Say the name Daryl Dixon in front of a crowd of The Walking Dead diehard fans and watch the swoons spread like wildfire. Norman Reedus’ tough zombie apocalypse survivor has captured our hearts and, with each new episode, that connection only grows stronger. During Reedus’ most recent public appearance at New York Comic Con, the response was so fervent I’m surprised there were no panties thrown onstage. People don’t love Daryl, people are in love with Daryl.
This, my friends, is not a model for a healthy relationship – so don’t go looking for his real life counterpart, please. Here’s why it woudn’t work…at least just yet.
His “Rough Around the Edges” Act is Charming When You’re Being Chased by Zombies, Not at a Friend’s Dinner Party
In Sunday’s season premiere, Daryl prepared to shake hands with one new survivors at the prison (where our heroes live away from Walkers) by licking each one of his fingers first and then offering his hand. Was he eating something? I don’t know. Would wiping his hand on his pants have been preferable? Yes, it would. (I think you can get away with wiping your hands on your own clothes when it’s apocalypsing.)
This stuff could certainly blow-over in a Beast-from-Beauty-and-the-Beast-doesn’t-know-how-to-hold-his-soup-spoon sort of way. But when searching for partners when the zombie apocalypse isn’t a factor, just know that this kind of quirky behavior will begin to drive you batty before you can even get to the fifth date.
When He Says He’s “Not Emotionally Prepared” For a Relationship, It’sBecause He’s Actually Not.
Sunday’s episode also delivered a sweet moment between Daryl and Beth when Daryl shares the upsetting news that Beth’s new boyfriend has just been killed by a walker. Many fans assumed that because Beth hugged him so sweetly afterward that they were about to get down to business (that is “business” with a wink-wink) even though she’s far too young for him and he couldn’t get down to business if the entire Walking Dead fan base willed it to happen.
Daryl experienced a loving gesture from a woman – something he doesn’t see often – and it was clear it moved him, but not much past his usual emotional spot. On top of all the horrors after the world ended, he was abused as a child and now he’s seen the death of his brother (twice, if you consider that he assumed Merle died when they left him on the roof in season one). He’s slowly learning to open up to people, but there’s a long road ahead before he’s emotionally steady enough for anything more than friendship. Maybe that’s why he’s been flirting with Carol since before Carl’s voice started to change but will never seal the deal.
That Pete Wentz Meets Justin Bieber Haircut
Okay, this one’s totally superficial, but did scissors not survive the zombie apocalypse?
He’s a Really, Really Great Friend
Since Season 1, Daryl’s sense of humor has increased as has his ability to care about his fellow survivors. He’d protect each every one of them – even as a helicopter is about to fall through the ceiling and kill him and the person he’s trying to help. Daryl is a really, truly amazing person and he seems to be pretty zombie-proof at this point (partly because fans would quite literally riot if the writers killed him off). He’s a wonderful, perfect friend – and friends are just what he needs to figure out his emotional roadblocks.
And here’s why this is a “yet.” It’s clear that the writers want Daryl to be open to relationships on the show, because in the season four premiere they gave his character one giant emotional leap to potential normalcy. If it sticks, he could mostly be a great boyfriend…for a zombie apocalypse. You still can’t bring that finger-licking handshake thing home to mama.