Throughout the second season of The Walking Dead, redneck savant Daryl Dixon has been taking the lion’s share of the cool and heroic moments. While alpha chaps Rick and Shane have been angsting and killing their own people, Daryl is stoically searching for a missing girl and battling his inner demons in hallucinatory form.
What a guy! And is there any way this Daryl-heavy episode will get a bad review?
Dixon Family Values
No, it’s pretty unlikely. Or at least, the Dixon-themed parts of it certainly won’t. Norman Reedus continues to turn in a great performance as Daryl, balancing the character’s rough edges with a determined likability. His scenes fighting for his life in the middle of this episode were gripping, made more so by a real sorry that he might have died.
Which, of course, almost came true at the end. And that would’ve been a sick joke of an ending for the character, just as we’re all falling for him, so I’m pleased. However, properly killing Daryl would’ve served Andrea right after her trigger-happy moaning of recent weeks. She’s getting quite annoying.
Oh, and Merle Dixon pops back for a visionary visit. It’s nice to see him again even in this form, reminding us that he’s not forgotten, and the actor is willing to come back. And in the shorter term, it’s a good way to dramatise the conflict between Daryl’s old ways and his rebirth as a new man. Good scenes.
Sophia, Zombie Queen?
The continuance of the hunt for Sophia is giving me mixed feelings, though. On the one hand, it provides a purpose. Without that thread, people would just be sitting on a farm. Still, it builds anticipation for the ending, which had better be good. At this stage, I’m assuming we don’t see Sophia until the mid-series finale in two weeks time.
And although I’m glad Daryl survived, part of me would’ve liked a big kill, to add a shot of drama to the show. Only one character has died in five episodes now, and it was barely-formed Otis.
Oh, and the pre-credits flashback was a nice touch, both in shading out Shane’s weird desire to protect Rick’s family and… just because it was cool, really. A strong episode from The Walking Dead, and hopefully the cliffhanger here means something significant will happen next week, which I think we’re ready for. Things have been fairly sedate since the Shane-murder.