Fear the Walking Dead has seemingly acknowledged fan criticism of Victor Strand (Colman Domingo). Throughout the show’s long run, the original season 1 character has been the subject of much division among the fanbase. Many have been highly critical of how the show has handled Strand’s character development, particularly in the more recent Fear the Walking Dead season 5 and season 6.
For years, there have been complaints about Strand, particularly in regards to his likability—or lack thereof. Admittedly, one of the character’s defining traits is his selfishness. In Fear the Walking Dead, it’s typically Strand’s first instinct to put self-preservation and his own best interests above everything else, including his closest friends and confidantes. Strand has sometimes resisted the impulse to behave this way, but he’s also strayed from the good path on several occasions. To some, he’s made the wrong choice a few too many times. Characters like Morgan Jones (Lennie James) and Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades) have called him out for his flaws, and fans have been notably critical of him as well.
In the Fear the Walking Dead season 7 episode “The Portrait”, negative reaction to Strand’s portrayal was referenced by a line from the character himself. In an effort to explain that his main motive is to look out for his people, Strand said “let it be known to my critics that I’m not the selfish a**hole they make me out to be”. On the surface, it may come off as a comment about things that people like Daniel have said about him in previous seasons, but it can also be interpreted as a meta response to how he’s characterized by viewers.
Similar to Fear the Walking Dead’s Morgan, Strand has a number of online “critics” who have a strong dislike for him and his personality. Much of this is based on the fact that Strand keeps wavering between good and bad. Fueling the complaints was the show’s decision to undo Strand’s redemption arc. Through his remark in “The Portrait”, Strand is essentially reminding Morgan—and viewers—that he isn’t as bad as some may perceive him to be. While there’s no defending Strand for the murder of Will (Gus Halper) in the season 7 premiere, it’s true that he hasn’t been a villain in the same vein as Negan or even Virginia. He’s been able to build his empire without seeking out conflicts with other settlements. Plus, the people within his walls appear to be living good lives.
It’s worth pointing out that what Strand said in Fear the Walking Dead season 7 isn’t the first instance of the character acknowledging those who don’t like him. In the season 6 finale, Strand said “and despite the critics, I’m still here”, which was basically the show noting how Strand had remained integral in the series in the face of all the criticism he’s endured over the years. These references are signs that Fear the Walking Dead and its creators don’t have any regrets about what Strand has done, and where the character is headed.