Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Daryl Dixon is Really...

In the past, I've written some brief essays on Jesus figures in popular media. I was thinking of this recently in relation to the popular cable TV series THE WALKING DEAD.

I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I have watched that series since its premiere. I'm pretty sure that I've seen every episode, even though it's often a truly awful TV show in just about every way. And so, why do I watch it? Well...because zombies! It's not that I like the idea of zombies in popular media--to the contrary. I have grown to actually hate zombie fiction and zombie films and zombie comics and zombie games and zombie toys, etc. I find the whole scene truly disgusting.

So, then, why would I continue to watch THE WALKING DEAD?

I have to say that I watch it partly out of morbid curiosity. Just the fact that it exists fascinates me, and the fact that it prospers is just bizarre. There are other cable TV horror shows, and I don't watch those. I sometimes look at the others, but I'm not dedicated to them, at all.

So, just to get all of that out of the way, I can't really say why I watch THE WALKING DEAD, but I do keep up with it. Let's just leave it at morbid curiosity toward what I hope is a brief cultural phenomenon and let it go.

The point I wanted to get back to is that I noticed some Jesus imagery when it comes to the supporting character of Daryl Dixon as played by Norman Reedus. And why would I even notice something like this? Perhaps because the Jesus story is so often used in modern films and fiction. Writers keep finding new ways to tell the story. Over and over and over. As I said, I've briefly covered some of these reinterpretations in the past, so it is something I think about when I begin to see it.

What's different about Daryl Dixon as Jesus is that it is something that has slowly emerged and I wonder if the writers have held this idea all along, or if it's something that they decided to do late in the game. I'd like to ask them. I'd also like to ask the show-runners if it's even true, or if I'm reading tea leaves that aren't there.

Briefly, I've begun to see the character of Daryl as a Jesus figure. There have been all sorts of little clues. His rough life as an outcast. The way he feels compassion when there is no real reason for it. His capacity for kindness when he should feel something else entirely.

Carry that cross.

Then there are the physical clues left behind by the creators of the show. Daryl's ever-present crossbow that he carries like a burden. The wound he suffered in his side. His near-death by a stream where he was seemingly saved by the ghost of his brother. If that wasn't a stand-in for a baptism by a cruel, Old Testament philosopher and Daryl's emergence as a man with a new way of explaining the world, then I've not seen it at all. And then, after the baptism/rib wound, he is all but shot in the head and survives what should have been death.

Badass John the Baptist.
For the fans of Daryl (and they appear to be legion), they shouldn't worry. I don't think he'll be killed the way so many other characters on the show have met their ends. But he will go. I don't think things will end well for him. But when he does finally croak...I think it'll be as some sort of ultimate sacrifice.

"This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

Stay tuned...

(Images copyright by AMCTV.)

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