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When the central survivors of The Walking Dead reached Alexandria a couple of weeks ago, audiences had no real idea how the group would react to a re-established community of citizens. Still, we had our sneaking suspicions that Daryl’s hyper-outlier status would make him the person least likely to get caught up in this newfound society, but all it took was a few extremely nice gestures from Aaron to make him as pro-Alexandria as anyone else in Rick’s group. But who will this affect the most?
Daryl’s purpose within the group is to always have a purpose within the group, whether it be as the guy catching animals for sustenance or as the guy who can instantly break up a fight. Through continued eavesdropping (or incidental rabbit hunting, if you want to believe that), Aaron has decided that Daryl is the perfect person to join him for future recruiting missions, since he knows how to tell good people from bad people. And where Past Daryl would have likely blown smoke in Aaron’s face and walked away, Present Daryl appreciates having his positive traits recognized and potentially exploited.
Of course, it wasn’t just kind words that won Daryl over. There was that Spaghetti Tuesday dinner, along with Aaron’s “gift” of a motorcycle in-progress, which Daryl will no doubt put together and soon drive around on, looking as if he owns suburbia. And so with these mental and material offerings, Daryl has been assimilated, making his “You look ridiculous,” line to Carol in last week’s episode sound completely hypocritical. Doubly so when you consider how the episode ended.
Rick, Carol and Daryl had an agreement that they would be the end-all survivor trifecta, and Carol spent part of the episode working her magic to secretly acquire a handful of handguns for them to use. These scenes perfectly depicted how Carol feels about her new neighbors, offering up a warm, glowing smile to everyone in public while privately threatening the life of the young boy who catches her messing with the weapons. But what happened when she brought Rick and Daryl the guns? Daryl decided not to take his, no longer feeling the need to. Come on!
Though Rick hesitated, he definitely took his, going so far as to grasp it menacingly when witnessing his new crush Jessie and her husband Pete walking away from him. Pete has only slightly hinted at his violent side, so Rick is clearly just in full-on reaction mode. His last few seconds with his hand on the outer wall seemed to imply he finally felt safe, and we saw him offer wall-themed respect to Deanna’s architect husband Reg when they met. But safety from walkers doesn’t equal safety from his fellow man, so I think it’ll be quite a while longer before Rick loses his “us vs. them” mentality.
Everyone else is scattered across the spectrum. Glenn and Maggie seem to be enjoying themselves, with the latter quickly embracing Deanna’s plans. Michonne’s skepticism is still there, but even she hung up her katana. And Abraham is happy where there’s beer. Only Sasha seems to be fully against everything that Alexandria is about, experiencing a form of PTSD that doesn’t allow her to accept the community’s lax attitudes. (But it looks like she’ll be taking on the sharpshooting aspects of Andrea’s story from the comics, so at least they’re trying to build her character up.)
So what will it mean if Daryl, the group’s frontline on instantly distrusting things, has become one with Alexandria’s population? He’s obviously a good choice for a recruiter, given his stalker-ish vibes, but will that weaken his instincts as time goes by, damaging his ability to protect people? Will he have let his guard down by the time the season finale rolls around, when we might see our first signs of Negan? Or is Daryl going to remain a macho savior for the rest of time? My bet’s on the last one, but I’m hoping the show switches things up a bit.
Find out where it all goes when The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC.