Monday, December 1, 2014

Drowning Man




 Five seasons ago the world met Daryl Dixon. A character not in the comic series, The Walking Dead. While he auditioned for the role of Merle, Norman Reedus won over the writers and created Merle a brother named Daryl. In season one, we met an angry redneck who hated just about everything. We didn’t “know” Daryl. As the seasons progressed, we got to know Daryl just as Daryl was beginning to know himself.

Now, most of us figured he was just as much of a jerk as his racist brother. Why on earth would anyone be upset that an ass like Merle was missing? But when you think about it, that ass was all Daryl had. It was the only type of family he understood. Enter Rick Grimes.

 
Rick was patient with Daryl. Even when Daryl went off and pouted in a tent on the Greene Family Farm in Season two, Rick let Daryl be Daryl. As a sheriff in King County Georgia, I’m sure Rick ran across a lot of Daryl Dixons. But just like a beaten down dog, with respect comes respect.  As Daryl saw that law enforcement and people in general were not bad; that a nice gesture was not a trap; a mistake didn’t get you a beating, he began to join the group. Rick could be seen as the father figure to Daryl in the earlier seasons, but now they could be considered brothers.


When Andrea accidentally shot Daryl, around the same time millions of hearts were broken with the episode Cherokee Rose (Season 2, Episode 4), we see a once beaten down Carol try to thank Daryl for his kindness. A kiss that looked as painful as any switch Mr. Dixon used on them, Daryl looked so uncomfortably painful at any gesture of kindness,  probably because it seems that once Daryl has something nice, it’s taken away.
While Daryl’s father and brother were abusive, we only know that his mother died tragically in a fire set by her own cigarettes. We don’t know if she cared for Daryl, but we’re pretty sure she was beaten as well. We saw Daryl open up emotionally with Carol, holding her back when Sofia was lost.
 
We do know that Daryl does not like quitters. We see him comment negatively anytime they come across someone who gave up and committed suicide. This brings us to Daryl’s relationship with Beth Greene. Beth was a weakling when he met her. She was looking for that easy way out when all hell was beginning to break lost on the farm. A 180 from Daryl Beth was sheltered and the world was too harsh, sad, and hard for her.  But like Daryl, Beth had to change to survive. The prison was her training. When it was just Beth and Daryl after the prison falls (Season 5, Episode 4, Still), Beth knows she won’t get a sympathetic ear from Daryl. She even says to him I know you look at me and see another dead girl.  But Beth fought and even got Daryl to talk a little - get a little angry. He opened up to Beth and that forged a bond that he's never probably had.
But why do we love Daryl Dixon? It is our empathy and sympathy for those tragic characters. Think back about how you felt about John bender (Judd Nelson) in The Breakfast Club.

Maybe it’s the desire to find something good in someone bad. The tragic character’s flaws are usually caused by some awful experience and deep down inside there is a gifted, caring individual that can be freed from the bonds of their past abuse.
This is why we love Daryl Dixon. We’ve seen him suffer, watched him heal, but damn, Sofia and Beth make us feel even more  sorry for this guy to seem to take two steps forward and is pushed ten steps back.
When Norman Reedus posted the instagram of the U2 song, Drowning Man, I knew someone was going to die. The lyrics, just by reading them could bring a person to tears. But the background of the song makes Norman’s choice even more beautifully poetic. When War was recorded, U2 was at a cross roads – The Edge, Larry, and Bono were all very religious, Adam Clayton, not so much. The reference to a drowning man is Adam’s faith and Bono and the boys trying to save him. Is Dayl Dixon at his crossroads, drowning in the question of why he allows himself to care so deeply for anyone.  
 
Drowning Man
Take my hand
You know I'll be there
If you can
I'll cross the sky for your love
For I have promised
Oh, to be with you tonight
And for the time that will come

Take my hand
You know I'll be there
If you can
I'll cross the sky for your love
And I understand
These winds and tides
This change of times
Won't drag you away
Hold on, and hold on tightly
Hold on, and don't let go
Of my love

The storms will pass (the storm will pass)
It won't be long now (it won't be long now)
His love will last
His love will last...forever

Take my hand
You know I'll be there
If you can
I'll cross the sky for your love
Give you what I hold dear

Hold on, hold on tightly
Hold on, hold on tightly
Rise up, rise up
With wings like eagles
You run, you run
You run and not grow weary

(take my hand, take my hand)
Hold on, and hold on tightly
Hold on, hold on tightly
To this love...last forever
To this love...last forever

Take my hand  
 


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