Longtime fans of Daryl Dixon are going to crucify me for saying this, but we may as well just be honest: everyone’s favorite archer is probably going to regret not being the one who gets a barbed-wire bat to the face from Negan.
Yes, it’s harsh, but it is a bad time to be Daryl Dixon. Not only have you just watched at least one member of your group get their face brutally bashed in by Negan and Lucille, but you’ve essentially failed the late Denise and put your entire group into trouble by letting Dwight know of your presence. Now, mentally broken and on the verge of tears, you’re forced to watch as the scarred Dwight, with your crosssbow, leather jacket, and motorcycle, takes off to reign hell upon other survivors.
It is indeed a bad time to be Daryl Dixon. Recently, AMC and The Walking Dead‘s official website partnered to update the character bios for the characters who at least entered the final minutes of Season 6 alive. On that list — because there’s been no evidence that he’s been killed yet — is Daryl, with his new-look biography reading as follows.
“Daryl finally made Alexandria his home and the Alexandrians his extended family. Finding forgiveness, he saved Dwight, who in turn took his crossbow and used it to kill Denise – a defining moment for Daryl – and Daryl feels extreme guilt and anger. Now, he faces Dwight, Negan and the Saviors with no hope for the mercy he extended to ‘D’ in the burnt out forest.”
The key words there are extreme guilt and anger, two things that can almost certainly lead to your death in a zombie apocalypse. You may be able to slay walkers with the best of them or find the best stashes of food and medicine that no one else can, but you let yourself get blinded by survivor’s guilt or anger and you are either getting a bullet to the brain or rotten teeth to the neck. Or, if you’re unfortunate enough, a nice smack to the face courtesy of a Louisville Slugger that’s mated with Rangewire.
As history with the hit zombie show will tell you, people who let guilt blind them go insane. When Rick lost Lori and blamed himself for being unable to protect her, he nearly got his entire group killed multiple times. The Governor went crazy about the loss of his daughter, Penny, and kept her hidden in a secret closet in his apartment — which backfired when Michonne put her down like a rabid dog during Season 3’s midseason finale. And, even in his zen-like state now, I think we can all remember just what happened to Morgan when he was alone in King County.
While The Walking Dead has really tried to stray away from flashbacks over the years (in large part due to how far they are in the apocalypse and the cosmetic alterations that need to be done), those on the show and at AMC may be impressed at how well the spin-off program, Fear The Walking Dead, has handled both flashbacks and hallucinations. With Daryl really at his lowest point and quickly becoming a broken man, could the crossbow-wielding survivor face some demons from his past in the form of past characters on the show?
If AMC were to go that route and give Daryl a bit more pain to deal with, who would visit Alexandria’s recruiter and either try to build him back up or try to destroy what’s left of the man’s fragile psyche.
It only makes sense, in a show where the main group is unofficially known as Team Family, to start off with the only member of Daryl’s family we’ve physically seen in the show. Fans will remember that Merle, the lovable racist/misogynist/homophobe with a bayonet arm, actually appeared to Daryl in a hallucination during the Season 2 episode “Chupacabra” where, for those who don’t remember, the older Dixon taunted his brother about the younger’s failure to find young Sophia. The next season, the two would briefly reunite during the Woodbury-Prison conflict before Merle, in a heroic final act, sacrificed himself in a failed attempt to take The Governor out. Or, if you read between the lines, Merle was killed off because fans didn’t like the idea of a non-politically correct character getting screentime. Everyone needs to love each other and not have any personality.
Unfortunately, in what many fans believe to be due to Merle’s language and actions, we haven’t gotten to hear many references from Merle aside from one to Beth in Season 4 and one to Denise in Season 6; there are a couple of others scattered about, but Merle has almost been entirely forgotten about — almost. You’d have to think that Daryl, at his lowest point, would be confronted by his late brother again and get into it with a hallucination just as he did five seasons ago. For as much progress as Daryl has made emotionally over the years, a visit from the irrational and insane Merle would be a perfect topping to the pain Rick’s brother-in-everything-but-blood is currently going through.
