Have you ever looked at someone and thought ‘What a dumba$$’? Of course you have, we all have at some point. We tend to make judgements about people but that judgement isn’t always right, they prove to be smarter than we give them credit for being like my favorite redneck, Daryl Dixon.
Daryl is a lot smarter than people give him credit for being. We really don’t know what his level of formal education is. For all we know he could have dropped out of school in the 9th grade or he could have a few semesters of community college under his belt; but based on his appearance he doesn’t look like the smart one. Rick, Andrea, Shane; we think that they are all ‘smart’. You have to have schooling in law enforcement to be a cop, and we know Andrea has a law degree so we think that they are automatically the smart ones. But smart doesn’t always equal ‘book knowledge’.
The second half of season 2 has been a constant revelation of just how smart Daryl is. We know he’s got survival smarts, we saw him survive being thrown by a horse, impaled on his own arrow, take down two walkers while injured and he still makes his way back to the farm. There’s no doubt the boy knows how to survive but the last couple of episodes have shown that his smarts go beyond survival.
Daryl sees what is going on around him. More importantly, when he sees he correctly evaluates the situation. He sees through Shane’s actions like he’s been blessed with X-ray vision. He knew all along that Shane was responsible for Otis death and he also sees through Shane’s ‘Randall hit me with a rock and escaped with my gun’ story. He knows there is more to what Shane told them and then makes it a point to find out what happened; by doing what Shane did not want him to do, track Randall.
There’s one more thing he sees, the danger to the group that comes from infighting among the leaders. Daryl realizes that he is in a leadership position the minute that Rick turns to him. The exchanges between Daryl and Rick clearly lay out this new command structure. Daryl understands that the only way the group will survive is to have one person in charge, but that one person can’t do everything. Someone has to help with the ‘heavy lifting’, but helping does not mean second guessing the decisions made or trying to stir up an insurrection.
Daryl understands this:
I don’t see us trading haymakers on the side of the road, ain’t nobody gonna win in that fight.
With those words Daryl lets Rick know that whatever happens, Daryl will live up to the trust Rick puts in him for the good of the group.