The Walking Dead clearly hasn't been afraid of shaking up the status quo over the past eight years, and Season 9 is giving the entire narrative a forward-momentum upheaval. Not only will viewers witness changes to the jumping timeline, to hairstyles, to character exits and to the main communities, but we'll also get to see Norman Reedus' Daryl relying on his crossbow a little less, with a pair of new weapons entering the mix. Here's how new showrunner Angela Kang explained it:
Since our characters are being more stingy with their bullets this year, we wanted to make sure Daryl had a good secondary weapon for hand-to-hand fighting (a crossbow is difficult to reload, so it's not good for quick combat). Norman helped to custom design a pair of knives that he can use for two-handed combat. They're saw-backed Bowie knives with finger rings that allow you to quickly twirl the knives into different positions (you can grip them in either direction).
To be fair, there have been many Walking Dead fans out there who have constantly wondered why Daryl continues using the slow-to-reload crossbow as a primary weapon in every situation. But it's a signature character element on a TV show where zombies walk the earth, so strict logic isn't necessary to stick to here. I do like that Angela Kang is using in-show logic to explain Daryl's switch, though. In a world where bullets are becoming harder to find than Negan's shame, blades are a survivor's best friend. Or even barbed bats, as it were. (I'm assuming the TV show is just giving up on Eugene's ammo shop now?)
Daryl already looks like a dude who would keep a massive collection of knives at arm's length, so it was a smart choice to go in that direction for his new mode of zombie elimination. I'd love to know what Norman Reedus' input was for the knives' designs, and how deep those conversations got. I wouldn't peg him to be the kind of guy who'd jot his initials down on all his personal items, so perhaps something with angel wings? Or maybe even a nod to former characters like Merle or Beth?
If Daryl is getting new weapons that will specifically help him in hand-to-hand combat, I guess that means we should expect to see Daryl get into a mess of hand-to-hand combat in Season 9. Fisticuffs will be a major form of battling in the coming days, as seen in the first look trailer for the new season, which also featured a brief moment where Daryl used his new knives to take out two walkers. But will there be any other humans on the ends of those blades?
There are definitely enough potential candidates, with more on the way. The comics' Magna will be arriving soon into Season 9, as accompanied by others within her group, such as Connie, Kelly, Yumiko and Luke. Those are presumed to be friendlies, though, so maybe Daryl will be one of the first Team Family members to get into a scrap with someone from the Whisperers. Or maybe some of the Saviors who didn't fall under Rick's rule after Negan was removed from power. Could Daryl possibly use one of his new weapons to kill Rick off? Not likely, but an interesting train of thought to ride for a while.
Find out how well Daryl can use his new weapons to massacre walkers when The Walking Dead Season 9 debuts on AMC on Sunday, October 7, at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see what other shows are on the way soon, head to our fall premiere schedule.