In last night’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Alone,” Daryl’s hits a crossroads, literally.
Towards the end of the episode, he sits defeated in an intersection that just so happens to be just off the tracks to Terminus. His crisis deepens when Joe and his gang accost him, but Daryl doesn’t back down.
The potentially volatile sequence ends instead with a handshake, leaving fans with two questions.
1. Who is Joe?
2. What will Daryl do now that he’s at a tipping point?
Joe first appeared in season 4, episode 11. Rick narrowly escaped his clutches when Joe and his gang pillages Rick’s temporary shelter.
Joe’s smug attitude, admiration of violence, and pension for games point to The Walking Dead comic book’s most notorious character- Negan. In the comic series, Negan, like Joe, is the leader of a biker-like gang and it’s fair to say, the world is his.
In the comic books, survivors from various camps are forced to pay him tribute. Those who don’t face the wrath of Lucille- his barbed wire covered bat. If Joe is the AMC series answer to Negan, Rick and his crew better buckle up.
The most important clue: when Negan isn’t on the road terrorizing survivors, he runs his camp, Sanctuary. This is a major clue for AMC The Walking Dead viewers.
Recently, most of Rick’s splintered group found signs for Terminus, a camp that promises SANCTUARY. Joe’s character surfaces each episode groups discover the sign.
The timing of his appearances combined with Sasha’s comment, “If something’s too good to be true…” scream DANGER AHEAD!
The allusions to Negan don’t stop at sanctuary and marauding. This comic villain is violent enough to make even The Governor cower. No one is safe from his savagery, which is why Zap 2 It’s synopsis for the season four finale is particularly troubling.
It reads simply, “Many paths collide; Rick faces sheer brutality; the group struggles to survive.” It’s likely that Joe and Rick’s paths will once again cross and this time it won’t be pretty.
Unlike The Governor, Joe may greatly diverge from his comic book persona, driving the name change. Show writers have to strike a tricky balance.
They must satisfy comic fans and viewers alike, but also mind censors. After all, there is a limit to what the show may air, so the character’s violence, while brutal, will have to be scaled for television.
As for Daryl, despite AMC poles questioning his allegiance and moral character, viewers have to remember he’s a survivor who literally set ablaze his past faults. Gone are the days of blindly following cretins like Merle. Joe’s moral influence on Daryl is doubtful.
Daryl knows he’s outnumbered and is smart enough to play Joe. It is also possible Daryl likes Joe for snatching Beth and is trusting his tracker instinct.
One this is for sure, AMC’s The Walking Dead season finale will once again leave viewers on the edge.