Spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched the Season 6 finale for Fear the Walking Dead!
Well, zombie fans, Fear the Walking Dead went and doubled down on its post-apocalyptic approach by filling the air with nuclear warheads during its Season 6 finale. While at least one major character was killed off by the destructive blasts, seemingly every main protagonist was still alive and breathing by the time the credits rolled, although that doesn't mean Season 7 will be all hunky-dory. For instance, things ended contentiously for Lennie James' Morgan and Karen David's Grace after finding Baby Morgan and his walker-fied mom, and it looks like Colman Domingo's Victor Strand will be leaning harder into his villainous instincts when the new episodes start.
As viewers will recall, Strand started the episode off feeling like a total shitheel for his feeble attempts to sacrifice Morgan while thwarting the nuclear missile's deployment, neither of which was successful. So when he arrived at the museum-esque lodgings of Omid Abtahi's new character Howard, he totally lied about his identity by using Morgan's name, and gave Howard other false impressions, believing their deaths were imminent. But after it was clear they weren't dead yet, Strand unleased a full confession on Howard about everything and introduced a far more cavalier attitude about trying to do things right.
Co-showrunner Ian Goldberg talked with EW about the Season 6 finale and spoke to the idea that surviving the current nuclear situation is going to reaffirm some of Strand's more selfish and villainous instincts in the future.
When he comes into that tower, Strand is in a really self-loathing, bad place. He is disgusted with himself. He's lost the respect of everyone. He is so ashamed of what he's done, that he can't even bring himself to say his name to Howard. He says his name is Morgan Jones, because he believes these are going to be his final few minutes, and he doesn't want those final few minutes to represent himself as someone who did something as despicable as what he did on that sub. But then, when the bomb hits, and he survives something that seemed unsurvivable, it's a vindication for him. He realizes, oh my God, the decisions I've made, everything I've done has led me here. My instincts, all the things I've done, the morally gray things that I was so ashamed of just a few minutes ago, I'm not ashamed of them anymore, and I'm not going to be, because my decisions that I've made, have made me a survivor.
Whereas Morgan went from feeling suicidal with Grace to going right back into Dad Mode upon finding the infant whose birth kicked Season 6 off, Strand is apparently feeling another kind of way about what his future will be good for. And it sounds like he's going back to being the greedy and selfish egoist that was first introduced in Season 1. Ian Goldberg continued, saying:
I think we're going to see a very self-possessed, confident Strand, and a very different tone to him as we're coming out of this season. It's a real reinvention. It's a real beginning coming out of an ending for Victor Strand. Colman absolutely crushed that final speech that he has to Howard. It gave us chills from the moment we saw it in dailies, until the cut. It's just extraordinary.
To be sure, it's not like Strand has build up a bulky resume of heroic acts that would earn him any Most Virtuous Survivor awards, especially considering he spent a chunk of this season as an enforcer for Colby Minifie's antagonist Virginia. Sure, it was mostly a scheme to turn Virginia's group against her, but one that Strand mostly kept to himself and enacted for his own benefit as much as anyone else's. So it's not altogether surprising that he'll return to his most basic instincts in Season 7, but I like the idea that he'll at least be honest with himself about it while doing so.
When CinemaBlend spoke with Fear the Walking Dead co-executive producer Michael Satrazemis, who directed the Season 6 finale, I commented on Howard's subdued presence being a catalyst for Strand's admissions. But Satrazemis hinted at Strand's turn by saying it was surviving a nuclear explosion that really uncorked things.
Well, yeah. I mean, that and a nuclear bomb. Staring at a nuclear bomb, I think it probably rewires you, probably alters your DNA permanently. I mean, I guess that's all it took for Victor. It was not the liquor, it was not the money, it was not the constant turning. It was just a nuke. He needed one good solid nuke.
If Strand's DNA is altered permanently, that could mean he's destined to remain on the villainous side of the moral spectrum until his final days. But maybe things won't be so bad, or maybe his final days are coming sooner than we might think. When I asked Michael Satrazemis about Omid Abtahi's Howard having a potential impact in Season 7, he gave a very ominous response before lauding the actor's work in the surprise guest spot.
Well, we don't know, do we? We know there's two guys looking outside a window that just saw a nuclear bomb. You know, that's only one detonation. We don't really know anything. I'm not giving anything away on this one. However, I will say Omid came in and laid it down straightaway. What an amazing character. What a subtle performance. He really bounced out with Coleman, and was the rock to set things in place. Another just really beautiful, strong character actor.
Could it be that one of the explosions that viewers didn't see will have a major impact on Strand and/or Howard when Season 7 starts off? It seems likely that showing only some of the detonations was an intentional way to bridge the two seasons together, and it'll be interesting to see how destructive and deadly the next premiere will get later this year.