Spoilers below for The Walking Dead's most recent episode, so be sure to watch before reading on.
Though The Walking Dead's "Bonds" was definitely having the most fun while laying out Negan joining the Whisperers, one of the episode's other central plotlines focused on Daryl's continued assessment of Carol's mental well-being. During the pair's stakeout in the woods, the conversation turned to Daryl's potential feelings for Connie, a coupling that some fans have been very hopeful would happen in earnest.
Unfortunately for those fans, Daryl dismissed anything other than platonic feelings for his friendship with Connie, which likely sparked audience members to question why Daryl always appears ready to turn down every romantic relationship that potentially comes his way. Showrunner Angela Kang shared her thoughts about Daryl's lack of intimacy.
Daryl’s such an interesting character that way because in some ways, when it comes to romantic relationships, he’s not a person that I think trusts easily, and a lot of that has to do with his backstory, which is filled with so much trauma. He was physically abused, as well as in other ways. There’s sensitivity there for him. And I think he’s also just a person who it’s hard for him to trust anybody enough to connect with them really, really deeply. It’s a long, slow process for him in a lot of ways to get into any kind of a romantic thing, whereas I think most people these days think of it as just like, 'Oh, you could have fun with somebody, and you can have sex with them and then it doesn’t have to mean anything.' Daryl’s just not wired that way, and that tracks with conversations that Norman [Reedus] and I have had. He doesn’t attach to people lightly enough that he can give it a chance easily, you know? So I think that that’s really a big part of it.
While it's not easy to put such a complex system of ideas into basic form, Daryl is essentially just not properly wired for traditional romances and sexual trysts. According to Angela Kang (and possibly even Norman Reedus himself), Daryl has quite a few personal obstacles in his path keeping him from securing a fully functional relationship with another person.
While other survivors appear to have little trouble making connections and blowing off steam through sexual curiosities, Daryl isn't so easily able to lower his guard and trust another person for the sake of furthering a romantic connection. By all means, if Daryl isn't suffering from a lack of physical or emotional intimacy, then it's probably not very wise for fans to keep wishing he gets roped up in another character's romantic tendrils.
Let's take a second to point out that Daryl's views about sex are not so far off from the way that Alpha and Beta see each other. In that they're a non-sexual partnering, that is. Daryl doesn't appear to have their PG-rated sado-masochist tendencies about him. (That we know of.)
Over the years, fans have wanted to see Daryl paired off with other characters such as Emily Kinney's Beth and, more recently, Lauren Ridloff's Connie. But by and large, Melissa McBride's Carol has been at the center of so many fans' idealized TV relationships for Daryl.
Speaking with EW, showrunner Angela Kang talked about Daryl and Carol's relationship from Carol's point of view, at least at this point in their lives together, and points out why the sparks aren't flying there.
But certainly from Carol’s perspective, she cares about him so deeply and people certainly see that relationship in all kinds of different ways. But what felt real for us is they had this whole conversation about we’re best friends and she’s in this mode where she just wants revenge. And there’s an aspect of her that wants to make sure that no matter what happens in all of this and what happens to her, that Daryl has other people to lean on and rely on besides her because what if something happens to her?
Granted, Carol went through her own somewhat recent traumas involving her relationship / marriage with Ezekiel, which was depressingly disrupted after Alpha counted their son Henry as one of her many head-staked victims. As such, she's been a little off her rocker recently, showcasing constant paranoia and agitation over anything Whisperer-related. Not exactly the most ideal candidate for a healthy new relationship in these dangerous times.
Angela Kang told CinemaBlend earlier this year that Normal Reedus' Daryl and Melissa McBride's Carol would be getting a lot more screentime together in Season 10. But while lots of fans were likely hoping that meant Cupid's arrows would be flying, it appears that their friendship and their platonic loyalties are the only notions being addressed.
What do you all think about Angela Kang's reasons for Daryls' permanent sense of single-dom? Is he rocking out the post-apocalypse's version of a self-partnership? Find out what will happen with him next when The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET.