Spoiler alert for anyone who hasn't seen the latest episode of The Walking Dead.
A show like The Walking Dead is ripe for fan theories, due to its large viewership, its detailed source material and its rich production design. So it's not so surprising that viewers can get caught up in what they see on screen, and last Sunday's episode offered up some seemingly hyper-distinct acting from Norman Reedus that had many thinking he was passing unspoken secret messages to Rick about the location of Negan's Sanctuary. Showrunner Scott Gimple has a response to this speculation that some of us might not want to hear.
I would like to live in a world where Daryl Dixon residuously learns morse code and knows that Rick has an intimate knowledge of morse code, as well, and that they have practiced this with blinks. I would love that. I will also say that it was an incredibly sunny day.
You know, he isn't specifically stating, "No, Daryl isn't blinking out Morse code with his eyes, and no, Rick wouldn't understand it even if Daryl was doing that." But there are the implications. To lay out the details in quick fashion, Negan paraded a silent Daryl around for the villain's first visit to Alexandria, and there was one scene where Daryl seemed to be blinking in an intentionally staggered way when he and Rick were standing more or less face-to-face. When Morse code was applied, the message appeared to be "I East," indicating the Saviors' headquarters is due east from Alexandria.
Of course Scott Gimple is going to try to distance fans from this train of thought, and there's no argument that Occam's razor indicates that Norman Reedus was probably just unable to look forward into bright sunlight without blinking and squinting. It's also possible sweat was getting into his eyes during that point in filming. Hell, there are all kinds of reasons why one shouldn't just automatically assume another person's blinks are filled with vital data.
But if there really isn't any extra info embedded into Daryl's eye movements - you can get a better look at them here - then that means the big ass Morse code chart on the wall in Rick and Michonne's house was just coincidental set dressing, which is kind of ridiculous. However, perhaps it was the presence of the chart that subconsciously caused viewers to see a code in Daryl's blinks. And perhaps that's exactly what Scott Gimple wants us to think, while the real truth is that Rick and Daryl are robots who were programmed to already understand Morse code. I'm not attached to that theory.
For all that he's cool with dashing fans' extreme thought processes, Scott Gimple doesn't take the fanbase's rampant hypothesizing for granted. Here's what else he told ComicBook.com about it.
But I will say this, the fans of this show are the greatest fans that watch a television program. The stories that they tell and the things that they gleam out of it are actually really thrilling. It just excites me that they have enough faith that we have put in some labyrinth theme kind of stuff. I would love to live in a world where that was true but it also could have been a sunny day. Hazy, too, which makes it worse.