23 7 / 2014
23 7 / 2014
The Walking Dead throughout its seasons has created a precedence for story-telling fraught with metaphoric characterization, not-so-subtle foreshadowing, cinematic symbolism and certain character parallels and connections.
Some of these “tools of the trade” work beautifully within clever storytelling, adding a whole new dimension to the ongoing plot and if done “the right way” can deepen the emotional ties between the “connected” characters without falling back on traditional TV relationship cliches.
Adding parallels within the story between two characters and introducing such “commonality” between them essentially tethers them together and emphasizes their bond without having them sharing constant screen time. Inclusion of parallels and symbolic inferences are usually used to facilitate a relationship between individuals who have to face some kind of barrier or implicit reason to why they can’t be fully “together” yet - basically it gives the audience a reason or a symbol of hope for further progression of the “when”.
CARYL shippers are not the only ones to notice the shows tendency to “pair-up” Daryl and Carol together especially when you consider that the duo has had individual arcs that not just gravitate but also “flow parallel” to one another and that most major “events” associated with one character seem to hold major importance for the other as well.
The show, the cast, the media and the story itself has acknowledged, validated and recognized CARYL without actually defining the nature of the connection but that in itself works in its favor because despite the lack of “label” and blatant physical confirmation, Carol and Daryl have become “each other’s person” and a “thing” in its own right.
One of the key aspects of the CARYL story have been the strong inferences to it, the show has done through parallel scenes that connect and relate Daryl and Carol together across episodes and even seasons. The scenes sometimes simply echo an aspect of their relationship, a moment they shared in the past or something that they have in common through their individual experiences “together” or “apart”.
My favorite parallel and perhaps one that is most telling of the importance of Carol and Daryl’s bond as seen through the eyes of the those “outside looking in” is the connection between Glenn’s concern for Carol’s reaction to Daryl’s departure in Season 3 AND Hershel’s concern about Daryl’s reaction to Carol’s banishment in Season 4.
Both of these scenes not just acknowledge that there is something inherently different between Carol and Daryl than between them and the others BUT it also clearly identifies that their relationship is emotionally deep in importance and that they are in a way “responsible” for one another.
Glenn and Hershel are communicating that Carol losing Daryl and Daryl losing Carol respectively, would represent a major, devastating event in both of their lives and that it’s consequences would not just affect them but have the potential to shake the rest of the group in a major way.
Glenn doesn’t want to be the one to tell Carol that Daryl would not be coming back to the prison because he knows that the news will upset her greatly and that she would be the one most affected by his loss.
Hershel doesn’t want to be the one to tell Daryl that Carol was banished from the prison and chooses to direct his inquiry about her to Rick who was not just responsible for it but was also someone who Daryl would seek out for answers anyways and something upsetting like losing his “person” needed to be done in privacy where the grief and anger could be unleashed and digested properly.
Season 3, Episode 9 - “The Suicide King”
Glenn; “You serious? - You’re just gonna leave like that?”
Daryl; “You’d do the same thing.”
Glenn; “What do you want us to tell Carol?”
Daryl; “She’ll understand.”
This particular scene features the biggest CARYL shipper of them all, good guy Glenn, who having been with Carol and Daryl from the very beginning had been a first hand witness of what these two mean to each other and having witnessed both Ed and Merle at their worst, knows how devastating severing this connection could be for them.
When the possibility of Merle going back to the prison with them was first breached nobody was open to the idea after what had happened in Woodberry and all of them just assumed that Daryl would accept their decision and leave his new-found brother behind again. Once it became clear they had underestimated the hold the older Dixon had on his brother, both Glenn and Rick went on the offensive and tried to change Daryl’s mind and somehow convince him to see things from their perspective.
The biggest weapon and one they knew would deter or affect Daryl the most was Carol and if anyone’s name could change his mind about following Merle into the woods then it would certainly be Carols. The tragedy of their words betrayed the painful reality that going back to the prison without Daryl would break Carol’s heart and neither Glenn nor Rick wanted to be the ones to tell her that she lost yet another person she cared for deeply.
Daryl’s “She’ll understand” line has a double meaning and a huge significance for CARYL because not only does it acknowledge that these two are so close that he is sure Carol will instinctively know why he felt he had to walk away BUT it’s also telling that the others knew Carol and Daryl were close enough for his departure to hurt her but still didn’t know the depth of their bond to know she’ll understand it.
The best and worst part of it all was that both Daryl and the group were right about Carol - his leaving did indeed break her heart but she just as he said she understood why he felt he had to leave.
Season 4, Episode 5 - “Internment”
Daryl; “What about Carol? She up in A block with Lizzie?”
Hershel; “No, Ask Rick about her”
(Daryl assumes a defensive-anxious position)
Hershel; “She’s OK! Go talk to him!”
The parallel between the “She’ll Understand” scene and it’s implications are echoed in the brief exchange Daryl and Hershel shared after the teams return from the medicine run. By the time this moment takes place it had been a day since Rick left Carol behind on her own and Hershel had already been told about the “why” however the audience wasn’t given the chance to see exactly how he felt about either Carols or Rick’s actions.
When Daryl sees Hershel he very casually asks about Carol and expresses an expectation of her being in the sick ward with Lizzie - Daryl knows Carol so much that he understands that her caring-loving nature would lead her to stay in the sick ward even if she herself wasn’t sick. The admiration he felt for her “mothering” echoes of Sophia and the farm so he fully expected that if the girls were sick she would put herself in harms way willingly to take care of them and stays close.
The casual nature of his inquiry about her infers that this particular thing had happened before and that he seeked Carol out after runs in the past too - he was coming home and she had become a huge part of that for Daryl.
As soon as Hershel dismisses his question and directs him to Rick we see Daryl tense up and assume a defensive, confrontational position as he searches Hershel’s face for both answers and cues as he braces himself for bad news.
Hershel however doesn’t want to be the one to tell Daryl Carol was gone, he doesn’t want to be the one to deal with Daryl’s emotional angry outburst at the news that Carol was ousted from their home and he certainly doesn’t want to be the one to explain the “why” that Rick had used to convince himself to make his actions justifiable.
Hershel knew Daryl wasn’t going to take it well and just like Glenn didn’t want to be the one to tell Carol bad news HE too wanted to remove himself from witnessing Daryl’s bad news.
Rick would have to be the one!
If Rick was now the leader again then Rick was the one who would have to clean up the mess he created by ignoring the council and sending Carol away while Daryl wasn’t there to have a say in it.
The fact that it was Rick that broke the news to both Carol and Daryl about losing one another is yet another continuation of the CARYL parallel prerogative and the significance of that fact alone shouldn’t be lost on us either…
After all the inclusion of Rick in the CARYL arc isn’t a new thing;
Rick was the one that told Daryl that they left Merle handcuffed on a roof in Atlanta
Rick was the one that came back to the highway to tell Carol that he left Sophia in the woods
Rick was the one that spearheaded Merle’s rejection after Woodberry which led to Daryl leaving the group and Rick being the one to tell Carol
Rick was the one that told Daryl that he left Carol behind after a “run” and banished her from her family
I hope that someday soon Rick will be the one to give Carol and Daryl some good news about one another for a change…It’s a streak worth breaking!
Carylers rest assured - just these two scenes alone tell us that CARYL exists and both Glenn and Hershel knew it too as neither wanted to be the one to tell one of them that the other was gone.