screeners, because no one else has seen it yet to discuss it with, but part of this episode, a lot of it, is like a whodunit, trying to figure out if somebody betrayed them. And I don't know, but I kind of almost wondered if it was still possible that maybe somebody made him look crazy. So, I'm guessing, then you're saying we can trust this? Because the question that I had, is we hear the conversation with Grace and Charlie (Alexa Nisenson), and he does say about the cabin and marking it on the map, but that could be his point of view as an unreliable narrator. It could be we just didn't see the whole conversation, or, I don't know, maybe somebody changed the map. 

What I think is you are onto something. You know, you're on to something, because there are still points that have not been explained, like the explosion.

So, I think, again, Salazar, being in the sort of fog that he comes in and out of, he’s pretty sure that there's something else going on, and especially after what Dakota said. She said, she suggested, that they could have been in there already.  So, you're onto something there. 

Now, we can't trust anybody.

Okay, now, this is a little bit of silly question, but I'm curious, because I'm assuming there are trainers and stuff like that, but what's it like working with Skidmark? Is that difficult?

You know, the thing with the cat [laughs] is I wish that I could have - like, there's a cat in the house; there's a rescue cat in the house, and I’ve been [in] on and off, you know, I travel, but with this COVID thing, I've been in the house pretty much the whole year, and I've developed like a really good connection with the cat. You know, cats are difficult, and they all make up their own minds, and this cat and I have a great relationship

So, when I try to have the same thing with Skidmark, the problem that I have is that the trainer doesn't want me to get too close to the cat, because then the cat’s not gonna pay attention to him. They want to be in charge. So, I don't get as much time as I would like with Skidmark. I would love to have him all day, you know, in my house when I'm not working, but working with him, it's pretty good.

There're two of them. One is more, you know, like the stunt Skidmark.

The stunt cat.

 And the other one is like the “you can talk to me” Skidmark, and it's wonderful to work with them. I'm very happy when I see them. I really am, because it also reminds me of my cat here, but she's a girl and she's smaller, and Skidmark is a boy and is bigger, but I really get along very well with him, and he's very nice with me. I mean, he doesn't scratch or bite.

Good. Well, I think everybody's worried about him on the show.

Absolutely. I was happy when I saw him. You know?

Yeah, that they brought him back.

Absolutely, and I keep asking about him…“What’s up with Skidmark? When am I going to do something with him?” [laughs]

But also, cats are more expensive than dogs to train. I mean, I can't imagine that trainer with the cat. You know, dogs are easier. So, I guess they’re saving him for special special moments.

Yes. Okay, well, thank you for talking to me. I appreciate it. I did want to mention at the beginning, but I forgot, but I first saw you in 
The X-Files. [laughs] I still remember “El Mundo Gira.”

Rubén BladesYou know that I wanted to work in that episode so much. I wanted to work with Chris Carter. I mean, I saw The X-Filesfrom the beginning. They had a little office at Fox Studios, and I went there, because I was going to do a movie with Danny Glover [for] Predator 2. I went there for a meeting, and I found out that his office was there, and when I went to the directory, and I wanted to speak to Chris Carter from The X Files, they didn't even know who he was. That's how new it was.

So, I finally went over. I did everything to find him, and I found him, and when I walked in and he saw me, he was surprised. You know, like I said, “Hey, I love your show. I want to work in your show, please get me in the show.”And then he said, “Okay,” and then we had to wait awhile until I finally could find the time to do this show.

I remember that I told him, “Do not kill me.”


“Do not kill me on the show, because I want to come back.”

And the first day I got to Vancouver to do the show, he asked me to have dinner, and we sat down to eat, and he said, “You're gonna die in the episode.” [laughs] I could have killed him right then, and I said like, “What are you doing this for?!” But I had great fun, and working with Duchovny and Anderson, with David and Gillian, was really great.

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