Fear the Walking Dead's Spanish-Language Episode Polarized Fans

Sunday's Fear the Walking Dead made a bold choice. The episode, which caught up with what barber/former Salvadoran death squad leader Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades) has been up to in Mexico after he disappeared in Season 2, was almost entirely in Spanish.

It made sense to have most of the dialogue be in Spanish since the episode is set in a Spanish-speaking country with Spanish-speaking characters. Creatively, it was the right way to tell the story. But in an era where all art is politicized whether it wants to be or not, it also felt like a political statement of a kind that The Walking Dead franchise usually avoids.

The Walking Dead is apolitical, which is part of what contributes to its massive broad appeal. Its identity politics pretty much come down to "zombies don't care what race, gender or sexual orientation you are, and so we have to cooperate to survive," which is a concept that anyone of any political persuasion can theoretically get behind. But Fear the Walking Dead has always been a little more thoughtful than its big brother.

Fear the Walking Dead: What Has Daniel Been Up To?

This season, we're not getting outright social commentary, but we are getting an acknowledgment that there are tensions between the United States and Mexico that wouldn't necessarily be instantly erased in the event of a zombie apocalypse, as we see in the semi-overt racism of the survivalist Otto family. It's not like anyone is talking about building a wall, but telling a border story in 2017 is inevitably loaded. Airing an episode of a show this big mostly in Spanish is notable even if it's trying not be (or shouldn't be).

To its credit, the episode doesn't tilt conspicuously toward political or apolitical. It feels natural that it's almost entirely in Spanish, and doesn't call attention to that fact. Still, there was a split between fans who appreciated the episode's respectful representation of Spanish-speaking characters and fans who were mad they had to read subtitles.

It's kind of cool that The Walking Dead franchise has other ways to alienate fans besides killing off beloved characters in excessively violent ways (and if subtitles are going to drive you away, you're not a good fan anyway).

The majority of tweets about the Spanish-language episode seem to be positive, though, so the risk paid off for showrunner Dave Erickson & Co.

Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.

This article originally appears on TV Guide.com.

Comments (14)
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Of course is wrong!!!
Muricans are too busy saving the world from brown people to care about readin and shit.
Not to mention that people speaking their on language is definitely a political statement and should be ban with other things like breathing air or drinking water, you know the so call "normal" things people do.
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Jun 21, 2017
Great ep :-)
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Jun 21, 2017
Is this show still on? I feel asleep in season one thanks to Kim Dickens' wooden acting
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Jun 21, 2017
I had no problem with it anyone who did is a simple minded fool who needs more education Simplones
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Jun 21, 2017
Before the episode aired a message popped up saying to grab the remote and press 1 for english or 2 for spanish.  I pressed 2.
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Jun 20, 2017
LoL. Americans are so lazy! The entire rest of the world are used to reading subtitles to watch american tv shows (which is like 90% of the shows we watch) and americans can't stand ONE episode made entirely of it? Jesus, grow up.
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Jun 22, 2017
How many Mexican made tv shows are spoken in English?
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Jun 20, 2017
So, next they'll say if two Mexicans meet in the street and have a conversation in Spanish (and I get you hadn't realized that yet), well, that's a political act. Now I wonder wether FTWD will have more episodes spoken in Spanish (a.k.a. anti-Trump episodes).
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Jun 20, 2017
I liked that episode a lot.
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