The Walking Dead left viewers’ guts in knots last week. If you’re not all caught up with Season 6 of The Walking Dead, consider yourself warned that there will be spoilers ahead.
Negan killed someone. Most theories support that, as in the comics, it was Glenn; but, I believe it was actually Daryl Dixon’s head that met with the end of Negan’s baseball bat, Lucille.
“The Last Day On Earth” opened with Morgan walking through a field looking for Carol. This scene provided an important clue. In fact, I believe the horse’s real purpose was almost exclusively to provide a clue to viewers that it was Daryl’s last day on earth. Sure, the horse provided Morgan with a means to catch up to Carol and a bridge that would lead to the introduction of another society that we will meet up with in Season 7. That wasn’t the purpose of the domesticated horse, though.
We’ve come across a horse of significance in a field before. Last year, we watched Daryl and Aaron try to capture an untamed horse in a field in order to bring it home to Alexandria. At that point, Daryl was still a bit untamed himself and trying to get comfortable in the new town. Aaron told Daryl that a child in Alexandria had named the horse Buttons and that he had been trying to catch Buttons for months. The parallel between Aaron, Alexandria’s recruiter, trying to catch Buttons and his efforts to convince Daryl to find a home within Alexandria’s walls is not a coincidence. While the men tried to catch Buttons to bring it home to Alexandria, the horse ended up getting mauled by walkers after it was penned into the corner of an old fence.
Later, when Norman Reedus talked about that scene from Season 5, he explained its significance in part, as Entertainment Weekly reported.
“See what happens when you take something that is out in the wild and it’s surviving and it’s a wild animal and you bring it into a cage, you take the life out of it—literally.'”
Last year, Cinema Blend reported that Reedus said that the scene with Buttons might be foreshadowing what might happen if the group stayed in Alexandria. I took that to mean that Daryl’s days on earth were numbered if he allowed himself to be tamed.
The horse that Morgan found in the final episode of Season 6 was tamed. The depiction of the tamed horse, saddle and all, was telling viewers that Daryl’s domestication process in Alexandria was complete. The saddle, I believe, was an indication that Alexandria had finally broken Daryl’s wild spirit.
Where Aaron left off recruiting Daryl into the fabric of Alexandria, Denise took over. In “Knots Untie,” Denise gave Daryl a cookie while he worked on the RV. At first, he rejected her offer. Clearly, having a cookie handed to him after years living off hunted opossum felt uncomfortable. Yet, after a few moments of talking with Denise, he finally accepted the cookie. Proving he was still untamed, though, he added that the cookie looked “like s–t.” It couldn’t be denied that the local doctor was making him more docile.
Then, on the way to the apothecary on a supply run with Denise and Rosita, Daryl wanted to take the long way around through the woods instead of walking down the railroad tracks. At that point, he still preferred to be alone over walking the more civilized path. But while on the supply run both Rosita and Daryl both bonded more deeply with Denise, cementing their developing attachment to the people of Alexandria.
The progression of Daryl’s inclusion into the fabric of Alexandria’s family was finally evident when he suggested that he would be fine taking the tracks back to their vehicle. Daryl was trying to show that he decided not to be an outsider.
Of course, the trek down the tracks ended with Denise shot in the head with an arrow by The Saviors using Daryl’s own stolen crossbow, as if Denise’s murder at the hands of a man Daryl let live wasn’t bad enough. Compound that with the fact that Denise was killed just moments after Daryl and Denise formed a new, sibling-like bond when they discovered that their own brothers had so much in common.
Denise wasn’t even the one Dwight was aiming for; Daryl’s arrow was intended for Daryl.
Earlier in the season, when Rick was trying to sell the group on the plan to launch a preemptive strike against the The Saviors, we were given an early clue that Daryl was going to be killed. There was an odd pause in which the camera focused on Daryl immediately after Rick said that The Saviors would try to kill some of them and own the rest of them.
“And we would try to stop them,” Rick said, adding that it would be too late. Really, though, it was already too late.
In the scene with the meeting in the church, we also saw Carol’s internal struggle over whether or not they should launch a proactive attack on The Saviors. Carol had already been having conscience-issues with killing people. As Carol pulled away from the townspeople to save her own soul, Daryl began to find himself more deeply invested in the community. Later, Daryl told Carol that he should have killed the Saviors that stole his bike, but Carol wasn’t convinced.
