Fans of The Walking Dead are existing in a sort of limbo-like situation as Sunday draws closer. It’s a date we’ve been waiting on since December, but it’s not one we were looking forward to with jovial excitement.
It’s one we’ve been hesitantly anticipating, and with good reason. We want to know what comes next in the ‘all-out war’. We want to know who caves and who stays strong, who takes risks and who plays it safe, and ultimately – who survives and who doesn’t.
Well, in most cases. When it comes to Carl, we wish we didn’t know what was coming next. Or, we wish it was a different outcome. His loss is one we still aren’t really prepared for. The cast and crew felt the same way upon learning of his death, and they’ve spoken out about it.
Cast members have also spoken out about what’s coming next in terms of the aftermath of his death and the earth-shattering effect it has on those around him. One of those people is Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl, a character that will deeply feel Carl’s loss.
While it’s not going to be all sunshine and rainbows, there will be a conclusion with the last episodes of season 8, and that’s the only thing that makes it easier for us to accept.
‘It’s all resolution. It’s all the tying up of these ends of what’s laid out in front of us in all these different directions. There’s a lot of closure coming in the back eight, which is great. There’s been all this action and all the fighting and all these different factions that have been splitting off in these different directions, and it all kind of comes together in the end with closure in several different avenues. Some wrap up the way you think. Some wrap-up not the way you think. It’s all kind of a surprise where it all comes from.’
When it comes to what stories wrap up in the way we expect and which take a different turn, we’re looking forward to being surprised. There are some storylines we felt certain would end up one way that are now gearing up for a complete 180. It’s part of what makes a series like The Walking Dead such a good one. You can’t always predict what’s coming next.
That doesn’t just mean in terms of the show, either. You don’t know what’s around the corner for your favorite characters either, or your least favorite. When it comes to Daryl, we’ve seen a lot of growth as the seasons have progressed, and a lot of it has been positive. However, it’s not all been the kind of thing that makes it easier to exist in a world like theirs. The thing is, they don’t need ‘easy’ to survive, it’s not what shapes them to be great.
If you watch Daryl’s progression, he’s gone from a complete hothead to getting smarter every season. He makes better decisions. You see him do some things this season and you’re like, “Oh, man, don’t do that. Did he mess up a plan?” As a person, he’s becoming wiser. He’s not gentler — that’s definitely not the word, but he’s been sitting in the back paying attention to everything going on for so long, and he’s his own man and he can make his own decisions. While it seems like he may have gone rogue a couple times this season, which he did, he learns a lot from every time something goes south.
What you end up with is a very wise leader instead of just a soldier that’s willing to do anything. He’s learning from his mistakes.
Norman went on to say that Daryl is more protective of those around him because they turned him into someone he could be proud of. These people became his family and in that process, they allowed him to give love, and more importantly, to receive it.
I think his main goal is to protect the people in his camp. Shooting a stranger in the face to get that goal, he thinks it’s worth it. I think that’s some of that dirty fighting street knowledge that he’s throwing around. Rick wants his people to survive, but he also wants to save everyone else. He’s like, “The stranger over there, that’s a worker. He’s got to be part of it.”
Daryl’s more like, “No, no. This is our group and we need to keep these people safe.” He’s almost more loyal in a way to what’s around him because these people kind of turned him into something they need to be proud of. I think that’s his family. I don’t think he has a messiah complex; he’s just doing what he needs to do. That’s part of that street stuff.
That has to be one of the most monumental character arcs in the history of the series. The ability to feel the love that others have for him changed Daryl. It made him the character we all love so much today.
The Walking Dead returns Sunday, February 25th.
‘…but I knew him’