Over the course of The Walking Dead’s run, fans have watched Daryl Dixon experience trials and tribulations that would put anyone in a bad place. (That was HIS deer!) Nothing is getting any easier, either, and the second half of Season 5 kicks off right after the tragic events of the midseason finale, so these characters will be at their moodiest. And it’s no surprise that Daryl’s emotions will be particularly turbulent.
As part of this week’s print edition, Entertainment Weekly spoke with the cast and crew of The Walking Dead, and actor Norman Reedus clued fans in on how extremely high the frowns-to-smiles ratio will be for fan favorite Daryl.
It’s one of the darkest times that we’ve ever had as a group. Everyone is on the verge of giving up. [Daryl] goes into a depression, and he’ll slowly seep back into a dark place, which sucks.
All Daryl knows is darkness, it sometimes seems. He already lost, then found, then had to deal with the death and reanimation of his brother Merle. He’s got an extremely complicated friendship with Carol, one that’s wrought with her disappearing for long periods of time. And Beth’s death is the latest atrocity to break his confident stride. What happens to him now?
I’m wondering how “dark” Daryl’s place is really going to be. There’s a good chance this just means we’ll get to watch Daryl stalk off silently more often, choosing solitude over good company. But what if his bad mood made him revert back to the Daryl Dixon of Season 1, when he was an arrogant redneck who was just as quick to deliver a joyful verbal lashing as an arrow-filled one? While he was still a standout character then, Daryl had yet to morph into the brooding sneer machine that he would become in later seasons. And though he's still an angry guy, he's more of a reluctant hero than anything else. We can really track his empathy by the length of his hair.
Minor characters like Tara and Eugene probably won’t live long enough to experience notable changes in their characters’ behavior, but both Rick and Daryl are completely different now from when the show started. (Daryl has yet to chew through a guy, but maybe soon.) It’s possible that this will be the beginning of another era of Daryl Dixon, perhaps one where he reverts back to his rage-driven attitude from when we first met him. One has to wonder whether showrunner Scott Gimple and comic creator Robert Kirkman are even capable of turning Daryl into a truly dark character while still keeping fans on his side. They should bring some old school pro wrestling writers in to work that angle.
The article also mentions Lauren Cohen’s Maggie going through an equally rough time, but comic readers have a more clear idea of where Maggie’s story may be heading. As a character introduced exclusively for the show, Daryl is more of a mystery. I guess we’ll see where things go in the danger-filled next episode. If he asks someone to give him a haircut, let’s all mentally high five one another.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC with its midseason premiere on Sunday, February 8 at 9 p.m. ET.