Daryl Dixon and How I Learned to Love the Crossbow
Please Note: SPOILERS AHEAD. If you have not watched all episodes up to season 3’s mid-season hiatus and don’t want to spoil anything for yourself, turn back now!
Down at the GCE, when The Walking Dead is on, a vow of silence is honoured so that we don’t miss a second. That is, unless a zombie gets slaughtered in a particularly heinous way or a comrade falls in battle, then there’s shouting and hollering. Sunday’s very quickly turned into The Walking Dead day, and I don’t think any of us would change it for the world.
What didn’t come about so quickly was my love of Norman Reedus’ character Daryl Dixon, who I can safely say is the majority of fans favourite by now (though I wouldn’t count Glenn out as a very close second) and at first I was rather perplexed by everyone’s love for the character.
When he was introduced in season one, he was little more than a dirty redneck with a penchant for hunting squirrels and was a man quick to anger. Daryl is introduced as Merle Dixon’s little brother who, upon finding out about Merle’s fate cuffed helplessly to a rooftop, demands a rescue mission to save him. Throughout the first season he’s a man angry that his racist brother has gone missing from the rooftop, leaving behind a trail of blood and his severed hand. We don’t see a lot of character development until season two when Rick enlists Daryl’s superior tracking abilities to attempt to find Carol’s daughter, Sophia.
We learn a lot about Daryl’s troubled childhood and he begins to show a softer, more humane side when he presents Carol with a Cherokee Rose, which he says blooms for a lost child when a mother cries. Carol is later seen thanking Daryl for risking his life looking for the little girl. He flinches as she kisses him on the forehead, suggesting that he is not used to the affection. Throughout the second and the beginning of the third season the writers delve deeper into Daryl and his sordid history. We see the savage in him as he beats Randall, and we see the loyalty in him as he shoots Dale. In season three we see him as the second in command and a man compassionate to the prisoners for losing their friends. He is loyal to Rick when he promises to stay with him even if they find his brother.
The writers of The Walking Dead have done a fantastic job in beginning to bring Daryl’s character full circle, filling in the gaps in his history as they go. He’s no longer a violent, ignorant redneck, but an important part of the group that shows loyalty, fearlessness, dedication and most of all his heart and his will to survive. When writers really focus on characters and bringing them from a two-dimensional character into a living, breathing, well rounded one it shows, and to the writers and their wonderful job on helping me learn to love the crossbow, I say a very sincere thank you.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC on Sunday, February 10th at 9/8c.