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The Walking Dead: Norman Reedus Calls Daryl and Carol Goodbye a “Funeral”

Published on November 22nd, 2022 | Updated on November 22nd, 2022 | By FanFest

It was evident from the beginning that Daryl Dixon would survive The Walking Dead series. Viewers threatened to riot if he didn’t, and he’s already in production for a spin-off show. But how would things end with him and his fellow apocalypse survivor Carol?

On Sunday’s series finale, directed by Greg Nicotero, we received the answers to many of our questions. The episode begins with Daryl (Norman Reedus) attempting to save Judith (Caily Fleming), who had been shot in the previous episode by Pamela Milton (Laila Robins). However, the rescue mission experienced setbacks when Daryl was knocked out and given a black eye — a plot twist that was incorporated after Reedus actually suffered his own concussion and black eye on set.

After Daryl saved Judith and the others in the Commonwealth, his toughest challenge still remained—bidding farewell to Melissa McBride‘s Carol. In a sentimental scene by the lake, they talked about their diverging paths; him driving off on his bike to find Rick and Michonne while she stayed behind at the Commonwealth. That was followed by an emotional goodbye next to Daryl’s motorcycle during which “I love yous” were declared and tears shed.

Not only were the emotional words spoken between characters, but also between actors. In an interview with EW, Reedus discusses Daryl’s send-off on TWD, the connection to his upcoming spin-off, and why his final scenes with McBride felt “like a funeral.”

The Walking Dead series finale

Jace Downs/AMC Norman Reedus on ‘The Walking Dead’ series finale

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How do you feel about how Daryl’s story wrapped up here after 11 seasons?

NORMAN REEDUS: It’s not done, so I can’t even answer that question because I’m still shooting Daryl. I like that that the Commonwealth story line is ending. I was ready to put that to bed a little while ago. But it’s definitely weird on a personal level knowing I’m not going to see the cast or the crew anymore. That’s kind of heartbreaking to me. I’m happy where the season ended, but as far as the Daryl story, it’s still continuing so it’s not really over for me yet.

So is that just a coincidence that Daryl gets knocked out in this episode and you got a concussion working on the same episode?

[Laughs] That was not a coincidence. It was wild too, because I’m like looking at my black eye and everything else and I’m like, “Oh yeah, that hurt. That really hurt.”

You look like Doyle from the Misfits with all the black around the eye.

Oh yeah! It’s funny because I’ve had like four real black eyes on this show and some of them we’ve covered up, some of them we’ve just written it into the story line, and then some of it we’ve enhanced. So we’ve used all my real black eyes.

The Walking Dead series finale

Jace Downs/AMC Norman Reedus and his black eye on ‘The Walking Dead’ series finale

Obviously, the stuff I really want to talk about are the scenes with you and Melissa. What was it like filming that scene with her next to the lake where Daryl and Carol are about to be split up? Tell me about shooting that with you two obviously having worked together for so long and being the friends that you are.

Yeah, that was a really emotional day. The subtext was heavier than the text. It was wild. There are certain parts of real life that blend in with story lines sometimes, and that was a really heavy day. It felt like a funeral. It was very quiet on set. It was a very rough day — sad and very heavy.

I know there was some work done on that scene. It sort of started maybe as something a little different. Were you guys talking with director Greg Nicotero about how you wanted to handle that?

Yeah, we were talking with Greg about it. There was a lot of dialogue that was kind of jokey and we kind of took out the jokey-ness because it was such a real day, and to say jokey dialogue, it kind of didn’t make sense. I don’t know where that came from or how that idea germinated. Actually, I think Melissa started that ball rolling and it kind of rolled in the wrong direction by the time we got to shooting it. It had become such a real situation that we just needed to play it real. It was really sad.

The Walking Dead series finale

Jace Downs/AMC Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus on ‘The Walking Dead’ series finale

When you’re about to get on the bike and you’re telling each other “I love you” in that final scene together after this journey they’ve been on, there has to be a little bit of Norman and Melissa in there in addition to Daryl and Carol saying those words, right?

That was all Norman and Melissa. And when you say goodbye to somebody that’s that close to you in real life, and then you’re playing two characters who are saying goodbye, it becomes very real.

Did part of you consider clipping zombie Nicotero a bit as you sped past him on your bike in that final scene?

Greg really wanted to do that. He was the first zombie I ever saw, so it’s nice that he’s the last zombie I ever saw on the show. It’s funny when Greg dresses up as a zombie while he’s directing, because it’s not like he goes and takes the makeup off as soon as he’s done. He continues to direct as a zombie. It’s kind of wild.