Troy Otto won’t be anyone’s favourite character by far, but Daniel Sharman was irresistibly addictive to hate.
Oh, Troy Otto (Daniel Sharman). RIP.
Sharman’s journey from deranged to potentially useful to utterly mad has been captivating. And weekly, you probably hate yourself for being glued to Troy’s scenes. He’s the depiction of the guy you love to hate. Cold, calculating, brutal with an appetite for gore, Troy should be a cartoon villain. And reading this character, what does Sharman do? Well, he obliterates all preconceptions we have of a Negan-like figure and creates the most fascinating character on Fear the Walking Dead. He’s deluded, lonely, unwanted–and he knows it. In this world, it’s his currency. Frank Dillane and Alycia Debnam-Carey’s solo episodes were sensational, and Daniel Sharman joined the club in ‘Brother’s Keeper’.
In ‘Brother’s Keeper’, Sharman feints perfectly. You think he’ll come to some godly realisation of how awful he is. By the end of his exile, you realise you’re right…and he’s going to weaponise that trait.
Sharman is so good that it may take a viewer a good ten minutes to convince a non-viewer that he’s not actually crazy. Admittedly the lack of parenthood and his past as a child are evidently layered in Troy’s behaviour. Sharman does an excellent job of reminding us there is a reason for Troy’s madness–but not a justification. There’s a huge difference, and Sharman realises that.
Psychologically nuts, often remorseless, laughing madly in the face of danger, Troy is a hazard. By all means, he’s that irredeemable, bonkers personification of evil. Yet Daniel Sharman adds something more. And unwillingly, you’re intrigued.
Troy’s twisted relationships with Madison and Nick grow increasingly scary, and Sharman’s chemistry with both is a joy to watch unfold.
Newly introduced, Sharman impressively connected–instantly. With a spoon.
Joking aside, Troy’s dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with Madison (Kim Dickens) was supremely compelling. A double-bluff of manipulation and warped respect developed. Dickens is rarely matched but Sharman, quite like Alycia Debnam-Carey’s spectacular turns, stood strong. The scene in which he holds a knife to Madison’s throat and breaks down isn’t soapy-tragic. It’s pathetic, confusing and disturbing. Madison–and we, as an audience–is aware this isn’t just a kid with loveless parents. He’s a grown man. Sharman never lets us forget that.
Troy: “Alright, you stayed at the ranch because you love me. It’s all right. You and me, we’re more alike than you think. Black sheep, children of violence. It’s just you wish you weren’t.”
Ensnaring you will be Sharman’s depraved connection with Nick. A blood-drenched devil-child and a former drug addict. Dillane’s at his season best when Troy and Nick are finding trouble for themselves. They’re two souls who are just as sick as the other, except one realises and the other doesn’t.
It’s a common theme that Sharman plays off incredibly well. He almost behaves like a child, needing a mother in Madison and a brother in Nick. An older brother, one who was stronger than Jake. But the real mystery is the peculiar connection between Madison and Troy. It becomes a game for him, almost like a thrilling round of cat-and-mouse. They dance around each other, threatening, clawing at each other but never making physical contact. The buoyancy and delight Sharman has in this with Dickens is wonderful; he matches her perfectly, and it’s a testament to his skill that he, Troy Otto, can play ball with Madison Clark.
Daniel Sharman stole the spotlight in a season where there were multiple contenders.
We could argue for days about how it should’ve been Frank Dillane for his performance after Nick shot Jeremiah Otto. Perhaps Colman Domingo, for his emotional, frantic turn in the finale. The incomparable Alycia Debnam-Carey, for a second year running, for that blank, hollow look of a teenager forced to breathe the air of piled-up bodies by her hand.
However, Daniel Sharman was an addition that the cast needed—desperately. For two seasons, Fear the Walking Dead stagnated, far too prematurely. They lacked detail in the fall of society; they hopped on a boat and escaped the epicentre of action. So when Troy Otto and his militia caught them and exposed Travis (Cliff Curtis) and Nick to the horrors of their walker experiments, they brought the epicentre back to the story.
