The Next World is one of the best showcases how much Daryl has both changed and not changed in six years. The way he looks at Denise and Eugene while they’re explaining what they need from him is priceless. He wants it written down for a reason. He doesn’t have the patience for the explanation. He also doesn’t cut them off. He lets them talk, no matter how long it takes for them. He says okay to Denise and thanks to Eugene.
He and Rick exchanged a look about Eugene. That just solidified their camaraderie and how far their friendship has come.
Another thing about Daryl is if it’s something medical (like when they went to the veterinary college to get the meds for Herschel or here with Denise and the sorghum from Eugene, he’s okay with not understanding what it is. That’s not his function, but he doesn’t ask questions partly because he doesn’t want o appear dumb. He’s not, but he feels as though he doesn’t have the education that his comrades do. The second reason is he just doesn’t care about sorghum. Or pop.
When Rick takes the CD, and teases him with it, there is such pain in Daryl’s body language. He tells him, “don’t.” Rick laughs and puts the CD in. Daryl begs him: “Please don’t.” He’s resigned to it. But we can see that he’s also comfortable with Rick. This is a back and forth they probably do each time they go out. A lot of us do this with our friends, and we’re saying don’t but don’t really mean it. This is not that. Daryl truly hates this. Rick may not have seen that yet.
If you compare this to the season 2 premiere when he cringes and flinches when Rick grabs the dog food can from Carl and throws it into the fireplace, it’s a very different reaction. He’s moved, grown from the frightened, abused kid who backs down from authority to someone who can be genuinely teased, who is in a good enough place that Rick can tease him.
With Paul, he loses control; he’s so pissed off at him. I think Paul reminds Daryl of himself. It’s like shit he would have done, what he did do when he was younger. As soon as they realized the pops were fireworks, Daryl asked Rick about the keys right before the engine started. He knew that pick pocketing trick. Probably did it with Merle back in the day.
When they’re both pointing guns at Paul and he asks them about ammo. They fire in unison, you can almost hear the fuck you that crosses their minds, and no eye contact until after. They are so much alike, and Paul is pushing all their buttons. He knows it too, and he’s kind of having a good time with it.
Rick jerking the car so Paul leans on Daryl’s shoulder – twice. And Daryl knows he’s doing it on purpose. I think one more time and he was going to climb up into that front seat and push Rick out the door.
They’ve also reversed roles.
Daryl was the more positive one. Once he found his way, his autonomy, he took on Aaron’s task to find new recruits with enthusiasm. Or at least as much enthusiasm that Daryl can express in public. New blood is needed for the community. It can’t just be Rick’s group and the Alexandrians; they need to add people and become a cohesive team. He knows this.
Rick is wary. He only wants the ones, the few who he trusts. He’s had Carl trying to tell him, trying to change his mind. Showing him, calling him out when he’s being a real prick to Father Gabriel and Carl is being the adult. He’s showing him how things can be, and he finally knows that he needs to change for his kids.
Especially now that the Alexandrians have stepped up; if they can change, he can too.
It’s still talk, but he’s telling Daryl what Daryl’s been telling him, and Daryl’s responding with what Rick would normally say. And Daryl hearing his words and attitude coming from Rick’s mouth and they are giving him something to think about.
He’ll come around. He’s. a different man now in the sixth season; a better man.
– – – –
A little shout out to Rick and Michonne. It’s about damn time. I’ve been saying she’s been acting like his wife and Carl’s mother since Claimed in season 4 but I felt it long before that.
[Note: My canon is what’s on the screen. I appreciate the comics, but I don’t read them.)