Norman Reedus says Daryl punched Negan to save him on The Walking Dead
I just hit you in the face. You're welcome.
One of the most dramatic and shocking moments of The Walking Dead's season 11 premiere, "Archeron Part 1," was when Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan — believing that Lauren Cohan's Maggie had lured him into the D.C. Metro tunnels to kill him — blows his top and says he will not sit around and allow to her to put him down like a dog "like Glenn was."
It is a line so brutal and heart-wrenching that Morgan told EW that he initially fought hard against even saying it. ("I fought it!" says Morgan of uttering Negan's shocking line. "I immediately called and was like, 'I can't say it. I can't f---ing bring up Glenn's name here.'") It also elicited a strong reaction from the woman on the receiving end of it, with Cohan calling it "disgusting" and "pathetic."
Of course, there was another person in that scene, and he was the one that ended up delivering the rebuttal… with his fist! Norman Reedus' Daryl reacted to the line as anyone with a beating heart would, by punching Negan right in the face. And, it turns out, the initial reaction of the actor matches that of his character.
"Daryl snaps in the beginning, like, just shut up!" says Reedus. "No one's listening to you. Shut up! You're making things worse, just 'cause you yap all the time. When I read [in the script] that Negan said that, I was like, "Wow, okay. For somebody who's down in the sewer, surrounded by all the people that loved Glenn, and you're worried someone's going to kill you, that's a really stupid thing to say."
But Reedus also thinks there was something else behind that fist to the face. "I think Daryl punches him kind of to save his life," he says. "I think it's to save his life and to move things forward because we need to get out of the tunnel, and that could have gone a whole other direction."
It's a smart point, and one which makes sense in that if Daryl doesn't take that burden of retribution off of Maggie, then who knows what would have happened. Reedus also has a bit of sympathy and understanding for why Negan would utter such a horrible thing in the first place. "I think he was just so frustrated," says Reedus.
"No, one's listening to him. Maggie keeps making the wrong decisions, the wrong decisions, the wrong decisions. She's been making the wrong decisions for a little while now, like over and over again," he continues. "And what Negan is saying is kind of getting to some of the people in the other group. They're kind of like, 'Yeah he's a dick, but he's kind of making sense.' And then I think he just says that because it feels like no one's listening to him. He's like, 'I'll get their attention.' And then Daryl pops him for what he said."
Pop him he does. And just imagine what Daryl might do if and when he finds out about Negan leaving Maggie to die at the end of the episode. Of course, had Daryl not punched Negan, maybe Maggie would have done something more drastic and she wouldn't be in her current predicament. Oh no, does that mean Daryl may have actually inadvertently just killed Maggie? We're now going to go and punch ourselves for thinking such a thing.
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