The Tower’s butterfly collection isn’t just for decorative purposes – the winged insects foreshadow Victor Strand’s downfall in Fear The Walking Dead season 7. Guest-starring Ashton Arbab as Ali, Fear The Walking Dead’s “Mourning Cloak” opens on a shelf of jarred butterflies inside Victor Strand’s infamous Tower settlement. Strand is apparently very particular about this butterfly arrangement, and Ali is charged with finding the next addition – a rare Mourning Cloak. It’s a mission that leads Ali directly to Fear The Walking Dead’s Charlie, who points out the cruelty of capturing such beautiful creatures. To cheer his new girlfriend up after she contracts radiation poisoning, Ali rebelliously frees Victor’s insect collection, delighting Charlie with a surprise butterfly party.
The symbolism behind Fear The Walking Dead’s butterflies in relation to Victor Strand and the The Tower is clear. Strand is obsessed with trapping these beautiful bugs, whereas Charlie believes they should be allowed to roam. It’s a metaphor for how Strand rules The Tower with an iron fist – keeping folks leashed to satisfy his own sense of self-importance. The butterflies represent The Tower’s human population, yearning for freedom from their jar-wielding master in the pointy hat.
But Fear The Walking Dead‘s season 7 trapped butterflies might also tease how Victor Strand is ultimately defeated. Moved by Charlie’s speech (and probably a little love-struck, bless the lad), Ali releases Strand’s butterflies and defiantly tells Howard that The Tower must change. From idolizing Strand when the episode first began, Ali now perceives the ruthless dictator beneath all that charismatic bluster. Naturally, Ali is thrown off The Tower’s roof as punishment for his subversion… but has he already done enough to ensure Victor Strand is overthrown? If the butterflies represent The Tower’s population, could Ali liberating the creatures symbolize him liberating The Tower by becoming a martyr?
Ali’s posthumous influence is already being felt in Fear The Walking Dead season 7. After Charlie witnesses her boyfriend taking the shortest route to ground level, she immediately runs to June. Having tolerated Strand’s methods until now, Ali’s death proves the final straw for The Tower’s resident physician, and she openly opposes her leader for the very first time. John Dorie Sr. isn’t quite as vehement in his anger (if it’s not a decades-old cold case, he’s not interested, apparently), but the ex-cop does promise to bend Strand’s ear about The Tower’s policy of instant death to rebels. That’s two major allies (i.e. main Fear The Walking Dead characters…) Ali’s death has cost Victor Strand. As season 7 rumbles on, more “butterflies” might begin to share the teenager’s desire for freedom beyond the confines of Strand’s multi-story jar – Wendell, for instance, who isn’t permitted to see his own sister.
Fear The Walking Dead is building towards a climactic showdown with Strand on one side and the coalition of Alicia and Morgan opposing him. From season 7 trailer footage, we know an assault on The Tower does take place. Thanks to Ali, Alicia and Morgan may arrive to find a heroes’ welcome. If June, John Dorie Sr. and Wendell continue spreading division among Strand’s people, The Tower’s downfall might happen due to a full-scale mutiny, where residents sick of their leader’s arbitrary rules and pompous attitude take up arms alongside Morgan and Alicia’s invaders. Should that happen, Ali would be the man to thank – knocking over the first domino of revolution when he released those butterflies.