On The Walking Dead, Daryl (Norman Reedus) may come across like a tough-as-nails redneck, and while he’s certainly that to a degree, he’s also got a softer side and has many of the most earnest, heartfelt connections on AMC’s hit zombie drama. The show has had its serious emotional moments over the years, and apparently there’s one coming up in this weekend’s mid-season finale, “Coda,” that reduced Reedus to tears.
Just a heads up, if you’re not caught up on season 5 of The Walking Dead, you might want to sit this one out, as we’re going to talk about where the series is right now. We’ll try to keep the spoilers light, but they’ll be lurking around, like those pesky walkers.
As is tradition at this point, The Walking Dead is building up towards something monumental for the mid-season finale. Most of us assume that it’s going to take the form of a violent clash between Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) group of survivors and the cops at Grady Memorial Hospital. That’s probably going to happen, so get ready for some bloodshed, but you should also prepare to go through the emotional ringer as well.
Talking to TV Guide, Reedus says that the end of the episode is “devastating,” especially to him. Whatever it is, it’s so emotional that it took some special preparation to be able to pull it off. He says:
I sat on an apple box with my head between my legs and just bawled for an hour. I really wanted not to tear up during [the scene] – I wanted to be like I had wasted every tear in my body before we started shooting – so I just sat there and cried and cried and cried.
There’s no word about what this traumatic event is, but from this description, it’s going to be a doozy of an emotional gut punch. If you’re caught up, it’s easy to presume that this has something to do with Beth (Emily Kinney) or Carol (Melissa McBride), both of whom are being held in the hospital. They’re the two people who Daryl has the closest bond with, and if something happens to either of them, it’s breakdown time. Then again, he wants to play the scene without crying, but even as stoic as he is, it’s difficult to imagine him not shedding a tear for either Beth or Carol dying. So maybe it’s something else entirely, even though I can’t envision many other scenarios that would carry this much weight.
If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that Carol doesn’t make it through the episode. That’s the way season 5 seems to have been moving. Beth is just becoming fully realized as a character and has a lot of potential ahead of her, while Carol feels like she’s coming to the end, both as her character and as a part of the show. She was ready to walk away from the group, and if Daryl hadn’t found her, she was going to light out on her own, and she’s been teetering on the verge of giving up.
In addition to that, the weight of what she’s done is piling up on her. And I think even more than the terrible things she’s had to do, she’s troubled by the fact that she did what needed to be done and that she would do it again without hesitation. Knowing that must be an enormous burden to lug around. In the comics, this has traditionally been Rick’s role, the one who has to make gut wrenching decisions and live with the consequences, and as he becomes more the character we recognize from the source material, there may not be room for two characters like this in the narrative
If this is the case, I’ll hate to see her go, because Carol has become one of the most interesting, powerful characters on the show, but I just don’t see her surviving to the second half of season 5.
But that’s all speculation and conjecture at this point. Daryl’s emotional moment may have nothing to do with any of this. However it goes down, we’ll find out what makes Daryl so sad when “Coda” airs this Sunday.