By the end of the same episode, while burying Denise, Carol confirmed that Daryl was right in his regret about letting them live. Carol decided she didn’t want to kill for anyone, just as Daryl was quietly deciding he would avenge Denise’s death. He both felt responsible for her death and familial ties with Denise.
Nearing the end of the season, both Daryl and Carol set out into parallel — but opposite — fateful journeys out of Alexandria on their own. Daryl clutched the keychain Denise found that reminded her of her brother and headed off alone on his motorcycle to both avenge Denise’s death and protect his new family. Carol headed off toward nowhere in order to never have to kill to protect her family again. Carol and Daryl depict two completely different paths that can result from feeling too responsible for other people, and I believe this is a major clue as well.
The opposing, but parallel, journeys of Carol and Daryl further tipped us off that Daryl was the one killed by Negan. See, at the very end of the season finale, Morgan told Carol that it was not her time yet, indicating that if you draw equal, opposite parallels, Morgan was really telling the viewers that Daryl’s time was up.
Another clue that Daryl’s story on The Walking Dead was coming to a close was placed early in the last episode. Rick consoled Maggie, who appeared to be in the process of miscarrying her baby. He told Maggie that they were going to make it to the doctor at The Hilltop. Maggie asked him how he knew that. Rick responded by saying, “Everything we’ve done, we’ve done together. We got here together and we’re still here. Things have happened, but it’s always worked out for us, ’cause it’s always been all of us. That’s how I know. ”
In the woods, just before being surrounded by the Saviors, Carl told Rick that he heard what he told Maggie. Carl vowed to never let anyone die the way Denise died. Rick seemed like he was just about to explain to Carl that by “all of us,” he wasn’t referring to people like Denise or the people in Alexandria. He was about to tell his son that he was referring to the family they left the prison with.
One of our last clues came from the final scene, when the characters finally came face to face with Negan. Negan scolded our survivors for killing a significant number of his people. He was looking at Rick, and most of us were remembering the preemptive strike our survivors made on The Savior’s compound, but remember: The first kill was doled out by Daryl.
— Vinnie Gorham (@VinnieGorham) February 15, 2016
When The Saviors stopped Daryl, Sacha and Abraham on the road, at the start of the mid-series premiere, the trio were informed that one of them was going to die. Viewers let out a sigh of relief and cheer after Daryl, having been escorted to the back of the tanker to hand over all their belongings, re-emerged and promptly exploded The Saviors to bits.
That scene hinted that one of those three would eventually be sacrificed by The Saviors, because The Saviors always made an example out of one person from every group. Of course, this could make a case for Negan offing Abraham, because after all, Denise took the arrow that was intended for Abraham, if you follow the comics. Perhaps Daryl’s internal narration was just a narration, and not self-fulfilling. Abraham did just tell Sacha he was ready to settle down and start a family, but if Negan saw the exchange with the RPG, he knew that Daryl killed the first of his men. Plus, there was one more clue that admittedly could have been planted to keep fans talking and writing about the show long after the season finale.
Inquisitrpreviously reported that while fans have been told that even cast members don’t know who Negan killed, Norman Reedus announced on Today that he does know. With that announcement, many fans felt lied to by other cast members who claimed that they didn’t even know who was killed.
if it makes you feel any better i still don’t know who got killed and it’s been like 6 months since i read the script #whoisit
— chandler riggs (@chandlerriggs) April 4, 2016
What if everyone on the cast is telling the truth? There’s one way that could be possible. There is one way that no one would be contradicting one another.
“I know what happens, and it’s gut-wrenching,” Reedus said.
If Reedus’ contract was terminated with The Walking Dead, no one but Reedus would have to know. For millions of fans of The Walking Dead, losing Daryl would be truly gut-wrenching.
Of course, Daryl’s story could be just a way to explain the death of some other major character who has been tamed in this past season, like Abraham or Sacha. We will find out for sure if Negan really did kill Daryl this fall on AMC’s The Walking Dead.
[Photo by AMC | YouTube | Cropped]