Daryl. The first that comes to mind when you think of Daryl, it isn’t his unwavering good looks but his resiliency, his strength. He is a man that has not only lived in a zombie apocalypse but thrived in it. He is a man I know I wish I could know.
The strength that he emits is one of a person that has been to hell and back living to tell the most broken yet emotionally strong story ever told. There is so much depth that the creators have established with a character that was only supposed to be there for a brief stint of time. Daryl is what we all hope we can be, admit it – he’s is fucking badass and secretly you love him, he is all we hope we could ever be. Daryl is the man who would put everything and everyone ahead of himself, hell the man risked life and limb for a child he hardly knew and continued until she could no longer be saved when the group went to Hershel’s farm. The way that he cares is immensely heartwarming, the way he looks at the people he has come to care for – has come to love within their small group, takes my breath away. He is what you would define as selfless, truly.
“I don’t ever want to play that character that grabs the girl and has my way with her. That’s just not who the character is […]
If Daryl falls in love with you, he’s going to love you for the rest of his life.”
Norman Reedus on Daryl Dixon
Now whether you want to admit it or not, Daryl has a love for both Carol and Beth. With Beth, he cared for her. He was her older brother, she was his safe place. She gave him a hope and a drive that no one else on the show had ever given him up to that point. The journey after the prison was one of the most gripping parts of the show, not because they were out fighting zombie after zombie but because it was a pivotal point for both characters. Daryl opened up a new part of himself to Beth, she held him. He showed her how to live a life that she never thought possible, she showed him that it is okay to let the tears spill. Their love was something that sparked out of nothing and only got deeper the longer they spent in that forest. Sitting here, writing about it is bringing tears to my eyes. I have never had such an emotional hold on characters that were in such a painful place, that held me on the edge of my seat the entire episode when she got taken away from him. That had me silently yelling at the screen when he couldn’t find her. Daryl had to find Beth, he had to… he had to be the one to save her, she saved him himself already. And then when it happened, that moment he saw her, that moment everything else went quiet and it was just them. In that room full of people. And then they go and… I can’t even. I’ll just leave this here, go sit in the bean bag chair and hold myself awhile. I still haven’t gotten over it.
Norman Reedus has such a passion, not only for the character he plays but for the show and fans as a whole. The passion that he emits is next level, he is a fan himself and you can see it in the way he interviews. The Walking Dead has become such an integral part of Sunday night that when the show ends, hopefully not for many, many years to come, there will be nothing that could take its place.The bond that the actors have built over the years is apparent in the chemistry that they have on screen. I want someone to look at me the way Daryl and Rick look at each other, now that is an unbreakable bond if there ever was one.
This moment, this singular moment, was one that I will never forget. Both men so lost, so caught up in the world around them, forgetting their own bodies and risking it all for the good of the group. It was a turning point. A point in time where everything changed for Daryl and Rick, sure they were already close, but the acknowledgment that it is no longer a “like” but an “are.” There were no doubts or second guessing. They became brothers that day, they vocalized everything that couldn’t be said to one another in that moment. In that moment, everything changed.
Where Rick has become hard, impossible and stuck in his own head; Daryl brings sensitivity, respect and trust. Where Rick is stubborn, Daryl is not. The two are the other half to a whole that they were missing. Together they are the soul leader of the group. You can see it in the way Rick is almost lost and confused when Daryl is off with Beth, you can see it when Daryl gets taken by Negan. Together with Daryl intuition and Rick’s sense of authority, they would be unstoppable – if only it worked out that way.
Daryl is the center of the show for me, he is who I want next to me if a zombie apocalypse ever happens. So, Norman Reedus, the offer is out there, be my Daryl Dixon if the world goes to shit.
This show has given me so much, has allowed me to learn so much, I thank Robert Kirkman for creating such a brilliant world. I thank the show creators for bringing a world to life that could have just been filled with gore and followed the comics but brought so much integrity and depth to it. I can’t get enough.