After a Season 1 marathon last weekend and a replay of Seasons 2 and 3 this weekend, The Walking Dead will return to AMC with a new episode on Sunday, February 10th. It’ll be a great relief for fans. The hardships of winter and the disappointments of the holiday season double suck when you can’t even get your zombie fix.
The Season 1 marathon on Super Bowl Sunday featured a lengthy teaser from the upcoming Governor-ordered fight to the death between brothers Merle and Daryl Dixon. Not since the Civil War have Americans been so interested in brother-against-brother conflict. The outcome of the fight is sure to be one of the highlights of the mid-season premiere. The producers of The Walking Dead have promised us repeatedly that no character is safe, so there is fan anxiety attached to the fight. We stand to lose yet another main character. If Merle dies, nobody will care. If Daryl dies, there is a Facebook group that proposes we riot.
The death of T-Dog bothered fans of The Walking Dead, but the mourning was brief. Folk hero T-Dog was damned near scenery, truth be told. He had five minutes of lines in Season 2, even less in Season 1. Daryl’s death would impact the show in a much bigger way. Fans don’t like Daryl just because they like him. Daryl has become the heart and soul of The Walking Dead.
I didn’t really understand how it was that Daryl had wormed his crossbow-wielding, white-trash, man-of-few-words way into our hearts until I watched the Season 1 marathon this past Sunday. In the early days of the show, Rick took pleasure in his family. Glenn seemed to enjoy his transformation from pizza delivery guy to zombie slayer. Everybody hopped on the chance to get drunk. The group had reasons to survive.
By Season 3, not so much. Rick could barely look at Lori before her death. He has glanced at his new baby maybe twice, and he gives his son, Carl, orders and not much else. Carl struggles to take on adult responsibilities because there isn’t anything else for him to do. Glenn has acquired the ultimate hot farmer’s daughter love interest in Maggie, but their love is earnest and dutiful and doesn’t look like it’s any fun at all. Carol, eh, she’s still cleaning up the other character’s messes. With the joy gone from life, people have started doing everything they do on the show because they have no other choice. It’s backwards evolution. The original characters from Season 1 who’ve made it to the prison aren’t getting more complex. They are turning into mice.
In the middle of these miserable, desperate people, we have Daryl Dixon. Before the walker virus, the best Daryl could hope for in life was a trailer home and a live-in girlfriend to knock up. The zombie apocalypse has given Daryl a place of trust in a group that wouldn’t have admitted him in the pre-walker world. His nothin’-to-lose bravery and his got-nothin’-better-to-do tenacity allow the character to take on lost causes (the search for Sophia) and to spend time worrying about what really matters. Daryl is often the only character to acknowledge the other survivors’ grief, and his “Little Ass Kicker” greeting of dead Lori’s baby allowed the other characters to feel something better than despair over her arrival.
Daryl Dixon is the anti-mouse of The Walking Dead. With the other characters running around on a wheel, doing things because they have to, Daryl does things because he wants to. He has grown, not dimished.
The character of Rick Grimes gets the most camera time on the show, but, make no mistake about it, Daryl Dixon is the hero of The Walking Dead. I really hope that the producers won’t kill him off just to prove that they can.
The Walking Dead returns tonight with a shiny new episode. Many fans can’t wait, so I’m going to satisfy their curiosity with my Official The Walking Dead Predictions, which are based on nothing official other than I officially want to make them.
Prediction #1- Rick is highly displeased to discover that there is virtually no food in the prison. The surviving prisoners raided the grain stores early in the Walker Apocalypse and cooked it all up in their homemade still. Having a lot of product and very few customers, they are delighted to meet Hershel, who immediately trades them Maggie in exchange for a mason jar full of hootch. Maggie, tired of Glenn telling her that he’s inspecting her for scratches when she thinks he wants to get jiggy, does not object.
Prediction #2- Daryl returns to his convict roots and hooks up with an inmate named “Big Arrow.” Carol, realizing finally that her relationship with a gay man was her way of repressing her own sexuality, disappears while looking for the women’s wing. Her friends, fed up with searching for members of the Peletier family, do not go looking for her.
Prediction #3- T-Dog will say very little, if anything. He IS the black guy and is lucky to still be on the show at all.
Prediction #4- Rick will spend the episode gnawing on Hershel’s amputated leg and screaming, “Fuck off! I’m tired of taking care of you!” at everyone.
Prediction #5- Andrea and Michonne will have three minutes of airtime this week rather than two.
Prediction #6- Lori Grimes, terrified that the new life in her womb is actually new death in her womb, takes a renewed interest in her son, Carl. Carl is mortified by being forced to wear diapers in front of his love interest, Beth Greene. In attempt to look more mature, Carl paints a mustache on his upper lip and insists that everyone refer to him as “Dirty Sanchez.”
The season opener left us with one of the most memorable lines in television history…”Holy Shit.” Hopefully my predictions will prove to be true and this episode will be equally memorable.
Anybody else got any predictions?