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For as many as 17 million people, the traditional American workweek is merely six days of speculation and one day of Twitter-shattering revelation. Unlike perhaps any other show on network television, The Walking Dead is able to have its cake and eat it too — meaning it continues to cultivate the rabid fan interaction often relegated to Dr. Who or soap operas without sacrificing the quality of the show itself. Though Dead's inaugural six-episode run was admittedly uneven, the team behind one of the most ravenously successful series of all time have exponentially upped their game with each subsequent season. Season 5, for many, has been a relentless exercise in emotional assault — leading many to speculate that the messiah of Dead himself, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), would get the Hershel Greene treatment in tonight's season finale.
Fueling these speculative freakouts were recent reports that Reedus is selling his Atlanta home, inspiring many to bombard the actor's Instagram with a seemingly endless global debate on the life and times of one Daryl Dixon. But, really, could Daryl Dixon ever truly die? Could our bow-and-arrowed rock star finally, actually be on the writers' chopping block? Well, no. The answer is always no.
Though the creative forces behind Dead could kill off Daryl with a sweeping, gut-and-glory sendoff episode, such an act wouldn't actually destroy Daryl Dixon. You see, what Daryl Dixon represents within the Dead universe is much more important (and much harder to kill) than a simple human being. Daryl Dixon is a rock star, yes. He's the grungy, soft-spoken badass that the Fonze might have been in a grittier Happy Days reboot. He's the coolest looking action figure (aside from Michonne, maybe). Daryl Dixon is all of these things, but he's also an idea — and the idea of Daryl Dixon is eternal.
The transformation of Daryl from hotheaded country boy to heroic nice guy is crucial to understanding the internal journey of the character, but is also indicative of what Daryl Dixon represents — particularly in the face of characters like Rick Grimes and Carol Peletier. Who else could maintain a Jagger-like strut when perpetually surrounded by mindless cannibals? Who else could so effortlessly blend a passion for justice and an eye toward logic?
Daryl Dixon is the hero we want and the hero we need.
Long live Daryl Dixon.