An unscripted beat between Norman Reedus and Cassady McClincy in The Walking Dead Season 10 episode 4, "Silence the Whisperers," made McClincy so emotional she had to leave the room, according to trivia revealed in the latest episode of "The Walking Dead Facts and Easter Eggs." After Lydia is cornered and attacked by Margo (Jerri Tubbs), Alfred (David Shae) and Gage (Jackson Pace) — seeking revenge for murders committed by Lydia's mother, Whisperer leader Alpha (Samantha Morton) — the battered Lydia opens up to Daryl about the father she misremembered as an abusive parent. "My dad protected me," a teary Lydia says, and Daryl sits and pulls her close for a hug. This was improvised by Reedus, whose character also comes from an abusive background.
It's not the first time Reedus improvised a scene involving McClincy. In Season 9, after then-Whisperer Lydia is taken prisoner and held in the Hilltop jail, Reedus made changes to Lydia's interrogation by Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Tara (Alanna Masterson). Reedus had Daryl hang back and observe from behind the bars instead of being in the cell with Lydia, who Daryl quickly identified as a victim of abuse.
"Daryl can take a hit. And he gets it. He's like, 'If I was a wild girl who grew up in this world and had a mother like Alpha, I would be a wild animal too,'" Reedus previously told EW. "Daryl has that side of him, so he's not really bothered by the fact that she took a swipe at him, but that whole first thing where he's dragging her out of the cell, that's all an act. He's not taking her up there to kill her. He wants her to think that he's doing that, but that's to get Henry (Matt Lintz) involved in the conversation. Once that happens, he lets her go."
After Lydia took a swipe at Daryl when he was fetching water, he noticed bruised arms — a telling sign that evoked memories of his own physical abuse.
"He caught a glimpse of the switch marks on her arm, so when she does it, he grabs her arm and he pulls the sleeve down. He's like, 'I knew it. I know what that looks like,' because Daryl was an abused kid as well," Reedus said. "He knows what a birch tree switch can do to an arm, what it looks like — so when he catches a glimpse of it, he's pulling down the sleeve to let her know that he knows what that is. Then he takes it a step further by bringing the birch tree down there just to see if she notices what that is, but it's mostly to let her know that he knows. Now once you break that ice, you can start to have a conversation. She's not going to take that well. She's not going to just cry in the corner. She's going to keep on fighting, which is what Daryl would've done too."
The Daryl-Lydia dynamic has since blossomed into one of a father-daughter relationship, and Daryl led a search for Lydia after she ran away into Whisperer territory following a betrayal from Carol (Melissa McBride).