4 Reasons Daryl’s Love Interest on ‘The Walking Dead’ Doesn’t Make Sense

Norman Reedus, Daryl, on The Walking Dead
Opinion
Eli Ade/AMC

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 18, “Find Me.”]

Put pictures of all the main adult characters from The Walking Dead on a board, throw a dart, and chances are you’ll hit someone Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) been ‘shipped with. As TWD’s ever-eligible bachelor, fans love the connection between him and Carol (Melissa McBride), see something going on with Connie (Lauren Ridloff), and saw some kind of chemistry as well with Aaron (Ross Marquand), although it was eventually confirmed that Daryl isn’t gay.

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One thing that’s been clear: Romance does not come easily to Daryl.

In light of that, the March 7 episode, “Find Me,” and Daryl’s out-of-nowhere relationship — seen in flashback — with a woman named Leah (Lynn Collins) left us scratching our heads. Here’s why we’re just not feelin’ the love.

Eli Ade/AMC

The Romance Feels Rushed & Clichéd

Yes, Daryl and Leah got together over a period of years, in-story. But for viewers, this was a single episode, and it was supposed to answer a question building up for the better part of decade. The flirting by throwing fish at each other was cute enough, but other scenes were groan-worthy, like the “Oh no, there’s walkers, we’ll just have to huddle together for safety!”

Also, the story is bookended by Daryl and Carol’s story in the present day, leaving the new romance less than 20 minutes to develop. And Leah’s disappearance at the end of the episode is a barrier to developing the relationship further, which makes it hard to tell whether we should be yearning for them to get back together. And should Daryl find her again, will there be enough time to explore their connection?

The Carol & Connie Complication

Between Leah’s difficult past, her desire to isolate herself, and the loss of a child she loved, her backstory is similar to Carol’s — to the point where one wonders why the show didn’t just go the “Caryl” route several seasons ago.

daryl norman reedus walking dead season 10 episode 18 carol melissa mcbride

Eli Ade/AMC

And what will the show do with Connie? Daryl keeps bringing her up and trying to find her, and they shared a bond before her disappearance. Why would the show would expend so much energy teasing a pairing if it never intended to follow through on it (same goes for Carol and Daryl). Right up until “Find Me,” the Daryl-romance situation felt like it had two ways to go: “Donnie” or “Caryl.” (Things could still change, of course, but it would be a twisty road.)

It Doesn’t Fit With Daryl’s Character

The Daryl-Leah romance throws a wrench into what’s been established about Daryl: Once he finds someone, she’ll be “The One.” Several interviews with Reedus have even implied that Daryl wouldn’t find love easily, but that once he did, it would be forever. In theory, that now eliminates potential relationships with Connie and Carol.

So, it seems that Leah should be the love of Daryl’s life. That’s a little difficult to swallow given he’s never even mentioned her. And for what it’s worth, we don’t love the ultimatum she delivered in her final scene with Daryl, which was to choose between her or continuing his search for Rick and spending time in Alexandria. If Leah cared for Daryl, wouldn’t she want him to see his family and try to find the man he referred to as his brother? It’s impossible to picture Connie or Carol demanding he make such a choice.

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Plus, they talk about the return of Maggie and the upcoming Carol/Daryl spinoff.

It Complicates His Future

Granted, Daryl’s love life isn’t likely to be a main focal point of the show — TWD is heading into the final big comic arc, the Commonwealth, and there’s plenty of non-romantic story to tell there. But it’s worth noting that Leah might show up at the community, if she’s not with CRM. A reunion with someone thought to be gone was a key aspect of that story in the comics, where Michonne (Danai Gurira) found her daughter.

Hopefully Daryl’s immediate next step is mending his relationship with Carol, which seems inevitable given that they’re going to have a spin-off show. It’s possible plans for Daryl’s character have changed over the years and he’d find love again after falling in love with Leah, or maybe when or if Leah shows up again, she’ll be a little more sympathetic.

Time will tell, but for now, we wishing there’s more to root for in Daryl’s first-ever romantic connection.

The Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC