'Walking Dead' Dissection: Norman Reedus Breaks Down Daryl and Beth's Epic Journey
The actor talks with THR about whether romance is in the future for the new dynamic duo, clues from the rest of the group and where they may go next.
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from episode 412, "Still," of AMC's The Walking Dead.]
AMC's The Walking Dead put its lens on Daryl and Beth during Sunday's hour, following the duo as they continued to fight tooth and nail to stay alive without the benefit of food or shelter.
The episode provided as much character exploration as it did scares, with Beth (Emily Kinney) narrowly escaping an attack inside a country club where she had led Daryl (Norman Reedus).
Recognizing that Daryl had completely closed himself off after The Governor's attack and Hershel's subsequent death, Beth pushes her companion to actually feel something instead of eating snakes for dinner in the middle of nowhere. Together, they wind up looting the zombie-riddled country club where Beth, who had been in search of her first alcoholic drink, finds some new clothes while Daryl loads up on cash, jewelry and matches.
When Beth does finally find some peach schnapps, she's unable to find a clean glass and begins to cry, revealing that she wanted was a drink since she never was able to lie down and cry about losing nearly everyone she loves. Daryl responds by leading her out of the place and taking her to the abandoned shack he discovered with Michonne -- one that happens to be filled with moonshine.
They wind up getting drunk together, and via a game of "I've never," learn more about each other. Of course, Daryl is a mean drunk and blows up at Beth after she indirectly asks if he's ever been in jail. This becomes the straw that breaks the camel's back and Daryl flies off the handle, ultimately revealing that he feels guilty for giving up his search for The Governor and feels responsible for Hershel's death and the fall of the prison. He tells Beth that everyone they know is dead and they're unlikely to ever see anyone they knew again before he begins to cry.
After they reach a turning point, Daryl winds up opening up about the similarities of the booze shack to the home he grew up in and his time before the outbreak when he was aimless and tagged along with his late brother, Merle. Ultimately, Beth suggests rather than spend the night at the shack -- which is doing nothing but reminding Daryl of where he came from -- that they burn it to the ground in a bid to help Daryl close the book on a past that haunts him. The new dynamic duo wind up back on the road, only this time there's a sense of hope in each of their steps.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Reedus to break down the episode, what Daryl opening up means for the badass character and how his relationship with Beth might evolve going forward. Plus could they, too, wind up at Terminus? And what about that mysterious spoon from D.C.?
Daryl blames himself for The Governor's deadly attack. How will we see him move forward after this, now that he's finally opened up about it?
He goes to a real dark place, but the good thing about this week's episode is he's always finding hope through other people. He is one of those personalities that needs somebody to give him an extra push. And Beth shows him a candlelight in the darkness and he moves on that. Daryl is still upset about Carol (Melissa McBride), and he's going to be more protective of the group and he'll have his guard up more. I don't think he'd let [The Governor's attack] happen again.
The seed for this episode was first planted in the season-four premiere in terms of Daryl and Beth's kindred spirits. How will we see Daryl and Beth's relationship evolve now that he's finally opened up to her?
That may be addressed. I like seeing those two together. They're not characters who you'd normally see or partner up together. Being stuck with each other, this episode starts with Daryl in a dark place and he doesn't want to go on and he's growling at Beth the whole time. But it ends on a positive note. Beth showed him something about himself. He struggles a lot of the time and he's got a chip on his shoulder; he doesn't think people like him. But Beth helps him shed some of his old demons and feel good about himself and the need to let those things go and move forward. That's a lot of what our show is about. He definitely has a soft spot for her forever. They've bonded during this journey.
Is their relationship more like siblings or could Daryl and Beth's friendship turn romantic?
Everyone pairs Beth up with Carl in this weird way and she's much older than Carl. He's looking for comics and she's looking for food. They're definitely not the same age. I can't tell you if there's going to be a romantic thing; we're not allowed to talk about that stuff. But never say never! She's a cute girl in the zombie apocalypse and Daryl could do much worse.
She really understands him, which is pretty rare given their circumstances. Beth and Carol both get him and let him know just how great he is.
They grew quite close very fast. Beth lets him know that the way Carol let him know that; the way Rick (Andrew Lincoln) lets him know that. He definitely finds a self-worth in himself through other people and he needs that push in that direction to say it's OK being him. Daryl has a lot of bad things in his past, and he grew up in a certain way and he's been held down so much that it's nice for him to have something -- and people -- to fight for.
