There may be signs The Walking Dead is hinting at a romantic relationship between Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Connie (Lauren Ridloff), should both characters survive the predicament facing our heroes in the midseason premiere. Alongside Daryl's best friend Carol (Melissa McBride) and Connie's sister Kelly (Angel Theory) — who have each raised the issue of a possible "Donnie" romance in separate instances earlier this season — Daryl and Connie are trapped in a cave with Aaron (Ross Marquand), Jerry (Cooper Andrews) and Magna (Nadia Hilker), surrounded by the thousands of walkers placed there by Alpha (Samantha Morton) and her pack of Whisperers.
On Feb. 13, AMC's official YouTube channel uploaded a video belonging to its "Classic Scenes from The Walking Dead" collection titled, "Daryl Learns Sign Language for Connie." Nearly half of the 31-minute video is dedicated to recapping Daryl and Connie's relationship to this point, including when they set off together to find a missing Kelly in 1005, "What It Always Is," as well as scenes from 9013, "Chokepoint," where Daryl, Connie, and Dog teamed up to rescue Lydia (Cassady McClincy) and Henry (Matt Lintz) from the Whisperers.
Also included is a scene from 1006, "Bonds," showing Daryl and Carol discuss Connie when out in the woods tracking Alpha's walker horde. When Daryl says it's "not like that," Carol tells him "there aren't that many people left to find out there these days — much less good ones like her." He tries to brush it off, but she tells him he doesn't have to be alone. "Years pass, Daryl," she says. "You can't hide out with your dog forever."
Incidentally, other videos dedicated to Walking Dead relationships include a dedicated video asking if Carol and ex-husband King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) are "destined to be together," referencing the possibility of a rekindled romance between the former couple. Other uploads include another video dedicated to the history of the romantic relationship between Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), a video inquiring about the fate of Rosita's (Christian Serratos) love life, and another video recounting the love story between Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan).
Will Connie and Daryl’s relationship blossom? #TWD
Let us know 👇 pic.twitter.com/Gx2H5XMfvy— The Walking Dead on AMC (@WalkingDead_AMC) February 4, 2020
Fans further took notice of a recent tweet published by The Walking Dead on AMC, asking, "Will Connie and Daryl's relationship blossom?" A similar tweet was published urging fans to brainstorm couple names for Rosita and Eugene (Josh McDermitt), with marketing in recent months flirting with a potential romance between the longtime friends.
Is The Walking Dead hinting at what's to come, or is marketing simply capitalizing on fan fervor swirling around "Donnie?"
"It’s a long, slow process for him in a lot of ways to get into any kind of a romantic thing, whereas I think most people these days think of it as just like, 'Oh, you could have fun with somebody, and you can have sex with them and then it doesn’t have to mean anything,'" showrunner Angela Kang previously told EW of Daryl's lack of romantic involvement over ten seasons. "Daryl’s just not wired that way, and that tracks with conversations that Norman and I have had. He doesn’t attach to people lightly enough that he can give it a chance easily, you know?"
"So I think that that’s really a big part of it," Kang continued, adding of Daryl and Carol's talk in "Bonds": "But certainly from Carol’s perspective, she cares about him so deeply and people certainly see that relationship in all kinds of different ways. But what felt real for us is they had this whole conversation about we’re best friends and she’s in this mode where she just wants revenge [against Alpha]. And there’s an aspect of her that wants to make sure that no matter what happens in all of this and what happens to her, that Daryl has other people to lean on and rely on besides her because what if something happens to her?"
It was Carol who pulled Daryl back when he took to living in the woods in the six-year time jump that followed the presumed death of Rick, and now the roles have reversed: it's Daryl who is pleading with Carol to reconsider her vendetta against Alpha, which has already led to the heroes becoming trapped in the cave. If Carol's reckless thirst for vengeance continues, Daryl tells her, it's going to hurt people she cares about.
"There’s a lot of friendship psychology and love, the care that they have for each other, and she she sees that Connie’s a good person, he seems to connect to her and he doesn’t connect to very many people at all. It’s like she wants to make sure that he’s not going to just kind of drift off and lose that community like he has before," Kang said. "She was the one thing that kept him tethered to the group when he was off as a mountain man in the years that we jumped."
TWD Season 10 returns with new episodes Feb. 23 on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.