If you haven’t watched The Walking Dead episode “East” yet, be forewarned: There are massive spoilers ahead.
On March 27, time stood still. OK, maybe that’s a bit hyperbolic, but for fans of The Walking Dead, March 27 could be a day that lives in infamy — it may enter into lore as the day that Daryl Dixon died.
If you watched the episode, titled “East,” you undoubtedly know how things played out and, well, you may even be rioting right now.
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To be clear, we don’t exactly know what happened to Daryl. What we do know is that he tore off on his motorcycle for a revenge mission against Dwight — the Savior he helped earlier this season who stole his crossbow and, only a week ago, used it to kill poor Dr. Denise.
Driven by a sense of responsibility and plagued by guilt, Daryl set out to avenge the good doctor. But, of course, his fellow survivors followed, specifically Glenn, Michonne and Rosita.
Despite Glenn’s impassioned plea for Daryl to “come home,” Daryl felt compelled to continue on. Rosita joined him. Alas, before long, all four of them are captured by Negan’s Saviors when Daryl tries to sneak up from behind to save Glenn and Michonne (who had been captured moments before).
Then, it happens — the screen cuts to black at the precise moment a spray of blood hits our screen.
Did Daryl Dixon just get killed? No. Nope. Can’t be… can it? While I would love to remain in abject denial for as long as possible, Daryl’s death is plausible, I suppose. It isn’t the only theory about his fate, however. Here are the major camps of opinion concerning Daryl’s latest life-or-death situation.
1. Daryl is totally fine — the bullet just grazed him
And by grazed him, I clearly mean hit him in the shoulder at point-blank range. But Daryl is like the Chuck Norris of The Walking Dead. Daryl doesn’t do push-ups, he pushes the world down. Daryl is so powerful he can jumpstart a car by attaching the cables to his chest hair. You get the picture — the dude is scrappy.
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Perhaps most telling, however, is what Austin Amelio (who plays skeevy Dwight) spilled about the cliffhanger. “He doesn’t have an intention of killing him. He’s been through a rough patch and I think he wants to show that he means business, and he knows that by shooting [Daryl] he gets his points across. I could have gone for the head. I didn’t. I went for the right shoulder. He’s not going to die. He’ll be okay (sic).” That’s all well and good, but could this guy be catfishin’? Which leads me to…
2. Dwight shot Daryl dead as a doornail, and we should all be rioting right now
When asked bout Dwight’s voice being heard saying “you’ll be all right” after the screen cuts to black, Norman Reedus played coy about his character’s fate. “Yeah, but can you trust him? You know what I mean? Who is that guy? You don’t even know who he’s saying that to, to be honest.” Uh, Daryl, are you trying to tell us you’re a goner? ‘Cause if so, we’re going to need a bit more coddling. Maybe some warm milk and a big pillow to cry ourselves to sleep into. Yeah, that sounds about right.
3. Daryl is critically wounded and will die from the wound
Here’s the thing — just as it would have been wrong to kill off Glenn during the whole dumpster debacle, it would be terribly wrong for arguably the show’s most popular character to receive such an unceremonious send-off. What would be marginally better (if we have to spin something positive from this) is if she is only critically wounded and somehow still manages to save the day. Naturally, he’d then have to perish slowly, most likely during a sentimental visit with an old friend. Helloooo, Carol.
4. Daryl didn’t get shot; Dwight did
Well now here’s an intriguing theory. Although it seems pretty clear from the still frames that Daryl is the one whose body is pierced by a bullet (and Reedus confirmed “that’s Daryl’s blood you see”), it is in the realm of possibility that the camera angle is playing tricks on us. We haven’t seen Rosita in a hot minute — maybe she comes through for the team and does indeed send a round through Dwight.
5. Daryl isn’t dead yet, but he will pay the ultimate price next week
All season has been leading up to a critically dramatic moment in the finale: the moment Negan makes his official debut. Sure, his cronies have been all over those woods doing his bidding, but we’ve yet to see his face. Until next week, that is! From the teaser trailers and what we know of the comic series by the same name, Negan wields a baseball bat in barbed wire named Lucille that he uses to exact his authority. So another popular theory is that although the gunshot wound doesn’t do Daryl in, Negan will use it as an excuse to finish him off during next week’s finale.
6. Daryl doesn’t die, but he’s going to wish he did when he indirectly causes a friend’s death
I know you know what I’m about to say. Yes, it has been foretold (aka it was written in the comic series) that Glenn is the survivor from Rick’s crew who gets annihilated by Negan’s barbed-wire-covered baseball bat in this scenario. Given that Daryl already has such a guilty conscience about Denise, whom he wasn’t terribly close to, I can’t imagine how he’d feel if his actions — i.e. going after Dwight in the first place — ultimately put Glenn in the position that got him killed.
7. Daryl was dying all along, so the gunshot wound simply expedites it
This comes by way of a commenter on one of my previous posts about The Walking Dead, and I find it compelling for a few reasons. The backstory: A few weeks ago when Rick and Daryl went scouting together, they came across a man named Jesus who ended up stealing their truck. When they catch up to him, a chase ensues, during which Daryl cuts himself with a contaminated knife. According to this fan, a character in the comic series dies after being cut with a contaminated knife, so it stands to reason Daryl has been dying right before our eyes. More intriguing still, perhaps Daryl knew it and never intended to make it back to Alexandria alive.
8. Trump killed Daryl
It should tell you something that this fan’s theory isn’t the least plausible I’ve heard.
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