‘The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus: Daryl Needs Closure over Missing Rick Grimes

The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus says Daryl “needs closure” over the disappearance and presumed death of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), who appeared to die six years earlier when exploding a bridge to halt an advancing herd of walkers.

“I think he’s been looking for this body,” Reedus said on Sunday’s Talking Dead. “’If he died, where’s his body?’ And he’s a master tracker, he can get you from here to there no problem, he’s very intuitive and he’s very observant, and he just can’t find it. It makes no sense to him. Michonne’s doing it a little bit, and she kind of even says something to the effect of, ‘We have to go forward.’ I don’t know, I think it’s hard for him to swallow. I think he needs closure. There’s a piece of this puzzle missing.”

A flashback in 914, “Scars,” showed Daryl and a pregnant Michonne (Danai Gurira) still on the hunt for Rick’s body eight-something months after he was secretly rescued by Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh) and flown away aboard a helicopter. Daryl’s unending search could bring Daryl and Michonne to the movie side of the franchise, where Lincoln will reprise his role in a story set sometime during the largely unseen six years that followed his disappearance.

Daryl’s need for closure comes after he spent much of an 18-month time jump between seasons Eight and Nine quietly feuding with Rick over his unilateral decision to spare the life of ousted Savior leader Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). This fracture in their relationship boiled over into a confrontation in 904, “The Obliged,” when Rick and Daryl mostly made peace before working together to escape a pit that began to fill with walkers.

A short time later — after reluctantly leaving Rick behind, when his best friend-slash-brother at first refused to sacrifice the bridge that would link five communities of survivors — Daryl would watch helplessly as Rick sacrificed himself. He’d then retreat into the woods, transforming his search to reclaim Rick’s body into a withdrawn life among the wilderness.

That storyline played out after Reedus spent the hiatus fearing Daryl was being maneuvered into killing Rick because of a late Season Eight scene that saw Maggie (Lauren Cohan) plotting against the jailed Negan.

“I wasn’t in that scene [at first],” Reedus told TheWrap in October.

“Maybe an hour before that, they’re, ‘we want to put you in this scene.’ And I was, ‘what are you talking about? I can’t go against Rick. What are you talking about?’ And they were, ‘trust us, it’ll play out later.’ And I was, ‘wait, wait, what?’ So I spent my whole hiatus thinking, ‘oh my God, I’m going to kill Rick, or he’s going to kill me.’”

Gurira will exit the show in Season Ten, due out in October, and will reportedly appear intermittently across just a “handful” of episodes. It’s suspected Gurira will then transition into the movie franchise. Should The Walking Dead aim to resolve Daryl’s need for closure and solve that missing piece of the puzzle, it can exercise an option in Reedus’ most recent contract allowing for appearances outside the mothership show, i.e. involvement in the Rick Grimes movies now being penned by Scott Gimple.

The Walking Dead premieres new episodes Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.

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