The Walking Dead Showrunner on Daryl and Negan’s Complicated Relationship

Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) teamed up to take out Whisperers in "Look at the Flowers," but The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang notes Daryl hasn't yet thawed on a Degan or Naryl harmony. Daryl and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) conspired to kill Negan in Season 9 after Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) made the unilateral decision to spare the ex-Savior leader, who brutally murdered Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) at the height of his power. Negan's almost eight-year prison sentence only ended when he was set loose by Daryl's best friend Carol (Melissa McBride), who unleashed Negan to infiltrate the Whisperers and bring her leader Alpha's (Samantha Morton) head.

"I think there's a little bit of a thaw, but I don't think he really loves this guy yet. I don't know that he totally trusts him," Kang told Entertainment Weekly. "He was very aware that Negan was having maybe a bit too much fun once he got the gun back from the Whisperers, and Negan is complicated, and Negan killed people that mattered a lot to Daryl. For Daryl, the loss of Glenn and Abraham was huge for him, and all these people that died in that war, and I don't think that that's something that's easily left behind."

Daryl might also view buddying up with Negan as a betrayal to Glenn, who was killed when Daryl stepped out of line years earlier during the group's first meeting with Negan. Maggie tearfully absolved Daryl of that guilt when he apologized for Glenn's death in Season 7 episode "The Other Side."

"For viewers who'll remember back to Season 9, he was the one that was really all in with Maggie on executing this plan of maybe taking him out. And so, for Daryl, all of it is a complicated relationship, but Daryl’s a pretty pragmatic guy and he sees this guy — he did do some stuff that was good, and so I don't think that that's lost on Daryl," Kang said. "But at the same time, is he ready to call this guy his best friend? I don't think so."

Maggie planned to execute a then jailed Negan in Season 9 episode "What Comes After," ultimately deciding to spare him when he begged for death. Leaving Negan to rot, Maggie told him, "You have to live with what you've done."

Glenn's widow will soon return to Virginia, where she'll learn her husband's killer is now a free man.

"Just like in life, it might be one of those things she doesn't know until she faces it," Cohan previously told the AMC blog when asked what might happen when Maggie next sees Negan. "She definitely decided not to kill him on that day when Michonne discouraged her. She did go that way. Forgiveness is liberating. I suppose we'll get to see to what degree she has decided to liberate herself."

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The Walking Dead next airs 1015, "The Tower," Sunday, April 5. The Season 10 finale, "A Certain Doom," has been postponed to later this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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