SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s season 10 premiere of The Walking Dead.
A Russian satellite may not have been the only thing in the air on Sunday’s season premiere of The Walking Dead. Was there also… love? And does said love involve the most unlikely of subjects?
Indeed, there were several moments in Sunday’s episode that appeared to hint at a blossoming relationship between Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Connie (Lauren Ridloff). We saw Connie’s sister Kelly make a gesture when Daryl approached. We also learned that Daryl was teaching himself sign language to better communicate with the newcomer.
Of course, the most impactful relationship Daryl has could be with Carol, whom he dubbed his “best friend.” The two had several strong scenes together, even wistfully considering taking off on Daryl’s motorcycle and leaving all this madness behind. We spoke to Reedus to get his take on Daryl’s relationships with both women, filming with fire, what’s coming up next, and more. (Also make sure to read our season premiere Q&As with showrunner Angela Kang and director Greg Nicotero.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, tell me about filming those training sequences on Jekyll Island because I heard it was hot as hell out there.
NORMAN REEDUS: Oh my God, everyone was drinking so much water trying to stay hydrated. It was super, super hot. They have those little No-See-Um bugs that fly around and I was getting bitten. It was also on a beach and it was kind of fun just being in a different location than what we are usually used to. So it was cool, at the same time it was a lot of work and it was hot. I won’t lie. We got there early in the morning and some people said an alligator had walked by on the edge of the set. So yeah, it was fun, but it was hot.
So we see Kelly make a motion to Connie when Daryl comes around and then we see he’s learning sign language. Look, Daryl has never had a girlfriend on the show, but is there a romantic connection forming here between him and Connie?
I don’t know. I think he definitely has started viewing her as an equal. I mean, she can take care of herself. She’s definitely smart. There’s been moments where Daryl’s going, “I’m going left,” and she says, “I’m coming with you.” And he goes, “No, you’re not,” but she’s like, “Try to stop me.” I think he admires that about her. She can hold her own and I think Daryl learning sign language is a cool thing so he can communicate with her and they can be allies. It’s really fun and she’s helping me a lot on set learning sign, and I’ve made a couple of mistakes here and there but she laughs it off. I think the bond between them is a genuine bond and there’s a lot of respect there.
I’ve taken sign language classes the past few years and it’s not easy.
Yeah, definitely. There was one thing I did from the chin this year where I touch my chin, but if you do it any higher it means a bad word. So I came on the set doing it and everyone’s like “Stop, stop.” I was like, “What did I do?” There are little tiny things that mean a big deal. So, I’m still learning.
What have your conversations been like with showrunner Angela Kang about Daryl and the possibility of maybe finally finding a romance in season 10?
Once you do it, it’s done. So it’s just such a topic of conversation forever. I get it. But once you do that, it’s done forever. So I want to be really careful with doing that and I think Angela does as well. But it’s The Walking Dead, so as soon as something good starts happening, it all goes down. You know what I’m saying? So I don’t want to get me too happy or I might get bitten.
Last season Carol was the one trying to get Daryl to come back to society, and now it seems the tables have turned and he’s trying to keep her out of isolation. What’s going on with those two?
Look at all the stuff that happened to her last year. She lost a lot of friends with those heads on the spikes and one of them was her son. So she’s lost her daughter on the show, she’s lost her son on the show. She’s been through a lot of stuff and Daryl’s really watching her and really trying to keep her together this year. She’s having some problems. He’s trying to bring her back to society, wants to keep an eye on her.
Why don’t they just get on his bike and head west like she suggests?
You never know. I just think they’re sitting on a log and they’re daydreaming. Life is so hard sometimes, especially on that show for those characters. They say “What if we did this?” They’re kind of daydreaming about stuff. We’re kind of window-shopping opportunities. I think it’s what you would do. You’d be, “Meh, I just wish things would be different right now.” So it’s two friends doing that. Sparking a little openness to them.
What I thought was interesting is in these conversations the two are having, at one point he says to Carol “There’s no reason to start s—t if we don’t got to. We all agreed to that after the storm.” Then later he says, “Sometimes I think we’re just surviving one fight to the next.” So that kind of got me thinking about Daryl’s mind frame here and is that why he’s been abiding by Alpha’s rules in terms of crossing the border? Is it that he just can’t handle another war and the losses that that could mean? He just needs a break from all that?
I think Daryl in previous seasons would have just crossed it. But we have all these young people, we have all these new cast members, we have RJ and Judith and all these people we want to protect because they’re the future. So I don’t think making a drastic move like crossing the border if you don’t have to would be a smart decision. I think it’s a wiser Daryl than we’ve seen before. He kind of has the ghosts of all these characters that were here before him. Hershel taught him a little something. Rick taught him a little something. Things are as good as they can be right now. So why put everyone at risk making a decision like that? So I think he’s just trying to keep the community and the family together and try not to get people killed.
What was it like filming the fire scenes in the woods?
Oh my God, it was hot! It’s a controllable fire but it’s a big fire and it was kind of all over the place. You’re like “We’re in the woods in Georgia right now making a forest fire on purpose? This could go horribly wrong.” So there are a ton of firemen in fire trucks. It was pretty wild. To see a giant satellite in the forest around, it was pretty crazy.
We see at the end of the episode, obviously Daryl and Carol go out in there and then Carol and Alpha kind of lock eyes. What can you tease in terms of what’s coming up next on The Walking Dead?
You’re going to see some backstories on some characters that are coming up that are interesting to watch because I know people are curious where these people came from. You’re going to see a lot of mistrust within the group and a lot of people sort of spinning out of control with the flashbacks. Then you have your continuing threat and then you’re going to have a Trojan horse scenario happening. So there’s a lot coming up. It’s an intense season.
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