'Walking Dead': Daryl's Feelings for Beth Explained (Sort Of)

Walking DeadWalking Dead fans, we need to talk about something. Not the OMFGWTFBBQ events that went down in last week's episode, which I'm still recovering from by repeatedly counting the flowers like I'm supposed to. No, I want to dish about Daryl and Beth. Specifically: are they? Or aren't they?

I mean, we know they aren't, at least not yet. But are they going to? What's really happening between this unlikely pairing, which has launched a thousand devoted Tumblrs and some seriously creative fanfiction? I keep thinking it's just friendship and nothing more, but I really seem to be in the minority on this perspective. Let's turn to the actors themselves, Emily Kinney and Norman Reedus, to shed some light over the nature of their character's growing bond.

(Spoilers for past Walking Dead episodes ahead!)

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Let's start with the age difference. Just so we're all perfectly clear, Beth, who was 16 when she first appeared on the show, is now 18. Although I suppose the lack of a legal age of consent would be yet another downside of the zombie apocalypse, along with the fact that eventually everyone would run out of toilet paper.

Emily Kinney is 28, by the way. Props for her choice of moisturizer.

Here's what Kinney says about how Beth views Daryl's older man status:

I think from Beth’s point of view [it is] like, ‘Oh, he’s cool. He’s older than me, but he’s not like my dad’s age or even maybe Rick’s age.’ I think she sees him as just like an older adult but not necessarily like a parent.

So now that Daryl and Beth have bonded over flame-broiled snake and moonshine, where's their relationship going? (Other than nowhere at the moment, since she's seemingly been kidnapped.) Daryl really gave her some awkward stares and mumbles in episode 12 when he admitted that he'd changed and that she was to thank for it. Was he also confessing some deeper feelings there?

Kinney:

I think that just, through his looks, she sort of realizes that he ... really cares about her, in a really ... special way and, you know, one of the reasons that he thinks there are good people is because of her, and there’s something like maybe this isn’t -- as much as they’re trying to find other people, if there are other people -- like, they’re okay kind of together. I think she still doesn’t completely know because he doesn’t ever say exactly, but I think she has a hunch that -- she does say at one moment, like, ‘Oh,’ and I interpreted that -- I mean, I don’t know what’s to come, but I interpreted that as she understands that he cares about her on a deeper level.

As for whether Beth is thinking she and Daryl might move out of the friendzone together:

I think that she definitely really, really cares about him and their relationship has grown and she’s like really connected to him [in] a friendship way, but I don’t think that it’s necessarily occurred to her ... that like, ‘Oh, this could be something more.’ But I definitely think in that moment, that sort of realization that, ‘Well, this is like really special -- this kind of connection that has grown.’

Hmmmm. Well, let's turn to Norman Reedus. Here's what he said about Daryl's feelings for Beth in "Still":

I like seeing those two together. They're not characters who you'd normally see or partner up together. Being stuck with each other, this episode starts with Daryl in a dark place and he doesn't want to go on and he's growling at Beth the whole time. But it ends on a positive note. Beth showed him something about himself. He struggles a lot of the time and he's got a chip on his shoulder; he doesn't think people like him. But Beth helps him shed some of his old demons and feel good about himself and the need to let those things go and move forward. That's a lot of what our show is about. He definitely has a soft spot for her forever. They've bonded during this journey.

He's interesting in that he's very guarded and very loyal. Once he breaks that wall down with someone, he's loyal forever. Especially with Beth in this episode: she means a lot to him and took time to get to know him and open up to him and that got him to open up. It created a stronger bond between these two. He still thinks everyone else is dead and has little hope for the future, but Beth gave him a little light at the end of the tunnel and that means a lot to him. (...) I'm sure he looks at her with a new respect and in a whole bunch of different ways. Not only can she can fight and protect herself but she's opened up a soft spot inside of Daryl and that's probably the area that he's most uncomfortable with in the world -- more so than a zombie apocalypse.

Daryl looks at her "in a whole bunch of different ways," eh? Like I want to tear off your filth-encrusted clothes and ravage your teenage body kind of ways?

I can't tell you if there's going to be a romantic thing; we're not allowed to talk about that stuff. But never say never! She's a cute girl in the zombie apocalypse and Daryl could do much worse.

Arrrrrgh. Well, for what it's worth, I'm still sticking to my theory that it's friendship rather than romance. Maybe I'm holding out too much hope for a Carol/Daryl hookup, but honestly, I think Daryl comes across as 1) sort of weirdly asexual, and 2) someone who would find Beth's age to be problematic. I think to him she represents innocence and the good in people, and for him to admit that he cares for her is like admitting he believes there's something left in the world besides pure survival. And that's why their relationship felt so emotionally wrought in "Still" ... because it was a sea change for Daryl as a person, rather than a burgeoning Beth-boner he was sprouting.

Also I think Beth's going to get killed off soon and Daryl's going to be all messed up but he'll have to find a way to keep the light Beth created for him alive somehow. THERE I SAID IT.

But hey, I could be totally wrong. What do YOU think is going to happen between Daryl and Beth? Friendship or something more?


Image via AMC

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