With only two episodes to go, we're expecting that most fans of AMC's The Walking Dead are preparing themselves for the emotional punches, heartbreak & heroism that lies ahead. And if you think it's getting tough to take now, just wait until everyone & their mothers start reflecting on the series next week, leading up to the series finale. And yet… So the news hit yesterday that the upcoming spinoff, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon (possibly just "Daryl Dixon"?), had cast Clémence Poésy (The Essex Serpent) & Adam Nagaitis (Chernobyl) as leads, joining Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) in France for filming. Poesy's Isabelle is a member of a progressive religious group who joins forces with Daryl on a journey across France and finds herself confronting her dark past in Paris. Nagaitis' Quinn is a displaced Brit who has become powerful in post-apocalyptic Paris as a black marketeer and the owner of the Demimonde, a sexy underground nightclub. Well, apparently, that was all the "Carol (Melissa McBride) Conspiracy Theorists" needed to come back out of the social media shadows. Except for this time, Reedus had a direct response.
So here's what it's all about. There's an offshoot of "Caryl" fans (Carol & Daryl stans) who believe that Reedus manipulated where the spinoff would be filmed, making it impossible for McBride to be involved and allowing Reedus to replace her with whoever he wanted. Now, Reedus and others have tried to explain how all of that is nothing more than a steaming pile of nonsense but for some? They have their theories, and they're sticking to them, dammit! Like what happened earlier today when an individual retweeted Deadline Hollywood's exclusive spinoff casting news with some commentary that called out the apparent title of the show as well as one of the premises behind it. And then, they decided to deep dive into the shallow end of the "assuming" pool by dropping this line: "…they have replaced Melissa McBride with Fleur Delacour." Well, that was apparently a crossed line that Reedus wasn't interested in letting stand, asking the individual if they had any idea how many leads the spinoff is going to have and calling them out for "spreading that false gossip." Here's a look:
Last month, Reedus stopped by Jimmy Kimmel's ABC late-night talk show to check in with the host on a number of topics. Kimmel asked Reedus about the upcoming spinoff that Reedus teases finds Daryl in Paris "not of his own free will." Having spent months on location scouting & discussing the project, Reedus adds that viewers will appreciate how "epic" it is, with castles and moats in play. And after teasing that they might even end up "destroying the Louvre" (couldn't tell if he was serious), Reedus also made it clear that he knows what he wants the spinoff to be called (even though an official name hasn't been set yet). Spoiler? Let's just say that it would be easy to remember (with the spinoff discussion beginning at the 7:15 mark):
Speaking with Variety in September after news hit that he would be receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Reedus explained (once again) why McBride was once a part of the cast but now isn't while offering hints that plans for the two might already be in play. "How do you know she's not gonna come back?" Reedus offered in response when asked a question that was based on the assumption that McBride would not be involved, already getting the speculation fires raging.
"The spinoff was announced before we even announced 'The Walking Dead' was ending. We always thought we were doing a show that would come back to the flagship show- we'd take off, then come back to the flagship show. Then they ended the flagship show, and it was us on our own. And then we shot for a year and a half straight, through the beginning of COVID. At that point, Melissa [McBride] wasn't going to do the show. And then she was going to do the show. And then she wasn't going to do the show. And then she needed a break, and I went on TV and said she needs a break. I'm telling the truth. It's always been the truth. But you don't know she's not going to show up on the spinoff, the actor continued before adding, "She's a very big part of Daryl's story. It's all gonna be OK."
As for the spinoff itself, Reedus sees it as a way of continuing to tell Daryl's story… wherever that may lead. "I feel like because he wasn't in the comic book, and they let me run with it, I want to bookend it. I feel like I birthed this child, and someone can't tell me when it's over. I want to see it either have a happy ending or not," Reedus explained. "That character, I got to really make it my own, and that felt great to collaborate. At first, they had me taking drugs and being racist and all this stuff, and I convinced them that, no, no, I want to have grown up with it and been ashamed of it."