Daryl's been beaten by the Saviors, but he's not broken, according to a new Walking Dead fan theory that's emerged on Reddit. According to the theory, Daryl (Norman Reedus) blinked a message to Rick (Andrew Lincoln) in Morse code that gave Rick a tip to the location of the Sanctuary, the Saviors' headquarters.
In "Service," last Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) arrived in Alexandria to collect his tribute from Rick & Co. He brought Daryl with him, whom he took captive in the season premiere and has been physically and psychologically abusing, as shown in "The Cell." In the episode, Daryl is filthy and bruised and silent, showing that he's resigned to his fate as Negan's property.
But! Eagle-eyed viewers noticed an odd moment between Daryl and Rick. Is Daryl tapping out a message in Morse code that Rick picks up on? Here's a gif to help you decide for yourself.
Bolstering evidence that Daryl is using Morse code is the fact that Rick has a huge Morse code alphabet board in his house, which received prominent placement in a shot earlier in the episode. And in Season 5, Carol (Melissa McBride) taught Daryl some basic Morse code while they were searching for Beth (Emily Kinney). So Daryl and Rick almost definitely have the capability to communicate like this.
The message he allegedly spells out to Rick? "I EAST."
There is a real-world precedent for prisoners sending secret messages via blinking in Morse code. During the Vietnam War, Navy pilot and later U.S. Sen. Jeremiah Denton was taken captive by the North Vietnamese. During a propaganda interview, while verbally saying that he was being treated well, he spelled out "torture" by blinking in Morse code, signaling to intelligence officers what was really going on.
If Daryl really did send a message to Rick and Rick comprehended it, that could mean that Rick really is secretly plotting to fight back against Negan. In the comics, Rick was only pretending to be subservient to Negan and in reality was organizing an uprising against the Saviors. On the show, the intelligence Daryl may have just slipped him could be useful in plotting an attack or a jailbreak.
Of course, there is the possibility that Daryl was just blinking a lot because he's no longer used to being out in the sunlight and his eyes are sensitive from being punched so many times.
But you know what they say about Chekov's Morse code board, so Daryl was probably blinking a message.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.