Also, it’s been over three-and-a-half years since we last got to see Michael Rooker’s excellent acting as Merle. Who, other than keyboard warriors and people who don’t understand the complexity of a character, wouldn’t want to see Merle comment on Daryl beating himself over the death of a lesbian or how he worked with a Democratic congresswoman? How about Merle’s take on Rick, the man indirectly responsible for getting his hand cut off, getting into an interracial relationship? Some fans might not like Merle for his racist and offensive dialogue, but that only adds to the fantastic character that Daryl’s older brother was on screen and it’d be a disappointment if we miss out on seeing him again.
The first time we saw Daryl legitimately become broken and full of guilt was during the aforementioned hunt for Sophia in Season 2 and some have suggested she, in almost like a ghost form, return to the show to either haunt Daryl or Carol. The problem with this, for as good of an idea as it actually is, is that Madison Lintz (Sophia’s actress) would look nothing like how she did when she died; granted, you could make the same case with Merle, but at least with him you could give him another haircut and pass it off as how he looked for most of Daryl’s life. Are people really going to complain if Michael Rooker goes into character as Merle with a mohawk or a shaved head?
Haircuts are easy, but how do you do that with Madison Lintz unless you have it as “this is what I’d have looked like if you hadn’t gotten me killed?” Saying that idea out loud just puts a bad taste in my mouth so Sophia, you’re stuck just getting mentioned once or twice a season by one of the few remaining characters from Season 2.
Like Merle, Beth holds the distinction of being one of the few characters to appear in hallucinations in this show as she represented one of Tyreese’s “angels” during the latter’s death sequence in Season 5’s “What Happened And What’s Going On.” With that said and even though the “Bethyl” fandom surprisingly remains huge to this day, I don’t know if I can see them going the route of using Beth as a hallucination again. Also, do we really need to start up the argument of Daryl and Beth being in a romantic relationship again? Can’t we just let it go since she’s singing with the angels now?
This one I doubt, if only because Daryl and Denise didn’t have the connection that the archer had with any of these other characters. If Merritt Wever is coming back in Season 7 to reprise her role as Denise, it’s either going to be in a flashback with Tara (which I wouldn’t rule out) or showing up as a hallucination for the lesbian supply runner when the war between Alexandria and the Saviors starts.
Some of you right now are asking who? Did I mean to type Merle again? Is this a fanfiction character I created in my sparetime who I think AMC should introduce and pay me the rights for?
No. Will Dixon is Daryl and Merle’s father.
At least, that’s what the Survival Instinct game named him, though the show itself has given no actual confirmation as to what the Dixon brothers’ father’s name is. Could you imagine if Daryl, who is finally broken again after being arguably the most valuable survivor in this entire apocalypse and growing so much throughout the years, had to deal with a hallucination of his deceased father again? Just imagine the conversation that would ensue with Will, probably appearing with a cigar in his mouth and with a cocky smirk on his face, tearing into Daryl about what a worthless piece of garbage he turned out to be and how he went and failed the people that were “using him for years.”
We know, based on the child abuse book that Daryl carries around, that he’s still trying to overcome the years of pain his father put him through. This, if AMC could find the right actor (ironically, Jeffrey Dean Morgan would fit this role perfectly), would be one of the most heartbreaking, emotional scenes in television history; this scene, featuring a mentally broken man standing up to his specter of an abusive father and telling him off, is how the writers could make Daryl Dixon an actual human character again.
But, if we ever get to see that scene, AMC needs to allow the writers to let Norman Reedus use a precision “F strike” to end the conversation. What better way to send the ghost of your abusive, alcoholic father away for good then with a simple go f*** yourself? Make it happen, AMC.
[Featured Image by AMC]