As the Alexandria community readies for All Out War against Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his barbarous Saviors, one Walking Dead alum knows just how to handle the bat-wielding villain. During a Q&A session at Salt Lake Comic Con, Michael Rooker — who played one-handed hillbilly Merle Dixon until the brute's death in season three — was asked what Merle would do if he were still alive and found out his little brother, Daryl (Norman Reedus), was held as Negan's prisoner.
"If you know anything about Merle and Daryl's relationship," Rooker answered, "Merle would say, 'Get over here! Now you go back out there and you go and you find this Negan guy, and you kick his little tail. Go on!' And I'd kick him out of the house and make him go fight Negan again. I don't think he fought Negan — he never fought Negan. No, no. Daryl would win. Don't you think Daryl would win? Oh, yeah."
In season seven of The Walking Dead (spoilers), Negan introduced himself to our band of survivors by ruthlessly murdering Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun), taking Daryl as prisoner in the process. Held in captivity at the Saviors' base, the Sanctuary, Daryl was beaten, fed dog food sandwiches, and subjected to auditory torture by way of The Collapsable Hearts Club's "Easy Street." The hunter was then paraded around by the Saviors during their collection visits to Alexandria, with Negan informing Rick (Andrew Lincoln) he was not to speak to or even look at his prisoner.
Daryl would later make a daring escape and enact his revenge on some of his captors, beating one to death with a pipe and fleeing the Sanctuary on a stolen motorcycle. After taking refuge at the Hilltop community with Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Daryl eventually reunited with his surrogate family and helped lead the charge against Negan and his forces in the season seven finale.
Come season eight, the younger Dixon and the Alexandria, Kingdom, and Hilltop communities will unite to strike back against Negan in efforts to end his reign of tyranny. As seen in the San Diego Comic Con trailer, Daryl will blow a lot of sh—t up — a move that would make his dear old departed brother proud.
During a 2016 Wizard World appearance, Rooker seemed to shut down any hopes of Merle returning to The Walking Dead by way of flashback or dream sequence. Rooker most recently starred in Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as blue space pirate Yondu where he helped spawn the popular Mary Poppins meme overtaking the internet.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC with its season eight premiere, the series' 100th episode, on Sunday, October 22.
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