Sharman, despite anyone’s favourites, deserves this.
There isn’t a doubt that Sharman played Troy as a psychopath. His awkward politeness in making tea for Alicia and Madison in the premiere whilst noting times it took for walkers to turn was a strange juxtaposition of disgusting and courteous. Yet Sharman tricked us rather ingeniously. There were moments you felt Troy wanted to latch onto Madison like a mother. So hard that he held a knife to her throat. Then Sharman reminded you, as he broke down quietly in the dark, that he was no gentle-hearted soul. His manic eyes betrayed his bizarre curiosity in death.
Sharman’s Troy sounds extreme but he never was. The danger was that he spoke as if he was rational. And it’s incredibly unsettling, the way Sharman openly plays such a psychopath and can still utter lines like “I’m a good person”.
He believes it. Sharman conveys it perfectly. And that’s why he’s terrifying.
Troy survived because he was a toxic, unapologetic opportunist of tragedy. Ironically, his downfall was exactly that.
Sharman’s depiction of Troy’s fall from grace was nothing short of spectacular. Lost and tired, Sharman didn’t portray Troy as isolated. He seemed…bored. Wandering, he found solace in a shelter and brief joy in weaponry. It’s that glimmer of excitement across Sharman’s youthful face that tells all. He’s satisfied with a bed to sleep in; he’s infinitely more excited to see a grenade launcher in tip-top condition.
We know Troy is an unapologetic villain; the problem is Troy doesn’t know it. The world he sees is one that is unworthy of whatever his ideals are. The walkers aren’t mindless mush to him. To him, they are the next evolutionary step that he must study and note, because it’s Darwinism and he is deluded enough to think he’s important. Clearly, Madison had other ideas. But the cheerfulness and toothy grins Sharman regularly shows off is so much more perplexing than your typical villain. He’s a boy on a ranch! Then he turns and murders ten walkers in succession. When Troy collapses into Madison after attempting to murder her, Sharman looks like a child, crying into his mother’s arms. He’s ripe for manipulation. She knows it. He knows it. And he allows it.
The casting on ‘Fear’ is nearly always spot-on. The decision to cast a good-looking, boyish figure capable of making the fanatical sound normal is near-impossible, and then they found Daniel Sharman. We should be overjoyed at his demise. But Sharman’s deliciously deluded villain is one that should’ve stuck around for longer. Wreaking havoc won’t be the same without Troy Otto’s frenzied smile as he watches the world burn because of him.
Did we ever root for Troy Otto? Maybe not. But Daniel Sharman? In such a depraved role, perhaps unequivocally so.
Daniel Sharman makes it incredibly easy to despise Troy Otto. We suppose that’s the point. There’s no denying it: Troy had an awful childhood. Regularly abused by his parents, if he were to follow in any of their footsteps, he would be equally problematic. But Jake turned out alright, didn’t he?
In all seriousness, Troy’s childhood abuse shouldn’t be taken lightly. It has affected him growing up and therefore his adult behaviour. However, while it is a tragic case of parental neglect, it is not justification for anything Troy does. Worryingly, Troy thinks it is. Daniel Sharman plays him with such conviction that you begin to question if you should sympathise with him. He manipulates a boy into violence against one of the natives but is then forced to walk barefoot back to the ranch, humiliated by the militia. Sharman lures pity from you. Then he winds up losing a shootout as Nick coldly tells him he killed his father, and Troy gets sent to exile. His loneliness and blank-eyed wandering squeezes your chest. And every time Sharman manipulates you into feeling anything for Troy, he wins.
The last thing Sharman’s asking for Troy is sympathy. He’s not asking to be liked, or to be popular. Sharman’s depiction is perfect in its maliciousness and callousness, but he’s not evil. He’s proven it many times. But he’s a predator. He’ll rip you apart if you prod him. Troy Otto is someone who prompts questions and even right until the very end, they go unanswered. It’s not the legacy he’d want to leave, but it’s one that’s troubling.
If a villain dies, we rejoice unanimously, don’t we?