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The Walking Dead's Daryl set to take on some of Rick's role in Whisperers clash

By Jacob Oller
BTS, Danai Gurira as Michonne, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Ross Marquand as Aaron, Josh McDermitt as Dr. Eugene Porter - The Walking Dead

As The Walking Dead adapts to a time jump and a leadership change with Andrew Lincoln’s departure removing Rick from the zombie-survival equation, there’s plenty of slack left around for the remaining cast veterans to pick up. And some of it means adapting Rick’s actions in the comics to different characters on screen.

As the walker-wearing Whisperers and their leader Alpha come into focus as antagonists for the group, it seems like Norman Reedus’ Daryl — already a new addition for the TV series — will be leading the way through much of the changed content. Speaking to EW, Reedus explained how he’ll be interacting with the new big bad quite a bit in the upcoming episodes.

The Walking Dead issue 143 screen grab

“There’s a lot of Daryl and Alpha stuff coming up,” the actor said. “They’re coming from two different places. She’s coming from a place of she’s got it figured out. She’s figured out how to survive. The way that she’s figured out how to survive is smart, but it’s also so dark. Daryl sort of is put in the middle of this. He’s trying to figure it out, but when push comes to shove, Daryl’s like, ‘Let me go meet this girl.’ It gets to a point where there’s a mutual respect between them in some weird way.”

That mutual respect is able to form because these Whisperers aren’t just going to be soulless murderers. “You’re going to get into the psychology of who they are — not just Alpha, but of her daughter Lydia, and how the group is dealing with that,” Reedus said. “It’s very complicated and it’s very clever, the way that they sort of infiltrate everybody. The threat is a different kind of threat for us.”

“As for Daryl, he doesn’t want Carol mad at him. You don’t want to get a spanking from Carol! He’s there on a mission that she put him on, and now he’s kind of in the middle of all of this chaos and trying to figure it out.” While Daryl is after “some closure” with Rick — he’s “been out in the woods looking for a body” — he’s also got a responsibility for his group. That means adapting to new hardship.

“I mean, there are certain moments in the next two episodes where Daryl didn’t get in someone’s face,” Reedus said. “He kind of took a step back, and he’s watching. He’s waiting for a little crack to happen in that dam to get in there and open it up and let those waters out. He’s very clever in a way that he’s going to play both sides, in a way. He’s going to try to get into the psychology of that mindset, of what it takes to live a life in a dead man’s face and walk among the dead.”

As the comic’s Rick became the ambassador for an old way of life to the Whisperers, it seems so too will Daryl — except it sounds like in this version, he may be a bit more sympathetic to their cause.

The Walking Dead returns to AMC on Feb. 10.