When they're in the country club, Beth goes looking for new clothes and that drink she's in search of. But Daryl takes cash and jewelry. What's his thinking there? Is this a reflection of the person he used to be?
It could be. The money is for building fires since it's not worth anything. Gold and jewelry, maybe you can trade it for something. They're taking anything they can. I don't think Daryl is the type of character who needs a wardrobe change; you grab what you can grab and maybe you can trade it for something. But you just never know.
Thanks to Beth, Daryl closes the book on his past. How will this free him up emotionally now?
He's definitely moving in the right direction now. He's interesting in that he's very guarded and very loyal. Once he breaks that wall down with someone, he's loyal forever. Especially with Beth in this episode: she means a lot to him and took time to get to know him and open up to him and that got him to open up. It created a stronger bond between these two. He still thinks everyone else is dead and has little hope for the future, but Beth gave him a little light at the end of the tunnel and that means a lot to him.
How might we see the way Daryl treats Beth change now that she's proven not only to Daryl but to herself that she can take care of herself after she puts down the zombies that were so threatening to her?
Right up to then, he's trying to get her to come back to their camp and to not leave. He says she's ridiculous and to stay with him if she wants to leave. He finally says, "Fine, go do it and learn a lesson." He's standing there and if Beth were going to die, he would have jumped in at the last minute. But he lets her fight. In the beginning when she walks off, he's tailing her, but he doesn't let her know. I'm sure he looks at her with a new respect and in a whole bunch of different ways. Not only can she can fight and protect herself but she's opened up a soft spot inside of Daryl and that's probably the area that he's most uncomfortable with in the world -- more so than a zombie apocalypse.
This episode illustrates how far Daryl has come. We learned he was Merle's tag-along and there was a reference to how he broke down after Sofia's death. What do you think his next evolution is? Where does he go from here?
It's everything he's grown up on and learned and all of that is amped up. Every single aspect of that fighting part of him that's sensitive that cares, it's all amplified 100 times just before the season ends. There's a whole bunch of stuff that goes on; the rest of the season is nonstop.
Beth finds a spoon that's marked Washington, D.C., which is also where Abraham, Eugene and Rosita were headed. Could some of these groups cross paths? How much longer can Daryl and Beth remain out in the wilderness?
That spoon might be some sort of foreshadowing; you never know! Could they cross paths? Never say never. It's interesting to watch everybody lost. If you watch this episode and last week's closely, Daryl and Beth walk by that log and there's the bunnies and that's where Lizzie was killing a bunny. As we walk, there are little clues that they're not as far from everyone as they think they are. Carl leaves a candy wrapper; there are little things on the ground that show you that they're zigzagging without knowing they're zigzagging.
Sounds like a reunion for at least some members of the group isn't too far off.
You never know! You never know who is going to make it and who isn't. But there's definitely Easter eggs that are hidden. [Showrunner] Scott M. Gimple is really good at offering little clues if you're paying attention. We're definitely on our A game right now, there isn't a weak link on our chain right now.
Rather than spending the night in Daryl's haunted house of horrors, they burn the place down and go back on the road. Will they look to find a safe haven to start over? Where are they headed?
They didn't find that place to make it a home, they found because Daryl recognized that kind of a place from his past and he knew there was a still behind it. I love that moment, where he doesn't let her have peach schnapps as her first drink. I love that he's doing that for her. If that's what she needs to move forward, he makes a decision to find it for her. She finds the peach schnapps and is crying and it's come down to this and Daryl thinks, "F--- it, we can make it better than this." But they're on the move. They've got to keep moving to stay alive. They don't know where they're going. But this episode ends and there's hope, which is something we've never seen in any of our episodes before. They have a little spring in their step at the end of it and it's a beautiful thing to watch.
Everyone seems to be stumbling on this new community, Terminus, a sanctuary offering survivors the chance to stay alive. Is that something that could be in Daryl and Beth's future since they're not too far from everyone else right now? Could that place be a trap? We know from the comics there's a big cannibal story line coming up …
We don't know. They're always looking for hope so they will continue looking. They can't go back to where they were. That's what's good about the show: It's constantly moving and constantly changing. It's not a lawyer show; it's not a buddy-buddy drama in an apartment building. It's a constantly moving and adapting show and it's fun to move with it.
Carol is still out there. What can you say about what their reunion may look like when and if they do cross paths?
He would be very happy to see her again, that's for sure.
What did you think of Daryl and Beth's journey? How would you like to see both evolve? Hit the comments below with your thoughts and theories. The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.