If there was only one word to describe a majority of this season of The Walking Dead, the most fitting would likely be "stressful." While the past two episodes have focused mostly on Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his crew assembling a resistance to try and take down Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his Saviors, that added levity has only come after a first half of the season dedicated to solely beating down the show's heroes. One of the characters that ended up being on the receiving end of some serious torment this time around too, was none other than Norman Reedus' Daryl Dixon, who spent most of the season's first half imprisoned by Negan at the Sanctuary.
Luckily, Daryl managed to escape and reunite with Rick and (most) of his friends in the midseason finale back in December, but the toll that Negan's torture took on him has still been evident ever since. In particular, the effects of Negan's torture and murderous acts seemed to weigh the heaviest they have on Daryl in a long time when he finally reunited with Carol (Melissa McBride) in The Kingdom during last night's episode.
But as good as it was to see the two fan favorite characters reunite, the moment was slightly marred by the fact that Daryl chose to lie to Carol about all of the people Negan has killed while she's remained out of the fray. Speaking with EW following the episode, Norman Reedus talked about Daryl's decision in that moment, and why he thinks Daryl was right in keeping that information from her:
"Because she needs to hear that. She’s going through her own thing and there’s a reason why she separated herself and doesn’t want to be a killer anymore. And she’s losing herself, and I think Daryl realizes that. It’s a very selfless act. He tells her what she needs to hear to keep going. He does it for her.
I think she can totally handle it. It’s just not what she needs. Everyone’s path is their individual path, and she needs to be away from it because she’s losing herself and that world, when your whole life is changed and your whole world is changed and the dynamics have changed, and you start to lose yourself — then what’s the point, you know? So I think that he realizes that she needs to hold on to something. She’s been working towards it and it’s been hard for her, and he sees how hard it is for her to even make the choice to do what she’s doing now. And selflessly, he tells her what she needs to hear because he cares about her and doesn’t want to drag her into something that she doesn’t want to be a part of."
Out of all of the characters in the show, Carol's direction this season has probably been the most surprising for fans to see over the past few months. After spending six seasons transforming into one of the most haunted and ruthless characters in the series, to see Carol much more at peace with herself than she's been in a long time, and out of the main conflict, has been an interesting change of pace to witness. Obviously, it'll only be a matter of time before she joins back into the fight, but seeing how and when she makes that decision will no doubt be one of the more exciting (or heartbreaking) turning points of the season.
Daryl and Carol have always had one of the closer friendships on the show, so he likely knows what he's doing when he chooses not to tell her the truth too. That's not the only major decision he makes in the episode either, after beating up Richard and choosing to leave The Kingdom, even though that's the safest place for him to stay away from Negan and his wrath. And as fans are already well-aware, Daryl is prone to making emotional and often stubborn decisions on basically a daily basis, so only time will tell which one that departure ends up being. But for right now, Daryl is a man on a mission, and everyone who hopes to stop him or hurt his friends along the way should just consider thinking twice before they try.
The Walking Dead continues next Sunday with ‘Hostiles and Calamities’ @9pm on AMC.