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The Walking Dead: Norman Reedus on that big Daryl–Carol reunion

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SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead, “New Best Friends.”

Reunited and it feels so good… at least as good as anything can feel in the zombie apocalypse. Daryl and Carol were back together, although not for long. Daryl was finally alerted to Carol’s presence after Richard brought him in on a plan to frame Carol for the killing of some Saviors, leading to retaliation that would result in Carol’s death and spur Ezekiel into action.

Daryl reacted to that plan by busting up Richard’s face. He then found Carol’s cottage, yet had a big choice to make — tell her the truth about all the folks Negan had killed, or allow her to stay out the fray by telling her everything was just hunky dory. He chose option number two. We asked star Norman Reedus all about Daryl’s lie, finding a furry new friend, leaving the Kingdom, and what’s next. Read on for more on all that, plus his thoughts on missing out on all the big action scenes the past two weeks. (Also make sure to read our episode Q&As with Andrew Lincoln and new cast addition, Pollyanna McIntosh.)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We talked a while back about how great it was for you to get to work with Andrew Lincoln again after some time apart. What was it like getting to work with Melissa McBride again for the big Daryl and Carol reunion here?
NORMAN REEDUS: It was great. We missed each other this whole time. Me and Andy missed each other, but me and Melissa missed each other too. It’s weird. She and I talk when we’re not filming and we’re like “How are you?” It’s f—ing bizarre! So it’s hard and it’s a bittersweet reunion. We enjoy it, but we don’t enjoy being apart. And that goes for a lot of us. There are certain characters where as soon as they start going, we start bawling. It’s kind of silly. But she’s definitely one of those for me.

And the big question out of that scene that people are going to have is: Why does Daryl lie to her when she asks if Negan hurt anybody?
Because she needs to hear that. She’s going through her own thing and there’s a reason why she separated herself and doesn’t want to be a killer anymore. And she’s losing herself, and I think Daryl realizes that. It’s a very selfless act. He tells her what she needs to hear to keep going. He does it for her.

Yeah, you see those wheels turning in Daryl’s head a bit where he’s figured out how to respond and I guess he figures she can’t handle that information now?
I think she can totally handle it. It’s just not what she needs. Everyone’s path is their individual path, and she needs to be away from it because she’s losing herself and that world, when your whole life is changed and your whole world is changed and the dynamics have changed, and you start to lose yourself — then what’s the point, you know? So I think that he realizes that she needs to hold on to something. She’s been working towards it and it’s been hard for her, and he sees how hard it is for her to even make the choice to do what she’s doing now. And selflessly, he tells her what she needs to hear because he cares about her and doesn’t want to drag her into something that she doesn’t want to be a part of.

Gene Page/AMC

Daryl is supposed to stay at the Kingdom because it’s the safest place where Negan won’t find him, but he doesn’t. Why is he finally like, I’m out of here?
Did you see the part where I beat the s— out of that guy?

Oh yes, I did!
Yeah, I punched that guy like 50 times! I don’t know how many they left in there, but I beat him up for, like, a good 10 minutes. I was hoping for the full 10 minutes, but I don’t know how much made it.

Not 10 minutes, but you get a few good punches in, no question.
All right, good.

Is that the moment where Daryl is like, this place is not for me?
It’s a different thing, because they need the numbers. They need these people to fight Negan. But at the same time, he’s not going to let him sacrifice her for that job. You’re going to have to find another way, you know?

So what is it that causes Daryl to finally leave the Kingdom at the end of the episode?
He’s just done. He’s going to do it himself. The thing about Daryl is, he’s loyal to one group, and it’s hard for him to stay behind and stay behind and stay behind. He’s just had enough. He’s got to figure out a way to do this where it works for everybody, but also he’s not going to take anything away from his family.

And he gives Morgan the task of getting the Kingdom folks on board, but Daryl seems kind of done with Morgan at this point too, or at least Morgan’s philosophy, and is telling him to get his head in the game.
Yeah, that mindset has got to go. I mean, I get it — whaa, whaa, whaa — but c’mon, dude, we need you! And he’s the only person that has Ezekiel’s ear. He’s the only person that Ezekiel really trusts. Rick gives Daryl that job to stare him into submission and all that stuff, but it’s just not going to happen. We need Morgan to do it and Morgan needs to step up.

I know you’ve wanted Daryl to have a dog on the show for a while. Let me ask you something: What about a tiger?
[Laughs.] You don’t understand, as soon as we heard there was going to be a tiger coming, that’s all I campaigned for! Can I have a moment with the tiger? Can the tiger like me? Can I be friends with the tiger? It was ridiculous. They were like, “Stop, already!”

So they basically wrote that scene because you kept badgering them?
Probably! Pretty soon that tiger is going to be my love interest if I have my way. Me and the tiger will walk off into the sunset and come back with kittens!

They’re going to have to give you two a combined couple name like Sharyl or Diva.
Right! I can’t even say it. Like Shivaryl? I don’t even know.

Did you come on set that day to watch Andy fight the junkyard pit walker?
Hell yeah, dude! I didn’t even work that day and I flew in just to watch that stuff. It was great! And the guy Gino who played that guy, he’s one of [Greg Nicotero’s] right-hand men and does special effects on the show, and he did such a good job. It was really hot that day and he couldn’t see anything and he’s covered in spikes and there’s garbage everywhere and they’re falling into it and they’re dumping garbage on his head. Hats off to Gino, because he pulled that off. That was a great day. It was very Mad Max. It was awesome.

It was total Mad Max. They were battling in the Thunderdome!
There are certain scenes where you’re like, “Oh, man. Can I be in that?!” That was one of them. Cutting the zombies in half with the wire and the two cars, I was like “Oh, man. Do I have to stay back while you guys go do that?’ Like, c’mon!

That’s why you’re leaving the Kingdom now, because you’re missing all the fun.
Exactly!

Okay, what can you say about what’s coming up for Daryl?
He wants revenge. He’s got tunnel vision right now. He wants to kill people. He wants to fight and get this over with to get rid of these bad guys. He’s ready to go. He’s got the family back together and he’s ready to kick ass.

For more Walking Dead intel, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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