When Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) wandered into the warehouse at the end of Fear the Walking Dead season 6, he expected his life to end at any moment. Nuclear bombs were in the air and their trajectory was uncertain. Death seemed imminent. Upon meeting Howard (Omid Abtahi) and seeing Howard’s vast collection of treasures, Strand saw it as a fitting burial spot. When he didn’t die, though, the Tower became something far more sinister and Howard might be the biggest villain of all.
The thing about Victor Strand is that he’s the sum of his flaws. He’s a con man, true, and he’s absolutely set on self-preservation at all costs. He’s also got a weakness: his former friends. As much as he might claim not to care, deep down he clearly does care. It’s why the present season 7 conflict with Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) upsets him so much.
The wildcard in all of this is Howard, Strand’s right hand man. Like Strand, Howard is intent on self-preservation but unlike Strand he doesn’t have anything – or anyone – holding him back.
That makes him very, very dangerous.
In “Mourning Cloak” we see Howard filling in for Strand while he’s away. Howard tells Ali what he must do to become a ranger, manipulating him into thinking that he has a chance at advancement when in all likelihood he probably doesn’t. (Spoiler alert: He really doesn’t…)
Howard is set on casting Charlie (Alexa Nisenson) out even though she’s sick, and when June (Jenna Elfman) tries to pull rank, Howard has no problem standing up to her. John Dorie Sr. (Keith Carradine) seems to have the right idea by trying to infiltrate Howard’s own inner circle, just as Howard has done with Strand.
If you’ve ever stopped to wonder how Simon could get away with so much despite being under Negan’s watchful eye on The Walking Dead, this is how it happens. A person gets into the leader’s inner circle and starts running a side-game. It doesn’t always work out, but if the TWD Universe has taught us anything it’s that people will try. Power always corrupts people who are desperate to improve their situations.
Fear the Walking Dead is brilliant in the way it shows how these things happen. With TWD fans were treated to the after and the effect. Fear TWD is showing us the before and the cause. How you get from one to another is a fascinating journey in itself.
If I had to venture a guess, I’d say Strand has no idea how dangerous Howard really is, mostly because he’s caught up in his own delusions of grandeur to pay enough attention. He thinks his inner circle is secure, but is it? Is it really?
Only time will tell.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC.