The Walking Dead hasn't offered up a highly-choreographed fight sequence since Rick and Negan lit Lucille on fire and went toe-to-toe in Season Eight. Season Nine broke the drought by pitting Daryl against Beta in an epic fight sequence which showrunner Angela Kang was particularly excited for on a script from Aquaman's David Leslie-Johnson.
If you haven't watched the fight between Daryl and Beta, check it out right here!
"I mean, if you have Beta and you have Daryl, and they’re in the same universe, you kind of need them to fight, right?!" Kang told EW. "That was the thinking — just, that’s f—ng cool, and we want to see that happen! It does, of course, play into a larger story, but Beta is sort of the leader of their army, and Daryl being Daryl, you want to see those guys go head to head. I think both Norman and Ryan Hurst, they did such an amazing job."
While the actors were the stars of the fight, it was the behind-the-scenes team who crafted the impressive sequence in Episode 9x13. "Everybody involved in making the sequence, stunts, the director Liesl Tommy, everybody just did such an amazing job," Kang said. "Those guys really, really worked that fight and rehearsed it, and came up with cool touches to put into it."
The sequence was brought to life by a scribe who knows a thing or two about epic action sequences. David Leslie-Johnson was recently responsible for the action-packed Aquaman movie (which was quite a success, by the way). "David, who wrote that sequence in the script — he’s from Aquaman," Kang explained. "He’s an amazing action writer, and he came up with such an interesting blueprint for that fight, then everybody kind of added their stuff to it. Of course, Norman was like, 'Why do I always have to fight against guys who are bigger than me? I’m going to get so beat up!' And we’re like, 'Cause it looks like you could beat everybody up, so it’s not a fair fight if they’re not bigger than you!'" I just think they killed it, and it was really fun. They got to destroy a set, so they enjoyed themselves."
Of course, the fight was not simply a moment brought to life because it was a cool sequence to make and watch. The feud has built organically within The Walking Dead's narrative as Daryl Dixon carries out the difficult choices regarding Lydia. Alpha's daughter has been abused, something Daryl can relate to, and he has thus developed a soft spot for the character despite the risks coming with protecting her.
"I think, for Daryl, he knows that in some ways the pragmatic choice, the 'smart' choice is to wash his hands of this girl," Kang said. "Obviously, the Whisperers want her back, it’s causing problems. We’ve seen that he does have some sympathy for her. Both of them being survivors of abuse, he gets the stuff that she’s been through in life, his heart does go out to her. The part of Daryl that’s really empathetic, and that especially can be very protective of young people, and women — all of those buttons are being pushed, but he’s trying to push that away."
The relationship Daryl is developing with Connie might be shaping his decisions. "I think Connie really acts as a voice of his conscience in a way, the things that she’s saying, 'We have friends, and she doesn’t,'" Kang explained. "That’s something that gets to him, just the things that he hears Henry say, knowing that Henry is Carol’s child, and knowing that if this is really important to him too…. He just is caught in between what is strategic and what emotionally he feels is probably the right thing to do."
True to his character over the years, "Daryl is a person who really acts strongly on emotion," Kang explained. "His heart is often moved to do things, whether for good, or sometimes it leads him into directions of what we call feral Daryl, where his anger can take over. I think by the end of everything that happens this episode, there have been enough things and enough people saying the right things, that he realizes he’s gotta do what is actually the right thing."
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm ET. Fear the Walking Dead will return for its fifth season in 2019. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter and watch ComicBook.com's After The Dead each Sunday night following new episodes.
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