Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
The seventh season premiere of The Walking Dead left an indelible mark on viewers due to the graphic and heart-breaking deaths of two main characters. One of those deaths, that of Glenn Rhee, could have been avoided had Daryl Dixon, played by Norman Reedus, restrained himself rather than lashing out at Negan. Instead, Daryl’s actions promoted Negan to take another life and the series bid farewell to fan-favorite Glenn. Speaking to EW, Norman Reedus discussed how Daryl will move forward following the death of Glenn.
Reedus confirmed that Daryl blames himself for Glenn’s death.
“He goes into a very dark place. He completely takes the weight of that and just carries that with him. He never forgives himself and he takes full responsibility. Although the thing is, Daryl didn’t say ‘Oh if I do this, they’ll kill Glenn.’ Nobody knows what’s going to happen with that guy with the bat. Nobody knows anything. But what he was doing was protecting Rosita. Negan had that bloody bat, waving it in her face, yelling at her, and it’s right in front of my face too. We were right next to each other. And he was picking on Rosita and Daryl stood up for her and he stood up for Abraham. The outcome of that, nobody knew that was going to happen.”
Reedus also explained that both he and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays the ruthless Negan, were anxious over who fans would blame for the death of Glenn.
“[Jeffrey Dean Morgan] and I were joking in the car coming to Talking Dead, and I was like ‘Man, I hope people don’t think it’s my fault. I’ll catch a lot of flack for that.’ No one had ever said that to me before. No one was like, ‘You’re gonna get it! We blame you.’ I was thinking of it, and the characters don’t blame me or anything like that, but Jeffrey was teasing because he was saying people were going to hate him so he was joking that he was going to be like, ‘I’m just gonna tell them it’s your fault.’ And I was like, ‘Don’t even think about it! It’s a mistake. You do it on Talking Dead in front of 10 million people, everybody starts to think it now!'”
Reedus elaborated on how the guilt Daryl feels over Glenn’s death will take a toll on him.
“But the truth is that whole group on that show would have done anything to protect any of us, and that guy’s crazy with the bat. The weight of Glenn’s death is going to weigh on Daryl heavily, I know it does. He gives up, he loses the fight, he’s keeping to himself, whatever’s happening to him, he thinks he deserves it. He’s going to let it happen, which is crushing. To take somebody wild like that — a wild, pure, honest fighter like that — and just strip him of his desire to fight back or fight for anything, it’s crushing.”
Following the groups encounter with Negan, Daryl is taken by the Saviors as an insurance policy to prevent Rick and his team from retaliating. Reedus commented on his approach to shooting that sequence.
“We shot that where they’re filming the back of the van, and I bounced all over that van. I was bouncing all over the place, like they just threw this wild animal into a cage and he’s just freaking out right now. There’s a lot of audio that didn’t make the cut, but it was terrifying. I remember they threw me in the back of the van, and I’m looking over at Rick and I’m trapped in the van, Rick just starts bawling. It was such a dramatic moment. It’s heartbreaking from here on out for Daryl”
Reedus explained that while most of the group appears to be broken, with the exception of Maggie, he hopes to see Rick’s group rebound.
“It’s a different season now. We’ve never not been in control or at least thought we were in control. You have to break down heroes to see them turn into bigger heroes. Hopefully those heroes make it and hopefully those heroes find their way back to the type of people that fight for freedom and fight for their friends. It’s just a different season. It’s uplifting and it’s heartbreaking all at the same time, it’s a very emotional ride this year. It’s a very bold move, but the payoff is really big.”
Reedus believes the move to bring our heroes to their lowest point is a bold choice and praised co-star Andrew Lincoln’s performance this season.
“It’s easy to give everybody what they want every time we do it, just give them the same old thing. But it’s a very gutsy, brave move to push the show forward, and you have to push the show forward. We’ve always been a breathing animal. This show’s always been on the move and that’s what keeps it fresh and what keeps people interesting and interested. We’re on the right path. It’s really a heavy season this year. I think Andy [Lincoln] should be nominated. Just watching that first episode, he’s killing it this year. He does some great, great stuff for the rest of the year. He’s really, really taking the bull by the horns on this show.”
The Walking Dead airs on Sunday at 9:00 pm ET on AMC.