On Sunday Oct. 23, the most anticipated (or infuriating) cliffhanger from cable’s biggest show will finally be revealed. The Walking Dead will give us the graphic answer, teased for the entirety of season six and now long after its finale, to whose skull was mercilessly bashed in by Negan’s barbed baseball bat, Lucille. Speculating on who will get got is fruitless: AMC isn’t going to let something slip. But we can talk about who should get got.
No one meaningful has been offed since Tyreese was killed near the end of season five. And no one from the original cast has been murked since Andrea in the season three finale. Noah, Deanna, and Reg were some of the more prominent deaths in season five and six, but neither of those characters were around for more than a season and a half. It’s time for a death to hurt—and not just because the cast tells us so. It’s time for our night to be fucked up. It’s time for our us to take a lap after the episode is over.
It’s time for Daryl to die.
"If Daryl Dies We Riot" is a quality meme, but The Walking Dead could benefit from a little anarchy. We shouldn’t be negotiating a loss we can manage; we should be welcoming devastation. Daryl is the show’s biggest badass and often its moral compass. He’s the strong and silent and sensitive type. And as teased by the clip released at New York Comic Con, he’s Rick’s right hand man. Losing him will not only devastate us, it’ll cripple the crew. Unlike Rick, he has the ability to sort the good guys from the bad, which Aaron immediately recognized. He’s also the fixer. He gets, gets out, and gets that shit done. If you're scoffing at this article already and rushing to your motorcycle to take a rage-ride, you need to ask yourself what’ll be more interesting going forward: watching Maggie mope about Glenn (or vice versa) or watching the squad try to figure out how to fill in for its greatest loss. A bunch more people might even die trying to take on his roles. And more death is always more lit!
Affection aside, Daryl has actually become one of the show’s most misused characters. Scott M. Gimple and co. have no idea what to do with him anymore. He’s largely been kept on the sidelines since joining Alexandria, relegated to recruiting with Aaron or building his new motorcycle (yawn). And despite his necessary place opposite Rick on issues of humanity, watching him butt heads with Rick is boring. Rick’s ruthless worldview is the most exhausting, overwrought storyline on the show. Yeah yeah, we get it. Sometimes you have to do bad things to survive. You don’t have to hit us over the head with it after you hit the head of someone who’s maybe innocent. And you don’t have to drag poor Daryl into it either.
When Daryl was finally brought back into the spotlight after the fall of Alexandria, he was dragged through a bout of incompetency. He let Dwight get one over on him—twice. The latter instance reinforced the show’s draining ethos: no good deed goes unpunished. Return insulin to a woman who just held you captive, get your bike and crossbow stolen by a dickhead with worse hair than you. Darryl was unable to kill Dwight in their next rendezvous, and after returning to Alexandria, decided to go on a reckless hunt for him. That got him captured by Dwight a-fucking-gain, the show’s most efficient tactician rendered useless to drive the plot forward. The entire episode was lazy writing, and a disservice to both Daryl and the audience. You might not have noticed it, but the Daryl we love is gone. He's a distant memory.
Others may call for Glenn’s head, which would follow the plot from the comic books, but the power of his death is obsolete after that horrendous dumpster fakeout and subsequent teases in season six. Maggie’s death would be brutal, no doubt, but I’m not calling for “bash the head in of a pregnant” woman anarchy. And Abraham is beloved, but he’s still not an O.G. cast member. The Original Six has to become the Original Five.
Y’all may kick and scream, but Darryl's departure will be an arrow to the heart while also deading one of the series’ biggest problems. And as far as your rioting goes, that may just be what AMC wants. After all, ratings were down for season six.