Spoiler warning for those who haven't watched the premiere for The Walking Dead Season 7.
As a character free from a comic book history, Norman Reedus' Daryl has been a wild card for all of The Walking Dead so far, his popularity seemingly a "Get Out of Dead Free" guarantee that's keeping him breathing, even though the show wants us all to believe he's in true danger. Despite his living status, Daryl's terrible decisions of late made him a captive of Negan and his Saviors, and this will usher in even more dismal changes for him. Here's how the actor put it.
He goes very, very dark. He does certain things that he can't go back from. He goes to a very, very dark, dark place. It's a combination of hatred. It's a combination of self-loathing. It's different from when he first started on the show. He has a big chip on his shoulder. He thought people wouldn't like him. He didn't give a shit. He hates you, too. It turns now into he kind of hates himself. He hates the world that we're in, and he doesn't lose the fight in him, but he definitely no longer sees anything good in the world, that's for sure.
If you'll recall, it was the already injured Daryl's ill-conceived move to punch Negan in the face that made the new villain extend his initial thirst for vengeance to account for not just Abraham's death, but also Glenn's. It was an indirect cause, to be sure, but had Daryl just stayed kneeling and quiet as directed, Glenn would probably still have been there to raise his and Maggie's child, rather than just serve as fodder for a Polaroid on a Savior's wall somewhere. And while Daryl doesn't wear his emotions on his jacket sleeves, this is exactly the kind of situation that is known to eat him up inside.
Daryl has already lost a brother (whose walker form he then had to kill) and a good friend in Beth, and he also took it really hard when Carol's daughter was found to be a zombie. There aren't many post-apocalyptic places for a hardcore guy to seek comfort in, which is why his limited relationships are so important, and if Daryl is taken away from everyone that he cares about, then there's really nothing stopping him from devolving into a black abyss. And that in and of itself could be very dangerous to Negan and his cronies.
As the family breaks apart and loses family members and stuff like that, the bond just gets closer with the people that are still there. That bond doesn't go anywhere, but through a series of events this season, the dynamics change a bit. That whole group is in such a broken place right now. The bond is still there, but I don't know if it will. It's actually broken quite a bit.
I doubt anyone is going to test these bonds by calling Daryl out for being a sourpuss, so it's likely more damaging incidents that lead to the fractures. The Walking Dead will be back to give us a closer look at Daryl's new and unimproved future Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET. Next week will introduce Ezekiel and The Kingdom, so here's hoping there's something to smile at.