The adage in The Walking Dead universe is that if you don't see a body, the person isn't dead and is likely appear again, if the writers have already invested some time with the character. When we last saw Daniel, it was last season and he appeared to be lost in the fire at the commune which scattered the cast. It was easy to believe that Daniel had perished given the ferociousness of the fire but then - we didn't see a body.
Daniel popped back up in the beginning of this season, a possible ally to Strand, who found that his familiar charm had fallen flat. Now that the audience knows that Daniel is alive, the writers must explain exactly where he has been all of this time and how he has survived. Though this explanation is necessary to reintegrate Daniel into the series, a lot of what happened felt like filler. Having a filler episode in only the third episode of the season does not bode well.
One of the defining features of Daniel's character is his guilt. It's clear that in the course of his life that he has killed many men in the service of his government at the behest of the US government. He may have been a retired killer turned barber when Travis met him, but he was perhaps better suited for a zombie apocalypse than any other character. Everyone else had to adjust to what it means to kill for survival and fight for their life, whereas; for Daniel this experience brought about flashbacks. His break down if anything was a sign of untreated trauma and PTSD. It's why he fell apart while the others were able to simply shoulder on with surviving in this hard new world.
Daniel has always had the skills but burdened with the memories of what he has done, his hands are already so soaked in blood that this new world in which killing is no longer problematic simply drove him over the edge. Despite everything that Daniel has done however, it seems that the universe (read: the writers) are determined that Daniel survive. Daniel is first saved by a dog when a zombie tries to bite him and then by Efrian, who gives him water and gets Daniel medical treatment for his badly burned leg. Efrain and Daniel form a duo for a time, scrounging for supplies and giving mercy to walkers.
Daniel ends up in a much better mental place then when he burned down the compound; however, he still thinks about what he did and worries about the fact that he and Ofelia are seperated. Finally, when Daniel can no longer hide from what he has done and filled with worry for his daughter, he decides to confess to Efrian.
Daniel makes his way away from Efrain on foot but when he comes up against a zombie, with no weapon to protect himself, Daniel falls to his knees and begins to pray. Instead of being eaten, he is knocked unconscious when the zombie is struck in the head by lightening. While it was an awesome scene, I couldn't help but think that the writers were laying on Daniel's temporary plot armor a little to thick. It's like they decided to do the lightening strike simply because this is something they always wanted to do and thought it would look cool.
When Daniel wakes he is being pulled out of a drain by the workers of the damn. Out of fear of being accused of sneaking Daniel in in the first place, they don't report finding him. Fortunately for Daniel, Lola, the woman Efrain took him to to treat his leg works there. It's Lola who gets Daniel a position as a janitor. Daniel at this point is all out of fucks to give and so he doesn't rise to his feet when Dante enters the room, nor does he take any shit off of the head of Dante's security. It's enough to prompt Dante to question Daniel. Dante quickly realises that Daniel is a trained killer and can be useful in his new enterprise of allowing the population to die of thirst while he sits on easy street.
You'll have to forgive me for that one, I simply couldn't help it.
Daniel approaches Strand with water to find out where Ofelia is. Strand clearly hasn't learned that his charm is now quite tarnished and he lies and claims that Ofelia is at the hotel waiting for Daniel. Daniel is quick to realise that Strand is lying and tells Strand that he is going to rot in the cell the way that he deserves. If only Strand hadn't thrown in the part about Ofelia waiting for her father.
Dante is quick to put his new asset to work to find the person who is stealing water. This puts Daniel in a difficult position because the person stealing the water is Efrain. What makes Daniel so special to Dante is his history as a torturer. When Efrain is inevitably captured, all Daniel can offer him is a quick death and he sets about beating the living tar out of Efrian.
It's the moment of truth and Lola and Strand are taken for a little walk on the damn. We know from our introduction to Dante that this is where he takes people for execution. It's Lola's turn and Daniel is encouraged to toss her off the bridge. Instead of killing Lola, Daniel pulls out a gun and shoots Dante's security quickly followed by Dante himself. Daniel then hands the gun to Lola and kneels at her feet, asking for forgiveness for what he has done. Rather than killing Daniel, Lola offers Daniel her hand.
We know that Strand cannot go back to the hotel, so he essentially has a choice between staying at the damn or possibly going on the road with Daniel to find Ofelia. I have feeling that what we are going to see is a Thelma and Louise type road trip which should be interesting, given that Strand and Daniel have fascinating pasts. Ofelia has been a thread just dangling there and I cannot image the writers are going to leave her there for long. It will also probably mean that we'll end up with an Ofelia episode which isn't necessarily a bad thing, even if it will play like filler.
Daniel's big push for forgiveness is actually a great addition to the story line. Unlike Nick, who was an addict, Daniel's skills didn't do much for him at first because of his PTSD. I do however find it interesting that PTSD is showing up in the form of prior bad acts rather than because of all of the horrible things the cast is being forced to live through and survive. It's also happening a lot earlier in Fear the Walking Dead than it did in The Walking Dead. This time, instead of being cast as a weakness, PTSD is actually used to increase characterisation which is a treatment disability doesn't get a lot of play in this genre.