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Spoilers ahead if you're not caught up on The Walking Dead through this week's "Forget" episode!
It wasn't all threats and cookies on The Walking Dead this week. In fact, part of "Forget" had Daryl and Aaron off to tame a horse. Or so they hoped. Things didn't go so well for the horse, as they rarely (ever?) do on The Walking Dead. Was that just a bonding mission for Daryl and Aaron? Not quite. In fact, from what Norman Reedus had to say about the arc during a segment on this week's Talking Dead, Buttons may have served as a bit of foreshadowing...
That horse was something, I think that Aaron grasped onto. There's freedom and there's beauty and there's nature and there's something that's so different than all of this. It's sort of a mini-mission to go after this wild animal and save it. To me, it meant, you take these things and you try to domesticate them, you change everything that they're about. You suck their life force out of them by forcing them into your safe place, and I think maybe it's foreshadowing to what might happen to us there. It was an interesting little mission we were on.
Norman Reeds wasn't actually on The Walking Dead's post-episode talk show Talking Dead last Sunday night. The above quote came in the form of a pre-taped video of Reedus, presumably on set, talking about the horse story arc in "Forget." It's well worth noting that while Reedus was talking about taking things and trying to domesticate them, the video cut to stills of some of the other characters in their new surroundings, including Rick and Michonne strolling the street, and Tara and Abraham looking cleaned up for the gathering.
As Reedus suggests, Daryl and the other characters are being domesticated, their life-forces sucked out as they're forced into someone else's safe place.
I'm not so sure that Norman Reedus is dropping a major clue in talking about foreshadowing, particularly when we consider the way Daryl reacted to Buttons' death. But that's not to say that Buttons isn't a bad omen, or possibly confirmation to Daryl that, good intentions or not, maybe their help will come at a price.
In an interview with EW, Norman Reedus spoke a bit about Daryl's view on what happened to the horse, and his "You were trying to help," comment to Aaron right after they put the horse down. As Reedus explained it, he intentionally changed the tone of that line to be a bit less supportive and more "See what happens when you try to help?" He went on to say...
I just kind of walked away and said it, to let him sit with that—like, who are you to think that this horse needs you? And all of his intentions were good, but this horse didn’t need you to save it. It was fine. It was a big, pretty horse and it was living, and you tried to trap it. You tried to take that bird and put it in a cage and you killed it.
So maybe it's less foreshadowing as it is a demonstration that Daryl's chief concern is being tamed and made weak while inside the relative safety of Alexandria's walls. Or maybe it's both, and this is a lesson Daryl will eventually learn the hard way, even if -- on some level anyway -- he saw it coming?
Whatever the story with the horse means, it seems evident that Buttons is a bad omen. Then again, when is it ever a good sign when a horse gets eaten.